Tag Archives: UK

National Parks of the UK – Part 1

From the Cairngorms in Scotland to Dartmoor in Devon, the UK is home to some of the most beautiful National Parks in the world.

Whether you want to go hiking in the hills or just admire the extraordinary landscape, our quick guide on what to do and where to stay is a great place to start planning your National Park holiday.

Dartmoor, Devon

Luxury Boutique Cottage, Devon - Moorland View, Home 282091

Picture from Luxury Boutique Cottage, Devon – Moorland View, Home 282091

What to see

The dramatic views of heather-covered moors and grand granite tors are breathtakingly beautiful. The landscape is varied and with 450 miles of paths, tracks and open moorland to explore, walkers of all abilities will feel catered for here.

What to do

If the weather’s not on your side, board the steam train that runs between Buckfastleigh and Totnes where you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of the River Dart. When the sun’s shining, explore an ancient castle or atmospheric abbey before stopping at a café for that must-have Devonshire cream tea.

Where to stay

This pretty cottage in Widecombe in the Moor is in the heart of Dartmoor and perfect for couples looking for a romantic break. Large groups and families will be surrounded by wildlife when they stay at this 19th-century farmhouse in Tavistock.

See all holiday rentals in Dartmoor National Park.


Brecon Beacons, Wales

Acre Brecon, Home 660634

Picture from Acre Brecon, Home 660634

What to see

Lush green glades, sparkling waterfalls and magical caves make a visit to the Brecon Beacons feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy-tale. The striking Black Mountains on the horizon add to its other-worldly feel.

What to do

If you’re feeling adventurous, the Brecon Beacons boasts over 600 miles of bridle paths and tracks so it’s perfect for pony trekking and horse riding. Take some binoculars with you to get a good look at the Red Kites along the way; these magnificent birds of prey are now common in the region. For a little light refreshment, enjoy a freshly made scone at one of the pretty farmhouse cafés in the area.

Where to stay

This cosy cottage in Crickhowell with views of the Usk Valley is just a 10 minute walk from the local pub. If you want to stay in Brecon itself, how about this spacious bungalow with panoramic views of the Black Mountains and free fishing available at the farm?

Take a look at more places to stay in the Brecon Beacons.


Cairngorms, Scotland

Picture from Heath Cottage, Home 248069

Picture from Heath Cottage, Home 248069

What to see

The Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s highest and largest mountain range. Its vast, wild landscape leaves its visitors with a sense of awe. The mighty snow-capped mountains and mysterious lochs are truly inspiring.

What to do

Amazingly, 25% of the UK’s endangered species can be found in the Cairngorms so wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element. You can take an organised tour but you’re likely to spot red squirrels in the woodland, ospreys fishing in the lochs and, If you’re very lucky, you might even get a glimpse of a Scottish wildcat. And of course, skiing is great activity to enjoy in the winter months.

Where to stay

If you’re looking for a rural retreat but don’t want to be without your mod cons, this charming cottage in Moray is complete with luxuries such as a woodburner and wi-fi.  Families will love this cottage in Newtonmore that has a fantastic dining room and kitchen for family evening meals and beautiful views of the Scottish countryside.

Browse more holiday homes in the Cairngorms National Park.


The Peak District, Derbyshire

Picture from Farm View Cottage Cosy 17th Century Cottage for 2, Home 569494

Picture from Farm View Cottage Cosy 17th Century Cottage for 2, Home 569494

What to see

The Peak District is one of the UK’s most popular National Parks and it’s easy to understand why. The rolling hills and craggy landscape is romantically beautiful, and it’s packed full of pretty villages just waiting to be explored.

What to do

A great way to get around the Peak District is by hiring a bike and following one of the many cycle trails. There are some fantastic walking tours too which can be booked through the local tourist information centre. If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, then be sure to visit Chatsworth House, the setting for Darcy’s Pemberley. And if you’re feeling peckish, stop off in Bakewell to sample the famous Bakewell Pudding.

Where to stay

Set in 130 acres of private grounds, this cottage in Biggin-by-Hartington has its own private tennis courts and is just a short walk from the local village pub. Ever fancied staying in a converted water mill? Now is your chance: this mill apartment near Tideswell in the heart of the Peak District has picturesque riverside views.

See more holiday rentals in the Peak District.


The Broads, Norfolk and Suffolk

Tide & Time, Home 372633

Tide & Time, Home 372633

 What to see

As Britain’s largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is a haven for wildlife and some of the UK’s rarest breeds can be spotted there. Nestled among the woodland, waterways and fens, you’ll find historic landmarks and idyllic villages.

What to do

Renowned for its biodiversity, the Broads is the perfect place for nature lovers and there are plenty of opportunities to see elusive species such as the marsh harrier and even the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly. If you can drag yourself away from wildlife-watching, pack up a picnic and take to the water for a relaxing day out on a hired boat.

Where to stay

For peace and quiet, stay at this converted stable in Lowestoft with the sandy beach just two miles away. And for a truly unique experience, this windmill dating back to the 1700s will really put the wind in your sails.

Find your favourite holiday home in the Suffolk or Norfolk Broads

Red squirrel spotting in the UK

Red squirrel with a hazelnut in his teeth

Red squirrels are as rare as they are enchanting. Spring’s not far off and it’s the perfect time to spot them at their most active in their natural habitat. If you’re nuts about red squirrels, why not book a stay where you’ll be in with a chance of seeing them? We bring you some of our favourite places to find real-life Squirrel Nutkins.

Pentraeth Forest, Anglesey

By the late 1990s there were fewer than 40 adult squirrels left on Anglesey. The population has now grown to 700 thanks to conservation efforts across the area. Pentraeth Forest’s one of the best places to spot them as this was their last stronghold on the island. You might be able to glimpse a red tail vanishing up a tall tree or hear the clatter of claws along a branch.

Peer out of the forest over the vast sands of Red Wharf Bay and then join the Anglesey Coastal Path. Fancy cycling, walking or horse-riding along some if its 125 stunning miles? You can tour the dramatic South Stack Lighthouse, visit the evocative ruins of Penmon Priory or or hike up imposing Holyhead Mountain on your way.

Choose your perfect pad in Anglesey

Mount Stewart, County Down

Red squirrels have taken up residence in the park of Mount Stewart stately home near Newtownards in County Down, so why not drop by? You’re most likely to spot them behind the house and to the north of the lake in the early morning or late afternoon. Follow their trail from the gorgeous formal gardens, drifting past the lake and Rhododendron hill. The gardens have a charming Italianate feel and shelter one of the oldest vines in the UK.

While you’re in Newtownards, scale the 122 steps up nearby Scrabo Tower for views that, on a clear day, extend to Scotland, the Isle of Man and even the Lake District. Back on the ground, how about meeting adorable alpacas and petting cuddly lambs at the neighbouring Ark Open Farm? Then find out more about the First World War in Ireland with a trip down the road to the Somme Heritage Centre: their mock-up trench brings the past vividly to life.

Explore places to stay in County Down

Brownsea Island, Dorset

Sail away to this tranquil island in Poole Harbour – it’s a haven for wildlife and with a bit of luck, you’ll see sika deer and wading birds. There are over 250 squirrels on the island as they have no grey rivals to compete with here. Watch out for partially-nibbled pine cones in the wooded areas as a clue that they’re not far off.

When you’ve landed back on the mainland, try crabbing on Poole’s vibrant quayside or explore the town’s fascinating past by following the Cockle Trail. Visit the studio of the legendary Poole Pottery where you can see the artisans at work and produce your own masterpiece. And it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Poole without getting out on the water of Europe’s largest natural harbour.

Find your home-from-home in Dorset

Craik Forest, Scottish Borders

Get away from it all in Craik Forest as you saunter along the gorgeous Aithouse Burn and feel the power of Wolfcleuch Waterfall. You can also visit the forest’s excellent viewing hide and shelter while you wait to see red squirrels in their natural habitat. Will you catch them gathering and burying their supply of nuts?

Visit the 16-century Drumlanrig Tower in nearby Hawick and discover its important role in defending the region. There’s also a 120-year old working weaving mill in the town where you can learn how tweeds are made. Alternatively, relax in the pretty walled garden of neighbouring Wilton Lodge Park.

Locate your dream holiday let in the Scottish Borders

UK school holidays – dates for 2013 & 2014

school_holidays2010Help holidaymakers plan their family break for the school holidays by using our handy table of UK school holidays for 2013 & 2014. Use these school holiday dates as a guide when setting your prices for half-term, summer, Easter and the Christmas holidays.

UK school holidays 2013

February half term Sat 9 February 2013 – Sun 17 February 2013
Easter holidays Sat 30 March 2013 – Sun 14 April 2013
Summer half term Sat 25 May 2013 – Sun 2 June 2013
Summer holidays Wed 24 July 2013 – Sun 1 September 2013
October half term Sat 26 October 2013 – Sun 3 November 2013
Christmas and New Year holidays Sat 21 December 2013 – Sun 5 January 2014

 UK school holidays 2014

February half term Sat 15 February 2014 – Sun 23 February 2014
Easter holidays Sat 5 April 2014 – Mon 21 April 2014
Summer half term Sat 24 May 2014 – Sun 1 June 2014
Summer holidays Wed 23 July 2014 – Sun 31 August 2014

The above dates are based on information provided by Oxfordshire County Council. See our other school holiday dates for ScotlandWales and France.