The UK’s Best Escapes
Stunning destinations on your doorstep.
With overseas travel becoming increasingly tricky this year, there’s never been a better time to holiday in the UK. Here’s a roundup of our favourite destinations, perfect if you’re planning a late summer break or an October staycation.
1. Best for Escaping the Crowds
Rannoch Moor, Perthshire, Scotland
If you really want to get away from it all, Rannoch Moor in Perthshire is the place for you. One of Europe’s great wildernesses, it stretches over 150 square miles of land encompassing rivers, hills, bogs and several lochs with Glen Coe to the east and Pitlochry to the west. Numerous footpaths and cycle routes cross the moor with challenging mountain routes available for experienced hill walkers. To get a real sense of its size, hop onboard the West Highland Railway, which crosses 23 miles of the moor on its 3-5-hour journey from Glasgow to the Highlands.
2. Best for Walkers
Wasdale, Lake District
For the most peaceful Lake District experience, head west from Windermere to discover the quietest and arguably the most beautiful part of the region. Situated in the Wasdale Valley, Wastwater is Britain’s deepest lake, a 3-mile long stretch of water backed by mountains including England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, and The Screes, a stretch of broken rock rising from the lake to almost 2000 feet. Owned by the National Trust, Wasdale is wild, remote and the perfect place for a socially-distanced break.
3. Best for Wildlife
Oxford Island, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s dramatic landscape is home to a multitude of hidden gems, such as Kilbroney Forest in Rostrevor, which inspired C.S.Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ series, and Dunluce Castle, one of the many Northern Irish locations used in Game of Thrones. But, it’s Oxford Island in County Armagh that is arguably one of its most tranquil, wildlife-rich destinations. A National Nature Reserve on the southern shores of Lough Neagh, Oxford Island is home to four miles of footpaths, wildflower meadows birdwatching hides and acres of woodland. Visitors can go walking, kayaking and learn bushcraft, or just enjoy the sound of nature.
4. Best for Beach Lovers
Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire
Accessible only by foot, this stunning sandy beach is one of many in Pembrokeshire. Protected with National Park status, Marloes Sands is breathtakingly beautiful, with some of the cleanest waters in the UK. At low-tide, the beach is vast with plenty of space to explore with rockpools and hidden bays like Albion Sands towards the western end of the beach. You can even see the remains of a shipwreck sticking out of the sand. Time your visit carefully, as at high tide, the sand disappears almost completely.
5. Best for Wild Swimming
Wharfe River, Yorkshire Dales
There’s nothing quite like taking a dip in the great outdoors. Wild swimming has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years, with more people discovering its joys. Wharfe River in the Yorkshire Dales (specifically between Ilkley Main Bridge and Beanlands Island) is on track to become the UK’s first designated river bathing spot, with a consultation underway to approve plans to regularly monitor the water between May – October every year. A little further away you can escape the crowds at Appletreewick, where you’ll find a large rocky pool with a shingle beach.
6. Best for Island Life
Lying just off the north-west coast of Wales, Anglesey is renowned for its rural landscape, golden beaches and ancient sites. Penmon, on the south-east tip of the island, is particularly lovely with a gorgeous beach, plenty of foot and cycle paths, and a historic priory. Overlooking Puffin Island (which can be kayaked to) and the Snowdonia mountains, it is a great spot to spot dolphins, seals and porpoise, and if you’re very lucky, bio luminescent algae, which sometimes lends the water an almost super-natural blue glow.
7. Best for Star Gazing
North Norfolk coast
Not only is the north Norfolk coastline an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it also has some of the least light-polluted skies in the country. As an overwhelmingly rural area with a lack of artificial light and pollution, your chances of star spotting are high on a clear night. Wiveton Downs is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site, offering stargazers the chance to spot the Orion constellation and the Milky Way without a telescope. Nearby Holkham is also great for star gazing, and with four miles of golden sand beach, one of the prettiest holiday spots in the country.
8. Best for wine lovers
Chapel Down and Hurst Heath, Kent
You no longer have to hop on a plane or a ferry to visit some of the best vineyards in the world, you simply have to travel to Kent. The Garden of England is a wine lovers’ paradise with a clutch of award-winning vineyards such as the Hush Heath Estate. Home to Balfour Wines, Hush Heath offers tours and tastings at its 400-acre estate. Chapel Down is the biggest producer of wine in the country, with bottles sent to restaurants run by the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. You can enjoy tours, tastings and even lease a section of vineyard to produce a case of personalised wine.
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