WHERE TO TAKE YOUR CARAVAN WHEN THE WEATHER WARMS UP
Staycation has recently become shorthand for a safer way to take a break during the pandemic - by holidaying locally in the UK - rather than taking a risky trip abroad.
Of course, some people are quick to point out that the actual definition of a staycation is to: stay at home and only enjoy local day trips out. Which we have all been doing. If you count a family walk as a day trip out.
Ok – we won’t use the word staycation to describe holidaying in the UK again.
We don’t need global pandemic restrictions to get excited about all the amazing destinations around the UK.
We are lucky enough to live in a place that contains an abundance of varied, beautiful scenery and a rich history. But how many of us in the past have assumed that excitement lies elsewhere. Somewhere, anywhere overseas?
If we can take any positives from the current situation, perhaps one of them will be to get to know the UK better. Not the commuter experience. The holiday experience.
Our Top Five Touring Destinations:
1. SPEYSIDE: Astonishing in size and beauty - the Cairngorms National Park is perfect for touring. Twice the size of the Lake District, with 5 out of the 6 highest mountains in the UK contained within it.
Forest paths, whisky tours, lochs, cascading waterfalls and friendly villages. It is also a wildlife enthusiast’s dream.
Speyside is part of a circular driving route – the North East 250 - and in addition to the Cairngorms National Park includes Aberdeen, Deeside, Speyside, the Moray Coast and East Coast. Castles, dolphins, reindeer and more beauty than your eyes can cope with.
2. THE COTSWOLDS: Is there anywhere that describes the ‘quintessentially English’ village experience more than the Cotswolds? Rolling green countryside and villages/towns so exquisite that you could be forgiven for thinking they were fictional. In fact, many locations in the Cotswolds have been used as the backdrop in TV dramas and films. History is abundant here: medieval bridges, ancient high streets and even Romans.
During Roman times Cirencester was the second largest city. To learn more, visit the Corinium Museum and the site of a Roman amphitheatre one mile away.
For those of you who also love antique shops and pubs with character you won’t be disappointed.
3. THE PEAK DISTRICT: For much of the UK the peak district is a ‘central location’ – 80% of the population live within a 4-hour drive – making it a popular destination.
With evidence of inhabitation from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages – this wild and craggy land forms the southern extremity of the Pennines.
Visitors are enticed by the walking, cycling, rock climbing, caving and camping opportunities in spectacular surroundings.
The peaks and valleys provide breath-taking views. But you may want to avoid taking your tourer up to Winnats Pass – so steep and narrow that it will require a strong nerve to navigate.
Be sure not to miss Bakewell Parish Church’s 1000 year old Anglo-Saxon stones and crosses, Buxton’s thermal springs and opera house, Castleton’s subterranean rivers and vast underground caverns – and checking if the Bakewell Tarts taste even better in Bakewell.
4. THE LAKE DISTRICT: A world heritage site with around 80 inches of rain a year – is a favourite with tourists despite the likelihood of requiring a cagoule. After all, the rain assists the remarkable landscape and mild winters/cool summers that in turn help make hiking even more of a pleasure.
Families can choose to walk the Catbells – at 1481 ft it is more accessible than the four peaks over 3000 ft: Scafell Pike, Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. These are reserved for the serious hill walker. Cruise Coniston Water (where Donald Campbell attempted the speed record) or take a vintage boat on Ullswater – often said to be the most beautiful lake in England.
If the rain becomes too much, or you prefer to be on more level ground then the nearby towns are certainly worth a visit. There are plenty of museums to keep you occupied: including The World of Beatrix Potter at Bowness-on-Windermere, the Ruskin Museum and even a Pencil Museum.
5. SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK: The park boasts over 800 square miles of stunning mountains and beautiful coastline. Including the village of Portmeirion - built over 5 decades in the 20th century – sometimes using material salvaged from demolition sites.
Created by architect Bartram Clough Williams-Ellis the village includes an Italian-style piazza, a pool, a fountain and a mock chess board and was used as the setting for TV show The Prisoner.
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England – at 3,560 ft - and for those unable (or unwilling) to ascend on foot, there is a train from Llanberis. Worth it - however you get there - for the remarkable views.
At Llanberis there is also a ruined castle, a lakeside steam railway and National Slate Museum. If you’re a fan of medieval castles, Conwy and Caernarfon are excellent examples.
The latter can be viewed from a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway steam train: 25 miles from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. Expect wonderful views of rivers, lakes, waterfalls and mountains – including Snowdon itself.