Author Topic: Self-catering cottages for walking holidays :-)  (Read 3843 times)


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Re: Self-catering cottages for walking holidays :-)
« Reply #60 on: 09:17:32, 22/07/20 »
There's been some discussion recently about walking in the Auvergne in France, so perhaps this cottage report will be of interest to someone. This is where we were based for a week's holiday in the autumn of 2017.  :)

We found Le Gîte de la Péreire by browsing for somewhere to rent near the village of Saint Saturnin where my wife's family lives. Saint Saturnin lies a few miles south of Clermont-Ferrand.

The house is on the edge of Chadrat, an old, picturesque village which nestles in the hillside, and is surrounded by farms and rolling hills. It certainly is a lovely, peaceful setting! This is a view of the house from the farm track opposite:

The house is a converted barn with extremely thick walls. It might look enormous but the garage and connected storage area behind the accommodation are reserved for the owner. It's still big, but perhaps not quite as big as my photos suggest!

There's a parking area for guests at the top of the slope opposite the garage door and behind the tree, and that's where our car is parked:

There's a large, raised patio area which overlooks a lawn that slopes down to trees and a stream. Well, there would have been a stream, but it hadn't rained much recently!

Downstairs, the accommodation is open-plan and very spacious. Everything is absolutely immaculate!

Upstairs, there are two bedrooms and a bathroom and separate toilet. This is the slightly smaller bedroom (which we didn't choose) and out-of-shot there's a single bed meaning the house comfortably sleeps five.

And this is the bigger bedroom that we did choose:

You can probably tell from the photos that the décor is unusual. There's a mixture of modern and renovated antique furnishings which we thought works very well. This is the bathroom, or perhaps it's the washroom - because there's a washing machine but no bath!:

We really liked both the property and the location, being close to the volcanoes of the Auvergne. And we also liked the price - under 400 Euros for the week. Okay, it wasn't the high season but it was still a week during school holidays in France and we were amazed by what we were getting for the price. New to us though was the hefty 'breakage deposit' of 600 Euros - but fortunately we didn't break anything! There was a small additional charge for electricity but it was only a few Euros - the open fireplace is just for show and the heating is all electric radiators. For us, the real additional cost of the holiday was the Channel Tunnel - about £190 - and the motorway tolls - about £100, although we think it's well worth that to drive for hours on smooth, almost empty roads. :-)


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Re: Self-catering cottages for walking holidays :-)
« Reply #61 on: 09:41:58, 25/07/20 »
Back to Scotland for the next one...  :)

We spent the second week of our holiday in August 2017 at a cliff top cottage called Airidh na Síth overlooking Loch Eireasort on the east coast of Lewis. The cottage is one of two similar accommodations collectively called Eagle Bay Cottages, and I find it easier to refer to the one we had as Eagle Bay Cottage than try to use the Gaelic name!

We'd seen photos of the cottage and its setting on the website, but that didn't stop us saying "Wow!" about... everything. We arrived at the cottage by going down the cliff top on a private single-track road and we mistook two ordinary grassy hills for the cottage roof before we found the one with an actual building underneath. We stopped the car and I took a photo:

We arrived early so we had time to really appreciate the brilliance of the structure, which, by the way, we learned was designed by an architect who'd won a TV programme called Grand Designs. We hadn't heard of him or seen the programme, but it was still quite cool to know!

I'm not sure it would be possible to place a building in a more stunning location. It's not overlooked and the only other properties visible from the cottage are in the far distance across the loch. It feels completely remote, yet it's only a five minute drive to the main road, which, on the Western Isles is a road on which a vehicle goes by every minute or so - during busy times!

Loch Eireasort (or Erisort in English) wraps around the rocky outcrop into which the cottage blends and the views from inside are always spectacular. In the distance are the mountains of Harris and in and around the loch there's an abundance of wildlife. I don't know how long I spent standing at the panoramic window with binoculars or camera in hand, but it was a lot!

Time for a tour...   :)

The open plan design of the cottage, minimalist styling, and high vaulted ceilings combine to create a feeling of great space. Yet at the same time, it feels part of the cliff itself. There's a log-burning stove in the living area (which we made good use of), but that's partly to provide a snug focal point because there's also under-floor heating throughout. Another nice touch was the sophisticated lighting system, with, for example, up-lights in the floor and dimmer switches allowing a wide range of illumination effects. The TV was of the 'smart' variety and had both Netflix and Amazon Prime; previous occupants hadn't logged out of the latter but we didn't charge anything to their account...   ;)

I'm afraid we only used the dining table and chairs as a dumping place for our rucksacks and wet outdoor clothing (it rained a lot that week!), preferring instead to eat at...

...the breakfast bar in the kitchen area. The angled position of the bar provided a good view of the TV - as well as through the panoramic windows in the lounge area. The kitchen was extremely well equipped and, as at the previous accommodation on South Uist, we found a generous supply of treats -including fresh cakes and posh champagne.

The cottage sleeps two people and the single bedroom is huge, as is the bed. Unfortunately, regarding the bed frame, style took precedence over common sense because it had a low ledge sticking out about six inches which seemed to be designed for bruising shins - and it did!

Both of my bedroom photos show only about half of the room. I took the first to show the rock face outside one of the windows, and the second to show the view through the other window.

The bathroom is also very big and comprehensively fitted. Perhaps strangely, it has two doors - one from the hallway (not featured in my photos) and one from the bedroom. (Incidentally, all of the cottage's internal doors slide into the walls which enhances the overall feeling of light and space.)

The door in the photo below (left) is to the sauna room (right)!

And lastly, I took this photo through the bathroom window because there was a sheep grazing outside.  :)

To summarise, we absolutely loved Eagle Bay Cottage and were very sad to leave. My review didn't cover everything, such as the huge collection of DVDs and books, the very comfortable sofa and armchair, and the large outside storeroom built partly into the rock face and which contained, amongst other things, two brand new bikes that were available to use, but I hope it gives a fair overview. We lacked for nothing, and when it was time to go we simply left the front door unlocked and drove away. As at the previous accommodation this holiday, we were trusted to have been good tenants - and that always leaves a nice feeling.  O0


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Re: Self-catering cottages for walking holidays :-)
« Reply #62 on: 19:11:28, 28/07/20 »
I date my becoming 'a walker' from when I acquired a GPS watch and started to record my walks. That was in October 2016 and our first walking holiday was during the following summer. The first accommodation to be the base for our walks was Corrodale Cottage on South Uist.

In the southern Outer Hebrides, the larger islands of South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist  are linked by causeways, and some smaller islands such as Berneray in the far north and Eriskay in the far south can also be reached by causeways. We wanted to see as much of the Uist islands as possible so we wanted our accommodation to be somewhere in the centre - and Corrodale Cottage fitted the bill perfectly. Nowhere on this island group was more than a 40 minute drive away.

The cottage is on a large, grassy plot by a single-track road with rough farmland on the other three sides, so although there are other properties around, it feels quite remote. The photo shows an outbuilding behind the cottage which serves as a very large utility room.

Alongside the utility building there's a very nice decked patio from where we could watch...

...the local cows. In the distance are the hills of South Uist.

The rear of the cottage - and plenty of parking space!

The wonderful view that greeted us every morning (when it wasn't raining that is!):  ;)

Inside, the cottage is cosy, luxurious and immaculate. The kitchen / living room is quite compact but extremely well-equipped and very comfortable. The photo shows some of the 'welcome' gifts left for us (far left and on the table), and there was a bottle of good quality champagne too. Out of shot are the peat-burning stove, the TV system (with DVD player and Sky), and various other pieces of furniture. As walkers, we were pleased to find that a very extensive range of maps and books of walks had been provided and of which we made very good use!

Like the rest of the cottage, the bedroom was of the highest standard. Sadly, my photo doesn't do justice to the impressive four-poster bed, but I think you can get an idea of the quality of the bedding...

The next photo shows part of the bathroom, which again was of the highest standard. The spa bath was brilliant (literally, because it had lights), and I'm told that the provided toiletries were suitably upmarket!

As you can probably tell, we were absolutely delighted with Corrodale Cottage, but I must also mention the delightful lady with whom we booked. She was extremely pleasant and helpful, and asked that when we leave at the end of the week we simply hang the key on a hook in the hall and leave the front door unlocked. It's quite refreshing to be trusted.

For anyone wanting to explore the Uist islands from a central location and in total comfort, Corrodale Cottage is perfect!   O0
« Last Edit: 07:46:50, 29/07/20 by WhitstableDave »


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Re: Self-catering cottages for walking holidays :-)
« Reply #63 on: 16:27:03, 01/10/20 »
We booked a week in Townend Barn for Easter at the start of 2020, but the lockdown meant postponing our holiday in Devon until September. As it turned out, we're delighted we didn't cancel, because we loved the cottage and the surrounding area very much indeed.  :)

Our plan was to do a week's walking on Dartmoor, and the village of Lydford was the perfect location. Dartmoor is only a short walk away and some excellent trails, such as the Granite Way and the Dartmoor Way, pass through the village. There's also the spectacular Lydford Gorge just down the road, but it's a National Trust site and there were too many restrictions in place for our liking. Another time perhaps?

Townend Barn is behind the owner's house and feels completely separate and private. There's a parking space in front, but the entrance to the barn is from the secluded garden area at the rear. Speaking of 'rears', there are some quirky ornaments...

The secluded garden at the rear and the entrance to the barn:

The design is open plan, with the small bedroom screened with a curtain. The extremely nice bathroom has an excellent shower and is next to the 'bedroom' - there is a door between them!

There's a decent TV out of shot and a grand piano (which we didn't use). There's also a very good selection of books and maps, and a log burner (which we didn't use either!).

Once we'd unpacked, we went for a stroll around Lydford. Here are a few photos to show what the village and the area are like...

In summary: we really liked the accommodation and the area. The owner was extremely friendly but also unobtrusive. And we thought the price was very reasonable at around £500 for the week. Especially highly recommended as a base for exploring Dartmoor!   O0