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March 20, 2017

Top 5 Attractions on our Canals this Easter

Leading boating holiday specialist Waterways Holidays is highlighting family-friendly attractions and events on Britain’s canal network this Easter.

“Britain’s canals are open all year, but the hire season really kicks off at Easter,” says managing director Nigel Richards. “Our team has picked our top five family-friendly attractions which can be visited during an Easter narrowboat break.”

  1. Easter Boat Gathering: National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port on the Shropshire Union Canal, 14-17 April. This annual gathering of narrowboats is a colourful illustration of canal history, with dozens of vintage boats on show. The museum itself is fascinating and fun and at Easter there are live performances and kids’ activities. Family ticket £19.


  1. Black Country Living Museum: a few minutes’ walk from the Dudley Canal in the heart of the West Midlands, 8-23 April. This exciting open-air museum covers 26 acres and brings the industrial revolution to life with recreated streets, tram rides, crafts and industries. Easter egg hunts, egg rolling, fresh hot cross buns from the Victorian bakery. Family ticket £44.10.


  1. Cadbury World: Bournville, Birmingham, 8-23 April. The Birmingham and Worcester Canal passes through Bournville, with the chocolate-lovers’ attraction within 15 minutes’ walk. Live shows with magicians, ventriloquists and other family-friendly entertainment every day, plus Easter Egg Hunts and Bonnet competitions over the bank holiday weekend. Family ticket £47.44.


  1. Warwick Castle: 8-23 April. The Grand Union Canal runs through this historic Heart of England town, where the amazing castle sits above the River Avon. From the Horrible Histories Maze to the Dungeons, the castle makes learning fun for kids of any age. Individual tickets from £13.


  1. The Egg: Bath Theatre Royal, throughout April. The theatre’s children’s centre is busy throughout the Easter holidays, with shows such as Eloise and the Curse of the Golden Whisk 18-23 April. The Egg’s patron is Sam West, son of celebrity narrowboaters Timothy West and Prunella Scales, who helped restore the Kennett and Avon Canal which runs through Bath. Variable ticket prices.


This Easter, a week’s narrowboat hire through Waterways Holidays starts at £795. That’s for a four-berth, 50-feet long narrowboat such as Phoenix, starting from Norbury on the Shropshire Union Canal. From here, either Ellesemere Port (for the National Waterways Museum) or Dudley (for the Black Country Living Museum) can be reached during a week’s cruise.


Waterways Holidays: 01252 339023,


March 20, 2017

New Zealand Specialist is newest AITO Member

Silver Fern Holidays is now a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The New Zealand specialist is based in Southwell, Nottinghamshire and has an office in Hamilton on North Island.

“We are delighted to join such a respected organisation,” says founder and managing director John Lightwood. “AITO members share a passion for authenticity, and we are always looking to develop more rewarding New Zealand travel experiences for our clients.”

New for 2017/18 is a focus on Wanaka as an alternative to Queenstown.  Set within Mount Aspiring National Park, the jaw-dropping scenery offers glaciers, river valleys and mountain peaks. The pristine wilderness is also home to 45 native bird species and 400+ species of butterflies and moths.

“Queenstown holds the crown for high-adrenalin activities, but it can get both busy and expensive. Wanaka is where New Zealanders themselves holiday, which says a lot! Set on an equally beautiful lake, this is a fantastic alternative if you are looking for authentic, and less frenetic experiences,” says John

Walking is a personal passion for John Lightwood, who recommends Wanaka for independent and guided hiking. Options range from easy day walks through the Matukituki Valley to challenges like the  Rob Roy Glacier Track walk easy to arrange from Wanaka.

Helicopter access to the mountains, including landings on snow, and challenges on the Rob Roy Glacier are also possible, as is jet-boating on the Matukituki River.  Eco-encounters with local guides are recommended, including a boat trip to Mou Waho island on Lake Wanaka to see native birds.

Wanaka accommodation featured by Silver Fern Holidays includes Criffel Peak B&B where blueberry pancakes are a breakfast speciality, and the luxurious Maple Lodge which has seven boutique bedrooms and a guest spa.

Sample package: A 14-day independent tour of South Island, with two nights in in Wanaka, costs from £3199 per person. Includes car hire, twin-share accommodation and breakfast each day, as well as maps and tour-planning. Excludes international flights.

Optional activities that can be pre-booked as part of the trip include a day’s guided walking along the Bridle Track through beech forest along the Makarora River to the Haast Pass, returning via the Blue Pools (from £150 per person). An amazing day starting with jet-boating on the Matukituki River, followed by a helicopter flight into the mountains to land at snow level and ending with a 4WD safari, starts at £470 per person.

Silver Fern Holidays 01636 813 544,

March 15, 2017

Four-nights-for-the-price-of-three on Jersey this Easter…

Enjoy four-nights-for-the-price-of-three in Jersey is the invitation to families this Easter from the three-star Mayfair Hotel in St Helier.

This special deal, applicable on a choice of dates over the holiday period, means a four-night break now costs from just £219 per adult and only £95 per child (aged between two and 11 years).

The above prices, based on two adults and two youngsters sharing a family room, include return Fast Ferry from Poole, transfers and accommodation with breakfast in a family room.  Flight inclusive packages are also available.

Hotel facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, steam room, a fully-equipped gym and a games room, along with a bar, restaurant and a coffee shop.

A short stroll leads to the beach at Havre des Pas – with its art deco-style lido pool, filled by the tide each day – and the centre of St Helier with its shops, bars and restaurants.

‘Must sees’ on the island include the Durrell Wildlife Park, The Mansell Collection of classic cars, the Jersey War Tunnels and the aMaizin Adventure Park, along with the Occupation Tapestry Gallery and  Tamba Park, with its animatronics’ dinosaurs up to six metres tall.

01534 735511,

March 15, 2017

Active Family Breaks in the UK, now from just £99

PGL – which is celebrating 60 years of adventure – has discounted its remaining Family Adventure breaks at Easter, with prices for a two-night weekend break now only £99 per person (adult or child).

That’s a saving of up to £100 per adult, and up to £76 per child on original brochure prices. What’s more, PGL’s child price covers five year olds up to and including strapping teenagers of 18, and all holidays are really inclusive.

£99 includes simple ensuite accommodation for two nights, all meals, fun and challenging activities, instruction and equipment, AND family-friendly evening entertainment all provided by enthusiastic PGL staff.

Two-night weekend breaks start 31 March, 7, or 15 April, with a choice of locations: Osmington Bay on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, Liddington in Wiltshire, Boreatton Park in Shropshire and Caythorpe Court in Lincolnshire. Two nights at Dalguise in Perthshire is available 7 and 14 April.

Four-night multi-activity breaks at the same centres – plus at Little Canada on the Isle of White – are also discounted, to £199 per person (adult or child). This represents a saving of up to £126 per adult and up to £76 per child 5-18 years.  These Monday to Friday midweek breaks start on 3, 10 or 17 April.

In all cases, accommodation is typically in multi-bedded family rooms with private shower and wc, with limited availability – at the same price – on separate but adjacent rooms for parents and younger children.

Bookings must be made by 31 March, quoting FAEAS99 for two-night breaks, or FAEAS199 for the four-night break offer.

PGL, 0333 321 2114,


March 15, 2017

Irish Ferries Holidays adds Castle Hotels for 2017

Irish Ferries Holidays has added six of Ireland’s most historic and hospitable castle hotels to its holiday line up for 2017, to offer short breaks and touring holidays that package unique four-star accommodation with ferry travel to Ireland.

The newly-featured properties include Ballyseede Castle near Tralee in County Kerry. One of Ireland’s earliest surviving castles, Ballyseede was the seat of the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Desmond, right up until the 1960s.

Transformed over many generations from defensive stronghold to gracious country house, today there are 23 individual bedrooms, a breakfast room, a two AA rosette restaurant (booking essential) and the welcoming Pappy’s Bar which offers meals throughout the day.

A three-night break at Ballyseede Castle starts at £293 per person this year, based on sharing a double room, including breakfast each morning and return ferry crossings for a car and two adults.

In County Galway, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel & Estate is set beside the Owenmore River in Connemara.  The pirate Queen Grace O’Malley was entangled its 16th century family history, but the building today reflects the elegance of the early 19th century.

Perhaps its most famous owner was the celebrity Indian cricketer Prince Ranji, who used Ballynahinch as a holiday home in the 1920s, attracted by its beautiful setting and country pursuits, from salmon fishing to shooting.

As a country house hotel it has welcomed the great and good from across the globe. It now offers 48 rooms, half in the house itself, the others in modern wings in keeping with the country-house style.

Three nights here, including breakfast each morning and return ferry crossings, costs from £380 per person when two adults travel together and share a room.

The other newly-featured castle hotels are Cabra Castle in County Cavan, Lough Rynn Castle Hotel in Country Leitrim, Mount Falcon in County Mayo and Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in County Galway.

08717 300 400,  





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