Top 5 Haunted Locations in Britain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Explore historic, haunted York!

The origins of Halloween are uncertain, some talk of a Pagan history others point to a Celtic or even a Gaelic past. Whatever the truth, today, Halloween is widely recognised as just a ‘bit of fun’ and an opportunity for children to indulge in two of their major passions, dressing up and eating sweets!

Any type of celebration that combines the two is bound to be a winner, but perhaps today’s children have it a bit easy as many of us will testify, years ago we had to work a bit harder for our bounty, with the recital of a Halloween song or poem.

This year ‘All Saints’ falls on a Thursday and attention once again will turn towards witches cats, ghosts and ghouls! As our children’s imaginations run riot, many of us more mature ‘children’ perhaps may be harbouring disappointment at not actually encountering a ghost in real life. Well, there may be time yet since many are convinced that Britain is the focus for paranormal activity and that several of our towns and cities have some of the most haunted buildings in the world!  Let’s take a look at a few of the most haunted locations in the country.

York

With such a turbulent and bloody past dating back to Roman and Viking times, it is not surprising that York is reputed to be one of the most haunted cities in Britain.  As well as being one of the most haunted, York is also one of the most beautiful in large part because of the centuries old buildings that doubtless hold many dark secrets! Perhaps one of the most intriguing stories revolves around the city’s Roman past and a reputed lost legion of soldiers 2000 strong that have returned to haunt York. Replete in full uniform dating to the 4th century some say, the war weary centurions apparently were seen on the march through ‘The Treasurer’s House’ which now stands on a former Roman road! If you are determined to scare yourself witless, then perhaps a trip to the York Dungeons might a better option which features exhibits on ‘the ghosts of York’, witches and Guy Fawkes.

Search for accommodation near York

Edinburgh

The majestic Georgian streets of Edinburgh are of course steeped in history but it is the city’s ancient castle, connected to the Royal Mile by a subterranean network, that is reputed to be one the most haunted buildings in Scotland.  From its elevated position the castle has for centuries looked out across the nations stunning capital.  This iconic symbol of Scotland’s former seat of power, plays a key part in the history of the nation and was the scene of many bloody battles and murders throughout the centuries.  The castle is reputed to be haunted by many of its former prisoners, as well as a lonely Piper forever lost in the castles tunnels and  there are even stories of a ghoulish headless drummer!

Search for accommodation near Edinburgh

Derby

Derby is often described as the ‘ghost capital of England’. Situated close to the exquisite Peak District National Park, Derby is intertwined with tales of ghosts and ghouls. Some of the local ‘dark satanic mills’ and centuries old pubs are apparently visited by apparitions from the city’s past, but it is Derby Gaol that captures the imagination and helps maintain local ghostly legends.  Scene of numerous executions as well as illness and disease amongst prisoners, the dark past of the gaol resonates to this day.  Curiously sightings of ghosts appear to congregate during the winter months, the spirits of the condemned apparently revisiting the site of their despair. However, there are numerous reports of sightings and the ‘disturbing atmosphere’ is apparently often tangible with some visitors describing a sense of physical sickness or general ‘unease’. If you want to find out for yourself, Derby Gaol is conveniently open to the public for overnight vigils, if you dare!

Search for accommodation near Derby

Caerphilly

The tranquil surroundings of Caerphilly and Llancaiach Fawr Manor in Wales, mask a more sinister side with the Manor apparently one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. The subject of intensive paranormal research, Llancaich Fawr Manor was previously the setting for grisly murders and other tragic events. The association with ghostly legend has taken over the whole building with virtually every room apparently the setting for ghostly sightings and other paranormal activity. Interestingly amongst the descriptions include visitors citing unusual smells, such as lavender or violet from seemingly unknown sources.  Stories of tragedy in the building have added to the lore and sad stories of lost ghosts abound in what is one of South Wales most historic settings. Dating back over 500 years, the Manor has been restored to its latterly 17th Century condition and visitors can learn more about its ghostly connections through a series of organised ghost tours at the Manor, or for the more inquisitive separate sessions can be organised which include presentations by the South Wales Paranormal Research Group.

Search for accommodation near Caerphilly

Storm over Pendle Hill

Lancashire’s haunted hill

Pendle Hill,  Lancashire

Halloween would not be Halloween if there wasn’t a good witch’s tale to tell. Pendle Hill in Lancashire (not far from the cottages4you office!) is forever linked with the history of reputedly some of the most famous witches in the country. The imposing local landmark looks out across a series of hillside villages that were home to the likes of ‘Demdike’ and ‘Chattox’ and ‘Alice Nutter’. In fact 11 locals were caught up in the frenzy of a Jacobean witch trial in the early part of the 17th century, which included nine women and two men, ten of whom were found guilty at Lancaster Castle and were in turn executed for the crime of witchcraft.  Centuries later the witches are reputed to haunt Pendleside, and indeed the area was the focus for the TV programme ‘Most Haunted’ in what was one of the most memorable episodes in the series. Ghosts or not, the history of the Pendle Witches is a fascinating insight into the darker history of this enigmatic corner of Lancashire.

Search for accommodation near Pendle

Our Top 5 Breweries in Britain

doom bar

One of the great pleasures of exploring a new area whilst on your cottage holiday is getting acquainted with the local brew. Invariably the best local ales tend to embody a sense of the character of the locality. Lovingly crafted over decades (centuries in some cases) these local treasures are just waiting to be discovered (and re-discovered!!).

Fine ale is experiencing a renaissance in this country with a 40% growth in consumption in the last 7 years alone. As part of our local luxury series we are going to take a look at our top 5 favourite local breweries in Britain.

5. Skinners, Truro, Cornwall

Relative ‘new kids on the block’ Skinners are based in the Cornish capital Truro and have in short order developed a fine reputation for quality ales since 1997. Sourcing local Truronian barley, Skinners produce championship winning beer with their most decorated brew ‘Betty Stoggs’ crowned the best ale in Cornwall and in recent year’s winning CAMRA’s ‘Champion Best Better in Great Britain’. Based close to the Fal estuary in this popular cathedral city, Skinners offer guided brewery tours where you can get to know the family of local bitters which are named after characters in Cornish folklore. Truro is one of Britain’s smallest cities and has a proud reputation as one of the tidiest cities in the world. A great base for touring Cornwall, the North and South coasts are easily accessible with Falmouth and Newquay within a short 25 minute drive.

4. Timothy Taylor, Keighley, North Yorkshire

Sourcing its roots to the mid Nineteenth century, Timothy Taylors have been producing championship winning ales in the finest tradition of a family based brewery. Based in Keighley, at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, locals are rightly proud of their local bitter with ‘Landlord’ recognised as the brewery favourite winning many awards in both the ask and bottled categories. As a well established brewery, Timothy Taylor boasts a wide range of local hostelries across Yorkshire, keeping the tradition of fine cask ales well and truly alive in God’s own county.  Keighley itself lies on the fringes of haunting moorland epitomised by the nearby  ‘Bronte Country’ with the popular Haworth a mere 4 miles to the south. With nearby Skipton and the Dales at your doorstep, you may find yourself working up a thirst exploring this enigmatic corner of Yorkshire.

3.  Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk

Suffolk is considered by many to be the premier ale making county in the country, boasting 21 breweries producing a total of 128 local beers in Suffolk. Our next local favourite is Adnams which has been making beer in Southwold since 1872 – though brewing in the immediate area can in fact be traced back to 1396. This well established brewery has hostelries across the length and breadth of the county and offers tours of both the brewery and the distillery where they produce vodka and gin! Like so many successful independent brewers, Adnams embrace localism, working with nearby producers with sustainability in mind in terms of both the environment and local economy. The result is a fantastic range of fine award winning Suffolk beers, pale and cask ales to choose from on your next cottage holiday in East Anglia.

2.  Brains, Cardiff, Wales

Treasured in Wales, Brains have been producing fine ales in Cardiff for 125 years. Carefully honing their craft over the past century to create range ales that have rapidly increased in popularity over the last decade. Many will be familiar with the brewery through their successful sponsorship of the Welsh international rugby team, though the brewery is well established with over 270 pubs throughout the country.  The company remains independent and is run by descendants of the Founders way back in the 19th century and now produce delicious dark and pale cask ales. Perhaps the most celebrated and famous cask ales, SA (or Special Ale) has just marked its 50th anniversary, a fine copper coloured ale produced from three variety of hops to produce a dry ‘nutty’ finish. A great accompaniment whilst perhaps surveying the Welsh landscape outside your local holiday inn!

 1. Sharps, Rock, Cornwall

Just approaching its 20th anniversary, Sharp’s in Rock, North Cornwall have enjoyed fabulous success in two short decades with notably ‘Doom Bar’ coming to nationwide prominence in the world of fine  cask ales.  ‘Doom Bar’ is named after a notorious sandbank  just off  the stunning Camel Estuary, which was treacherous for sailors yet in turn shelters the estuary. This is a fascinating juxtaposition that epitomises the duality in this part of Cornwall, balancing the ravages of the power of the North Atlantic versus the extreme beauty of the region. Sharps seek to capture the characteristics of the area using refined brewing techniques to produce distinctive and ‘moreish’ ales in tune with their surroundings. Again, sustainability is at the heart of the breweries ethos with an emphasis on recycling and waste management to protect the area which in turn sustains the Business in what is a stunning part of the country. Rock has a reputation for attracting the countries well-heeled, that image is now complemented with a very fine reputation for producing some of the country’s finest cask ale.

Take a look at our featured holiday cottages in the UK.

New Year’s Resolutions – Activity Holidays in Britain

Lake District cycling

As millions of us are now ‘resolved’ to become healthier in 2013 why not combine good intentions with your next cottage holiday in Britain?  Now is the time to put to one side thoughts of cold dark winter nights and think instead about booking your next adventure holiday for 2013. Britain has a wealth of activity opportunities across the length and breadth of the country. With hundreds of miles of coastline, cycle paths and walking routes to choose from, we are going to focus on some of our favourites to help you decide.

Kayaking on the River Fowey – Cornwall

Home of author and playwright Daphne De Maurier, Fowey stands majestically overlooking the estuary of the River Fowey looking out towards the stunning South Cornish coast. The river is surrounded by wooded undulating hills. A haven for wildlife, this is a great location for kayaking for learner and experienced kayaker alike. Routes extend upstream towards the countryside or follow the estuary along the coast towards the sea. You should be able to spot herons, cormorants and kingfishers as you glide across the water in tune with your beautiful surroundings, there cannot be many better ways to immerse yourself in the essential beauty of Cornwall. Kayaking is great for the whole family and there are various organisations that offer guided tours based on the River Fowey. It is possible to hire kayaks for independent use but this is strictly for over 18 year old experienced kayakers.

Find holiday cottages in Cornwall.

Coasteering in Pembrokershire – South Wales

If you want to enjoy the coast but have a little more of the ‘daredevil’ about you then coasteering in South Wales may be just for you. The Pembrokeshire coastline is spectacular. Much like its Cornish cousin, this stretch coastline has been carved out by the wild Atlantic to create a dramatic seascape. Britain’s only coastal national park, Pembrokeshire boasts a 180 mile long coast path where you will find delightful coves and many golden sandy bays. This really is coasteering country, an adventure sport that brings you face to face with the raw power of the Atlantic and involves rock hopping, wild swimming, climbing and jumping from cliffs!  This is nature at its most exhilarating and is a great opportunity to ‘regress’ and indulge that childlike fun-seeking side of you! It is that unique feeling of exploration that really grabs the imagination. With experienced guides to help you make the most of this adrenaline filled sport whilst toasty warm in your wet suit, this is one holiday activity that the rain cannot spoil!

Find holiday cottages in Wales.

Cycling in the Lake District – North West England

The Lake District is basically a cyclist’s paradise offering a range of challenging mountainous paths – as well as many gentle wooded trails – whilst set amongst some of England’s most stunning scenery, there really is something for everyone. Cyclists are drawn to this part of the world not least because of the beautiful views, but also because many parts of the Lake District offer paths that are relatively traffic free. Kids love cycling, and some of the best family trails are to be found at Grizedale Forest, where you will find miles of well-maintained paths amongst ancient oak and conifer trees along with strategically placed cafés for weary parents to recuperate!  Being the Lake District, this is also one of the best places for wild off-road routes that will bring you face to face with a real sense of wilderness. It is perhaps not surprising that the Lake District has been recently voted the number one biking destination in Britain. These bridleways are really a serious challenge for the hardy cyclist but the rewards are rich with unforgettable scenes across some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside.

Find holiday cottages in North West England.

Skiing in Aviemore – Scottish Highlands

Whilst recent cold winters in Britain may have been unwelcome for the majority of us, they have in turn signalled a renaissance in British skiing with the resort of Aviemore the destination of choice. The last three winters have seen exceptionally good snowfalls providing excellent conditions with the key season extending from Christmas through to April. With the great snow and unattractive conversion rates for the Euro, many skiers and snowboarders have swapped the Alps for the beautiful Cairngorms to make the most of great skiing opportunities right here in Britain. Needless to say the Caringorms is one of the most dramatic mountain ranges in Britain with beautiful lochs, rivers and world famous Glens. Set against this stunning Highland backdrop there are over 30km of well-maintained ski runs with a variety of options to suit beginner, intermediate and experienced skiers (including off-piste and country routes). If you are completely new to skiing the local ski school runs great courses for children and adults to allow you to get to grips to the sport closer to home.

Find holiday cottages in the Scottish highlands.

The 007 Greatest Bond Locations in Europe

For 50 years the cinematic adventures of James Bond have been a gateway to an exotic world filled with equal parts beauty and danger. And on those thrilling adventures, Bond films have showcased some of the world’s most stunning locales – along with the usual array of automobiles, glamorous ladies and a not inconsiderable amount of product placement. So for this feature we’ve decided to focus on 007 of the best Bond locations to visit in Europe.

If you’d like to join us as we follow in the footsteps of Britain’s favourite spy, we’ve also added a quick link to search results from cottages4you near each location. It may be a slightly less technically advanced travel option than a jet-pack in a suitcase, but we’re sure it offers a far more relaxing experience.

Don’t forget to enter our Bond Locations comp on Facebook. There’s a different prize up for grabs each week!

001: Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland – The World is Not Enough

During this Pierce Brosnan Bond adventure, the villains destroyed MI6 headquarters on the South bank of the Thames. However, as luck would have it the world’s most secret spy agency had a standby office in what is inarguably one of Scotland’s most beautiful locations:  the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. So stunning is this location that we can quite understand why MI6 didn’t just decide to up-sticks from the Capital and use this office instead – aside from the opportunity to showcase the Millennium Dome and a number of London’s iconic attractions in the explosive opening sequence.

Eilean Donan Castle stands on a small island looking over the tranquil waters of Loch Duich and is reached by a beautiful stone walkway from the village of Dornie. It’s no stranger to attention from James Bond, either, having also featured in Highlander and Entrapment – both of which starred Sir Sean Connery.

Find holiday cottages near Eilean Donan.

002: Lake Como, Italy – Casino Royale

There were several memorable moments in 2006’s re-tooling of Bond that were uncomfortable for male members of the audience. For starters, there was the awkward moment when James Bond appeared from Caribbean waters wearing the world’s skimpiest pair of swimming trunks, immediately making most men in the audience mourn the passing of their midriffs. Then there was THAT sequence towards the end where the villainous Le Chifre helped scratch Bond’s itch in a distinctly unsubtle fashion.

While most of us can’t – and wouldn’t want to – emulate Bond in these situations, we can at least share the place he used to recuperate afterwards. These scenes were filmed in the gardens of the Villa del Balbianello on the western shore of the southwest part of Como. Now owned by the FAI (Italy’s National Trust) the villa and its gardens are open to the public from March until November.

Find holiday cottages near Lake Como.

003: Canale Grande, Venice – Various

Our customers generally fall into two different categories: some like to sample somewhere new each holiday while others return to their favourite properties each year. It seems Mr. Bond falls somewhere in between. While he’s probably been chased through every beautiful location in and around Earth, it seems there’s something about being chased through the historic canals of Venice that he can’t resist. And who can blame him? Not only do the tranquil waterways and historic backdrop of the ‘City of Water’ make for fantastic eye-candy but they also provide the opportunity for plenty of memorable action sequences, offering jet powered gondolas, floating houses and more.

As far as we’re aware, James Bond first visited as Sean Connery in From Russia with Love. He later returned after several years as Roger Moore in Moonraker before finally returning as Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. But whatever changed between his visits, the beautiful waterways, ornate architecture and romantic ambience of Venice remained reassuringly consistent.

Find holiday cottages near Venice.

004: The Eiffel Tower – A View to a Kill

We can’t think of anyone but James Bond who could get away with tarnishing one of France’s most beloved cultural icons by chasing someone off the top and getting tangled up in a fishing rod en-route. Roger Moore’s 007 swansong may have been one of the lesser Bond films, but the sequence involving him chasing a parachuting Grace Jones was incredibly memorable – as only an incident involving Grace Jones, Roger Moore, the Eiffel Tower and a parachute could be.

As millions of tourists will surely attest, most visits to the Eiffel Tower involve far less danger – though far more queuing – than Bond’s appearance in the mid 1980s. Still, it’s not a bad trade off to admire the best views of beautiful Paris.

Find holiday cottages near Paris.

005: Stonor House, Oxfordshire – Licence to Kill

James Bond and stately homes: both resolutely British but they tend to go together like chalk and cheese. Traditional homes may be the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon, but they’re not the sorts of places that get the pulse pounding. So it’s no wonder that it took the makers of the Bond films so long to destroy one (with exploding milk bottles, no less). As with Eilean Donan Castle, Stonor House and Gardens in Oxfordshire acted as another of MI6’s safe-houses that was attacked by villains, proving that not only are MI6’s safe locations not actually that safe, but also that cinema’s most secretive spy agency is probably slightly over-funded.

One of Britain’s oldest manor houses, Stonor House has remained in the same family’s possession for over 850 years. A visit allows you the opportunity to appreciate a host of treasures including old Master Drawings, European Bronzes, an early 19th century wallpaper of Paris and contemporary ceramics from around the world.

Find holiday cottages near Oxfordshire.

006: Siena, Italy – Quantum of Solace

History is all but inescapable in Siena; it’s deeply ingrained in the very ground you walk on. As you admire the ornamental architecture of the cathedral, or stroll round the wonderful Palazzo Comunale, you can’t help but feel that in some way you’re experiencing a semblance of what life was like hundreds of years ago. History is evidenced in one of Siena’s biggest attractions too: the bi-annual Palio horse race. Familiar to viewers of Quantum of Solace, it was during this event that Bond took part in a foot chase over the slate roofs of the town before descending for a showdown at street level.

The Palio is such an impressive display of Tuscan heritage that no special effects are required to convey the scale, drama and sheer majesty of this historic event. It only take place twice a year but there’s enough to stunning sights to see and things to enjoy in Siena to make a visit worthwhile at any time of year.

Find holiday cottages near Siena.

007: Romazzino Beach, Sardinia – The Spy Who Loved Me

At cottages4you, we can never agree on Bond’s greatest gadget, but we’d have to say a sports car that turns into a submarine must be pretty high up on the list. It’s certainly one of the most memorable. During The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond gets chased along the coast of Sardinia by a helicopter. After diving/driving into the water, he emerges shaken but not stirred onto the golden sands of the beautiful Romazzino Beach, prompting much bemusement and, of course, a double-take from someone enjoying a bottle of beer.

Like the best Bond locations, Romazzino Beach – and Sardinia itself – requires little work to convey the exotic beauty for which 007′s adventures are famed. With long white coastlines, sparkling emerald green waters, that famed Mediterranean climate and an abundance of heritage, it’s also one of the finest European holiday destinations you could wish to enjoy – even without a Lotus submarine.

Find holiday cottages in Sardinia.

What’s your favourite Bond film and location? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 tips for taking your pet on holiday

A cottage holiday is the perfect fit for you and your pet, and with our wide range of featured pet-friendly cottages and villas, you are not only spoiled for choice across the UK but also throughout France, Italy and Ireland too. Many of our properties do not charge extra for taking pets, so now is the ideal time to plan your next holiday with your special friend. To help you, here are 5 top tips for taking your pet on holiday.

1. Make sure your pet is micro-chipped

Whilst new places are exciting, they also can be confusing for animals. These days micro-chipping your pet is easy and will help get you re-united quickly and with the least amount of fuss and stress. If you haven’t got your pet micro-chipped yet, going away is a great cue for getting this done and will provide extra peace of mind both at home and whilst you are on holiday. If you have already had your pet micro-chipped some time ago, booking your holiday is the ideal time to check and make sure all your details are up-to-date.

2.  Prepare your pet checklist

One of the great benefits of taking your pet on holiday is that you do not have to worry about someone else looking after them while you are away. In order to help make sure things run smoothly prepare a checklist for your pet identifying all the essentials before you go. This should include basic things like leads and pet food, but, remember, if you are travelling abroad EU pet passports are required for travel to France and Ireland. Sit down and think in order to get everything noted down and checked off so that you can avoid that sinking feeling half way down the road!

3. Plan your journey with your pet in mind

Travelling to your cottage should be exciting – as you embark with eager anticipation on a journey to your next ‘home from home’. To make the experience as stress free as possible it is a good idea to plan your pit stops ahead of your journey.  Try to avoid feeding your pet a couple of hours prior to setting off, and, if you have a long way to go, make sure you break up your journey in places where there is plenty of opportunity exercise your pet. It is a good idea to keep simple snacks and bottled water easy to hand, and for that extra re-assurance, make sure your pet’s favourite blanket and/or toy are close by.

4. Check out the locality before you go

Be prepared and check out the local dos and don’ts as you identify the best walking opportunities in the vicinity. Whilst we are a nation of pet lovers, be aware that certain parts of coastal Britain impose restrictions on which times of the year pets have access, particularly beaches. Avoid disappointment and pin-point where restrictions apply before you go. Familiarise yourself with local pet friendly amenities. It is also a good idea to note down local veterinary telephone numbers ahead of time.

5. Have Fun!

With beautiful countryside in the UK, France or Ireland awaiting your arrival, your cottage or villa break is sure to be memorable for you and your pet. We all live busy lives these days and our holidays are precious but this is special time for your pet too. All those exciting new smells and sights to explore will make your cottage holiday exhilarating for your four legged companion too. Be prepared and take a few simple steps to ensure you make the most of your holiday together. Enjoy!

Visit our pet friendly page for the latest news and information on holidaying with your four-legged friends.

5 of our favourites: Scottish whisky tours

Anyone that has been to Scotland on a cottage holiday knows that there is an absolute wealth of fantastic things to do. One activity that always get visitors excited is a tour of the local distilleries. There really is no better way of experiencing traditional whisky making, with a distillery tour really giving a fascinating insight into the science behind it. So we’e going to take a look at some of the finest the auld country has to offer.

The Ben Nevis Distillery

Established in Fort William in 1825, the Ben Nevis remains one of the oldest licenced distilleries in Scotland. As the name suggests, it is nestled in the beautiful surroundings of Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest mountain, so is a perfect location for a spot of sight-seeing too.

Visitors can enjoy a full guided tour and a complimentary tasting session. Bottoms up!

The Famous Grouse Experience

This is claimed to be Scotland’s ‘premier’ whisky tour. Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Glenturret has been the home of the Famous Grouse brand for hundreds of years, and guests can enjoy the full milling, mashing, fermenting and distilling process happening right before their very eyes.

This distillery also has an interactive learning zone, which is a really dynamic way to learn more about whisky. There are ‘scent pods’, as well as sensory and touch challenges, and for children a fantastic virtual reality tour of some of Scotland’s finest landmarks on the back of the famous old grouse himself.

Auchentoshan Distillery

This distillery is actually the closest to Glasgow, and can be reached within 20 minutes drive from the city centre. What is unique about Auchentoshan is that it is actually Scotland’s only triple distilled single malt whisky. This creates a smooth and delicate flavour – which you can experience on one of the exclusive VIP tasting sessions.

Auchentoshan was established way back in 1823, and is one of only three distilleries still in operation in the Scottish Lowlands.

Glenkinchie Malt Distillery

For anyone enjoying a cottage holiday in Edinburgh, then a trip to the Glenkinchie Malt Distillery is a must. Just a 20 minute drive or bus trip through the leafy countryside of East Lothian, this listed red brick building is a joy to behold in itself.

Visitors can sample the Glenkinchie Malt – which is renowned for its floral and spicy taste – in the in-house bar, and guests will receive a £3 discount voucher against a bottle of single malt on entry.

Glengoyne Distillery

Easily accessible from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Loch Lomond, the Glengoyne scotch whisky distillery is open for business all year round.

The Glengoyne offers that something extra special on its tours – the chance for guests to create their own blended whisky! This will be bottled for you to take away and wow your friends and family with.

So if you are looking to book a cottage retreat in Scotland, then why not stop by your local distillery, and prepare to be amazed by the sights and smells of whisky making! Find holiday cottages in Scotland.

 

Top 5 romantic staycations

With Valentine’s Day less than a month away, we’re getting in the mood for love at cottages4you!

We recently carried out some research that told us that exactly half of married couples have honeymooned in the UK – with a further 64 per cent having returned to, or are already planning to revisit, their honeymoon destination to rekindle those magical memories!

If you’re not one of those already planning a romantic break, we’ve got together with our friends at VisitEngland to provide the following guide to ‘five of the best’ activities and places to stay across England on February 14th.

 1. The Peak District – Experience a taste of Pride and Prejudice

Chatsworth in the Peak District stands in for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice, arguably the most romantic love story of all time!

Where to stay: Orchard Cottage, Holmesfield, Derbyshire (cottages4you ref: QWM)

In a picturesque country location on the edge of the Peak District, this cosy, beamed cottage with its own terrace overlooking orchards, has been meticulously converted from 18th-century stables and furnished in a traditional style.

Price: £272 for a four night self-catering stay arriving Monday, 13th February. This equates to £34 pppn.

2. Norfolk – Visit the romantic final scene from Shakespeare in Love

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays in the film Shakespeare in Love (1998).The romantic final scene was filmed on Holkham Beach in North Norfolk.

Where to stay: Flint Cottage, Fakenham, North Norfolk (cottages4you ref: AD81)

This delightful, tastefully furnished, 19th-century holiday cottage is set in a quiet location and is approximately 10 miles from Holkham Beach.

Price: As part of cottages4you’s Winter Sale, the property was £329, now £284.15 for a four night self-catering stay arriving Monday, 13th February. This equates to £11.84 pppn

3.  The New Forest – What better place to escape to than ‘Lover’ in The New Forest?

What more romantic setting could there be than a place named Lover? This peaceful forest hamlet at the northern tip of the New Forest, is an ideal place for couples to visit, if only to pose by the village sign for an amusing photo opportunity!  The nearby woodlands also provide a lovely spot for a romantic stroll.

Where to stay: The Stable Beaulieu, Beaulieu, Hants. (cottages4yoy ref: DBBD)

The Stable at Beaulieu is set in a peaceful, rural location with direct access to The New Forest. The detached, former stables has been converted to a high standard, whilst its wood-burning stove makes it a perfect holiday retreat on those cold winter nights.

Price: £306 for a four night self-catering stay arriving Monday, 13th February. This equates to £38.25pppn

4. Northumberland – let stargazing put you in the mood for romance!

Kielder Forest is a great location for gazing up at the clearest and least light polluted skies in the country. A perfect destination in which to experience the great outdoors, the magnificent landscape holds ideal conditions for stargazing, with regular star camps allowing amateur astronomers to sleep under the stars.

Where to stay: Bankhouse Farm Cottages – Middle Berry, Guyzance, Northumberland (cottages4you ref: MQS)

One of 12 charming holiday cottages set in a beautiful small development of traditional farmhouse and barn conversions – providing a gateway to the picturesque Northumberland National Park.

Price: £280 for a four night self-catering stay arriving Monday, 13th February. This equates to £17.50 pppn

 5. Cambridge – take a romantic stroll or go punting on the River Cam

Represented by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (otherwise known as Kate and Wills, the world’s most famous newlyweds), Cambridge is the perfect place for a romantic date. Go punting on the River Cam, take a stroll through the history-steeped colleges and have afternoon tea at Grantchester. This riverside village is home to the Orchard Tea Garden, where artists, poets, writers and intellectuals have met for picnics for over a century.

Where to stay: Netherall Manor Lodge, near Ely, Cambridgeshire (cottages4you ref: 50311)

A charming converted stables with clock tower is situated in the grounds of the owner’s house, providing a quietly secluded, idyllic setting.

Price: As part of cottages4you’s Winter Sale, the property was £209, now £191.10 for a four night self-catering stay arriving Monday, 13th February. This equates to £15.93 pppn

Comic book locations

The Man of Steel...in plastic

As it’s National Comic Book Day this weekend, we thought we’d take a look at some real-world locations that have hosted film adaptations of our favourite superheroes.

Like the books themselves, there’s everything from billionaires’ mansions to villains’ lairs and heroic hideaways. If you’d like to pay any of them a visit, please stop off at the cottages4you website first. We feature a range of accommodation all over the UK – secret caves not usually included!

Batman

You may think the reason the Welsh tourist board aren’t crowing about their latest celebrity resident is because he’s a sociopathic vigilante who spends his nights beating up individuals with low moral fibre. But it’s probably because the latest (and last?) Batman film is shrouded in secrecy. Still, it’s obviously not so secret that Wales Online didn’t uncover the plot. According to their website, The Dark Knight Rises film crew recently visited Henrhyd Waterfall in the Brecon Beacons for a few days’ filming.

The new Batcave?

Considering the waterfall in question offers a stunning 30 metre drop and covers a cavern, it’s not too hard to guess what they were filming. So if you fancy posing by the entrance to the Batcave before anyone else, lace up your walking boots, strap on your utility belt and take a trip to the beautiful Beacons!

Batman’s other home, a revamped Wayne Manor, is said to be Woolaton Hall in Nottingham – as evidenced by the crew spending a few days there over the summer. And unlike Wayne Manor, Woolaton welcomes curious visitors for most of the year.

 

Superman

Not to be outdone, the Man of Steel has also visited these shores – or at least his villains did. Superman II featured Kryptonian villain General Zod and his band of merry misfits landing of Earth to cause trouble for our under-panted hero. And while the film attempted to convince you that the villains’ arrived in the American mid-west, the reality was closer to home.

Black Park in Buckinghamshire featured as the first location the villains visit (it’s opposite Pinewood Studios, so has hosted many more films including Bond, Dracula and Batman) and the small American town they invade was actually Chobham Common in Surrey!

Captain America

We already pointed out the irony of Captain America filming pretty much everywhere but the USA before its release this summer. Still, US film tourism’s loss is our gain, as there are plenty of places to follow in “The First Avenger’s” footsteps – including the site of his first proper action scene.

The villainous HYDRA base in the film was located in an old army base in the Caerwent countryside. And while ‘old army base’ doesn’t sound like an ideal place to visit (nor indeed does ‘villainous HYDRA base’), we are assured that Caerwent village is lovely.

Captain Manchester

Early scenes of the good Captain chasing a villain through Brooklyn were actually filmed in the very hip Northern Quarter of Manchester, which makes it more ‘Coronation Street’ than ‘Mean Streets’. Still, there’s plenty of trendy bars and equally trendy beards on display if you fancy exploring the area.

The X-Men

Set in the swinging sixties, the recent X-Men First Class featured much setting of jets, but a significant portion of its running time was spent on UK shores. The iconic Xavier Mansion was actually Englefield House in Berkshire and although it’s a private residence you can still take a walk through the gardens from 1 April until the end of October.

Bodleian Library

A large amount of filming took place at Oxford to mark the scenes where Charles Xavier received his second superpower: a professorship. Oxford’s historic Catte Street hosted the majority of filming, including exteriors of the Bodleian Library. Hertford College also doubled as a pub – though, obviously, the reality is a different story!

Can you recommend any UK filming locations? Leave a comment below!

 

A Tour of Britain

As tough as it must be for the competitors on the Tour of Britain, it’s hard not to be a little bit jealous of the unique opportunity they’ve been given to enjoy some of the UK’s finest scenery.

So as we enter the midway point, we thought we’d take a moment to look at some of the visual highlights of the Tour. You may not get similarly stunning appreciation of the locations from this article but, on the brightside, you won’t get saddle sore either! (Though if you do fancy your own tour, we’ve added a link to our search page at the bottom of the article).

First stage: The Devil’s Beef Tub

The first stage of the race saw the Skoda King of the Mountains climb above the iconic, and oddly named Devil’s Beef Tub, a large cavernous hollow in the land where raiders would hide their stolen cattle. Said raiders were often known as ‘Devils’, which at least helps to explain the name of this stunning geographic formation, if not adequately describe its loveliness!

The site also has other ties with Scottish history, as William Wallace’s sister married the Lord of the nearby Corehead Tower. Apparently this site was also where Wallace gathered his men for the first attack against the English. It’s a little more peaceful now, though there are still monuments to its colorful history – not that the riders had much chance to admire them!

Second stage: Blackpool

Top (middle and bottom) of the Tower!

 


After a day of climbing, you would imagine that no one would be happier to be beside the seaside than the Tour of Britain competitors. After an early part of the stage exploring Kendal, Grizedale Fell and a little part of the Yorkshire Moors, the second stage was set to finish with a nice flat sprint along Blackpool’s north shore, finishing at the foot of the iconic tower.

Sadly, it seems no one told Hurricane Katia, as her destructive influence on the weather caused a rest day for the riders. Still, if you have to take a rest-day, there are few better places to spend it than Blackpool. We’d recommend a trip to the zoo, a journey to the top of the Tower – making sure you visit the ballroom – and a stop-off at the Pleasure Beach.

Third stage: Trentham Estate

The beautiful Italian Gardens of the Trentham Estate near Stoke-on-Trent provide the starting point for the third leg of the event. According to the website, the garden’s planting scheme is ‘based upon a naturalistic style which combines herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses’, which in layman’s terms means it’s worth a visit all year round.

There’s plenty more to see and do at the Trentham Estate, including a shopping village, garden centre, labyrinth and monkey forest with 140 monkeys and 12 new arrivals!

Fourth stage: Wales

Powis Castle

There are plenty of highlights on the fourth leg of the Tour of Britain – including some of Wales’ finest attractions. The stage is set at Powis Castle, a wonderfully preserved medieval monument that houses many treasures from India. If that’s not enough to keep you entertained, there’s also a 26 acre garden to enjoy.

Another highlight from the ‘Land of Song’ is, appropriately, the National Cycle Collection at Llandrindod Wells, which should come in useful if any of the riders get a puncture – assuming they can ride Boneshakers. Finally, the highest point of the Tour is a climb of the majestic Brecon Beacons mountain range.

Fifth stage: Dartmoor

The next leg takes place entirely in Devon, so it seems only fitting to choose one of the county’s most loved areas as its highlight. The wild moorland peaks and tors of Dartmoor make for a lovely secluded place to visit – though this is probably why it’s going to be the least popular with competitors!

The highest point of the Devon stretch is located outside The Warren House Inn. At 1425ft above sea level, this is said to be the third highest pub in England. At least if you make it up there you’re guaranteed a warm welcome – the fire inside the pub has supposedly been burning since 1845!

Sixth stage: Cheddar Gorge

The real life Helms Deep

With its steep inclines, dramatic peaks and amazing views, Cheddar Gorge in Somerset makes an ideal location for walkers, climbers cavers and cyclists.

The route up through the limestone gorge is the first serious climb of the day and, due to its popularity with tourists, is probably going to be one of the most crowded spectator spots on the tour.

The oldest complete human skeleton was found in the gorge. Supposedly dating from 7150 BC, ‘Cheddar Man’ subsequently upped sticks and moved to London when he became famous. He now resides in the Natural History Museum in London, though a replica is exhibited in the Cheddar museum. Another interesting fact: JRR Tolkien came to the area on honeymoon in 1916. It’s thought that the Cheddar caves may have inspired the cavernous stronghold of Helm’s Deep from The Two Towers. Whether that’s true or not is up for you to decide. Either way, it’s an undeniably otherwordly location.

Seventh stage: Sandringham Estate

Sandringham House Garden

The penultimate leg of the Tour finishes with a sprint to the Sandringham Estate, so you should have plenty of time to enjoy the house and gardens before it gets too crowded!

The official Sandringham website recommends at least 4 hours to explore everything, so let’s see what’s on offer…

Built in 1870 by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Sandringham is now the rather large holiday home of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Take a trip through the house and you’ll find guides in every room ready to answer any questions you may have. Some of the more interesting curios are held in the estate’s museum, however, which houses gifts from state trips abroad. If you have the energy there are 24 hectares of gardens to explore outside, so don’t be surprised to find yourself as tired the Tour pack when they arrive at the end of the stage!

Last stage: London

As a 24-hour city, it goes without saying that London is filled with activities, so we’re sure you don’t need us to recommend something to see or do! After several days touring through the relative tranquility of some of England, Scotland and Wales’ most scenic locales, the vibrant capital will make a welcome contrast for both competitors and spectators – though we wouldn’t surprised if everyone favours an early night after the finish at Whitehall!

Find more info on the Tour website.

Please visit the main cottages4you website if you fancy taking your own tour of Britain. You can search by map, region or price.

 

 

 

Anyone for tennis?

Do you know that if Andy Murray wins Wimbledon this year he will be the first player from the UK to do so since Fred Perry in 1936? While this may not fill us with confidence it does suggest that we might need a little more practice if we’re going to see more Brits lift the trophy in the next few years.

With that in mind we’ve decided to showcase some of our featured properties with private tennis courts. So, even if Murray doesn’t make it to the final, he could still get a game on in July (pending availability!).

Please click on the property refs to see the listings on cottages4you. Feel free to list your tips for Wimbledon in the comments section below too!

Coach House  in  Loddiswell, nr. Kingsbridge, S. Devon.

Property ref: HDR

Sunny, spacious, ground floor holiday property with arched windows and a delightful, enclosed, south-facing cottage garden with far-reaching views over the open countryside. The property enjoys a tranquil and beautiful setting on the private estate of Woolston House, a fine Georgian country residence approached by a long estate drive bordered by mature garden. There is shared use of a large outdoor heated swimming pool and en-tout-cas tennis court.

Worton Park Cottages – The Old Rectory  in  Worton, Cassington, Witney, Oxon

Property ref: NJL

The Old Rectory, a detached listed building, and Corner Cottage, an idyllic Cotswolds detached stone property are situated at Worton, a hamlet between the villages of Cassington and Yarnton, both mentioned in the Domesday Book. Owned by Christchurch College, Oxford until 1774, the Old Rectory and its surroundings are of great historical interest. The holiday properties are at the end of a quiet lane with ample parking at the front and a large private garden to the rear (use of tennis court by arrangement with owner).

Rosecraddoc Manor – Gibson  in  Liskeard

Property ref: CV11

Rosecraddoc Manor features a variety of properties surrounding the historic Manor House to cater for all tastes whether classic, modern, cosy or cottage style is what you are looking for. The manor was built in the 1820s on the site of a much older house mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is Grade II listed, along with two bridges in the grounds, and has now been converted into these attractive apartments and villas, making a perfect base for your Cornish holiday. Free all-weather tennis court and coarse fishing all year.

South Wing  in  Hunmanby, Filey, N. Yorkshire

Property ref: IRU

This magnificent south-facing Grade II* listed home dates back to the early 17th century and is full of fabulous original features including a magnificent oak-panelled dining room and hand-carved 17th-century fireplace. Most recently home to an independent girls school, this the principal wing housed the headmistress’ study and staffrooms. It sits in nearly 2 acres of beautiful gardens bordering a 9-hole golf course, gym, tennis courts and additional communal gardens and woodland walks. A little path through the garden leads to Hunmanby, a thriving village with several pubs, restaurants, a bakery, deli and supermarket.

Lake Cottage  in  Ivy Court Cottages, Llys-y-Fran

Property ref: W42506

These beautiful cottages have been tastefully renovated from a traditional Welsh barn and are set in the heart of Pembrokeshire alongside the Llys-y-Fran Country Park and reservoir. There are plenty of facilities available for guests free of charge, including croquet and badminton, a heated covered swimming pool, all-weather tennis court and a children’s play garden. There is good fishing as the lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout throughout the season. Also the Country Park which is less than a minutes’ walks has a 200 acre reservoir and an impressive 100ft dam, the largest game fishing in west Wales.