While we will always be huge advocates of hopping on a plane in search of a little sunshine; there really is no place like home – especially in the aftermath of a global coronavirus pandemic. The crisp air, spectacular natural colours and incredible hikes are exactly what you’ll need after weeks spent in lockdown – because, we promise, it won’t last forever.
It’s also likely that, given the current uncertainty about how long travel restrictions will last, you’ll find yourself booking a very last minute summer holiday this year. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up our favourite home-grown destinations to head for in search of crisp country walks, fireside pints, and world-class panoramic views.
The Lake District
Defined by its lakes, mountains and valleys, the Lake District is undoubtedly the best known part of Cumbria, and offers a plethora of sights like no other. Take it all in on a traditional steamboat chugging through tranquil waters, or scale the highest mountains England has to offer and enjoy jaw-dropping panoramic views from the summit. From the vantage point at the top of Scafell Pike it’s easy to see how Cumbria’s lakes captivated world-famous artists and writers, including William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.
If tranquillity isn’t enough for you, then why not race through the Lake District on a mountain bike or enjoy the Michelin-starred menu at the world-famous L’Enclume restaurant. You may as well sample some of Kendal’s famous Mint Cake while you’re up there too, after all it got Edmund Hillary to the summit of Everest.
There’s nowhere quite like the Cotswolds. A charming, quintessentially British collection of golden-coloured villages, winding roads and lazy green grasslands, the area has now been a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for over 50 years — and for good reason. Close to Bristol, Bath and even Bicester Village, the quaint Cotswolds are also ripe for road-tripping.
Why not head down in late summer to experience the changing colour of the seasons on your own two feet – or go even later and join the walking festival running throughout October. Among the charming countryside you will find a wealth of interesting places to visit, including magnificent castles, ancient churches, glorious gardens and stately homes with historic houses. Spend the day exploring the picturesque Cotswold countryside, browse an art gallery or antique shop, or simply soak up the history of the area. Shop at some of the oldest chartered weekly markets in the country and head to the picturesque market towns to take time out for a leisurely ramble and a meal in a traditional pub.
Cornwall is beautiful in all seasons but, whether you’re a keen surfer or casual observer, this remarkable county really comes into its own in summer. And, if you’re not a fan of crowds, summer tends to linger on a bit longer this far south, meaning September (and often October) can enjoy brilliant sunshine warming up the countryside.
Check out the county’s stunning beaches, book a table at one of its world-class seafood restaurants and amble along its expansive coastline. From group trips to romantic getaways and family-friendly holiday, Cornwall truly offers something for everyone.
The New Forest
The countryside of the New Forest transforms in late summer, with great swathes of rich colours and crisp atmospheric mornings. The heather across the landscape looks beautiful in August and September, with vibrant pinks and purples contrasting with green bracken and yellowing silver birch leaves.
Snug on England’s south coast, the glorious New Forest is known for its winding woodland trails and the windswept native ponies running wild on its rugged heathland. If it’s fresh air, muddy boots and towering trees you’re after, this is the spot for you.
The Peak District
From the high, moorland plateaus in the north, to the steep-sided, deep dales and rolling green hills in the south of the area, the Peak District has just about every landscape you can imagine in Britain, making it one of the finest areas in the country to go hiking in.
For hearty homemade meals followed by local ales, check out the brilliant choice of gastro pubs. Or, if you’re searching for sweet treats and dainty sandwiches, there’s a great range of tea rooms and cafes offering afternoon tea in elegant surroundings.
If you want a fine dining experience to remember, Fischers of Baslow Hall is worth a visit. With elegant surroundings, first-class service and innovative menus combining locally-sourced ingredients, it’s the perfect place for a special occasion.
The Scottish Highlands
Scotland in summer is the dream of many travellers, and no wonder. From May to September the landscapes are spectacular and colourful, with bright blue skies, vibrant green trees and air that smells crisp and earthy.
The Highlands really are the Scotland of your imagination. Think big skies, mind-blowing landscapes, superb food and hospitable people – and you’ve got the Scottish Highlands. Here’s a natural playground which begs to be explored, the region’s turbulent history has left behind some of the most beautiful and romantic castles in the world.