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    Easter Late Availability in Devon

    Indoor & Outdoor Opportunities

    If the weather is iffy, there is nothing better to amuse the kids than an indoor heated pool. Byre Cottage, part of the North Hill Cottage Estate is a peaceful retreat deep in the North Devon countryside, which has a pool and a brand new games room. And – fingers crossed – if Easter is sunny this year, the surfing beaches of Croyde and Saunton, and the delights of Exmoor are just on the doorstep. 7 nights from April 22nd costs from £385 (sleeps 4) www.MyFavouriteHolidayCottages.co.uk

    Family House Party in Instow

    House not big enough for all the family at Easter? Redland House in the pretty seaside town of Instow, will comfortably sleeps 22 in its 11 beautifully decorated bedrooms. With far reaching views over the Torridge estuary and out to the sea beyond, this Edwardian pile has been sympathetically renovated to create a stunning holiday home, successfully blending high quality contemporary styling with original features. Minutes from the beach, famous Tarka Trail and glorious coastal walks, nearby attractions include Tapely Park (recently featured in Channel 4's 'Country House Rescue' ) and RHS Rosemoor which is particularly attractive in the spring. Four nights from Friday April 22nd costs £2500. www.MyFavouriteHolidayCottages.co.uk

    Steam Railway Holiday Cottages

    It's full steam ahead for Britain's heritage railways this year. Many lines reported improving passenger numbers last year. With the UK looking forward to welcoming more overseas visitors as pandemic concerns recede, these attractions, which exemplify the very essence of British tradition, are set for a bumper 2022.  For some, it's a day of pure nostalgia; for others, it's the delight of discovering the fascination of Victorian steam. So enjoy the pleasure of steam-hauled rides through idyllic English countryside as engines puff and clank, their trailing entourage clattering behind at breakneck speeds of up to 40mph.

    So, for all you lovers of steam, My Favourite Holiday Cottages has rural properties nationwide, many located within the haunting sound of a train whistle. Here are just a few cottages ideally placed to spend some time riding the rails.

    Go West

    Railway Cottage near Woolston on the West Somerset Railway.

    Railway buffs to Somerset will love Railway Cottage (see picture above). It adjoins the West Somerset Railway, the longest of the UK's heritage railways. There is perhaps no better holiday cottage in the West Country to get up close and personal with passing engines that range from tiny tank engines to historic expresses.

    The South Devon Railway runs along the stunning valley of the River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes, offering a treat for people of all ages. Passengers can hop off en route to visit the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and Dartmoor Otters & Buckfast Butterflies.

     

    Gitcombe House Retreat. 4-bedroom luxury near Dartmouth

    This is a superb holiday cottage sleeping up to eight guests in style in the heart of the South Devon countryside. Guests staying at Gitcombe House Retreat are spoilt for choice when it comes to heading for the sound of steam. Located close to the Paignton-Kingswear line and The South Devon Railway from Totnes to Buckfastleigh, there's the Dartmouth Steam Railway. Trains on this Dart Valley line puffs merrily between Buckfastleigh to Totnes. Alternatively, travel along the Torbay coast from Paignton to Kingswear. If you really want to do it in style, catch a pleasure boat up the Dart to Totnes0 From there (Dart  Valley Line trips optional), take a mainline train to  Newton and back to Torquay from where you can enjoy another boat trip across Torbay to Dartmouth or to Paignton to return by steam to Kingswear. You can buy inclusive 'Round Robin' boat and rail  tickets and times on the South Devon Railway website.

     

    Go Wild in Wales

    The final section of the Welsh Highland Railway connecting the North Wales coast at Caernarfon through the heart of Snowdonia to Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog re-opened a decade ago, offering trips from the North Wales coast into the heart of Snowdonia.

    Stay nearby at Bodalaw, a beautifully restored Welsh slate miners cottage in Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynned. The cottage sleeps two adults and a child in 2 bedrooms. Explore Snowdonia and the North Wales coast on foot or by steam train.

     

    Meanwhile, up north...

    With its traditional tea rooms, Pickering station is the perfect start to the North York Moors Steam Railway Whitby. Just 15 minutes walk from the station, Keld Head Farm Cottages, a group of nine traditional stone-built barns, restored by expert local craftsmen, provide an ideal family base for exploring the railway and the countryside beyond (7 nights from £364 sleeps 2 – 4).

     

    A Southern Railway

    Travel in the 1913 Observation Carriage for a panoramic view of bluebells on the Sussex Bluebell Railway in April-May. This railway runs through the prettiest East Sussex countryside for 11 sedately travelled miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead. The Bluebell was one of Britain's first preserved railways and, over time, has acquired an eclectic collection of locomotives. One of the line's attractive features is that each of its four stations is presented as it would have looked in different decades from the 1930s to the 1960s.

    Stay at Cherrystone Barn, a superb rural retreat with a hot tub for couples near Lewes. As well as travelling by train, it's also good for couples wanting to explore the East Sussex countryside on for or by bicycle.

     

    A Riverside Railway

    One of the best places to admire the Severn River is from the train. The Severn Valley Railway runs for 16 miles through beautiful countryside and knockout views from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and back. Treat yourself to a bit of  luxury at The Tudor Crest, a luxury 3-bedroom, historic holiday cottage sleeping six near Bridgnorth demands serious consideration.

    The Tudor Crest at Upton Cressett sleeps six and is very handy  for riding trains on the Severn Valley Railway

     

    All the cottages above are available via www.myfavouriteholidaycottages.co.uk. Contrary to most holiday rental sites My Favourite Holiday Cottages offers direct access to an owner's website upfront. Select your favourite and one further click links directly to the cottage owner's website.

    Treat Yourself Like Royalty at These UK Holiday Cottages

    Royal Wedding News - 4

    Well the Royal wedding invitations have been sent out, all 1900 of them, including friends, family, and assorted heads of state and dignitaries. There is outrage in the UK press that Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and once married to Prince Andrew, has been excluded from the arrangements. Ironic really when you consider the hounding the poor woman endured from the very same press when she was an official member of the Royal family! Our Monarchy has always been a colourful one, and all the more entertaining because of it.

    Other press reports indicate that London hotels are hiking room rates and cashing in on visitors wanting to stay in London around 29 April. I guess this is a simple case of supply and demand. However canny guests can stay outside London in beautiful cottages and still receive gold-standard service. The Fodder Store in Worcester offers a fridge packed with mouth-watering local food, chocs, wine, flowers and candles, a maid and concierge service, private guided tours and a spa service on request. Culls Cottage in Gloucestershire offers a personal chef who will come to your cottage and cook a gourmet meal. The chef available to guests at Highgrove Barns in Shropshire has previously served meals to Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

    Royal Wedding Holiday Cottage Connections

    Two Cottages Close to Royal Households

    As the Royal Wedding day gets closer, the Best Man (William’s brother Harry), Maid of Honour (Kate’s sister Phillipa Middleton), bridesmaids and pageboys have all been chosen. The wedding dress and flowers are still to be announced. One thing for sure is that the bridal bouquet will include a sprig of Myrtle. Known as the ‘herb of love’, the fragrant white-flowers have been carried by all Royal brides since Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840. Following a long-running tradition, the myrtle will be taken from Queen Victoria’s private garden at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight and transported to London in time for the big day.

    Osborne House was the grand summer palace of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and, now open to the public, offers a fascinating insight into Royal life through the centuries. Visitors to the Isle of Wight may like to stay at Afton Thatch, a quintessential British holiday cottage, and one of the UK's best country houses. Tasteful and yet understated, this lovely cottage features antiques, handmade curtains and upholstered furniture throughout.

    Highgrove, in Gloucestershire is the current royal residence of HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Whilst the house is private, the grounds are open to the public on carefully organised tours and are acknowledged to be some of the most inspired and innovative gardens in the UK. There is a lovely shop too. Stay nearby at Churn Cottage in Tetbury, one of a number of charming and sympathetically restored stone houses at The Great Tythe Barn.

    UK Holiday Cottages with Royal Wedding Associations

    Honeymoon escapes suitable for a Royal Couple

    You don’t have to be in London to share the excitement of the Royal Wedding. The UK has been officially granted a ‘Bank Holiday’ or day off on 29 April, and the licensing laws have been extended to allow pubs and restaurant to serve until 1am – so the whole country will be partying locally as well as centrally. Arrangements for thousands of street parties are well under way, recalling the neighbourhood celebrations of the Queen’s Silver and Diamond Jubilees. Many towns and villages will be holding carnivals and fetes where overseas visitors are sure to be made very welcome.

    Latest wedding gossip is that the newly-weds will choose a UK destination for their honeymoon. It may be Scotland. Prince Charles and his brother Prince Edward both chose the Royal Estate of Balmoral, in Aberdeenshire to take their brides once the wedding day was over. Just a stone’s throw from the Balmoral Estate is Dalbrack, a charming, traditional Scottish cottage set in the heart of Royal Deeside and all its courtly connections. Surrounded by spectacular highland scenery, its perfect walking country, and you can visit the grounds of the Estate too.

    Rumour has it that the Royal couple may go south rather than north, and a secret hideaway in the Scilly Isles just off the Cornish Coast has been mentioned. Another secret hideaway in Cornwall is Argantel, three serene cottages in the historic village of St Agnes, set in a peaceful woodland valley winding gently down to a beautiful bathing beach, and an ideal base to explore Southern Cornwall.

    Find more great holiday cottages for honeymoons and romantic retreats at www.MyfavouriteHolidayCottages.co.uk

    Holiday Cottages for Royal Weddings

    Friday 29 April will be a day of national celebration in the UK. The Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton has been long awaited and what a great excuse for a party! Having been amongst the crowds of well-wishers lining the streets of London at the last ‘big’ Royal wedding, I can report that it was a truly festive occasion with everyone welcome.

    Like us, thousands of people went to London that day, drawn by the promise of witnessing history. Although we only had a glimpse of Princess Diana and her voluminous dress as she passed along the Mall in her royal carriage it was well worth the journey. Just like guests at any wedding, all were on their best behaviour and the happiness was infectious.

    If you are planning to visit the UK this year what better time to come? Spring will be in the air, and even if you don’t have an invite to Westminster Abbey you can hop on the train to London to share in the festivities. Stand anywhere along the route from Buckingham Palace via the Mall, St James Park, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and into Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey to be part of the excitement of the day. Or join the crowds to celebrate in Hyde Park where all the matrimonial events will be broadcast on giant screens.

    Stay on delightful Heath Farm deep in the English countryside yet only an hour from London by train. Parlour, Rose and Stable Cottages are part of a small working family farm in Sussex, also known as ‘The Garden of England’ – a perfect place to be in the spring. (Don’t miss the nearby bluebells).

    Or try Gold award-winning Coachman Cottage in Wiltshire, near Bath. Set in the very heart of the traditional English village of Steeple Ashton with its local pub, church and village shop this luxury cottage, sleeping up to 4, is a short drive from the local station and direct trains to London in 90 minutes.

    For more great cottages visit www.myfavouriteholidaycottages.co.uk

    UK Holiday Cottages Close to Bluebell Woods

    Where to See the Bluebells Next Spring

     

    East Sussex Woodlands

    Arlington Bluebell Walk, East Sussex from mid-April to early May. Swathes of blue carpet the fields and woodlands at Arlington where there are 8 walks of differing degrees over 3 farms. The Blue Walk is gravelled and suitable for wheelchair users, and mobility scooters are available for hire. Stay at  Fuggles Cottage near Robertsbridge, a delightful cottage for couples for a weekend break filled with romantic bluebell walks.

     

    Bluebells and the Sea

    The bluebells stretch from the walled gardens to the sea at Hartland Abbey in North Devon and visitors are welcome, especially on their legendary Bluebell Days in late April and early May. Circular walks through the grounds include a stroll to, home of the Dashwood family in the 2007 film of Sense & Sensibility. Bring friends and family and stay nearby at Old Chapel in Clovelly on the North Devon coast, a large holiday cottage that sleeps 8.

     

    Cotswold Bluebells

    Sloping gently down to the River Evenlode, Foxholes Nature Reserve in Oxfordshire is a peaceful woodland haven filled to bursting with Bluebells. Once part of the ancient Wychwood Forest, a carpet of blue spreads under the trees in spring. Stay nearby at The Chestnuts, a large eco-holiday cottage with an urban-chic feel. (Sleeps 10) Weekend breaks from £600.

     

    A Devonshire Blue Bell Carpet

    Back in North Devon, the banner photograph is of the magnificent bluebell carpeted Harford Wood near Landkey in North Devon - a glorious walk from mid April to early May. Start and finish from the Castle Inn in Landkey for a thirst quenching pint of local ale or the Willows Tea Rooms a few doors further along if a  calorie-filled Devonshire cream tea is more preferable. 

    Stay at Barn Cottage, a rural holiday let between Exmoor and the picturesque market town of South Molton