A short walk in the woods

I recently spent a week at The Hideaway cottage in Bolney, Sussex. Having two young children the property was perfectly suited to their needs: it was self-contained, offered plenty of room for them to play and was situated close to some of Sussex’s most popular attractions. Both my girls also loved the chickens in the garden (the eggs helped!) while my wife and I were more taken by the peace, quiet and welcoming bottle of wine left by the owners. But one thing we all ended up loving about the property was its close proximity to Ashdown Forest…

Set atop the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ashdown offers nearly 10 square miles of common land; in fact it’s supoosedly the largest public-access area in southeast England. We were all very keen to get out and explore the area, but having the girls with us we  were also mindful of the fact that we’d need somewhere they’d be able to stretch their legs and, when sufficiently tired, somewhere we’d be comfortable carrying them round.

We soon decided on the Pooh Walk at Gills Lap. Author AA Milne was a regular visitor and his tales of Winnie the Pooh owe a special debt to the beauty of the surrounding landscape.  Gills Lap itself offers two walks: an adventurous 3 mile trek past Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place and a half mile walk past the Enchanted Place, Heffalump Trap, Roo’s Sandy Pit and more. We set intended to do the longer walk but, having spent too long trying to trap a Heffalump at the Heffalump Trap (someone really needs to think about that name!) we had to settle for the shorter walk. Not that we minded, despite the weather not being in our favour the short walk takes in some beautiful locations with breathtaking views and stunning colours.

From the Gills Lap car park a short 200 metre walk (which can seem a little longer with easily distracted youngsters and plenty of puddles!) leads you to the Enchanted Place on the right.

From there a left turn takes you a few metres down to the Heffalump Trap – notable for its lack of actual Heffalumps. The reality of a lovely little hollow where a lone pine grows more than makes up for this, at least for the grown-ups!

Walk back up the path and turn left, after about 10 metres and you arrive at the tribute to Milne and EH Shepard, the illustrator of Pooh’s adventures. The views here are stunning, so it’s no surprise to find the author was so keen on dreaming up Pooh’s idyllic escapades there.

Turn right from the memorial and you soon arrive at the site of Roo’s Sandy Pit. Now a disused quarry it could just as easily be called ‘Roo’s Big Puddle of Water’. Undeterred, my girls decided they had to go down for a closer look. The bank here was a little slippy, so be careful if you try to walk down it.

Follow the path round from the ‘Sandy Pit’ and you arrive back at the car park. It’s a short and sweet stroll through some of Sussex’s finest scenery. If you fancy rounding up your adventure with a little refreshment you might also want to pay a visit to the nearby village of Hartfield. There you’ll find ‘Pooh Corner’, a lovely little tearoom that contains plenty of refreshment and lots of Winnie the Pooh souvenirs.

You can find more info on The Hideaway on cottages4you.

Posted by Ben Webster.

Cottage of the week – Kath’s diary at The Waterfront pt. 4

Here’s part 4 of Kath’s break at The Waterfront in Fort William.

Tuesday 27th September 2011

So today we had hoped to execute a long cycle ride… sadly my legs said otherwise and over breakfast we decided to postpone until tomorrow. OK, I persuaded Ian with my sad face… I am on holiday after all! Instead we jumped in the car and headed North along the A82 to Inverness for some city culture… and shopping! See what I did there?

The route was a scenic wonder taking us through dense dark pine forests and our first stop was Spean Bridge home of the Commandos Memorial. The huge 17 foot high memorial statue was designed by Scott Sutherland in 1949 and was dedicated to the Commandos by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on 12 September 1952. UK Commandos and US Army Rangers all trained in the area around the village between 1942 and 1945. It’s obviously well visited as three coaches pulled up to stand and look in humbled silence whilst we were there.


From there we headed alongside Loch Lochy which is the route of The Great Glen Way towards Invergarry. This is where the impressive Bridge of Oich passes over The Caledonian Canal. We stopped for a look on which was one of many times we would criss cross over the canal on our way to Inverness.

Next on the list was Fort Augustus and passing over the canal swing bridge we hit the south side of the infamous Loch Ness. Of course I saw Nessie gliding along gracefully… sadly Ian blinked and missed her. Oh well Ian – you snooze, you loose!

Another well known village next… Drumnadrochit. I had thought it would be much bigger in fact it consisted of a café, a restaurant, gift shop and a ferry/cruise boardwalk. Still it was very pretty and the Nessie Cruises obviously attract as there were plenty of people around.

I hadn’t realised quite how vast Loch Ness actually was… it seemed to go on for miles (the guide book says approx 23 miles) and our route took us round most of it. It is absolutely stunning… wide, blue and Urquhart Castle is a joy to see, standing proud at it’s edge. We stopped to see this incredibly ancient ruin and I was stunned to find that radiocarbon dates obtained in 1983 from excavations within the castle were in the date range of 460-660 AD. How incredible is that? It certainly gets you thinking about times gone by and life pre our own family greats.

If you’d like more info, or to make a booking, please visit the property’s listing on cottages4you.

Cottage of the week – Kath’s diary at The Waterfront pt. 2

Our very own Kath Preston is currently enjoying a break at The Waterfront in Fort William and has very kindly agreed to share her experiences in a holiday diary. The second installment starts below. Please click here to read part one.

Sunday 25th September 2011

We decided that we would have a lazy Sunday and so didn’t set our alarm. We pottered and made fresh coffee and a cooked breakfast finished off with toast and Scottish marmalade. That’s the beauty of a cottage holiday and one of the main benefits for me … the fact that you can get up when you want and not have to dash around showering and dressing before rushing down for breakfast wondering if there would be any bacon left.

Late morning we decided that a cycle ride in to Fort William was in order as we needed to call in at the railway station. We intend to head out on the Jacobite Line later in the week but we wanted to check out the timings. With all info and  timetables in our pannier we then headed out along the cycle path towards the Nevis Range.

The path took us along  the foot of the absolutely huge Ben Nevis… not that we could see the top, it’s so gigantic it was in cloud and the day was dull and damp at best. The cycle path looked as though it has been recently formed and it was a welcome escape from the main A82 which is a very busy road. The path also took us right past the 13th century Inverlochy Castle – an important stronghold in its day within both the 1st and 2nd battles of Inverlochy. The castle is in ruins now but still worth a look so we ditched our cycles in what was once the moat and strolled round for closer look.

Carrying  further along the cycle path lead us to a route through the dense pine forest up towards Nevis Range. The path was great and as we climbed gently upwards the fresh smell of pine was absolutely heavenly. The trees were also welcome protection from the now worsening weather. I’m actually ok with cycling in the rain… we have a dog back at home so we’re often out in the elements. Besides which we were soon at the Range. Deciding not to complete the tree top trail (a monkey I am not) we agreed that the ski gondola trip up the mountain was a better option. If the weather had allowed the views I’m sure would have been spectacular as we had climbed to over 2,150feet. The lack of them led us to the bar and a welcome beer… we paid premium prices for it mind as this is essentially the UK ski world in the winter!

We returned home along the same route – downhill this time so a lot quicker. Cold and wet we were soon back at the cottage and after supper the comfy sofas and a bottle of wine seemed to be the cosy way forward.

If you’d like more info, or to make a booking, please visit the property’s listing on cottages4you. We’ll upload another installment from Kath tomorrow!

World Oceans Day – ‘Basking in Porthcurno’

As we move into the official meteorological summer, the beginning of June also heralds the arrival of scores (sometimes hundreds) of basking sharks off the coast of Cornwall. A great vantage point to take in the sight of these majestic creatures is Porthcurno at the southern tip of the Cornish peninsula. Situated just to the south of Land’s End and very close to the exquisite Sennen Cove, Porthcurno provides a stunning backdrop to view the sharks without having to take to the water.

This part of Cornwall is mesmerising and takes on a real Mediterranean quality. The azure ‘lagoon like’ bay set against rocky outcrops is more reminiscent of southern Europe. The coastal path from the delightful sandy beach to Logan’s rock provides a fantastic elevated position from which to take in the stunning view but also, if you are lucky, to view basking sharks as they pass Cornwall on their annual migratory trail. These huge ‘harmless’ creatures are following the plankton as they lumber along the British shores.

As skylarks provide the quintessential English summer soundtrack you can wander along the coastal route safe in the knowledge that you can enjoy the marine life in their natural habitat without the threat of disturbing them. Basking sharks are a protected species and there are strict guidelines about how they are approached in the water. From the land you have a great perspective and with the crystal clear quality to the water your view should be unobstructed. The ideal conditions are for a warm day with calm waters which also encourage playful dolphins to visit this stunning bay. Dolphin sightings are less frequent but their arrival delight children and adults alike!

If the weather is on your side then maybe take time to ‘bask’ yourself on the beach, surely one of Britain’s finest. Lifeguarded through the summer months this sandy beach is flanked by the stunning Minack Theatre, an amazing location for a unique outdoor experience.

With the sun on your back, the prospect of a delicious picnic and the entertainment provided by Cornwall’s special marine visitors there cannot be many better ways to relax and enjoy Britain at its very best.

Posted by Gareth Mckillop, cottages4you.

Holiday report: Discovering the delights of Keswick…

Looking for stunning scenery, plenty of walking opportunities and lush countryside as far as the eye can see?  Then perhaps a holiday cottage in the Lake District can the ideal holiday break.

Sheila Parkinson visited Greta Grove House, and sent the following report…

The Lake DistrictThe town of Keswick is located in the North of the Lake District National Park and is reached from the M6 Motorway at Penrith or by passing through the Lake District.

The apartment at Greta Grove House is in the heart of Keswick and as there is an allocated parking space there are no parking problems. Greta Grove is extremely well equipped and the décor and furnishings of the apartment are practical, tasteful, warm and relaxing.

The location of Greta Grove is excellent, situated very close to Booth’s supermarket with pubs, restaurants and cafes nearby.  Various shops are within a very short distance selling walking equipment, maps, guide books etc. 

Around Keswick there are many walks which are suitable for the serious walker or for the less energetic. Boat rides on beautiful Lake Derwent are very popular.

The Lake District - magnificent viewsThere is a motor launch which travels to Hawes End across the lake and from here the walk up ‘Cat Bells’ begins.  Cat Bells is a highly recommended walk as the views from here are magnificent in all directions.  Some scrambling is involved on this walk but if you are moderately fit it can be easily done.  A longer version of the walk returns via the lake side or through the woods back to Keswick.

Keswick has a disused railway line which is used by cyclists, (bicycles can be hired in Keswick) and walkers; suitable for wheelchair users and prams and is located behind the sports centre. It is a level, easy walk with spectacular forest, field and river scenery along the way.

Keswick can be enjoyed at any time of the year from the frosts and snow of winter; to the lambs and flowers of spring; from the beauty of summer to the breathtaking tints of autumn.

Red Nose day fun!

The national day of fun ‘Comic Relief’  or “Red Nose Day” is now a firm favourite in the calendar for us Brits. This year the fun made its way to cottages4you with a number of hilarious activities. One of the main events was the fun run. We’ve got a very steep hill at the back of our premises in Earby. “The Earby Alps” (as they’re now being referred to in some circles), took no prisoners as our fun runners took to its slopes to raise funds. Some people made it even hard for themselves by dressing up.

Here’s a bunch of photos from the jaunt..

I’m happy to report that that a fantastic £711.40 was raised on the day for Comic Relief.