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Holiday cottage news and editorial

To help you choose where to take your cottage holiday we have gathered together news and articles from around the UK and Ireland. This information is provided by and you will find many more longer features and news stories in the latest issue of the magazine.

Get up-to-the minute holiday news on the Holiday Cottages blog.

Pier’s back

Just two years after it was devastated by fire, the pier at Weston-super-Mare was due to re-open as we went to press. A £51 million refit has left the pier well equipped to meet the needs of 21st century holidaymakers, with new high-tech rides and games, including two genuine formula one simulators where drivers can see just how good they really are.

The pier’s owners, brother and sister Kerry and Michelle Michael, are aiming high with the ambitious project. They want the pier to be an all-year attraction,with a hall large enough to hold 3,000 people for concerts or 1,000 for banquets, as well as conference facilities. Traditional holiday visitors and day-trippers will be catered for by the amusement park, which includes 18 rides, as well as 26 shops and food outlets.

Entrance to the pier remains free, so it will be possible simply to stroll out to sea or sit in the sun, but the Michaels hope the wide range of attractions will see 3.5 million visitors a year spending an average of £4.60 each.

Late booking boost

A combination of good early summer weather and economic uncertainty produced a late booking surge for UK-based holidays, with many people leaving their holiday decisions to the last minute.

The General Manager of Visit Devon, Rosie Bates, says that there are complex reasons for this trend: “Uncertainty about the economic future and the emergency budget led many people to delay making a decision about their holidays this year. The exchange rate with the euro and dollar and the problems with air travel have all helped to encourage people to holiday at home. On the positive side the good weather has definitely helped attract visitors to make late bookings for holidays in Devon.”

The surge in UK holidays follows news that last year the number of trips made by Brits to foreign countries fell at the fastest rate since the 1970s, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In 2009 the ONS recorded 58.6 million trips, down from 69 million in 2008, and says the number of foreign visitors coming to Britain also fell, though only from 31.1 million to 29.9 million. That’s in sharp contrast to the previous 25 years, when trips abroad grew on average by 4 per cent a year and trips into the UK by 3.2 per cent.

Click here to view list of reports from ONS

Ride, stride and support

There’s another opportunity in September to explore and enjoy the English countryside by taking part in Ride+Stride, a sponsored walk or bike ride between 10,000 participating churches. The event involves over 13,000 people of all ages, crosses 34 counties and opens the doors to some of the landscape’s most unusual and unknown churches.

The event has run each year since it began in Suffolk in 1981, and last year’s event raised £1.5 million for church restoration. This year’s event was on Saturday 11 September, with churches open from 10am – 6pm. The idea is that you sign up with the Churches Trust in your chosen county and find sponsors for your walk or ride between whichever churches you fancy. The route can be as long or short as you like, visiting two, or however many more you like, churches. The sponsorship money can all go to your favourite church, or to all the churches in that county.

Cyclists and walkers lucky enough to live in Cumbria, or planning to be on holiday there, might like to put together a route including the charming Newlands Church in the hamlet of Littletown; Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy Winkle was dedicated to the Vicar’s daughter. In Dorset, participants could head over to Loders’ St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, to offer sympathy and support to its gargoyle with toothache.

Riders and striders in Wiltshire can picnic by Bremilham Church in Cowage farmyard, the tiniest church in the UK, which has one pew and seats four. Or over to Kent and spend the day on Romney Marsh visiting St Clements Church, Old Romney which boasts pale pink pews, having been painted for the filming of Dr Syn in the 1960s, and which were kept because the parishioners liked them. Or wander to St Thomas a Becket in Fairfield, which sits in the middle of a meadow that was only accessible by boat until the 1960s.

Ride+Stride is ideal for the young and old, the energetic and the more relaxed. In 2009, the oldest participant was a 101 year old lady from Oxfordshire who walked between six churches in hilly countryside; the youngest was still in his push chair. Some walk between two and three churches, others are more ambitious – one inspired rambler spent two weeks running 630 miles along the South West Coastal Path from his local church, St John the Baptist, Buckhorn Weston, to Poole in Dorset.

There is also the opportunity to relax and recharge between journeys, with most churches offering a display of snacks and drinks, from cakes and biscuits to home grown plums and orange squash. In fact, you don't even need to participate in the main event, as this is an ideal opportunity simply to visit a church, knowing it – and its collection box! – will be open.

Ride+Stride helps preserve some of Britain’s 47,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses. Many historical landmarks are falling into severe disrepair and need our help. The event is supported by The National Churches Trust, in partnership with County Churches Trusts nationwide. Keen cyclist and Channel 4 news presenter, Jon Snow, is the patron. Another keen supporter is author Bill Bryson, who said: “No feature of the English countryside is more important, or potentially more vulnerable, than its churches. That’s why I am so delighted to support Ride+Stride.”




Holiday news from the blog

Long-form holiday features

Escape to the country

Running a holiday cottage business in deepest Devon looked just the job for a high-powered oil industry executive looking to de-stress. James Baron has been finding out if it was as idyllic as it sounds

More than meets the eye

There's much more to the New Forest than just trees and ponies. Gillian Thornton discovered heathland and heather, deer, D-Day and donkeys

A gem of a city

Think of Cheshire and you might picture lush green pastures and footballers’ bling. Yet it’s the county’s Roman-walled capital city, packed with history and atmosphere, that’s the real sparkler, says Alexandra Pratt

Scotland for softies

Beaches, rockpools, swimming, cycling... Paul Kirkwood found there’s no end to the delights of the bit of Scotland that’s easiest to reach from most of England

All roads lead to... Harrogate

The elegant spa town of Harrogate is an unbeatable base for an active short break. Gillian Thornton enjoyed a girlie weekend of chic shops, spectacular countryside and the ultimate in self-catering apartments

Moor magic

The Exmoor coast between Minehead and Combe Martin has some of the best scenic views in the West Country. Gillian Thornton enjoyed the North Devon countryside and its four-legged residents

The walking cure

It looked as if Charlie the dog needed a break. So, naturally, Eve Kerswill and her husband took him on a cottage holiday

Devon delights

A thatched cottage with a history, country walks, market shopping and fish and chips by the sea... they all made a perfect weekend for Katherine Rake

Top tips for group getaways

Harry Marsland of Brackenrigg Holiday Cottages in the Lake District says organising – and enjoying – a celebration break with friends and family is simple. All you need is a little planning…

Our Snowdon adventure

Climbing to the top of Mount Snowdon,the highest mountain in England and Wales, was too much of a challenge for Solange Hando, her daughter and ten-year-old grandson to ignore – so up they went

Wonderful Wolds

Peter Henshaw spends a weekend sampling the many delights of Lincolnshire

Walk the Wight Way

With its wonderful countryside and 500 miles of footpaths, the Isle of Wight is ideal for a walking holiday. Harry Glass pulled on his hiking boots…

Beauty on the border

Carlingford Lough is a stunning natural boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Jeremy Taylor pays a visit

A right song and dance

Nowhere is the Irish music scene more vibrant than the west coast bars of County Clare. Jeremy Taylor pays a visit to soak up the craic

Beyond the scone zone

Peter Henshaw goes for a walk in the Cotswolds and finds a gastronomic gem, fierce winds and the ancient sport of shin kicking!

Riverside rambles, moorland magic

You’ll find walking trails, wide open spaces, waterfalls, picture-perfect villages, historic towns and fantastic food in Wensleydale and Wharfedale. Gillian Thornton did

Peak party people

Want to go with a large group of friends for a long weekend of walking, cycling and partying? Sarah Merry found just the place in Derbyshire’s Peak District

A one-horse town it ain’t

To find out everything you wanted to know about breeding and racing horses but were afraid to ask, go to Newmarket. Gillian Thornton did

Pleasing the punters

Cambridge makes a great day out if you’re staying in Norfolk or Suffolk. Former student Tom Kerswill takes you on an insider’s tour of arguably Britain’s most famous university city

10 reasons to visit Norfolk

Looking forward to a break in Norfolk? Linda Pyke recommends ten attractions for all ages to enjoy – from Bishy-barney-bees to antique teapots and going ape in Thetford Forest

A Tamar tonic

On the steep slopes where miners and market gardeners once trod lies a hidden gem created from an old mine. Sounds unlikely? John Kerswill thought so too, until he stayed there and was enchanted by the sights and sounds of the Tamar Valley

Ardnamurchan Peninsula - Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Scotland's Ardnamurchan peninsula – not Cornwall's Land's End – is as far west as the roads in mainland Britain will take you. Angela Dewar enjoyed total seclusion in this unspoilt wilderness

10 Reasons to visit Edinburgh

A dramatic castle and a royal palace, an award-winning environmental attraction and a world-class literary heritage – if you're renting a cottage in the Scottish lowlands, make sure you visit Edinburgh, says Gillian Thornton

Essex pearls

Resorts like Southend-on-Sea have helped to give Essex a kiss-me-quick image, but away from the kitsch Alison Thomas finds a county full of wildlife, fantastic food and history

Northern Ireland: Causeway Capers

If you haven't ever thought about booking a holiday cottage in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, Harry Glass has ten good reasons why you should


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