Astronomy in Exmoor Holiday

Absorbing and informative talks plus practical stargazing sessions

Code: SLWAB

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Activity types:

  • Coastal
  • Hills & moorland
  • Rural peace

Holiday overview

Start making sense of the night sky with absorbing talks and practical sessions looking at galaxies, stars, the moon and planets, comets, meteors and asteroids. In the evenings we hope to view examples of the objects we have discussed through a telescope, including the planet Mars.

Holiday highlights

  • Morning talks and discussions from your expert leader
  • Free afternoons to explore the local area independently
  • Discover and view objects in the night sky each evening

Price includes

  • High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
  • Guidance from a knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, to ensure you get the most from your holiday
  • All essential transport on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach or other mode of transport, e.g. boat
  • Entrance fees to venues included as part of your holiday’s itinerary

Accommodation

HF Holidays' Holnicote House in Selworthy

As a historic National Trust property, Holnicote House is full of charm and character. Located on the extensive Holnicote Estate, at the foot of Exmoor, it is well suited to a relaxing holiday.

Holnicote House has 32 newly refurbished bedrooms. Some are located in the main house, with others in the thatched cottages, called Butlers and Guns, in the grounds.

Rooms

'Good' Rooms 

These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:

  • Check in from 2:30pm
  • Tea and coffee-making facilities
  • 23 inch TV
  • Toiletries
  • Hairdryer
  • Free WiFi

'Better' Rooms 

These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:

  • Early check in from 1pm
  • Tea & Coffee making facilities
  • Fluffy bathrobe & slippers
  • 32 inch TV
  • More luxurious mattress
  • Enhanced toiletries
  • Hairdryer
  • Smalls drying rack
  • Free WiFi

Only an extra £15 per person per night

'Best' Rooms 

These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:

  • Recently refurbished to an exceptional standard
  • Large rooms
  • Stunning views of the surrounding area
  • Early check in from 1pm
  • Tea & Coffee making facilities
  • Fluffy bathrobe & slippers
  • 32 inch TV
  • More luxurious mattress
  • Enhanced toiletries
  • Hairdryer
  • Smalls drying rack
  • Free WiFi

Only an extra £20 per person per night

Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.

At the house

  • Excellent boot and drying rooms
  • Two lounges
  • Dining rooms
  • Bar
  • Ballroom
  • Free WiFi available in some public rooms
  • Range of board games and books
  • Heated outdoor swimming pool
    (open May to September
  • Croquet lawn

Dining

An example of Selworthy evening mealAll holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.

Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
 Take your fill from our famous self-service picnic lunches
A relaxed social dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses

Your evenings


Make the most of your evening or join us at the barJust relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.

All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.

Accessibility

More details on Selworthy accessibility

Additional information

  • Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
  • Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
  • Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
  • Information can be provided in large print
  • Staff have received disability awareness training
  • Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
  • Fridge for medication can be supplied

Itinerary

Arrival day

You can check-in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (better & best rooms from 1pm). We invite everyone to afternoon tea. This is the first occasion when everyone in the country house meets together – an opportunity to meet your leader and fellow guests, and find out more about your holiday.

Other days

Each day after a tasty breakfast, we'll enjoy a talk by our knowledgeable leader. We pride ourselves on our award-winning lunches, and you’ll get to savour these before some free time in the afternoon. You can use our Discovery Point to explore the lovely local area or simply relax in the wonderful surroundings of our country house. In the evening (weather permitting), we will observe the night sky with an 8" telescope from the grounds of the house, including Mars. We can also enjoy the sociable activities on offer at the Country House or quietly relax in the bar or a cosy lounge.

Stars, Galaxies & the Universe

On the first morning we learn about the different types of stars and galaxies, how they are born and evolve, and how they fit into an evolving universe. In the evening (weather permitting), we will observe the night sky from the grounds of the house.

Planets & the Search for Life

On the second morning, we will learn about planets, both in our solar system and those being found around other stars. We will discuss the various ongoing studies to discover if life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Departure day

Depart after a leisurely breakfast.

Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.

What to bring

  • Outdoor clothing appropriate to the season, including waterproofs
  • Strong, comfortable footwear with a good tread is essential
  • Warm clothing, including a hat and gloves for evening observation
  • A telescope (if you have one) and binoculars
  • Thermos flask (optional)
  • Small torch

 

Local area

Discover Exmoor

During your stay at Holnicote House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest, either in your free time, or on your journey to and from Selworthy:

Thatched cottage in Selworthy villageSelworthy Village
Less than a mile from Holnicote House is Selworthy village. At first glance the thatched cottages seem typical of many ancient settlements in this area. However, Selworthy is not as old as it looks, having been rebuilt in 1828 by Sir Thomas Acland. Sir Thomas was a philanthropist and designed the 'model' village himself to provide housing for the aged and infirm of the estate. He used traditional designs and materials to create a deliberately old-fashioned village. 

Green steam locomotive on West Somerset RailwayWest Somerset Railway
Travel on Britain’s longest steam railway from Minehead to Bishops Lydyard. Now lovingly restored by volunteers, the line recreates a classic Great Western Railway branch line with steam trains operating daily from April to October. Minehead station is 10 minutes' drive from Selworthy, or can be reached on the number 300 bus. www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk

 

Dunster Castle and its surrounding parklandDunster Castle

An historic castle transformed into a comfortable stately home for the Luttrell family. Some highlights include the 'modern' 1950s kitchen and the snooker room. Dunster Castle sits in extensive gardens, complete with its working watermill. The adjacent town of Dunster is full of character and also well worth a visit. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle

 

Lynton & Lynmouth
The quaint Victorian town of Lynton sits high on a hill, overlooking the coast and Lynmouth harbour. The two settlements are connected by the historic cliff railway. The short walk from Lynton to the Valley of Rocks is highly recommended.

Coleridge Cottage
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and his wife Sara lived in the village of Nether Stowey, about 45 minutes' drive from Selworthy, from 1796 to 1799. In 1909 it was acquired by the National Trust, and later restored and opened to the public. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage

Hestercombe Gardens
Hestercombe Gardens, around an hour's drive away near Taunton, were constructed in three periods - a landscape garden from the 1750s, a Victorian terrace and shrubbery from the 1870s, and Edwardian gardens of 1904-1908 designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. www.hestercombe.com

Exterior of Arlington Court National Trust houseArlington Court
Arlington Court, about an hour's drive away near Barnstaple is a fine Regency house set in an extensive estate. The grounds include a formal Victorian garden whilst the stables house the National Trust’s carriage collection of over fifty horse-drawn vehicles. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court

Travel

Travel to Holnicote House

Our address is: Holnicote House, Selworthy, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8TJ

How to get to us by train

By train:

The nearest railway station is at Taunton. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.

Get to us by Taxi

By taxi:

The 29 mile journey from Taunton railway station takes approximately 50 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £56 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Holnicote House Manager.

Bus

By bus:

The number 28 bus operates between Taunton station and Minehead. At Minehead change for the number 10 bus that will take you to the Selworthy turn (which is at the end of Holnicote House drive). A 2 minute walk along the drive will bring you to the house. Alternatively pre-book a taxi from Minehead; the 4½ mile journey will cost you approx £10 from our recommended taxi provider. For bus times see www.traveline.info

Driving to us

By car:

From Bridgewater take the A39 though the southern outskirts of Minehead towards Porlock. Holnicote House is on the left about 4½ miles out of Minehead, and about ¾ mile after the signpost to Luccombe (do not follow the signs to Selworthy). After the Selworthy Village sign look out for our sign 500 yards further on, on the left. Free car parking is available in the grounds.

 Travel by plane

Travelling from Overseas

For most guests, travelling to London Heathrow airport is the most convenient option.

From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. From here there are direct trains to Taunton. Its a relatively straightforward journey - allow 2½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.

Bristol Airport may also be convenient for some guests. Take the train to Taunton 

From Taunton you can travel on to Selworthy by bus or taxi (see above).

Leaders

Melvin Hoare

Melvin is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Leeds. He obtained a PhD in Astrophysics at University College London and carried out research at the University of Oxford and in Germany. Over his career he has used telescopes all over the world for his research that focuses on the formation on stars. He is on the science team for the next generation radio telescope - the Square Kilometre Array, which will be partly hosted by South Africa. Melvin currently leads an astronomy training project in several African developing countries.

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Dates & Prices

We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.

Prices are per person

Information

  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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