Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dog friendly holiday destinations

Since we bought our lovely dog Pina, where possible we've tried to take her on holidays with us. Recently a Facebook friend asked for some recommendations which made me think I should add them to our travel blog, so here is a brief list.

Connemara, Ireland
In 2014 when Pina was about 6 months old we took her with us on a trip to Ireland, it was her first 'long trip' in the car and first trip on a ferry. She passed both tests with flying colours and since then she has proved many times to be a great traveller. To read more about Connemara and Cleggan Holiday cottages where we stayed, click on the following link, Beautiful Connemara.

Cleaggan Holiday Cottages

First holiday, first holiday romance
The Lake District, Cumbria, England
In March 2015 we booked a long weekend to visit the stunning Lake District. On this trip we stayed in a very nice 'cottage' in Windermere Marina Village. To read more about this trip, click on the following link, Long weekend in the Lake District

Lake Windermere

Studying the wildlife at the edge of the lake

Bank Holiday weekend in North Yorkshire, England
In May 2015 we spent one of the bank holiday weekends staying at the Laskill Grange B&B just outside Helmsley. We stayed in the cosy Foxglove Cottage which in a previous life was the farm's pig sty. This is a great B&B, I guess the only downside was that breakfast, which was delicious, is served in the main house where dogs aren't allowed in the dining area. That aside, dogs are made very welcome and there is so much to do and see in the stunning part of the country. The amazing Rievaulx Abbey is only minutes away. For more on Laskill Grange and the surrounding area, clock on the following link and read on, North Yorkshire

Laskill Grange

People watching at Rieuvaulx Abbey

West Cork, Ireland
In June 2016 the three of us along with Susy's Mum took a trip across to Ireland. After a few days with family in Dublin we drove to West Cork where we stayed at the fabulous Dunmore House Hotel just outside Clonakilty. The staff at the hotel were wonderful, so welcoming to dogs, they really made all of us feel at home while we were there. The hotel is fantastic, set on the Atlantic coastline so the views are beautiful. Dogs are allowed in the hotel bar where the food is great so a wonderful destination with your furry daily member. To read more about this wonderful part of Ireland click on the link, Family visit to Ireland June 2016

Exploring around the Beacon, Baltimore

Stunning view of Bantry Bay from Bantry House

More from West Cork, Ireland
Around a three hour drive from Dublin, West Cork is a beautiful part of Ireland with lots to do, great food especially if you like seafood and some stunning scenery. We made another trip there in July 2017, this time the three of us stayed at Carbery Cottage Guest Lodge just outside Durrus. As with our pervious visit to this part of Ireland we had a fabulous welcome. Carbery Cottage is a great place to visit with a dog and as humans you're in for a treat as the breakfasts are out of this world. Interested, click on the link to read more, West Cork 2017. As I'm writing this for some reason I can't find any photos so hopefully the Blogpost will do the trick.

Wheeldon Trees Farm, Derbyshire, England
Earlier this year Susy surprised me with a trip to Wheeldon Trees Farm to celebrate my birthday. Wheeldon Trees Farm has a collection of holiday cottages converted from the original outbuildings. The cottages are fabulous with every home comfort you can possibly think of and more. Once you arrive there is no need to use your car as all your needs are catered for and there is some wonderful walking straight from the front of the cottage. I've just realised that I've not written a blogpost on this so until I catch up, here is a link to their wonderful website, just click here.

Wheeldon Trees Farm

Not a car in sight

Later in the summer we're planning a return visit to Connemara with Pina so more to follow.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire

We recently visited the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire which the National Trust website describes as a " rare survival of a complete estate, with all major buildings including mansion house, servants quarters, working farm and walled garden". Once home to two brothers, Thomas and George Anson the estate was inherited by Patrick Lichfield from his grandfather the Fourth Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Edward Anson. Lord Lichfield who was one of the leading photographers of his time lived on the estate until his death in 2005. 

Once you reach the carpark at the end of the long driveway, you'll walk past the walled gardens, stableyard where you'll find a tearoom and toilets and then onto the main house with it's impressive gardens. As we were with our dog we didn't visit the house itself, instead we enjoyed the gardens and the parkland.

The Chinese House

The Triumphal Arch

Farewell from Shugborough

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

Kedleston Hall is an impressive country house in Kedleston, Derbyshire. Now a National Trust property it was the seat of the Curzon family. We visited it during the recent May Bank Holiday weekend and were lucky to chose a beautiful day for our visit.

Welcome to Kedleston Hall
The estate is beautiful with a number of easy to follow well sign posted walks taking in the best of the stunning parklands. There are 4 walks, the longest of which according to the map you are given when you arrive is 3.2 miles long and is aptly named the Long Walk. We combined this with the Lakeside Walk, a further 2 miles. Dog walkers are asked to keep their furry friends on leads at all times.

Follow the signs

Don't forget to visit the family chapel which you'll find behind the main house, for a building that appears quite small from the outside, its fascinating inside.

Kedleston Hall is one of the nicest and best organised National Trust properties that we've visited so far and one which we'll definitely go back to. One lovely touch from the team that run Kedleston Hall is the chalkboard below which gives you a great idea of other National Trust properties within a reasonable distance of this wonderful location.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sunday visit to Ilam Park in the Peak District, April 2018.

Ilam Park is situated in a spectacular location in the Derbyshire and Staffordshire Peak District close to the pretty market town of Ashbourne. Owned by the National Trust, Ilam Park from what we saw appears to be a popular destination for families and dog walkers. With a nice tea-room the park is open all year round and there is plenty to explore with lots of fairly easy going walks. It was our first visit and we had a wonderful day helped by a relatively warm and dry day. The house itself is now a Youth Hostel so the main reason to visit the Park is to enjoy the grounds and the surrounding countryside.

Main entrance to Ilam Park

The village is very pretty with some unique houses and as it's just outside the Park it's worth a wander. The sign posts around the Park aren't that clear so pick up a map before at the house and ask one of the volunteers before you hear off to make the most of your visit.

The Peak District is a beautiful part of the UK, stunning scenery, beautiful architecture and lots of wonderful places to enjoy local produce. We're lucky that it's only an hour or so from where we live so we're hoping for a good summer so we can enjoy it a lot more. Our plan next time is to try some of the walking that nearby Dovedale has to offer. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Next stop Punta Arenas - time to visit some penguins.

After a fabulous few days in Puerto Natales which left us wanting to return for more, we made the return journey to Punta Arenas where we were staying for New Year. We were booked to stay at the boutique hotel La Yegua Loca which translates into English as The Mad Mare. This is a great hotel, the vision of a couple to renovate an old house and turn it into a hotel. In their own words "not any hotel, but something unique and very special, that recovers the traditions and trades of a land of adventurers and explorers. Loaded with dreams. Also with a small dose of madness". They have really succeeded in translating their vision into reality, it really captures the spirit and excitement that you experience when visiting Chilean Patagonia. We loved our time in this special place.

La Yegua Loca

After an early start from Puerto Natales our goal had been to visit Isla Magdalena to see the colony of Magellan penguins, unfortunately bad weather led to a cancellation. Plan B was quickly established and we arranged a driver to take us to Fuerte Bulnes, a 40 minute drive from the city. The fort is a reconstruction, the original was founded on a hill overlooking the Strait of Magellan in 1843 under the command of Manuel Bulnes Prieto.

Fuerte Bulnes

After an interesting afternoon at the Fort we returned to Punta Arenas and the hotel with our fingers crossed that our rescheduled visit to Isla Magdalena would go ahead the next day.....it did!! Situated a relatively short boat tide away from Punta Arenas the island is home to a huge colony of Magellan penguin couples and their young. As you get close to the shore line you get your first view of this once in a lifetime sight, it was quite incredible to see so many penguins close up. After docking you get around an hour on the island to walk around a roped off pathway from which you get a close up view of island life.

On our way back to Puenta Arenas we passed a smaller island colonised by sea lions. Again the sheer numbers and size of some of these mammals is staggering, as we had to take photos from distance on the boat which was bobbing up and down the quality isn't so good as they were on the island.

That evening was New Year's Eve and the staff had pulled out all the stops back at La Yegua Loca to prepare a fun evening for all the guests which culminated in watching the fireworks being set off by the coast. A fitting end to 2017 and a great start to 2018.

Happy New Year