Category Archives: Country Holidays

England’s Best Loved Valleys for Idyllic Holidays

If you love to explore the countryside on holiday, a stay in one of England’s idyllic valleys could be perfect for your next getaway.   Although Wales is renowned for its beautiful valleys, England has its fair share too with over 30 valleys to discover and explore.  Set between hills or mountains which often provide shelter from winds, you can enjoy exploring truly scenic locations when discovering England’s beautiful valleys.

Some of England’s best known and best loved valleys include:

The Eden Valley

Cumbria's Eden Valley

Cumbria’s Eden Valley

Cumbria’s stunning Lake District National Park is no well-kept secret but have you heard of the county’s Eden Valley?  Situated around mid-way between the Pennines and the Lake District Fells and surrounding the River Eden, the Eden Valley appeals to holidaymakers looking for stunning Cumbrian scenery away from the hustle and bustle and crowds that the Lake District draws.

With riverside walks, excellent salmon and trout fishing, as well as pretty sandstone villages and attractive market towns, plus caves and sculptures to discover, the Eden Valley is a great place to enjoy the Cumbrian countryside and as a lesser known area, you’re more likely to be able to experience tranquillity and serenity on your visit too!

Tamar Valley

River Tamar

River Tamar

A stunning area of outstanding natural beauty, Cornwall’s Tamar Valley centres around the River Tamar, as well as the River Tavy and Lynher  and this gorgeous river valley leads down to the unspoilt Cornish coast.  To the east of Tamar Valley lies Dartmoor National Park and to the west Kit Hill.

This beautiful area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and whether you enjoy walking, cycling, boating or wildlife watching, there is plenty to keep visitors entertained.  Also dotted throughout the valley are several heritage mining sites, which offer a fascinating insight in to the industrial history and heritage of this part of Cornwall.

 

Wye Valley

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The beauty of the Wye Valley is renowned with the area firmly established as one of the UK favourites and a designated area of outstanding natural beauty to boot!  Covering parts of England, as well as Wales, the lush Wye Valley centres around the River Wye and is well known for the beautiful villages and towns that are dotted around the area.  Whether for wildlife watching, outdoor pursuits like walking or fishing, the Wye Valley should not disappoint.

If you’re looking to discover one of Britain’s valleys where you can discover quaint tea shops, gift shops and superb tourist attractions then the Wye Valley could be the perfect place for your next rural retreat or country cottage holiday.

Lesser known Valleys to Enjoy and Discover on Holiday in England

The Eden Valley, the Tamar Valley and the Wye Valley are three of England’s best known and best loved valleys.  There are also some superb less well known valleys dotted throughout England where you can discover the road less travelled.  These include:

•    the Chew Valley in Somerset

an area of undulating countryside close to the Mendip Hills which centres around the River Chew.

•    the Trough of Bowland in Lancashire.

this scenic valley lies within the greenery of the Forest of Bowland and tends to attract visitors that enjoy walking, cycling or wildlife watching in tranquil appealing surorundings.

•    the Golden Valley in Herefordshire.

an area as beautiful as its name, Herefordshire’s Golden Valley sits between the Black Mountains and the River Dore close to Hay on Wye and with naturally beautiful scenery, whether you want to enjoy outdoor pursuits or visit quaint historic villages and towns, Herefordshire’s lush golden valley could be the ideal place for a rural cottage break.

 

Which will be your Favourite English Valley?

When it comes to exploring the wonderful English countryside, we all have our own favourites.  Which valley will capture your heart?  Wherever you choose to discover on your next break, we hope you find the perfect valley where you can enjoy a secluded cottage hideaway or rural retreat break.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Britain’s Most Rural Holiday Locations

Bodmin Moor in Poldark Country

Bodmin Moor, rural Cornwall

Do you love the countryside and want to discover one of Britain’s most rural areas on a cottage break?  If so, let Country Cottages Online inspire you with our hints, tips and list of possibilities!  The UK is indeed a green and beautiful place and for when you want to escape the hustle and bustle and get away to a more tranquil pace of life and soothing rural scenery, there are plenty of options to help soothe your soul.

Whether you’re dreaming of waking up to bird song or love the idea of sitting out and watching the sunset over fields and farmlands, Britain is home to some wonderfully unspoilt areas where you can experience a taste of the good life.

 

Experience the Good Life on a Farm-Stay Holiday

The UK has retained a strong farming tradition and we are a nation rich in farmers.  Luckily for holidaymakers a good number of UK farmers have converted old farm buildings in to modern, well equipped cottages.  At one time stables or piggeries, many British farm buildings have now been lovingly converted in to rural retreats and country cottages where holidaymakers can come and stay in stylish well equipped surroundings and enjoy a taste of the good life on a farm.  Some of these farm holiday developments are even complete with indoor or outdoor swimming pools where holidaymakers really can discover some of the very best of the British countryside.

Farmstay accommodation

Farmstay accommodation

For a real rural feel at some properties the owners will even let you gather eggs, help feed the chickens and may be even feed goats or pigs.  This is fun not only for children but also for big kids out there (let your inner child rejoice in connecting with nature)!

Waking up to views of fields, farmlands, meadows and hills can also be good for the soul, as can watching the sunset across a country landscape.  Rural Britain is just wonderful for reconnecting with nature and can help you de-stress and unwind too!

 

Remote Hideaways

When it comes to finding some of Britain’s most idyllic countryside, go remote!  It is in some of Britain’s most remote places that you can discover a real slow pace of life where you can may see more sheep than people and really escape and unwind.  Whether it’s Sutherland in the northern Highlands, Aberdeenshire or the Outer Hebrides, Scotland is home to some of the UK’s most remote and soulful destinations where you really can enjoy a truly rural and remote holiday.  Ireland too is one of the UK’s very best places for experiencing some of the best of rural life on a break away, as well as plenty sense of ‘Craic’ and magic.

Britain’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

If it’s quality of rural scenery you’re after, along with small pretty welcoming villages and attractive market towns, then a holiday in one of Britain’s National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty could be perfect for you.  These areas are special because of the quality of scenery that they offer and are protected in many ways.  Many of these parks and areas feature stunning rural scenery but if it’s the road less travelled you’re after be aware these places are no well kept secret and attract plenty of other tourists too.

Wherever you opt to explore on your rural holiday, we hope that Country Cottages Online can help you find your dream country cottage or rural retreat break.

Save

Save

Finding Tranquillity on your 2017 Cottage Holiday in Britain

With all the stresses and strains of the modern world, sometimes all you need on holiday is some peace, quiet, tranquillity and home comforts.  Taking a country cottage or rural retreat break in a green and leafy part of the UK could be just the experience you need.  Forget airport queues, passport control and currency exchange worries, holiday in Britain and all you need to do is jump in the car and go (and perhaps a ferry trip depending on where you want to discover).

Which part of the UK is Best for Peace and Tranquillity?

Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Britain is home to some wonderfully remote spots and tranquil areas, some of which are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  For some people the important thing is to immerse themselves in the soothing countryside on holiday and to have lovely walks close by and perhaps a village with a welcoming country inn.

Unlike Britain’s National Parks, many of the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are not well known holiday areas, so you’re more likely to be able to enjoy them in a quiet way, without crowds of other tourists.  Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty although not renowned top holiday areas attracting flocks of tourists, are still truly beautiful and tranquil areas, ideal for relaxing and unwinding on a break-away with family or friends.  These areas still have lots to offer when it comes to scenic walks in tranquil scenery and ample wildlife watching opportunities.

 

The Remote Parts of the UK

For others the ideal is to totally get away from everything and everyone, and to holiday in a hidden and remote part of the UK where you’re more likely to see wildlife than other people.  Popular spots for this kind of getaway include the Outer Hebrides, Guernsey, the Scottish Highlands and many parts of Ireland.   In these parts of Britain you can enjoy soothing experiences like wildlife watching, walking along deserted beaches or listening to the sound of birds happily chirping under a canopy of green.

Soulful Scotland

Soulful Scotland

For those who haven’t holidayed outside of England, Scotland offers a more rugged type of scenery with glens, lochs and soulful scenery.  Ireland too has its own unique feel with greenery abounding and its strong sense of myth and mysticism.  In England remote areas are few and far between.  To find England’s most remote areas, it’s very much about heading for the hills and discovering wild moorlands and superb views.

 

Finding the Ideal Hideaway

Idyllic Country Cottage

Idyllic Country Cottage

Wherever in the UK you choose to discover on holiday, getting the accommodation right is very much part of having a lovely tranquil experience on holiday.  There’s nothing quite like hiding away in a thatched cottage, nestled in your own secluded private garden or renting a hillside cottage where you can wake up to dreamy views on holiday.  Find a secluded rural retreat or a holiday home with countryside views for that calming serene feeling on holiday where you can hide away from the hustle and bustle of the world.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Go Rural with a Farm Holiday in the UK

If you’re dreaming of getting away to a tranquil location for your next self-catering break where you can relax far from the hustle and bustle of town or city life, then a stay on a farm could be perfect for you.  The UK is rich in farms, unspoilt farmlands and countryside.  For those who want to enjoy a taste of country life, a farm holiday could be a great option.

Things to Do on a UK Farm Holiday

Relax, Relax and Relax!

Odle Farm Cottages in Devon

Odle Farm Cottages in Devon

Staying in the countryside without the distractions of a village or a town makes it easier to relax.  Listen to bird song, spend quality time with friends or family, meet the animals on the farm and just take it easy.  Many farms have good footpaths as well where you can get out and explore the local countryside at your leisure.

Get Active in the Countryside

Cylists on holiday in the countryside

Cyclists enjoying cycling in the countryside on holiday

Whether you enjoy walking, cycling or wildlife watching, the countryside can be a great place to enjoy one or more of these activities.  When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, some of the best things in life truly are for free.  Horse riding is another great activity, also available in many rural parts of the UK.

Enjoy Day Trips

After all that relaxation, you may want to get out and see some of the local attractions.  Each area in Britain has its own attractions and whether you love visiting historical sites, quaint villages or towns, choose a farm with an appealing choice of places to visit for days out within easy reach.

Types of Accommodation on Britain’s Farms

There are plenty of types of rural accommodation available on British farms.  Depending on the size of the farm, some smallholdings may have just one country cottage or holiday lodge whereas larger farms may have complexes of cottages or barn conversions, sometimes arranged around a courtyard setting.  Some even have fantastic leisure complexes with facilities such as swimming pools or hot tubs.

In short, Britain has an inspiring choice of farm-stay accommodation to choose from, when will you enjoy a taste of the good life?  For inspiration and ideas see our collection of farm cottages.

Save

10 of the Prettiest English Country Cottages

10 of England's Prettiest Country Cottages

10 of England’s Prettiest Country Cottages

Searching for an idyllic picture-perfect English country cottage?  We feature a great range of chocolate-box pretty countryside cottages in England on Country Cottages Online.  With so many to choose from, it’s not easy to pick the 10 prettiest and the selection below is just to give you an idea of some of the options out there.  We have a huge collection of beautiful country cottages which are each idyllic and attractive but too many to list here.

It’s probably no coincidence that many of the holiday homes we’ve selected are thatched cottages and that a large proportion are from areas renowned for their beautiful buildings such as the Cotswolds and Suffolk.  Also making the list though are cottages in unspoilt Norfolk and the wonderful Forest of Dean.

  • Cocketts, Mendlesham Green.
    Cocketts Picture-Perfect Cottage near Mendlesham Green

    Cocketts Picture-Perfect Cottage near Mendlesham Green

    Painted pink and set in a traditional English garden, Cocketts in Mendlesham Green in Suffolk is one of the prettiest holiday houses we feature.  Sleeping up to 8 people in 4 bedrooms, this pet-friendly holiday home with its log-burning fire and exposed wooden beams is a real gem and an idyllic rural retreat.

 

Picture-perfect country cottage near Long Melford

Picture-perfect country cottage near Long Melford

This terracotta coloured 3 bedroom holiday cottage is situated within the rural hamlet of Foxearth, next to some other pretty country cottages, close to the historical village of Long Melford.  With a picture-perfect exterior and a history which dates back to the 15th century, this holiday house is wonderful both inside and out and indoors  features lovely exposed wooden beams as well as charming historical features.

  • The Guildhall, near Colchester
    Guildhall Cottage in the Dedham Vale

    Guildhall Cottage in the Dedham Vale

    Thatched and painted cream, the Guildhall is picture-perfect and sits within beautiful gardens in the Dedham Vale.  With 3 bedrooms and a dogs-welcome policy, this holiday house is a family-friendly property with much charm.  The wooden beams and wood burner inside continue the theme at this idyllic Suffolk country cottage.

  • Little Orchard, Chipping Campden
    Honey-coloured Little Orchard Cottage in picturesque Chipping Camden

    Honey-coloured Little Orchard Cottage in picturesque Chipping Camden

    Cottages really don’t come any prettier than Little Orchard in Chipping Campden.  With 2 bedrooms and a thatched roof, this stone-built cottage isn’t just beautiful, it’s also historically significant as it’s the former home of the author Graham Greene.  What’s more, it’s located in the appealing town of Chipping Campden and more beautiful buildings can be found close by.

  • Tythe Barn Cottage, Chipping Campden
    Tythe Barn is a Pretty Thatched Cottage near Chipping Campden

    Tythe Barn is a Pretty Thatched Cottage near Chipping Campden

    If you’re looking for a chocolate-box pretty cottage to rent for your cottage holiday then Tythe Barn Cottage could be just what you’ve been searching for.  Dating back to the 17th century, this stone-built holiday house with its thatched roof sleeps a family of up to 4 and enjoys an excellent location close to the picturesque town of Chipping Campden.

 

  • The Watermill, Bury St Edmunds
    Historical watermill with an idyllic setting near Bury St Edmunds

    Historical watermill with an idyllic setting near Bury St Edmunds

    There are few holiday houses with quite a magical setting as the Watermill near Bury St Edmunds.  Originally a watermill, this Grade II listed property is situated on its own private island and is incredibly idyllic.  Enjoy the beauty and sounds of nature with a stay at this superb 5 bedroom holiday house and escape to your own watery wonderland in Suffolk.

  • Bluebell Studio at Thatched Farm
    Idyllic Suffolk Rural Retreat

    Idyllic Suffolk Rural Retreat

    When it comes to rural retreats, Bluebell Studio at Thatched Farm has to be one of the most idyllic.  Set by trees and beautiful gardens, you can really enjoy a slice of country life with a stay at this pet-friendly cottage.  Sleeping 2, this couple’s cottage is ideal for a romantic couple looking to escape from it all on a break close to Woodbridge in Suffolk.

 

  • The Old Monkey Cottage, Hadleigh
    Picture-perfect Suffolk Holiday Cottage

    Picture-perfect Suffolk Holiday Cottage

    Painted terracotta and nestled by trees is this gorgeous one bedroom country cottage.  Sleeping 2, this is a romantic retreat, nestled close to the unspoilt Suffolk countryside.  With exposed wooden beams, a warming open fire and plenty of historical charm, this is a very attractive couple’s cottage.

 

  • Secluded Brambles, Littledean
    Beautiful Secluded Brambles Cottage near the Forest of Dean

    Beautiful Secluded Brambles Cottage near the Forest of Dean

    Set by fields and farmlands where there are open country views where you can see for miles and miles, this cosy one bedroom holiday house with its wonderful setting and stone-built structure is one of the most appealing holiday houses that we feature and what’ s more it’s close to the wonderful Forest of Dean.  Pet-friendly, this is a wonderful rural retreat for a couple plus a dog and inside the accommodation is modern and stylish.

  • Hoste Barn, Norfolk
    Idyllic RustIc Barn Conversion in Norfolk

    Idyllic RustIc Barn Conversion in Norfolk

    Hoste Barn offers plenty of county charm.  This rural retreat sits within the grounds of a farmhouse, next to woodlands and close to Swanton Abbott.  From the outside this is a very pretty rustic barn conversion whilst inside it’s a modern, stylish well equipped holiday home.

For more choice, we recommend that you take a look at our collection of  holiday cottages in England.  There are so many beautiful and idyllic options to choose from, it’s impossible to list them all.

The Eden Valley for Idyllic Countryside Holidays

Need ideas of places to go for your next cottage holiday? How about the Eden Valley in Cumbria?  Located around mid-way between the Pennines and the Lake District National Park, close to Penrith, this area is so named by virtue of the Eden River that flows through the countryside here. For a rural retreat break where you can enjoy riverside walks, cycling, walking, wildlife watching and discovering quaint towns and villages, the Eden Valley is hard to beat.

What’s more, there are two national parks within reach of this valley; the Lake District National Park which is easily accessible close by and the Yorkshire Dales National Park which is around 40 minutes drive away.

Riverside scenery by Broughton Castle in the Eden Valley

Riverside scenery by Broughton Castle in the Eden Valley

Top Things to See and Do on a Self-Catering Holiday in the Eden Valley

  • For those who love walking, there is some wonderful countryside and footpaths to discover in this area of Cumbria, so get those walking boots on and enjoy exploring.
  • Enjoy a spot of salmon or trout fishing, the Eden Valley is renowned for it.
  • Enjoy taking in the riverside scenery on a riverside walk with family or friends.
  • Visit one of the pretty towns or villages in the area such as Appleby-in-Westmorland, Penrith or Kirkby Stephen and taste local fare at one of the cafes or restaurants.
  • Discover Lacy’s Caves, fascinating caves that have been carved out of the sandstone cliffs right by the riverside close to Little Salkeld.

See the Eden Benchmarks, stone sculptures which are dotted along the valley close to footpaths.
Looking for Accommodation for your Holiday in the Eden Valley?

For those who love getting out and exploring the great outdoors and appreciate ample greenery, being by the riverside and big skies, the Eden Valley has plenty to offer.  Options when it comes to accommodation include farm-stay holiday homes, English country cottages and rural retreats. Whatever type of accommodation you are dreaming of, we hope you find the perfect holiday cottage for you in the gorgeous Eden Valley.

Top 6 places for an English country cottage holiday

So you’ve decided to rent a holiday cottage in England for your Easter or summer break but you’re undecided where to go.

This is no real surprise since you are spoiled for choice, whether it is stunning coastline, beautiful countryside or historical places of interest you want to be close to. England has it all and plenty of wonderful properties available to rent for a holiday which will live in the memory for ever. Here are some locations you might want to consider for your English country cottage holiday:

1.    Cumbria, a Rambler’s Delight

When most of us think of Cumbria and the Lake District, it conjures images of shimmering views across The Lakes at Coniston or Bowness-on-Windermere.

Enjoy boating, cycling or walking by Coniston Water in the Lake District National Park

Enjoy boating, cycling or walking by Coniston Water in the Lake District National Park

There are some delicious holiday homes available in these locations where, of course, there are miles and miles of open countryside just waiting to be explored on foot, with a picnic in the rucksack and a country pub never too far away. But there is much more to Cumbria. Take the tiny village of Cartmel, where you can go horse racing and sample helpings of sticky toffee pudding at the village shop and café where it was first made. Alternatively, explore the former home of Beatrix Potter, close to the lovely town of Ambleside.

2. Go Dotty for Dorset in South West England

If you’ve seen the television drama Broadchurch, with incredible vistas across the cliffs of West Bay and the idyllic vibe of Bridport, Dorset is probably somewhere you’ve vowed to visit.
This southern county is famed for its sand and shingle beaches and its pretty villages.
There is also an abundance of lovely market towns to enjoy, such as Blandford, Dorchester and Sherborne.

Average temperatures are higher than just about anywhere in the UK and if you go self-catering there will be plenty of opportunities for al fresco dining on sultry evenings.

3. Discover English Island Living on the Isle of Wight

Maybe it is an island paradise you are after. In that case, head for the beautiful little community of the Isle of Wight just off the south coast.

The Isle of Wight is perfect for those who prefer outdoor activities other than lying on a beach in the sun. It’s packed full of quiet country lanes which are ideal for cycling along and there are also 200 miles of bridleway and cycle tracks to explore on foot or in the saddle.

Country pubs abound throughout the island and there is a wealth of attractive potential cottages and holiday homes just waiting to be rented.

4. Not to be Missed, Norfolk

In terms of tranquil holiday environments there are few to compare with those in Norfolk, East Anglia. Well-Next-The-Sea has one of the deepest sandy beaches in the country and with its lines of colourful beach huts it’s the archetypal English seaside destination.

Discover a rich history in Norwich, Norfolk

Discover a rich history in Norwich, Norfolk

You might want to take time wandering around the wide selection of shops in the lovely town of Holt and stop for a pub lunch in The Feathers or a cream tea in The Owl Tea Rooms. The city of Norwich with its cathedral, fine historical buildings and ample charm is not to be missed.

If you’re after somewhere a touch livelier then head for Cromer or Great Yarmouth.

5. Moors, Dales and More in Yorkshire, Northern England

The white rose county of Yorkshire boasts an array of wondrous towns and villages where you might consider renting an English country cottage.

If a walking holiday is your heart’s desire you have a choice of the North York Moors or the Yorkshire Dales to base your holiday. Scarborough or Whitby are ideal locations if it’s a coastal break you want, with some of the best fish and chips available on the planet.

Picturesque rurality is dotted all around, such as the cobbled streets of Haworth and the beauty of Settle, one of the places where it is easy to see why Yorkshire is dubbed ‘God’s own country’.

6. Oxfordshire for Quintessentially English Holidays

If you need to spend some of the break close to a major city then it is well worth renting a holiday home in Oxfordshire, with the sumptuous university city of Oxford within easy reach.

Riverside scene along the Thames in Goring, Oxfordshire

Riverside scene along the Thames in Goring, Oxfordshire

There are apartments and cottages available there if you prefer an urban break in a spot with hordes of historical buildings to visit on your doorstep. To the west there is one of England’s best kept secrets, the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its attractive bustling market towns such as Burford and Chipping Norton.

Henley-on-Thames is another popular destination with long stretches of the river to stroll along and any number of restaurants and pubs to relax in beside the water. A smaller, equally charming place to visit is the riverside village of Goring in South Oxfordshire.

 

By Nick Rennie

How to Find the Perfect English Country Cottage this Winter

Christmas Lights in the Cotswolds

Christmas Lights in the Cotswolds

Planning on taking a break this winter and want to find a perfect quintessentially English country cottage where you can relax and celebrate the festive season?  Let us help you find the ideal place to stay. December can be a wonderful time of year to get away from it all with Christmas lights shining brightly and adding a touch of magic to those winter nights. Snow can never be guaranteed but when it does snow that can also add a touch of magic to your holiday.

Hints and Tips on How to Find the perfect English Country Cottage:

– Write a Wish-list for your Dream Country Cottage

So you know you want to get away from it all but one of the most important things is deciding what it is you are looking for from a holiday cottage. Speak to family and friends to agree what kind of cottage and holiday destination would be ideal for you and what kind of property you would be happy to compromise with if your dream holiday home is not available. Do you need to find a holiday home with a hot tub or a swimming pool? Holiday cottages with special facilities such as hot tubs or pools can get booked up early and are some of the most popular around so be prepared to compromise if you have left booking to the last minute.

If you’re taking a last minute break consider options such as a holiday home with a lovely warming log fire and good walks available nearby, this kind of property can be just wonderful for winter warming holidays.

Also consider are you flexible with location? The more flexible you are able to be with location, the more options will be available to you.  You may have favourite holiday destinations that you like to return to year after year but discovering somewhere new can also be great fun. When considering new locations it’s essential to bear in mind whether the sorts of things to see and do are those which appeal to you. Destinations like Northumberland can be wonderful for those who love to visit historical castles, coastal towns, experience a more relaxed pace of life and take refreshing walks but are not likely to be a good choice for you if you like to spend time in the city and in a bustling envrionment for example.

– Do your Research on Available English Country Cottages

So you’ve identified destinations that interest you for a cottage break and what you are looking for in a holiday home so now the challenge is on to find your perfect holiday cottage. There are a variety of websites including Country Cottages Online where you can search for English Country Cottages. Some people prefer to opt for tourist board rated cottages where you can be assured of certain standards of accommodation and opt for 5 star or 4 star cottages for more luxurious holidays and 3 star or 2 star properties if they are on more of a budget.

If you are on a budget or looking out for a deal then getting away during wintertime (with the exception of the period of Christmas and New Year), can make a lot of sense as you can frequently find discounts and offers available during November and December. Look out for deals when booking your break and you may be able to make savings on your winter break.

If you value reviews then it can be a good idea to look up whether the holiday cottages you are interested in are mentioned on sites like Trip Advisor whereas others prefer to rely on Tourist Board ratings and their own personal taste as we can all have very different ideas when it comes to what makes for a perfect English Country Cottage.

Once you’ve found and booked your dream cottage remember to make sure that you have appropriate insurance to cover you in the event of something going wrong.  Once sorted, put this completely out of your mind and look forward to a relaxing winter break in what for you is your perfect country cottage.

Save

Our Guide to the Best Locations for Wildlife Watching Holidays in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland

Do you love wildlife watching at home and when away on holiday in the UK? Why not book a cottage holiday with opportunities to discover some of the best flora and fauna nearby on days out? Let us inspire you with our ideas on some of the best places to enjoy getting back to nature and spot fascinating animals and bird life when enjoying a self-catering break in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Wildlife to Watch on Holiday in England: Deer, Wild Ponies, Butterflies and Dragonflies

Beautiful English butterfly

England’s stunning butterfly

England is a wonderful country for a cottage holiday and with a wealth of rural areas and stunning coastline is also wonderful for spotting Britain’s beautiful animals and creatures. Many areas in England have resident deer; Ashridge Forest with its wonderful leafy canopies is home to a large population of beautiful deer which can be spotted on early morning woodland walks and the New Forest is also a fantastic area to spot deer. The New Forest National Park is also a great area for seeing wild ponies. These charming ponies happily trot through the wonderful landscapes of the forest and through the many picturesque villages dotted around; in and around Beaulieu seems to be one of the best places for seeing ponies.

In summer time and in Autumn England is a great place for spotting butterflies and stunning iridescent dragonflies. The Norfolk Broads with their watery wonderland are a wonderful place for seeing dragonflies and birds. Gardens rich with flowers and ponds are also brilliant for catching sight of dragonflies, bees and butterflies, National Trust and Historic Houses’ gardens with a mix of flowers and water features can be some of the very best places to visit to discover delightful insect life.

 

Binoculars at the Ready for Brilliant Bird-Watching and Ample Whale Watching on Holiday in Scotland

As you may expect, some of the best wildlife watching opportunities when holidaying in Scotland are to be found in the country’s most remote places. Spot sea eagles on the Isle of Skye and take a whale watching trip (although sightings are not guaranteed) whilst enjoying a self-catering break. For even better whale watching opportunities the Orkney and Shetland Isles are said to be the best and with a wealth of unspoilt landscapes are wonderful places to get away from it all and enjoy getting back to nature.

The Cairngorms National Park is said to be a good area to spot wildcat and capercaillie, but these are very shy creatures so if you want more of a sure thing then Orkney, Shetland or the Isle of Skye with their fantastic whale watching and bird watching opportunities may be better bets.

 

Wales for Glimpsing Puffins, Seals, Dolphins and Birdlife Galore on a Self-Catering Holiday

Can you spot the basking shark?

Can you spot the basking shark?

With over 200 nature reserves, 11 RSPB reserves and extensive National Parkland, Wales is a wonderful cottage holiday destination for escaping and getting back to nature.
Cardigan Bay near Cardigan is said to be one of Wales’ very best places for spotting dolphins and you may even be lucky enough to see whales or basking sharks whilst holidaying there. With a resident population of dolphins, said to be Britain’s largest, for those who love these fascinating creatures, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Who doesn’t love a Puffin? These colourful birds have to be one of the most beautiful in Britain and Skomer in Pembrokeshire is one of the best places to catch sight of them. Well worth the boat trip, head to Skomer equipped with binoculars and you shouldn’t be disappointed. There is also an array of other fascinating birdlife to be spotted on Skomer. What’s more Skomer is said to be one of Wales and Britain’s very best places for seal watching making this an absolutely brilliant place to visit for nature lovers.

 

Ireland for Bountiful Marine-Life and Bird-Life Watching on a Cottage Break

Although not as well known for its wildlife watching opportunities, the Emerald Isle offers tranquillity and a remoteness which only enhances a cottage holiday as well as the opportunities for bird-watching and catching glimpses of fascinating animals. The South West of Ireland is said to be a good area for dolphin watching and it’s even possible to spot minke whales in the summer months if you’re lucky. The coasts off Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary are said to be one of Europe’s top spots for whale watching. Also well worth a visit for keen ‘twitchers’ is Puffin Island bird reserve off the south west coast of Kerry.

 
Overall when it comes to wildlife watching holidays, staying in farm-stay accommodation can be a good starting point. Surrounded by countryside and in tranquil locations, farms tend to be good locations when it comes to spotting wildlife. Ask cottage owners which kinds of animals or birds visit their farm. From resident owls to foxes and deer, staying on a farm can delight animal lovers and keen twitchers. Oh and our top tip is don’t forget your camera! Capture those stunning images to treasure, look back on and enjoy fond holiday memories.

Top Things to do on Countryside Holidays or Farm-stays in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland

1.      Wildlife Watching

Pheasant on haystack

Spot wonderful wildlife on a country break

One of the best benefits of staying in a farm or in a countryside location is the wealth of wildlife opportunities available to you from the doorstep.

Whether you love to watch birds or larger animals, keep your eyes peeled and watch out at the right time and your persistence should pay off.

Avid wildlife watchers know that sightings can never be guaranteed but are usually more likely when there is peace and quiet. The early hours of the morning and evening just before sunset offer the best opportunities. From deer to badgers and awe inspiring birds such as owls and pheasants, Britain’s green and tranquil countryside is teeming with fascinating wildlife.

If you are someone who likes to watch animals but wants more of a sure thing or have children who want guaranteed sightings, why not book a stay at a farm where you can feast your eyes on and meet farm animals?

On some farms there are ample opportunities to meet animals. Some places offer opportunities to meet and pet goats or cute friendly animals like ponies, which are sure to bring a smile to yours and your child’s face.

2.      Walking

When holidaying in the country or in a rural location, there is usually ample opportunity to discover walks on site or footpaths that criss-cross across the countryside nearby.
To make walks more interesting why not enjoy some wildlife watching en-route or take snapshots of your favourite scenes?

3.      Photography

Stunning sunset

Some of the best sunsets can be enjoyed in the countryside

When staying in a scenic green place why not capture some scenes to look back on and enjoy fond memories of in the future? Whether you love to take snapshots of family, friends, farm animals, wildlife or sunsets, there are plenty of scenes and fantastic photography opportunities to inspire you in the Great British countryside.

4.      Relax

When enjoying a rural treat break it may sound obvious but a great thing to do is relax whilst on holiday and just enjoy some quiet downtime. Whilst sightseeing and getting out can be great fun, spending time making the most of your countryside location is highly recommended and can often help you feel relaxed.

Whether there is a garden where you can laze around and may be read a book, grounds where you can enjoy a picnic with family or friends or jut an outdoor dining space where you can enjoy eating al-fresco, spending time outdoors in the countryside can really help you reconnect with nature and discover that inner calm.

Outdoor pool set in countryside

Outdoor pool in countryside

Large country houses or complexes of farm cottages also sometimes offer excellent leisure facilities to help you fully relax. Facilities on offer can include swimming pools, hot tubs, games rooms and even tennis courts. With opportunities to relax as good as this, you may not be able to bring yourself to leave your rural idyll at all.

5.      Cycling or Horse Riding

When it comes to exploring the great outdoors, taking to 2 wheels and biking around the farm or country lanes can be great fun. Feel the wind blowing through your hair and enjoy the exhilaration of a bike ride. For those who haven’t cycled for a long time, it really is something that you never forget to do and once on a bike again it won’t be long until you are re-experiencing the long forgotten thrill of riding.

Another great way to discover some of the best of Britain’s countryside is on horseback. Whether you have in mind a gentle pony ride in the local area or a trek around tree-lined bridleways, taking to a horse can help you feel at one with nature again and offer a new perspective on your surroundings.

 

Find out more about rural retreat breaks and farm-stay holidays on our Countryside Holidays page.