Castlerigg Park is a well-maintained, family owned site with superb views and glorious sunsets overlooking Derwentwater, offering facilities for touring and static caravans, ‘pods’ and camping. There is an onsite restaurant, a campers’ shop selling local products and unusually, an art gallery complete with a coffee bar. Other features include recently upgraded toilets, a campers’ kitchen and a handy dog washing area. Hirers can enrol in an innovative special Pod n’ Pedal scheme: leave your car on site and pedal to three other parks for overnight stays. Kids are not forgotten and will love feeding the resident animals including the delightful miniature Mediterranean donkeys and comical Indian runnerducks.
Set on the doorstep of the glorious Peak District in 47 acres of woodland paradise, Darwin Forest Park features 110 luxuriously furnished timber lodges maintained to a very high standard. The epitome of luxurious self-catering, the Premier Spa Lodges even include outdoor hot tubs. The Explorers Café provides light refreshments and Foresters is a licenced pub-style restaurant featuring local produce. A major feature of the park is its beautiful indoor pool and beauty therapy and spa facilities, plus a very well equipped gym. Outside activities include an obstacle course, all weather tennis, crazy golf, and woodland walks, with cycle hire for the more energetic. Darwin Forest Park provides the ideal location for a family break, a friends’ reunion or a romantic getaway.
Padstow Touring Park consists of 150 well-spaced and landscaped touring caravan and family camping pitches. Open all year, it provides the ideal base for touring this beautiful corner of Cornwall. Shower blocks have been recently refurbished to hotel quality and all public facilities display impeccable standards of cleanliness. This dog-friendly site provides spectacular panoramic estuary views and direct access to public footpaths. Enjoying the environment is high on the owners list as they encourage visitors to leave the car and walk or take the bus from the dedicated stop next to the site. The park features a laundry, dishwashing area, a coffee lounge and a well-stocked shop. All the attractions of Padstow, its quaint harbour and renowned eateries are within easy walking distance.
Poston Mill Holiday Park is set in 25 acres of riverside farmland close to Hereford and provides 20 all-weather touring caravan and motorhome pitches, 20 sheltered camping pitches and 2 rentable static homes. The site promises peace and quiet, riverside walks, high quality facilities and landscaping and a small, but well-stocked shop. On site activities include a pitch and putt course, river fishing and a very popular pub and restaurant in a historic converted mill. The local bus stop serves historic Hereford and the literary haven of Hay on Wye or you could go further afield to Brecon. Poston Park’s relaxed and peaceful atmosphere is perfect for family holidays.
Woodovis is a tranquil, family owned park in 14 acres of pleasant rural land near the historic market town of Tavistock. Offering the choice of static holiday homes, glamping pods, camping and caravanning and even a self-catering cottage, the park prides itself on high standards and excellent facilities. Activities offered include under-cover boules, circus skills, story-telling and archery, as well as water-walking in the indoor swimming pool. There’s also a children’s play area and dog exercise area. The red phone box houses information and take-away maps of the many local walks which may be enjoyed on electric hire bikes. Special features include a twice weekly hog roast, visits from the weekly fish and chip van and the site-owned pub is just down the road!
The Canterbury Historic River Tour takes its visitors along the River Stour at a leisurely pace in one of their specially designed rowing boats. ‘Chauffeured’ by the trained and knowledgeable tour guides, visitors are treated to a history of the river and its stories. From an initial few thousand visitors the company now boasts over 40,000 each season. They are so confident that visitors will enjoy the trip that they ask them to pay at the end of their experience. Throughout the season, from March to October, the ferry boat tours leave every 15 to 20 minutes with no need to book in advance.
King Richard III Partnership
Leicester, Leicestershire www.kriii.com
The discovery of the remains of King Richard III, subsequent DNA analysis and reburial were a unique set of events over the period September 2012 - March 2015 and the King Richard III Visitor Centre is a permanent exhibition open all year round. The highlight was the reburial in March 2015 when 35,000 people lined the route of the cortege and queues formed before dawn as 20,000 people paid their respects to the King’s coffin in Leicester Cathedral. With minimal promotional spend the Partnership team achieved phenomenal media coverage and a significant boost to the local economy from the extra visitors to Leicester.
Opened in 2007, Livingstone Lodge is the UK’s first authentic overnight safari experience which has consistently wowed guests with a magical night under the stars in luxury tented accommodation, overlooking 100 acres of Kentish savannah – alive with African animals. A delightful glamping retreat, guests are welcomed with an arrival drink and meet their experienced ranger who has been trained and qualified on safari in Africa. Staying in a lodge is a completely unique and unrivalled glamping experience, with wooden bedside tables, heaters, carpets, electric lighting and verandas which overlook the African Experience. The lodge offers a delicious five course African buffet prepared by the chefs and guests enjoy a full cooked, hearty breakfast.
The Bay Cycle Way is a new, family-friendly, long distance route, suitable for entry-level touring cyclists which opened in summer 2015 and connects and signposts 81 miles of cycle routes across Morecambe Bay. The project was set up by the Morecambe Bay Partnership - a small charity that works to bring benefits to the communities, heritage and environment around the Bay. The route runs from Walney Island near Barrow and uses a combination of quiet roads, greenways, canal towpaths and promenades beside Morecambe Bay to reach Glasson Dock, south of Lancaster. It passes many attractions en route, including Conishead Priory, the RSPB’s wildlife reserve at Leighton Moss and the art deco hotel, The Midland.
Set up in 2007 as a cookery school, event business and a new home for the TV show, River Cottage HQ follows multi-award-winning Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ethos and commitment to working with seasonal, ethically-sourced produce and visitors to the cottage always enjoy a warm welcome. Now offering regular dining experiences unlike any other, visitors are met at the top of the hill by the River Cottage tractor and trailer, enjoy canapes in the barn then sit down to dinner at long tables. The sociable nature of the dining is part of the experience and very popular. ‘Cycle and dine’ or perhaps a ‘hike and dine’ are intriguing alternatives or even foraging with a chef.
This innovative, welcoming and educative visitor attraction is set in a beautifully restored historic paper mill, formerly used to produce banknotes and now distilling the famous Bombay Sapphire gin. In the state of the art Thomas Heatherwick glasshouses, visitors are invited to Taste_of_England and smell the botanicals used in the gin making process. Guides are very friendly and extremely knowledgeable and at the end of the tour the experienced bar staff suggest visitors try one of the free cocktails, matched to reflect each visitor’s particular Taste_of_England. It’s a fascinating experience and a real treat not just for gin drinkers. A thoughtful touch is any drivers are given a miniature bottle of gin to take home.
A visit to Emma Bridgewater Factory and Shop is a fantastic day out. A thoroughly enjoyably factory tour gives a fascinating insight into the manufacture of this very popular pottery range. A visit here also provides the opportunity to decorate your own piece of pottery, which is then fired and posted on to you. The friendly staff welcome visitors warmly and are more than happy to chat proudly about their work. Every aspect of the process is explained and demonstrated passionately by the guides. There’s also a great café on site serving lunches and lovely home-made cakes and of course ample opportunity for retail therapy in the two factory shops.
The Crystal is a sustainable cities initiative by Siemen’s. A truly stunning and fully sustainable landmark building in the form of a glittering crystal, houses the world’s largest exhibition on the future of cities. With innovative and thought provoking interactive displays spread over 10 zones, it appeals to all ages and is both educational and entertaining. Superbly situated adjacent to both Emirates Airline cable car and DLR, The Crystal constantly updates its exhibits in line with current developments and offers free repeat entry within two weeks. The café offers high quality ethically sourced reasonably priced food and provides a spectacular view over Royal Albert Dock.
At Wheal Martyn, the UK’s only china clay museum and country park, visitors can discover how Cornwall’s largest mining industry changed the world and the amazing uses of china clay. There are indoor and outdoor displays, acres of Nature Park to explore, a children’s play area and adventure park and Cornwall’s largest working waterwheel.
Enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable staff, some of whom are descended from generations of china clay workers, are on hand to explain the history of the pit, the extraction process and the modern-day industry. They enthusiastically create a fascinating insight into the Wheal Martyn estate. Visitors can view the adjacent working pit, one of the last in England, from the observation gallery and enjoy local fare and home-made cakes served with a smile in the cosy café.
Yorkshire Trike Tours offers a fabulously exhilarating way to experience the Yorkshire Dales at their finest, on the back of a ‘Billy Connolly’ style motor trike. A choice of thirty well designed routes really put visitors in touch with the fabulous landscape, in a way that cannot be achieved in a closed vehicle. The owners are professional, enthusiastic and committed to ensuring everyone has a superb time on tour. Carefully chosen refreshment stops, wet weather clothing and in-helmet commentary from knowledgeable driver/guides, plus the fun of an unusual mode of transport make for an unforgettable trip. Even the en-route toilets have been thoroughly researched.
Chesterfield Visitor Information Centre sits in a large purpose built building adjacent to one of the town’s main attractions, the ‘Crooked Spire’ Church. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff not only promote Chesterfield but are a gateway to the Peak District promoting national attractions such as Chatsworth but they also pride themselves on their knowledge of ‘hidden gems’ in the area. Their information is not only face to face but is also delivered via website, Facebook, twitter and their Peak Explorer App.
Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre is located in a large building in the heart of the town centre with substantial parking on its doorstep. Our incredibly friendly staff are a fountain of knowledge and live and breathe the town they love enabling them to passionately inspire visitors to the centre. Alongside our extensive range of leaflets and merchandise we also have an on-line shop in which to purchase local products and we are very active on twitter. We are also putting the ‘Tour into ‘Tourist Information’, running two tours a week hosted by an experience and trained member of our staff.
Gloucester Tourist Information Centre is located in a busy pedestrianised walk route of the city and close to two of Gloucester’s top attractions. You will be welcomed by a young dynamic team with a genuine passion for their city ensuring no visitor goes away without having the most of their stay. A wide range of services are on hand with a wide range of ticketing and bespoke merchandise. And if you are visiting us on one of the many coaches that visit our city you will be assured of a warm welcome as part of our ‘Meet and Greet’ programme.
Thanet Visitor Information Service is located in an icon building ‘The Droit House’ on Margate’s Harbour Arm and adjacent to one of its main attractions, Turner Contemporary art gallery. The service also supports two volunteer run information centres in Broadstairs and Ramsgate. There are also a number of Information Points located in key places such as train stations and hotel receptions and visitor maps can be found in local cafés and attractions. Taxi drivers, lifeguards and attraction staff have participated in our Visit Ambassador training ensuring all our visitors receive a warm welcome.
The Welcome People are based in 16 locations across London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Canterbury, Chester, Croydon, Exeter and Manchester. We provide a unique ‘street-based concierge’ service of highly trained bowler-hatted Ambassadors offering a warm welcome and information to visitors. We offer customers assistance before they even realise they need it starting with a simple “hello” and a smile. We speak more than 40 languages as a company and all our Ambassadors have the flexibility to find a colleague with specific language skills immediately via their hand held devices.
Opened from 1st June to 31st August 2015, Durham University’s Magna Carta exhibition celebrated the 800th anniversary of the first issue of Magna Carta and was filled with stories of rebellion and citizen’s rights from 1215 to present day. Objects from local and national collections brought the exhibition to life and was supported by a wide-range of engagement programmes, from art and writing competitions, volunteering initiatives, lectures and even a flashmob. Partnering with local businesses to offer special packages and products and the national 800th anniversary campaign, the exhibition maximised Durham’s tourism offer and helped to attract visitors from 27 different countries across the world.
Imperial War Museum North - From Street to Trench
From Street To Trench: A World War That Shaped A Region is the largest exhibition ever created by the iconic Imperial War Museum North that explored the lives and experiences of people from the north west of England displayed along with more than 200 personal objects, films, sound recordings, photographs, artworks and letters. Artefacts were also exhibited from famous people such as poet Wilfred Owen and Clement Attlee who went on to become Prime Minister, to rare Victoria Cross recipients and first-hand accounts by civilians on the home front. This exhibition explored the impact of the conflict on life in England and provided a unique insight into the remarkable experiences of individuals.
A one-off event held between 23rd – 27th July 2014, Memories of August 1914 commemorated Liverpool’s remarkable contribution at the beginning of World War One. An outdoor performance art display, the city played host to one of the UK’s landmark commemorative events and delivered an unique experience featuring giant marionettes which attracted crowds in excess of 1,000,000 people. During a three day street theatre extravaganza, 25 miles around the city centre and suburban neighbourhoods and parks were covered and enjoyed by many visitors who travelled from beyond the region. This poignant spectacular included a jaw-dropping visual treat from the extraordinary Royal De Luxe; a company of inventors, stuntmen, scrap merchants and poets. Liverpool was showcased at its very best!
A four day annual event which takes place in August, Airbourne is undoubtedly Eastbourne’s tourism highlight. Since its inception in 1993, the event has grown into a major annual event and developed into what is now the world’s largest, free seaside air show. Aircraft highlights in previous years have included the B1 Bomber, Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet and more recently the first display of the only remaining airworthy Lancasters in the world for 70 years. With provision for nearly 1 million people to attend the four day spectacle, Airbourne prides itself on its commitment to capturing visitors’ imagination by providing the best event and ensuring it stands out against the competition.
More than simply a day at the races, The Juddmonte International is York’s flagship and richest race and headlines the first of four days of the annual Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. This famous extravaganza combines sporting fun with fresh food and fashion. Off the track, chefs proudly worked with fresh local ingredients and the Ebor Fashion Lawn witnessed over 500 racegoers take to the catwalk in the hope of winning a holiday to Dubai. York Races is able to offer a world class horseracing experience that attracts local, national and international visitors of all ages. Its commitment to excellence places customer service at the core of its delivery and strives to create treasured memories for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Set in eight acres of parkland in a 400-year-old Jacobean mansion, Crewe Hall offers a beautiful mix of modern conference and meeting rooms in the state-of-the-art purpose built event centre with heritage conference and meeting rooms in the Old Hall. A dedicated events team delivers a range of conferences, meetings and events, taking full advantage of the hotel’s spa and health club with indoor pool, treatment rooms, gym and two tennis courts to provide the complete package. With 17 spacious meeting rooms holding up to 364 delegates, Crewe Hall is the ideal location for holding a board meeting, annual conference or team building day. The professional yet friendly staff are led by an impressive management team.
Dartington Hall near Totnes in Devon is a country estate that is the headquarters of the Dartington Hall Trust, a charity specialising in the arts, social justice and sustainability. Its 12 meeting rooms can accommodate groups of up to 220, with 50 bedrooms for overnight delegates. The surroundings are very special. The beauty of the medieval buildings, as you arrive, takes your breath away. The Trust is using them to their best advantage, by providing first class meeting facilities, team-building activities, comfortable accommodation and a fine dining catering experience - all in a venue with a conscience.
Highbullen Hotel, Golf and Country Club is situated just outside Exmoor National Park in North Devon. The original manor house is a fine example of the architecture of the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement. The current owners have invested heavily to restore the house to its former glory and upgraded the facilities to meet the expectations of discerning visitors. Highbullen offers a wide choice of meeting and conference spaces, accommodating up to 400 delegates in the superb new purpose-built Palazzo, with 12 bedrooms in the Manor House and 25 Estate Rooms located in the grounds. With a strong commitment to staff development and overall investment, this hotel is going from strength to strength.
Seaham Hall in County Durham, set in 37 acres in a stunning cliff-top location can offer business customers a choice of meeting and conference spaces, all with air conditioning, natural light and stunning views. Located within easy access of Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland, the hotel can accommodate up to 120 people with 20 individually designed suites for overnight guests. The Serenity Spa is a big draw and the team can now offer short ‘stress-busting’ treatments to help their business customers unwind after a busy day. The team-building activities include raft-building, bush craft, off-road driving and even circus skills!
The Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa is a family owned and run business, which caters for a wide range of leisure and business markets. In addition to the golf facilities and spa, there are extensive dining options and meeting / event spaces, and some first-rate, newly constructed, self-catering lodges. The hotel offers a choice of nine meeting rooms and their Country Lodges can be booked for ‘Executive Retreats’, team-building or small conferences with complete privacy and the option of self-catering or a fully catered service. Their business customers appreciate the loyal and well trained staff, the peaceful location and fabulous grounds and the quality of the leisure facilities for relaxation.
This small medieval house close to the coast in the Exmore National Park, has just four bedrooms, but offers all of the services of a small hotel. Owners Max Lawrence and Andrew Stinson offer a truly exceptional standard of hospitality, with impeccable service and eye for detail that would make it the envy of any grand establishment. Personalised reading materials, fruit bowls, mini-bars and windscreens cleaned and a goodie bag given to guests on departure all adds to a guest’s memorable stay here. The whole team at Cross Lane House are completely committed to delighting their guests, which they achieve through attention to detail and warmth.
Set in a fabulous location, Hell Bay is a stylish seaside retreat with an outdoor pool, friendly, attentive staff and excellent, mostly locally-sourced food. The rustic little eatery, The Crabshack, adjoins the hotel and guests are treated to fantastic, high quality local seafood. Getting there is an adventure in itself, involving planes, boats, luggage transfers, possible en-route stopover all of which is handled efficiently and stress-free by the hotel team and their local agents. Arriving and leaving by high-speed boat certainly has that wow factor. Guests can feel very close to nature in this tranquil hideaway and this special hotel represents the very best of the Isles of Scilly.
Located on the edge of Exmoor National Park, Kentisbury Grange is a superbly refurbished Victorian Grade II listed manor house featuring décor by renowned designer Karen Grey, antique works of art, comfortably furnished bedrooms and superb en-suite bathrooms. The Coach House by Michael Caines restaurant is a masterpiece of contemporary rustic design and serves beautifully presented innovative, yet classic cuisine. The Garden Lodges are five cosy, architect designed, two bed/two bath lodges set in the landscaped gardens, with balcony hot tubs and total privacy. These are self-catering, but with room service if required.
A stylish and romantic retreat in the charming village of Clearwell in the heart of the Forest of Dean and close to the beautiful Wye Valley. Cosy rooms in a historic setting with fluffy towels and roll top baths help to convey plenty of style, charm and comfort. Award-winning menus feature the hotel’s admirable policy of sourcing produce within a 20 mile radius, resulting in the creation of memorable dishes. Tudor Farmhouse extends its warm hospitality to many returning guests who appreciate the winning combination of excellent service, beautifully presented food and a team that are prepared to go that extra mile. Conde Nast magazine said ‘England couldn’t have a better example of a village hotel’.
Set amongst breath-taking scenery in the heart of Wensleydale, Yorebridge House is a five-star ‘restaurant with rooms’ in a historic Grade II listed former headmaster’s house and school. Set in five acres and flanked by two rivers, this winner of the Mills and Boon Most Romantic Venue Award 2015, offers 12 luxurious contemporary bedrooms, wonderful bathrooms and exemplary service in a relaxed atmosphere. With features such as private outdoor hot tubs for selected rooms, outstanding cuisine, sumptuous public rooms and a welcome as warm as the log fire, this is indeed a very special boutique hotel.
Eckington Manor’s chefs Sue and Mark Stinchcombe have the luxury of access to Eckington’s award-winning farm, orchard, vegetable and herb garden to sustain their ‘food the fork’ policy. Menus reflect the seasons and are enjoyed by the hotel guests, cookery school students and non-residents alike. The short dinner menu changes regularly and features dishes such as Breast of Guinea fowl, maple roasted pumpkin and spiced red cabbage, but the most popular choice is Eckington Manor Ribeye of beef & braised shin, caramelised shallot, wild mushroom & red wine jus. The service is relaxed but professional and the chefs often come into the restaurant and chat to customers.
La Locanda (translated as The Inn) is a true Italian restaurant located in this rural Lancashire village. The owners’ ethos is to produce the food one would find in a good restaurant in Italy, but using Lancashire products wherever possible. They spend time with local farmers, gamekeepers and producers to source the best quality products. They understand seasonality and animal welfare and the menus are designed to take this into account. Food is served with a real commitment to quality, with service and hospitality to match. La Locanda’s popular Luxury Gourmet Breaks are provided in collaboration with the adjacent Park House B&B.
At this charming guest house, just three minutes from Tynemouth beach, Martineau’s proprietor, Sally, has a real love of food and cooking and great emphasis is placed on sourcing local ingredients. Her popular ‘Taste_of_England of the Sea’ weekends involve taking guests to make an early morning visit to North Shields Fish Quay and they have the opportunity to see the morning’s catch, the filleting of the fish and talk to suppliers. Sally’s breakfast menu contains some unusual items such as smoothies, kedgeree, chickpea patties, fried tofu and homemade fishcake. A popular choice of a morning is the Big Geordie Vegetarian Breakfast which includes a chick pea patty and veggie haggis.
This delightful small fine dining restaurant in Rock in Cornwall is run by a dedicated family team. It is open evenings only with a short menu of dishes all prepared by the chef proprietor, Fred Beedles. Every course is a treat, demonstrating skill and flair with good use of local produce. They even churn their own butter to accompany the home-made bread! Fred’s partner, Donna and her assistant, Philippa, are an impressive front of house duo. They give advice on wines, answer questions on the menu and ingredients and still find time to chat to lone diners in between. The attention to detail and smooth-running operation ensures guests will have a great evening out.
A super-friendly establishment in a stunning clifftop location, The Guardhouse Café is also a veritable institution in the local community. Particularly popular with dog walkers, it is jam-packed even in the most inclement weather. An oasis serving delicious ethically sourced fare in rustic surroundings, specialities include geopark themed dishes and their own blend of coffee. Milkshakes and full English breakfasts are also notable favourites. Customer service is highly valued and rated and regular customers have many a tale to tell of the proprietors’ kindness and hospitality. The café closes at dusk in respect for the local bat colony.
For many, Glamping is about solitude and being alone with nature. However, The Dandelion Hideaway offers something different for a family holiday experience; luxury glamping combined with the full farm experience. Set in a rural paradise, thoughtfully designed canvas cottages complete with roll top baths, wood fired stoves and excellent beds to ensure an unbeatable stay. A whole farm to explore, with baby animals galore, goat milking, egg collecting, pony grooming, sugar mice in the shop and NO TELLY! Should the kids need more, then the National Space Centre and Twycross Zoo are nearby. Sharon or her husband are on-site at all times and take an active role the management of the site and the welcome for guests.
A touch of luxury and relaxation best sums up The Dovecote Barns. This self-catering accommodation provides spacious and spotless barns converted to a very high standard with spectacular kitchens, individually styled en-suite bedrooms, comfortable sofas and a wealth of beams. Brigita treats her guests royally with fresh eggs from on-site hens, along with a basket of home-made bread and lovely jams. While the electric car can be charging up at the thoughtfully provided power point, guests can get the bus to York which regularly passes the door. Birdsong by day and owls by night captures a peacefully quiet, rural surroundings to suit couples and parties of up to twelve discerning guests.
Treworgey Cottages are set on a 150 acre farm overlooking the Looe River valley. The cottages have been restored to high standards and retain the original charm of the Devon hamlet. Features include log fires, beautiful bedrooms, excellent bathrooms, well equipped kitchens and pretty private gardens. Holly and her team work tirelessly in pursuit of excellence. The on-site farm brims with indoor and outdoor activities such as play areas, pony riding friendly animals and an outdoor heated pool with a view! There are splendid country walks, home cooked food delivered to the door, local produce available on site and happy worn out children. A visit here makes for a perfect stay.
Just minutes from Bude, Whalesborough offers 25 luxury ultra dog-friendly self-catering holiday cottages by a superb beach. This is still a relatively new project for Sharran and James, the owners. The cottages are bright and contemporary, complete with wood burning stoves, under floor heating and lovely open plan kitchens. Free use of the state of the art spa facilities, indoor and outdoor heated pools, dedicated children’s play areas, tennis courts and massage facilities makes for a relaxing and thrilling experience. Children will love exploring the farm and meeting the animals and after an exhilarating walk along the coast path, Fido can relax in the specially provided dog washing and grooming area.
Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges & Snug Huts
Bishop Wilton, York, East Riding of Yorkshire www.woldsedge.co.uk
Wolds Edge successfully combines family holidays and romantic breaks on the same site by providing well-equipped self-catering lodges and two cosy shepherd’s huts in a truly peaceful, rural setting. Located on the edge of a delightful village, guests can relax in their hot tub, pop to the excellent village pub for a hearty lunch, go walking on the nearby Wolds Way or hire a bike. Children will be entertained collecting eggs, building a bird hide, or spending a day geocashing, all arranged by owner Ruth. At the end of the day the whole family can catch up with life in their very own bird box via the webcam link.
Located in the beautiful south Devon landscape, Higher Wiscombe comprises three fully equipped self-catering cottages, with ensuite bedrooms throughout, set in a lovely valley only a few miles from the glorious beaches of Beer, Sidmouth and Branscombe. The gardens are secure; the information provision is excellent – from walks and places to visit to pubs and cafes that are dog friendly.
Everything has been thought of: dog wash, bowls, beds, optional cages, stairgate, ample supplies of towels and mats, treats, Dicky Bag and spare poo bags. Shampoo, spare leads/collars are also available on request. An oasis for dogs, with first class accommodation for humans.
Tucked away in the most romantic and historic corner of the Cotswolds, the centuries-old Old Swan is partnered with the more contemporary Minster Mill to provide a welcoming and laid back gastro pub and boutique inn. Many of the rooms are dedicated as dog-friendly, with the added bonus that dogs may even dine with their owners, or vice versa. Those lucky hounds have their own choice of dinner and breakfast, served with panache, even porridge for breakfast, if desired! All canine guests are issued with smart branded bandanas and canine etiquette and puppy training classes are available in-house during fine weather.
Poston Mill Park is a luxury holiday home and touring park set the picturesque Golden Valley in Herefordshire. The site offers a wide choice of accommodation from camping to self-catering units and provides an understated bit of doggy heaven. Pooch welcome packs are tailored to the owner’s requirements, there’s a dedicated dog exercise field and a purpose built heated dog wash. You can even register for dog training classes. The park also features a pub and small shop which complements its quality and commitment to excellence. Owned by Wayne and Sarah Jones, Poston Mill has a very welcoming and dog-loving team who are always at hand to ensure a relaxed and memorable stay.
Situated in the historic market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, the Sun Inn is a boutique hotel, which combines 17th century character and charm with luxurious contemporary accommodation. Dogs receive a ‘Pooch Pack’ on arrival and owners are made to feel at ease by the relaxed, ‘no frill - no fuss’ policy shown towards canine guests. They even have tie-rings fitted to some of the dining tables in the Sun Inn’s ‘local gem’ of a restaurant. There is an outside boot and dog wash and particular attention is paid to cleaning the rooms. There are great walks nearby (with colour coded maps provided) and access to the river.
The recently restored Talbot Hotel is an elegant hotel, housed within a Grade 2 listed historic building. Surrounded by attractive grounds in the heart of North Yorkshire’s ancient market town of Malton, dogs and their human companions are truly spoilt for places to explore. The Talbot is very dog-friendly and the genuine enthusiasm of the staff towards dogs is impressive and helps to put owners at complete ease. Dogs are welcome to join owners for dinner in the Brasserie and the relaxed approach to welcoming dogs is clearly appreciated by all guests. Perhaps the very friendly staff who are happy to engage with their canine guests could be why guests choose to return time and time again.
Located in a picturesque Yorkshire Dales village in a stunningly converted mill, Low Mill certainly has the wow factor! Complete with functioning water wheel and mill workings, this first class home from home oozes character and perfect hospitality from owners Neil and Jane. Menus make great use of local produce; breakfast might include Yorkshire ham and Wensleydale cheese. Guests can opt for dinner too, which might include Barnsley chops with lamb and mint mashed potato pie followed by chocolate fondant with home-made vanilla ice-cream. With high beams, exposed stonework and solid oak floors Low Mill offers superb value for money in the heart of lovely Wensleydale and genuinely hospitable hosts.
This historic and beautifully restored 17th century red-brick manor house is now run as a seven-bedroom B&B. Molland Manor is set in tranquil grounds close to the charming town of Sandwich with its quaint independent shops and eating places to explore and attractions such as Wingham Wildlife Park and Deal Castle. Guests enjoy a truly warm welcome from owners, Tracy and Steve, often leaving reviews mentioning the delicious freshly-cooked scones and tea served on arrival. A wide selection of freshly cooked dishes is available for breakfast and evening meals are offered on specific nights. The entire house and grounds may be rented for large, self-catering parties or as a really special wedding venue.
Pebble House is a stylish, six-room licensed B&B in a stunning south-facing location overlooking the sea and within walking distance of the charming Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey. The house is perfect for couples who wish to enjoy some rest and relaxation. Beds are undisputedly comfortable and guests even have the opportunity to order the same model that they’ve slept in. Breakfast including homemade granola and full English with locally produced sausages is freshly cooked to order and served on the front terrace in fine weather. With ‘to-die-for’ sea views, impeccable housekeeping and genuinely welcoming owners, Andrea and Simon, there’s no doubt why many guests are already regulars.
Just a short walk from Seahouses harbour, St Cuthbert’s Guest House is situated in an elegant converted chapel and features six individually styled rooms with sumptuous beds, fine linen and oak floors. As the birthplace of the original kipper, homemade kipper pate naturally features on the St Cuthbert’s breakfast menu, alongside other local delicacies such as Northumberland bubble and squeak, porridge with Lindisfarne honey and locally smoked haddock kedgeree. All this can be enjoyed with the backdrop of elegant wooden pillars and original chapel harmonium in the splendid Cuthbert Room. St Cuthbert’s also doubles up as a venue for local folk and jazz concerts. In fact, the musical hosts, Jill and Jeff, are passionate about promoting the best of Northumberland.
Trevose House is a six-room B&B close to St Ives harbour, with bright seaside decor throughout, retro furniture and airy rooms - some with sea views. Hosts, Angela and Olivier, graduates of the Lausanne Hotel School, are charming and hospitable, happily offering local information and maps to explore nearby eateries and art galleries. Traditional English breakfast is cooked to order, plus daily specials, which might include griddled baby courgettes and Cornish goats’ cheese and a selection of artisan breads and pastries. All bedrooms have a well-stocked fridge and a different indulgent bedside chocolate every day. Guests also have the luxury of an honesty bar and the choice of the sun-trap terrace or the cosy snug in which to relax.
Established with the assistance of founding patron Lord Richard Attenborough, The University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre is a pioneering arts venue which prides itself on being accessible and inclusive for everyone. The Centre’s aim is to encourage everyone from audiences, performers and staff, to be involved in the arts. It provides a diverse range of disability related art activities, championing emerging talent and disability-led artists. Thanks to a fantastic new gallery space, which opened in November 2015, new exhibitions of live and visual arts are set to see the Centre become an integral part of Leicester’s tourism offer.
Located on the edge of Exmoor National Park, Calvert Trust Exmoor is an activity centre committed to providing exciting, challenging and enjoyable outdoor activities for people with physical, learning, behavioural and sensory disabilities. With a strapline like ‘It’s what you CAN do that counts!’, it’s no surprise a passionate and dedicated team of staff and volunteers help people overcome their fears and deliver life changing experiences. Thanks to a wide range of adapted equipment, visitors with often complex needs can try horse riding, abseiling, climbing, cycling and much more. With accommodation also provided, Calvert Trust Exmoor certainly lives up to its aim for every visitor to leave keen to return and eager to recommend to others.
Hampton Court Palace is a Tudor palace that was made even more magnificent by Henry VIII, alongside a baroque palace. This Scheduled Ancient Monument helps everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society in one of the greatest palaces ever built. Visitors with sensory impairment enjoy British Sign Language interpreted tours, escorted description tours and an audio tour with transcript. There is a ‘We-Go’ powered wheelchair available with its own escort and wheelchair users need not miss out on the Young Henry VIII exhibition thanks to an excellent virtual tour. With excellent Access guides, including one for autistic visitors, everyone can ensure they get the most from their visit
Hoe Grange is a traditional family-run farm on the edge of the Peak District National Park, which diversified into self-catering in 2006. Owners David and Felicity Brown identified a gap in the market for high quality accessible accommodation. Four log cabins cater for guests with a range of mobility needs and accessible-friendly features, such as contrasting door frames and a Deafgard alarm, further increase their appeal. An off-road wheelchair to explore the farm and beyond is also available. Rated 4 star Gold, Hoe Grange demonstrates how quality need not be sacrificed for accessibility. David and Felicity’s dedication to accessible tourism is further demonstrated by their current efforts to raise £5,000 for the training of an assistance puppy.
The Roman Baths and Temple were built nearly 2,000 years ago around Britain’s only hot springs. Opening to visitors in 1897, this unique historical attraction understandably had limited accessibility, however, the museum is nearing the end of an eight year focus on becoming accessible to all – an enviable task for a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade 1 Listed building! In 2015, an innovative suspended walkway was opened which allows visitors on foot and visitors using wheelchairs to experience the ancient Temple Precinct together. With British Sign Language tours and information for visitors with autism, the Baths represent an excellent example of how a heritage site can be truly accessible for all.
Celebrating its 50th year, Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa has 70 bedrooms, including 12 unique stilted ‘treehouse suites’, in a wonderfully picturesque setting bordering the New Forest and just a stone’s throw from the sea. The luxurious treehouse rooms epitomise the hotel’s theme of ‘lost in the forest’ and incorporate panoramic glass walls and unique arboreal surroundings. Housekeeping is exemplary and public spaces and facilities elegant throughout. This world-renowned luxury resort manages to be sumptuous and elegant, whilst retaining a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Staff are certainly prepared to go that extra mile - even going shopping to buy swimwear for guests who have forgotten theirs.
Housed in a magnificent Victorian castle overlooking Cheshire, Peckforton Castle Hotel is everyone’s vision of ‘medieval’ grandeur. Labyrinthine corridors and stone spiral staircases link the individually styled rooms and you may find yourself in a turret with fantastic views of the castle’s wooded surroundings but with Wi-Fi as well! The 1851 restaurant serves excellent food, with a wide choice of vegetarian options. The castle’s amazing architecture provides a spectacular venue for weddings and corporate gatherings and is equally perfect for that romantic getaway. There are spa facilities and a plethora of outdoor activities from archery to giant garden games, plus the extensive grounds are home to the famous Land Rover Experience.
Rockliffe Hall is an impressive 60-roomed luxury golf and spa hotel. Beautifully presented accommodation is offered with traditional, but stylish Old Hall rooms alongside the spacious, contemporary New Hall rooms. The spa facilities and dining experience are truly memorable. With three restaurants to choose from, the Orangery stands out with its golden pillars and outstanding food impeccably served with theatrical flair. The newly created spa is one of the biggest in the country, offering professional treatments in elegant surroundings and including the indoor/outdoor Spa Garden for total relaxation. Many of the bathrooms feature ‘tile TVs’ for added luxury. With a staff of around 300 across the whole estate to attend to their every need, guests feel truly pampered.
Described as ‘a luxurious coastal spa’, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel certainly takes full advantage of its superb location overlooking the water. Refurbished to excellent standards, the hotel’s décor and its balconies and terraces are perfectly suited for wedding parties, birthday celebrations or a romantic weekend away. Exceptionally well-trained and accommodating staff will even scatter rose petals and arrange candles in the hotel’s cinema when a proposal is due to be made. Providing binoculars is a wonderful touch and articulates the hotel’s ‘room with a view’ aspect. Dining is to die-for, especially if you enjoy a well-cooked kipper – a rare addition to any breakfast menu.
South Lodge Hotel is a magnificent country house hotel set in 93 acres of woodland and parkland. The hotel’s rooms overlook the South Downs and are undergoing a refurbishment programme to an exceptionally high standard. Chef Matt Gillam was a winner on TV’s Great British Menu, with his dishes for the Women’s Institute Centenary Banquet going straight through to the final. The staff are particularly enthusiastic and engaging and deliver outstanding service. Special touches include anti-snoring pillows and self-decorate Christmas trees in the rooms. Guests are even invited to pick their own flowers in the gardens (vases are provided). Above all, South Lodge is a truly welcoming hotel that offers a delightful experience.
Described as one of Lancashire’s best country pubs. The Cartford Inn is a quaint, 17th century coaching inn. Cosy nooks for eating, a lovely old bar area and genuinely hospitable staff, all come together to create a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere at this delightful pub. Even on the busiest of evenings, staff have time for their customers, regulars and tourists alike, and the kitchen produces great, good value dishes from its extensive and irresistible menu. The Cartford certainly lives up to its philosophy of combining the best food and drink the region has to offer with truly personal hospitality.
The 500 year old Fleece Inn is a unique piece of English heritage and is steeped in history, yet it remains a vibrant part of the community. Just a stone’s throw from the Cotswolds, this busy establishment provides many delights, including good food, local ales, and traditional entertainment. The pub is by no means a luxury establishment, but sitting by the roaring log fire in its quirky little bar sipping home-brewed cider, you are likely to find yourself suddenly surrounded by folk musicians or Morris dancers, or regaled by Wassailers. Visitors can stay in the historic Master Chamber or in the delightful gypsy caravan in the orchard, which comes complete with ensuite facilities and even room service.
The Rising Sun is a charming little pub close to the centre of Truro. Recently fully refurbished and with a growing and well-deserved reputation for great food, the proprietors’ passion for food genuinely shines through. With excellent ingredients, vibrant colours and delicious flavours served in the comfortable and larger than expected restaurant area, it’s no surprise visitors to this pub return time and time again. Make no mistake though, this is a proper pub with a proper, well stocked bar at the front, featuring amongst other delights, a wide range of gins for your delectation.
Nestled in a fold of West Yorkshire’s picturesque Shibden Valley, the 17th century Shibden Mill is a hidden gem with an established reputation for genuinely warm hospitality, excellent food and first class accommodation. The bar, restaurant and lounge areas are particularly comfortable and welcoming. Nothing is too much trouble for the friendly staff whether serving tender steaks in the restaurant or drinks in the garden by the mill stream. There are lovely walks nearby and the bright lights and shopping of Leeds are easily accessible.
The Swan is located in the charming historic town of Bampton, with the magnificent Exmoor National Park just six miles away. The Swan, is the oldest pub in Bampton and was originally lodgings to accommodate the masons and other craftsmen who were hired to enlarge the village church in 1450. The pub has recently been renovated to a high standard with a solid oak bar giving it a contemporary yet traditional feel. The pub’s most charming features are the original fireplaces and bread oven dating back to 1450. Dining at the pub is a true culinary experience. Dishes using fresh local produce are prepared with a great deal of flair and imagination.
An excellent example of how a historic home can be ‘sustainable’ in the widest sense of the word. The family are keenly aware of their role as stewards of the property’s heritage but have recognised that for this to succeed going forward there needs to be a proactive determination to communicate and reach out in an accessible way. This combination of maintaining traditions in a progressive manner is equally demonstrated in the combination of the latest technology and historic approaches for managing energy and water in a way that is sustainable – both financially and environmentally – and in turn contributes to making the property more accessible.
Colton House provides visitors with a real, distinctive and absorbing experience of the local area. They excel in communicating the property and area’s heritage as well as showcasing home-grown and local produce. They also act as key players within their local community and tourism sector, and demonstrate some excellent energy management and monitoring practices. While at times the listed status of their property has provided challenges, the owners provide an excellent example to the large numbers of tourism businesses within traditional buildings as to what can be achieved with commitment and imagination.
Hoe Grange may not have started with sustainability in mind, but there’s no doubt that the outcome has been one that is a leading example. A pragmatic focus on efficiency has seen the business become exemplars of resource use, while their natural commitment to supporting and stewardship of the local area not only benefits the local economy but enhances the guest stay. Their commitment to accessibility means that these rich experiences of the Peak District can be enjoyed by many normally excluded or restricted, while their willingness to share their experience as pioneers in sustainability means that many others have been helped on their way.
Railholiday is an inspiring example of a business that is deeply rooted in its local area. From the painstaking and beautiful renovation of the railway carriages using local skills and materials, through to providing guests with an experience that draws on, and contributes to, the distinctive qualities of the local area, the owners’ enthusiasm and care runs through every strand of the business. Their positive influence stretches far beyond the guest experience. Railholiday’s owners play key roles in re-establishing the village shop, improving rail services from their station, reinstating an annual music festival and acting as an ambassador to other tourism businesses.
Converting a chapel in a rural community into tourist accommodation could easily have been a recipe for alienation and isolation, but the owners of St Cuthbert’s House deserve huge credit for creating a business that is genuinely welcomed as an asset. Through carefully building up and maintaining strong relationships with local trades, suppliers and services from the renovation phase, through to inviting the community to the Open Day and now running a concert programme, locals benefit economically and culturally. The owners have been equally dedicated in encouraging guests and fellow businesses to discover the best of what’s on their doorstep resulting in a genuine win-win for all.
A visit to the world famous, open-air Beamish Museum is certainly a memorable one which offers a range of activities to see, experience and explore. Visitors don’t simply view living history at Beamish they are immersed in it throughout their journey. Visitors can warm themselves by the coal fire in The Sun Inn whilst drinking a pint of Beamish’s own bitter, sit on authentic Victorian chairs in the Tea Room, ride on original trams and even wash their hands in beautiful Victorian porcelain basins in the toilets. This immersive experience surpasses all other visits to social history museums. A day out at Beamish can ignite in children a lifelong passion for their heritage.
Brunel’s ss Great Britain is a fascinating insight into ship building, society and international travel from the mid- nineteenth century. The ship itself is a delight with interactive displays and scenes from the first-class splendour to cramped conditions in steerage and the very realistic smell of bread being baked in the kitchens. The story of the rescue of the ship in the 1970’s is equally fascinating and the ongoing battle to conserve the constantly deteriorating iron hull in the humidity controlled dry dock brings the challenges of the presentation of Brunel’s pioneering ship right up to the present day. The new Brunel Museum, due to open in early 2018, will add another fascinating element to this already impressive attraction.
In 2015 Chester Zoo confirmed its position as the UK’s number one zoo attraction with the opening of the stunning £40m Islands complex, a recreation of the tropical environments of six South East Asian islands with the inclusion of Monsoon Forest. This outstanding experience for visitors of all ages and interests is provided by a continually evolving product and high quality facilities. The zoo’s excellent animal welfare and conservation work is strongly communicated and an integral part of the attraction’s operation. A large team of staff is supported by an excellent band of enthusiastic volunteers, recruited to assist and inform visitors, especially in the newly developed areas. Keepers are passionate about their work and keen to share their knowledge with visitors.
Described by Bill Bryson as ‘the single most beautiful structure in England’, Salisbury Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece and a magnet for tourists from all over the world. A living place of worship, the cathedral is an internationally renowned music venue and a centre for education and community outreach. It also houses the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta, which is currently displayed in an outstanding exhibition. The cathedral takes visitor interpretation very seriously, continuously striving to maintain and improve standards. An excellent free self-guided leaflet is available, plus the option to have a guided tour of the cathedral – a must for those who wish to have a vertiginous view of the cathedral and its surrounding close.
With over 55,000 artworks and 20,000 textiles, The Whitworth is one of Britain’s greatest collections of modern art and historic fine art. Awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2015 after a spectacular £15 million pound extension and refurbishment, this magnificent building houses ever-changing displays, brand new research and education facilities, book shop, gift shop, and a superbly appointed glass-walled restaurant with delightful views over the surrounding park and art garden. All this, and only a short bus ride from the city centre. Visitors will surely experience the buzz of excitement at every corner while their eyes soak up spectacular art and sculpture.