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We asked the experts for their perfect autumn/winter staycations

From a cabin getaway in the Cairngorms to a voyage to the Isles of Scilly, here are where Britain's top writers want to see out 2020

As the sun sets on summer, our concerns are growing. We’re feeling pangs of pain in our passports, and our wanderlust is getting so uncontrollable that we’re losing whole days on a frankly unsustainable Instagram habit. Oh, Santorini, why must you always look so appealing?

And yet, we know that global travel is still off-limits. We know that 2020 is a year without international jet-setting, free from tropical climates and world wonders. Or is it? In pursuit of the perfect British-based staycation, we called upon some of the most well-travelled, well-heeled writers in the business to give us their ideal UK escapes. Here’s where they want to go…

Helena Lee, Features Director at Harper’s Bazaar, would head to the Lake District

“The wildness of the Lake District holds endless appeal. This summer, I experienced genuine fear scaling the edge of a precipice in the Langdales (with a one-year-old on my back), while the next day was spent swimming in a deserted Lake Buttermere. Our reward was the ultimate takeaway – Michelin-starred fare in the comfort of our own lodgings: Rogan at Home.”

— Helena Lee, Harper’s Bazaar

Ally Wybrew, Content Editor at British Airways High Life, wants to go to the Cairngorms

“My ideal UK staycation is to get rural and head to a cabin in the Cairngorms. I love to wander among the auburn bracken and bask in the rugged, rocky landscape, eyeing Highland coos and maybe even a red deer or two. In the evening, it’s all about curling up with a blanket and toasting worn-out soles in front of a crackling fire, while warming my insides with a tumbler of Laphroaig.”

— Ally Wybrew, British Airways High Life

Farhad Heydari, Editor of NetJets Magazine, would explore the South Hams

“As my wife is from sunny Devon, where it rains six days out of seven, I would be remiss not suggest the county — and especially the South Hams. You can go uphill and down dale on perambulations (be they trail running or hiking) along rivers like the Dart and estuaries like the Avon.

“You can surf, saunter and sun along the sand on pristine beaches like Bantham Beach and Blackpool Sands; play oodles of golf and tennis, both on acres of manicured emerald green; or discover the gastronomic finds and retail therapy options in picturesque villages like Dartmouth, Modbury, Salcombe and the like; plus loads of amazingly scenic drives, including over the desolate wild windblown beauty of Dartmoor, which will infuse your lungs with enough oxygen to counter all the mediocre-to-bad air you’ve been inhaling in the Big Smoke. Just remember to bring your rain kit!”

Farhad Heydari, NetJets Magazine

Sophie Waburton, Style Director at The Telegraph, would escape to East Anglia

“This year saw a staycation to Norfolk’s Wolterton Hall. Not quite hotel, but definitely not your average Airbnb, the newly refurbished stately home delicately walks the tightrope between the two. The interiors are better than your average boutique hotel, while the ‘holiday let’ set up means you’ve got the run of the place. Long walks, swims in the lake, lots of rosé, you get the gist…”

— Sophie Waburton, The Telegraph

Aleks Cvetkovic, Journalist & Creative Strategist, would drive Scotland’s ‘Snow Road’

“The Scottish Highlands clinch it for me. Last year I drove from Edinburgh to Inverness along the ‘Snow Road’, which takes you up and over the Cairngorms through one of Scotland’s national parks. After a couple of days in the thrum of the Scottish capital, a peaceful mountain drive through to Speyside is quite literally a breath of fresh air.

“Of course, you’ll want to spend a few nights in Speyside itself, sampling Scotch, and the Craigellachie Hotel is the place to do it. There are over 3,000 whiskies to choose from in the bar and an excellent restaurant. Highly recommended for some contemplative time away.”

— Aleks Cvetkovic, Journalist & Creative Strategist

Joseph Bullmore, Editor of Gentleman’s Journal, would head back to the Suffolk coast

“I spent ten weeks during lockdown in a bungalow near Southwold, Suffolk, so you might think I’d prefer to never see the place again. But I now feel oddly sentimental towards this funny area of the English coast. (Call it Stockholm Syndrome-on-Sea.) The stretch from Aldeburgh to Walberswick to Southwold is lovely — glorious pubs and brilliant seafood, all set against rolling green fields and wood-clad houses (often in a striking black, actually). Go to The Bell in Walberswick and order their big, fat prawn sandwich with home-made mayonnaise and a pint of Adnam’s Ghost Ship.”

— Joseph Bullmore, Gentleman’s Journal

Nick Carvell, Menswear and Grooming Writer, would drive away in a caravan

“When it comes to ‘staycations’ I am a complex beast: I like to get out into the great outdoors, but I also need some semblance of creature comforts in the mix (see: the cabins at Soho Farmhouse). As deeply uncool as I know many will find this, I have always romanticised touring caravans.

“I grew up travelling around the country with my grandparents in theirs when I was a kid. And loved the freedom you can enjoy from hooking one up to the back of your car before trundling off to anywhere that takes your fancy. Sure, you could take a tent, but could you stock a tent with rosé, sofa-binge a boxset or enjoy a working shower in one after a long day’s hike? You could not.”

Nick Carvell, Menswear and Grooming Writer

Melinda Stevens, Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nast Traveller, would flit from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

“My perfect British based stay over the weekend would be waking up at Featherdown Farm and cooking a slow breakfast on the wood burner including eggs collected by children from under the feathery skirts of our resident chicken.

“Lunch would be at the pub my beloved Laurie Lee used to drink in, the Woolpack Inn in Slad. Afterwards, I’d go picking wild garlic at my oldest friend Jo’s house in Somerset, she’d make bread and we’d probably have some very cloudy cider locally brewed. I’d have a hot bath and cocktails with my husband at Cliveden, and then tuck myself up on the Caledonian sleeper train to Scotland, where the sheets are so crisp, you get coffee and biscuits at wake up and dawn would be embraced as the sun rose in the beautiful Highlands!”

— Melinda Stevens, Conde Nast Traveller

Rebecca Cox, Online Editor of Country and Town House, wants to fly off to the Isles of Scilly

“It’s not a change of scenery I’ve missed most, but the opportunity to plunge headfirst into another culture or another landscape. Which is why the Scillies is my ultimate UK staycation; while not far-flung, the islands are slung well off the boot of Cornwall, remote enough to feel like their own little world.

“Limited accommodation and travel options (avoid the rocking Scillonian if you can) mean there is never over-crowding – you can follow the locals’ rule of thumb and reject any of the dozens of beaches if even a handful of people have arrived before you – and the exotic flora and fauna will have you feeling like you’ve travelled far beyond the UK’s borders. White sandy beaches, turquoise seas, stunning walks for miles with freshly caught lobster and crab at every port, plus a decent Cornish pasty to sling in your day pack. Heaven.”

— Rebecca Cox, Country and Town House

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