This may have been a year of rules, more rules and a whole lot of undesirable travel restrictions — but that does not mean you can’t have an enjoyable autumn break.
The ‘rule of six’, although limiting big multi-generational gatherings, makes smaller family get-togethers quite possible at one of many hundreds of rental cottages at the British seaside.
No need to worry about pesky Covid-19 tests before flights; no quarantining on your return home. And it’s wonderful by the sea in the autumn: bracing walks along beaches and above cliffs, thundering waves during storms, wheeling gulls and the promise of a cosy hostelry with a fireplace and a warm welcome.
Embrace the chill: Now’s a fine time to enjoy Britain’s glorious seaside – with cottages to suit all budgets
That’s as long as you do not happen to be in an area where the latest rules announced this week may have put paid to visiting a pub.
So, here’s our choice of Great British seaside escapes at holiday cottages for October and November for all budgets.
Northern delights: See rare artefacts, weapons and archaeological finds at the vast Bamburgh Castle
Characterful: The cosy interior of Grove House cottage with its roaring fire and exposed beams
Bamburgh beach and turrets of the Norman castle are a short walk from the door of the 18th-century, Grade ll-listed Grove House cottage, adjoining the former home of local hero, Grace Darling. Characterful sash windows, inglenook fireplaces and exposed beams make it a cosy retreat. Feeling brave? Take a dip.
BIG ATTRACTION: See rare artefacts, weapons and archeological finds at the vast Bamburgh Castle (from £11; bamburghcastle.com).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four, from £1,434pw; crabtreeandcrabtree.com.
Mill Hill cottage, located near Mousehole harbour (pictured), offers a dose of the Med closer to home
Granted, Greece does a roaring trade in whitewashed buildings, but so too does Cornwall. A few short strides from the dainty horseshoe harbour in Mousehole, charismatic three-bed Mill Hill cottage offers a dose of the Med closer to home.
With temperatures pleasant into late autumn, the private garden is perfect for sidestepping the crowds. Inside, low-hanging beams and a country kitchen are adorned with fancy industrial touches.
BIG ATTRACTION: Take the five-mile loop along the coastal path to Lamorna Cove with views of St Michael’s Mount.
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps five, priced from £1,910 per week (pw); boutique-retreats.co.uk.
COSY COTTAGE CLASSICS
Star attraction: The Old Neptune pub, above, in Whitstable is the place to enjoy a beverage or two
The cosy terraced Spray Cottage overlooks the groynes on Whitstable beach and is so close to one of the town’s star attractions, The Old Neptune pub, you could almost shout your order from the front gate.
BIG ATTRACTION: Whitstable native oysters flourish September to April. Try some at Whitstable Oyster Company (whitstableoystercompany.com).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps six from £1,095pw; whitstableholidayhomes.co.uk/spray-cottage.
Cosy: Greenfingers has a large country kitchen, inglenook fire and romantic rattan and antique french beds
On the east side of Whitby, one of the town’s oldest fisherman’s cottages, Greenfingers, sits at the foot of the 199 steps leading up to the gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey.
Views from the four floors are exquisite while inside is a country kitchen, inglenook fire and romantic rattan and antique french beds.
BIG ATTRACTION: Travel coast-to-country from Whitby on the scenic North York Moors Railway (from £30; nymr.co.uk).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps six from £1,200pw; shoreline-cottages.com.
Family fun: Buckland Place in Seaview features a pool table and Xbox inside – and outside attractions including nearby Bembridge beach (above)
Buckland Place is a four-bed boathouse cottage in Seaview, two miles east of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, entered via an imposing church-style door.
There’s plenty for the family outside and indoors there’s a pool table, Xbox and dart board. The Solent is practically on the doorstep with Seagrove and Priory Bay beaches a short walk.
BIG ATTRACTION: Let the steed do the hard work on a horse ride across Bembridge beach (£30 an hour; sallysridingschool.com).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps eight, but take only six, from £961pw; classic.co.uk.
SPADES IN SUFFOLK
Southwold is a picture-perfect seaside town on the Suffolk coast known for its colourful beach huts
For those looking for a classic bucket-and-spade resort, Southwold’s blue-flag beach and colourful huts sit beneath the pier lined with the usual seaside fair and amusements.
A short hop from the seafront you’ll find Trinity Cottage, a two-bed 19th-century curved brick gem at the end of a pretty terrace: think bay windows and antique-style cast iron beds.
BIG ATTRACTION: Have a tipple on the local Adnams brewery tour (£20; adnams.co.uk).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four, from £552pw; suffolk-secrets.com.
The Llyn Peninsula has moderate weather in October and beach walks are crowd-free. Pictured is Abersoch harbour
The cracking farmhouse cottage Greigir Isaf Barns, near Abersoch on the east of the Llyn Peninsula, is perfectly placed to roam one of Wales’ top stretches of coastline.
Blessed with its own microclimate, the peninsula has moderate weather in October and beach walks are crowd-free.
The cottage’s homely interior has flagstone floors, exposed brick walls and a roaring fire for cosy nights in when the temperature drops.
BIG ATTRACTION: Why not take the scenic route and hire a kayak to explore the glorious coastline (from £15 an hour; abersochsailingschool.com).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four, £601pw; abersochholidayhomes.co.uk.
Secluded: Manorbier in Wales is a pebble beach overlooked by a 12th-century castle
You won’t have to fight for space in the car park of nearby Manorbier Beach, backed by the motte-and-bailey castle: it’s just a five-minute walk from this gleaming white cottage, Delfryn, part of a 17th-century farmhouse and courtyard. It has sash windows, a Victorian fireplace and a walled patio.
BIG ATTRACTION: Take the 2.5-mile ramble from Manorbier to Swanlake Bay along a small wedge of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park trail.
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps five from £648 pw; qualitycottages.co.uk.
DREAMING OF DEVON
Bumblebee Cottage is located near Salcombe harbour, which is lined with some quaint shops and cafes
The brown and beige interior of Bumblebee Cottage won’t knock your socks off, but the location will — a five-minute saunter downhill to the quaint shops and cafes that sit back from pretty Salcombe harbour.
In late autumn, there’s space to amble down to the sea. If the weather is still balmy, grab a spot on the stone terrace of the Ferry Inn (theferryinnsalcombe.com).
BIG ATTRACTION: Save on the 20-minute drive around the headland and take the ferry over to East Portlemouth beach.
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps six from £652pw; coastandcountry.co.uk.
The five-mile stretch of South West Coast Path to Seatown peaks with magnificent views at Golden Cap hill (pictured in the distance) before the final descent
The classic British seaside break is alive and kicking in Charmouth where traditional huts line the beach.
The detached Penn Cottage has striking sea views from its lofty position on the hill, and you can reach the pebbles in moments. The added bonus is that the nearest pub and fish and chip shop are also just a short walk away. Fossil hunting is also par for the course on the craggy Jurassic Coast.
BIG ATTRACTION: The five-mile stretch of South West Coast Path to Seatown peaks with magnificent views at Golden Cap hill before the final descent.
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps six, from £572pw; dorsetcoastalcottages.com.
Charming: Little Thatch, which sleeps four, is a short stroll from the wide sandy beach and pier at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex
Little Thatch, a black panelled cottage, has buckets of old-fashioned charm with low rafters, a brick log fire and a bedroom in the eaves. There’s a small compromise with one bedroom and a sofa bed but the gains come in the positioning; a short stroll from the wide sandy beach and pier at Walton-on-the-Naze.
BIG ATTRACTION: Hire a bike from nearby Frinton-on-Sea and loop the six-mile coastal section to Clacton-on-Sea (Johnsons Cycles, 01255 851852).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four, from £302; sykescottages.co.uk.
Deal is one of Kent’s best lesser-known resorts with its expanse of pebble beach. Stay at The Pilot’s House tucked down a quiet street
Deal doesn’t get quite as much of the spotlight as its coastal neighbours, but the great cafes, warren of narrow streets and expanse of pebble beach make it one of Kent’s best lesser-known resorts.
At its heart, the pink facade of The Pilot’s House, a rustic cottage tucked down a quiet street, gives an inkling of what to expect inside: a mix of eclectic and homely design such as Belfast sinks, brass taps and a comfy green velvet sofa.
BIG ATTRACTION: History buffs can lose a whole day roaming the coastal fort of Deal Castle (from £7.90; english-heritage.org.uk).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four from £615pw; keeperscottages.co.uk.
Early Tide, an 18-century cottage, is located on the River Yealm at Noss Mayo. Pay a visit to neighbouring village Newton Ferrers (pictured)
This dreamy 18th-century cottage right on the bank of the River Yealm at Noss Mayo has access to the water below and kayaks for those brave enough to launch them straight on to the water.
The fresh, nautical decor of Early Tide chimes with the surrounding coast and beaches, and neighbouring Newton Ferrers is just across the creek.
BIG ATTRACTION: The Swan Inn enjoys a riverside location. Grab a takeaway coffee before a walk and a well-deserved pint after (swaninnnossmayo.com).
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four, from £568pw; classic.co.uk.
Rose Bay Cottage is a three-mile walk to the glassy waters and white sands of quiet Camas Daraich beach
If you’re looking for a hide-away, this cracker overlooking the Sleat peninsula on the Isle of Skye is a breath of fresh air.
Rose Bay Cottage is sheltered from the water’s edge by trees and a private driveway and views ripple across the water to the peaks of the Knoydart mountains opposite.
The house has two bedrooms, cosy furnishings and a banquet-style dining area.
BIG ATTRACTION: It’s a three-mile walk to the glassy waters and white sands of quiet Camas Daraich beach.
HOW TO DO IT: Sleeps four, from £452pw; unique-cottages.co.uk.
CALM IN CORNWALL
Higgledy-piggledy: Port Isaac in Cornwall, famous for TV’s Doc Martin, and its pretty harbour
There are three things you want for a stress-free holiday in Cornwall: a cottage that won’t break the bank, few crowds and a bounty of beaches nearby.
Brakestone Cottage, a snug two-bedroom fisherman’s lair in the heart of the higgledy-piggledy Port Isaac, famous for TV’s Doc Martin, has them all. Beyond the picture-postcard harbour there are some lovely walks along the South West Coast Path.
BIG ATTRACTION: Inhale a good dose of history on a 1.5-hour guided tour with a local (£10; portisaactours.com).
HOW TO DO IT: From £443pw, sleeps four-six; johnbraycornishholidays.co.uk.
THE LATEST COUNTRY COVID GUIDE
Face masks are now mandatory in Italy when outdoors and indoors, except in private homes, after cases this week surged past the 4,000 mark for the first time since April.
As of Thursday, British tourists must provide proof of a negative test on arrival, taken within 72 hours of departure from the UK. Those unable to provide proof of the test must take one in Italy, with results in under an hour.
Some airports offer free tests, while others may charge about £11. Anyone who tests positive is quarantined until two negative results are recorded. The country remains quarantine-free.
Families were given a half-term holiday boost on Thursday, when the Government reintroduced quarantine-free travel to five Greek islands.
Santorini, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Tinos and Serifos were added to the travel corridor list after coronavirus outbreaks were brought under control. Mainland Greece remains quarantine-free and Ryanair flights to Athens this month are on sale for as little as £29. British visitors must complete a Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours before travel.
All bars in Paris were shut on Tuesday after the government raised the capital’s coronavirus alert to maximum. Gyms and swimming pools will also be closed, but restaurants can remain open if strict hygiene rules are in place.
Almost 19,000 cases were recorded in France on Wednesday, an all-time daily high.
The Caribbean islands are our best option for long-haul quarantine-free sunshine this winter.
St Lucia, Antigua and St Barts remain quarantine-free both while there and on return, but tourists must arrive with proof of a negative Covid test.
Barbados is on the UK’s travel corridor, but British tourists must quarantine for five days at a designated hotel before taking a test. Bermuda, though not a Caribbean island, is also quarantine-free.
British tourists are now welcome on this cluster of 115 Indian Ocean islands. There have been no deaths and just 148 cases.
Tourists must show proof of a negative test on arrival and spend five days at a hotel listed as ‘authorised accommodation’.
BA resumes its ten-hour direct flights to the largest island, Mahe, today. See our article on the Seychelles on page 63.
One of the only European countries in the green zone, cases remain low in Cyprus. Tourists must present proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel.
Package holidays are being heavily discounted. For example, a seven-night all-inclusive break with Tui, including flights, at Hotel Louis Imperial Beach from October 17 has been reduced from £1,236 to £504.
In Northern Cyprus, British tourists must isolate for seven days at a designated hotel.
By Harriet Sime