Spend three to four days in a Canadian canoe, gently paddling along fantstic scenery. Really relaxing and peaceful as you observe wildlife on the river close up. Camping on the river bank, some fast water, river side pubs, lazy picnics and loads of fun.
I recommend The Ross on Wye Canoe hire company who will drop you off up river and then pick you up at the end of your trip, very informative, friendly and flexible service, reasonably priced.
Sharpham Vineyard is a small vineyard and dairy set in the beautiful landscape of the South Hams along the picturesque river Dart. It is set within the Sharpham Estate where Sharpham House, dating back to 1770, resides in a Capability Brown Landscape. Different tours are available, from a self-guided walk with instructed cheese and wine tasting to a riverside walk followed by tutored wine tasting and a light lunch. However, it is necessary to book in advance for longer tours or larger parties. The Estate is also home of the Sharpham Trust which supports diverse projects balancing practical endeavors with spiritual enquiry. Sharpham is a truly inspiring and calming place to spend time.
3 miles from the historic town of Totnes, on the A381 towards Kingsbridge, turn right for Sharpham Vineyard and Ashprington. Follow signposts.
Closest station: Totnes.
Sharpham Partnership Ltd.
Tel: 01803 732203
By pure chance we ended up at Green Gables B&B and were very glad that we did! For £65 we got a huge top-floor room with ensuite, flat-screen TV and tea making facilites. The breakfast is served until 8:45 and is worth getting up early for - the lady of the house, Paula, will cook any breakfast you wish for to perfection. Husband Gabriel is the one who serves up and entertains guests with storys from his past. The beach is only minutes away and there is loads going on in town to keep visitors entertained - we absolutely loved it!
Enjoy a relaxing scenic paddle along two miles of tidal water, starting at Iford Bridge where you can park for free and enter the water easily. If you want breakfast before you begin I recommend the Old Bridge Tea Rooms.
Follow the meandering river heading away from the Bridge, although Stour means 'the strong powerful one' the course is suitable for novices, the river is full of Mullet, Bass and Flounder head for Tuckton Bridge and on towards Christchurch, you will hear the bells of the priory and enjoy the ambiance of Christchurch Quay from your priviledged position and opposite the unspoilt village of Wick where the ferry takes foot passengers across to the quay.
At Christchurch the Stour meets the Avon, the main river flows past historic Hengistbury Head (also a site of special scientific interest) dating back to 10,000BC one of only 25 from the Old Stone Age period.
Head towards the colourful beach huts at Mudeford Sandpit and take a leisurely break for lunch at The Beach House Cafe - the view is great and the food is fabulous.
At Mudeford the river enters the sea through a narrow channel known as 'The Run' which is best avoided unless you are extremely brave and experienced! If you enjoy sea kayaking the sandy beaches of Avon and Southbourne are close by and offer a contrast to the serenity of the river for those wanting to enjoy the surf.
Old Bridge Tea Rooms 16, Old Bridge Road, Iford, Bournemouth Tel:01202 477110
The Beach House Cafe, Mudeford Sandbank, Broadway,Southbourne. www.beachhousecafe.co.uk
Àite Cruinnichidh is a hostel on the outskirts of Roy Bridge in the Spean Valley, a short drive out of Fort William.
It's a fantastic kayaking destination for people who are more adventurous. Tere are a large number of fantastic white water rivers nearby at a range of grades from 2/3 upwards. The Roy, the Upper Spean and the Arkaig are almost on the doorstep. For those in need of an introduction there are a number of guiding companies who operate locally and if the weather is not right for kayaking there are a host of other activities in the area to entertain you.
The hostel is family run and the owners are always welcoming. They have fantastic drying facilities – very important for a kayaking holiday - and a good knowledge of the area. It also sports a sauna, which is a great way to unwind of an evening.
Starting at £12 a night, if you are looking for a cheap base for a fantastic white water kayaking holiday then this a great place to start, either for a small or larger group of people.
Train Station: Roy Bridge
Phone: 01397 712315
The past week has seen the DLR train connection to London City Airport closed for line upgrades. Before setting off to the airport, it is wise to check online at www.tfl.gov.uk or www.londoncityairport.com to check for travel disruptions. There are replacement bus services in place but you should give yourself an extra half an hour if taking these to allow for delays and traffic
I know English wine escaped the blinkers of prejudice several years ago, but I've only just started to open my eyes.
A little like how I found Breaky Bottom. I'd been cycling past it over the downs for years, not knowing that a tiny valley of typical South Downs beauty and incredible tranquility was a mere hundred yards or so over the brow of a hill which I had never actually crossed.
Drop down into the valley and you feel as if you're in your own private vineyards. I've rarely met anyone else down here other than the owner.
Phone ahead if you want a tasting, don't bother with driving there along the track, just get on the downs and wander along there. Try and arrive early evening for some exceptional hospitality (but don't quote me on that).
Lovely, well equipped cottages near three miles of beautiful sandy beach, fantastic views of Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Priory and Farne Islands - also amazing old stone tower which sleeps two, called the Ducket - lovely inside - recently renovated - now 5* where you can stay - great views.
Ross and Outchester Cottages
Ross Farm, Belford
Northumberland, NE70 7EN
Beautiful shop, amazing clothes and the most helpful staff I have ever come across. Can't wait to get down to Brighton again for a cheeky weekend away just so i can spend some money in here again.
32 Ship Street
Camel Valley vineyard is near Bodmin, in the heart of the Cornish countryside, but it feels as if you could be in Italy. Although the vineyard is relatively new, it seems like it's been there forever. You can even leave the car at home and travel from Bodmin on the steam train. There are some beautiful cottages overlooking the vineyard and river we'd like to stay at next time! It's just a world away from city life. The wine is as wonderful as the setting, my favourite was the sparkling rosé, but my fiancée preferred the Camel Valley Red - all tasted on the friendliest tour I've ever been on - highly recommended!
Channel your inner Lady Macbeth for less in this bargain castle in the Scottish highlands. It was built for the Duchess of Sutherland, and even housed royalty, but now you’ll find backpackers and other budget travelers staying in the historic halls. The Castle overlooks the River Kyle and hills of rugged heather, and is decorated with an opulent art collection and gallery of marble statues. We rented a mountain bike and went for long country walks, before returning to our ‘manor’ for a game of pool and a meal fit for a king in the restaurant. Rumours of a castle ghost add a gothic chill to your stay, but luckily we didn’t come across any spooks!
Carbisdale Castle, Culrain, Sutherland, IV24 3DP
0870 004 1109
For those living in the South of England, who can't afford to travel abroad (in these credit crunch times) and who want to experience a working vineyard then it is an ideal place to go. Fun for the family, tours, cafe and gift shop. The wine is quaffable too!
Not everyone wants to be in the city centre and this hotel is only about a 15 min bus ride to Princes St. Its main advantage is that it is right by the Braid Hills Golf course (and the hotel has special green fees), is very near the main bus routes, is not far from one of Europe's largest artificial ski slopes and it is also one of the hotels nearest to Rosslyn Chapel. They have plenty of free parking and its bistro has great views across the city.
Ok, so there are a few vineyards in the UK but this one is actually a bona-fide (not inner-city novelty) vineyard in Twyford, a small suburban town near Reading, Berkshire.
Enter the shop to look at their range of young wines and then have a stroll around their walled garden to see the stalks and berries in all their glory. A perfect way to spend 45 minutes as part of a Sunday drive in the country - with a decent bottle of plonk to take home to boot.
0118 934 0176
Nearest Train Station: Twyford
Absolutely delicious Keralan food served in a delightful way. This branch specialises in vegetarian and seafood and we had the feasts in both and both were fab. By 7pm they were turning people away so best to book or get there early.
5 Charlotte Street, London, W1P 1HD. www.rasaresaurants.co.uk tube - Tottenham Court Rd or Goodge St
Wine tasting on your doorstep in London. This fun night at cosy 'local' pub The Alma, is held approximately once a month on a Wednesday evening. Enjoy tutorials for different tastes and vintages from around the world, plus a selection of complimentary nibbles to stop you getting too drunk!
There are just 10 places per evening (book in advance!) so it feels pleasantly intimate - and you really do get to learn about what you're drinking.
All in all, a great, unusual night out in London.
Newington Green Road (North London - Canonbury or Highbury & Islington)
Tucked away in Kensington Gardens in the North Laines, The Gardens cafe is quint-essential Brighton. With its quirky artwork throughout, a lovely upstairs balcony looking down on the lanes, and a menu that takes up two whole walls, it is definitely a place you would come back to for its good vibes and comfortable feel.
The food at this place isn't the finest cuisine, but it's location makes up for this. The balcony is a prime people watching spot. You can see right the way along Kensington Gardens which is particularly good on a busy weekend.
1 Kensington Gardens, Brighton BN14AL
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