While some might be clamouring to hop on a plane and soak up some culture abroad, there are plenty of us who are looking for an escape closer to home. Whether because of cost or concerns of Covid, the ‘staycation’ is a perfect way of getting out of your familiar environment while supporting local businesses, reducing your carbon footprint, and not being as impacted by the uncertainties of the pandemic.
Think white sands. Think azure waters. Think Scotland? Believe it or not, the westernmost isles of Scotland boast spectacular and pristine beaches rivaling the likes of the Mediterranean, and even the Caribbean. Journey to the remote Isle of Harris and explore this treasure trove of undiscovered gems, with Luskentyre Beach, Seilebost Beach, and Horgabost Beach shining brightest. On arrival at Fort William, step into the shoes of Harry, Ron and Hermione as you take the iconic steam train to Mallaig and marvel at the breath-taking views of the West Highland Railway Line, considered by many to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, before letting the Sea of the Hebrides carry you to these unmissable island jewels.
Fancy exploring the great British countryside in a more unusual way? Hit the canals and live the narrowboat life. These well floated waterways are ideal for escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life and becoming at one with nature. Take life at your own pace as you drift along the historic veins of our island, originally used to trade goods with boats pulled by horses. The Shropshire Union Canal boasts miles of unspoiled natural beauty, peppered with traditional market towns and villages where the close-knit communities are friendly and welcoming. If you find yourself in this part of the world, don’t forget to visit Nantwich, Audlem and Market Drayton, a trio of sleepy market towns with an abundance of independent traders, craft fairs, tea rooms and pubs.
If a proper British trip to the seaside is what you’re looking for, then this is the place to visit. Sticks of rock in a delectable rainbow of colours and flavours, the irresistible lights and excitement pulsating from the arcade, the calling of the ice cream van. Nostalgia at its finest. Mumbles is also the gateway to some of the most spectacular beaches and coastline found on our soils, bestowed by the Gower Peninsula. The most popular beaches (for good reason) are Rhossili Bay and Three Cliffs Bay. Both are an unmatched expanse of golden sand and rustic cliffs that give way to a rich blue ocean. Bliss!
Straight out of a storybook, this picturesque village is the pinnacle of idyllic rural England. Higgledy-piggledy cottages are scattered like flowers in a meadow around the River Windrush, the beating heart of Bourton. The emerald of the Cotswolds stretches out in all directions with endless rolling hills and ancient woodland. Let time stand still and appreciate life’s simple pleasures. Blossom spilling over crooked garden walls, gentle trees waving in the wind, the chatter of ducks on the babbling water. Take in the stillness whilst enjoying a hearty pub lunch or fresh scones with jam and cream, the sun warm on your back.
Framed by the idyllic South Downs National Park, this pocket-sized city is the perfect weekend getaway for those in search of culture and history. This former capital city of England is renowned for its magnificent cathedral, which no visit to Winchester is complete without exploring. After seeing the grave of famed author Jane Austen inside, stroll through the cathedral grounds accompanied by the bubbling River Itchen. Studded by the Buttercross statue, the Tudor high street of Winchester is bustling and lively with street sellers on market days, and quiet independent shops to peruse for priceless trinkets. Relax in a pub garden after a hike up St Catherine’s Hill or indulge yourself at the Ivy Brasserie followed by an evening at the Theatre. What could be better!?
Forget London or Manchester, since being awarded the title of UK City of Culture 2017, this unlikely port city has flourished as a hub of culture and excitement, and there is no better place to soak up the atmosphere than the Fruit Market. Whether day or night, the buzz from these markets is infectious, with a delectable selection of bars, pubs and restaurants lining the streets. Also steeped in maritime history, Hull has become an eclectic fusion of old and new. Featuring museums uncovering the city's maritime past, juxtaposed with cutting edge architecture such as The Deep, hailed the world’s first Submarium in 2002, and an unbeatable afternoon out. Of course, don’t forget to check out the Humber Bridge, an icon of England’s North East.
If you’re yearning for a slice of European elegance, this is the place for you. Nestled in the Snowdonia National Park, this Italian-style village was built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and makes for a blissful retreat without crossing the channel. Wander through the meandering streets of this enchanting village, losing yourself in a chocolate box of architecture and colour as you spot herons gliding across the untouched estuary below. Be sure to take a trip to nearby Harlech with its vast sandy beach guarded by the historic Harlech Castle, and enjoy an unmatched fish and chips. If you prefer to live life on the edge, take on the almighty Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 3,560 feet, or take to the skies at Zipworld. This infamous zipline is the fastest in the world with thrill seekers soaring over Penrhyn Quarry at a heart stopping 100mph. There really is something for everyone in this unassuming corner of Wales.
So that’s the destination sorted. Now all that’s needed is the weather to go with it!