We may be being a little previous but we do like a plan here in the Love Cottages’ office. And so with Christmas done, and the New Year rung in, inevitably thoughts will turn to those halcyon summer days. So, just where ARE you going to spend your 2017 family holiday? Enter, our UK School Holidays guide.
All the best laid plans these days don’t just happen with a wave of the holiday fairy’s wand. There are work commitments to negotiate, children’s activities and club dates planned well in advance and not to mention family pets. Are you going to book a dog walker, is a kindly neighbour going to help out or are you going to choose kennels? Enough decisions to send you dotty!
Dates may vary…
With the aim of helping to ease those diary juggling logistics we’ve looked into the 2017 school holiday dates. Of course, some may vary from county to county, and there may be the odd inset day here and there. We’ve taken these dates from state schools in the West Sussex area (we’re on a mini break ourselves at the time of writing) so it’s worth noting that public schools will likely have perhaps four additional weeks tagged onto the summer and Easter holidays. And if that applies to you then you’ll be able to avoid the mass exodus to the coast at the end of July by holidaying earlier (and longer if budget allows).
On your marks, get set….
February half term: Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February 2017
Valentine’s Day falls outside of the school holidays in 2017 so if you’re looking to spoil a loved one and treat the kids at the same time that may be tricky. We’d opt for the family holiday, but on the basis that your partner still gets to relax. Perhaps by booking a pamper session from a mobile spa therapist, or by ordering a special meal to arrive at the door of your cottage. Prepared from fresh local produce and only requiring warming through before eating. Or for a truly indulgent experience – do both!
But where to go in this chilly period? Odds are it’s going to be cool outside, but as long as you’re prepared you can still enjoy the great outdoors. Pack waterproofs and wellies, bikes and trikes and head off on an adventure. The Cotswolds holds a lot of charm, and is stuffed with welcoming traditional pubs and open fires. It’ll also be less busy and you’ll avoid the hordes of international tourists that descend in the summer months.
Easter holiday: Monday 10 April to Friday 21 April 2017
Easter falls late next year, three whole weeks later than this year in fact, making it more likely that we’ll have shrugged off our wintery cloak. Good Friday falls on Friday 14 April, with Easter Monday on Monday 17 April. We’ve known a Good Friday spent on the beach on the Isle of Wight (no word of a lie!) so the Easter holiday next year presents a good opportunity for a short break or longer.
Now of course we can’t rely on the British weather so let’s choose a break offering the best of both worlds. The city of Bath holds the key. Indulge in a little shopping and ogle at the splendid architecture on display at The Circle and Royal Crescent. Kids will enjoy a Sally Lunn bun, a famous local delicacy, and a visit to the Roman Baths.
Of course, a visit to Wiltshire isn’t complete without stopping off on the A303 at Stonehenge. You can park at the stones but English Heritage advise pre-booking your tickets to guarantee entry. Prepare for the stones to wend their mystical power about you as you gaze upon them. Of course, younger members of the party might not see the attraction, and it is Easter of course, so without further ado let’s find a local chocolatey Easter egg hunt. Twenty four miles north of Stonehenge you’ll find the Lacock Abbey Easter egg trail, open 8 April to 23 April 2017 and with chocolate treats available for all. Of course the gorgeous village of Lacock is also famous for its appearances in BBC1’s Downton Abbey. So you can imagine bumping into Lord Grantham whilst you’re there too…
May half term: Monday 29 May to Friday 2 June 2017
May half term is one of our favourites. A week long break with spring in the air and opportunity on the horizon. And oh joy of joys next year’s May half term falls at the same time as the world famous literary Hay Festival in Wales. The Hay Festival, in Hay-on-Wye, has been top of our ‘festival bucket list’ for many a year. Next year could just be the year to book a holiday cottage in the area, it being the Festival’s 30th anniversary year.
With many a bookish celebrity to be found wandering the many stages, previous attendees have included the fabulous Dame Judi Dench, Jeanette Winterson and even Bill Clinton. Books aren’t the only attraction of this small town however, Hay-on-Wye is on the doorstep of the surrounding Brecon Beacons National Park. Plenty of choice then for the more active amongst you by way of cycling, hiking, caving and kayaking. Phew. You’ll find us back a paragraph curled up in the book section…
Summer holidays: Wednesday 26 July to Friday 1 September 2017
And finally here we are, the long awaited and much-needed, annual 6 week school summer holiday. Whether you’re heading off to Europe or further, or have a staycation in mind, the roads will be busy and the inevitable migration to our coasts will be in full flow.
Without a doubt the most popular UK destination for a summer holiday is Cornwall, with Devon and Dorset following closely behind. The Camel Trail in the south west of the county is best for cycling, tracing an 18 mile, largely traffic-free route, through spectacular scenery. For those of a culinary mind, Padstow or Padstein as it’s been nicknamed, is the hot spot. If you can get a table, head to Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant to sample the catch of the day.
If you’re looking for a coastal break without the crowds, consider the north Norfolk coast. The towns of Cromer or Sheringham both have blue flag beaches, with Cromer still sporting a pier jutting out into the sea. For those that enjoy the odd factoid, it’s the only pier in the UK that still has a traditional ‘end of the pier’ variety show. Travel even further north to Northumberland for a seaside break from the madding crowds. The Northumberland Coast AONB stretches over 39 miles from Berwick to the Coquet Estuary and remains largely deserted even through the summer months. So you may have to travel a bit further, but it’ll be worth it.
October half term: Monday 23 October – Friday 27 October 2017
And with the blink of an eye the kids are packed off back to school as we bid a fond farewell to those warm and whimsical summer days, whilst looking forward to a last hurrah for October half term and perhaps an Indian summer to boot.
If you’re saving the best ‘til last now’s the chance to bag a break in West Sussex and head to West Wittering for large swathes of undoubtedly quiet beach. Acres of space if the tide is out for a brisk walk, although do take a hat and scarf as the wind whistles up from the sea. And if it should rain, try braving it out for a while (the weather can be tricksy in October) and then bolt back to your cottage and try one of these.
So that’s our 2017 round up of important diary dates for those organisers amongst you. If you’re looking to use the Christmas holidays to start planning the summer holidays then we hope you find it useful. You can also feel slightly smug that you’ve bagged your dream 2017 holiday cottage before the sun has set on 2016. Hat’s off to you, and happy holidays!