Summer is here — hurrah! For many of us, that means it’s time to jet off to luxurious locations across the globe, while for others it entails staring jealously at the endless stream of obligatory airport pint photos being uploaded onto social media.
However, if you still haven’t sorted your plans for this summer — or are already looking for your next break — why not try a little closer to home? We are blessed with so many idyllic locations within a stone’s throw of each other here in the UK, so a fantastic family holiday doesn’t have to include an extended trip on an aeroplane.
Starting off at the top of the UK and Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands is an extremely scenic option which is popular all year round thanks to its huge range of summer and winter activities. The panoramic views from the top of CairnGorm mountain are breathtaking and, depending on the season in which you visit, you can partake in ski, snowboard or mountain bike activities.
Rothiemurchus Estate is another must for outdoor lovers. Made up from a 50km network of well-maintained paths, you can saunter through the beautiful forest to the foot of vast mountains, passing stunning lochs on your journey. With an array of wildlife, the naturalists among us will be in their element on any of the three fantastic self-guided walks that are mapped out.
Of course, not all younger folk will appreciate the long walks and may complain of getting bored quickly. Fear not if this rings true with your little cherubs. Aviemore also caters for the young adventurers in the group, offering activities such as the Highland Wildlife Park and the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre — where youngsters over the age of 12 can ride with sled-dogs.
Even better is the fact you don’t even need your car to get here. Aviemore is easily accessible, so why not check out Stagecoach’s bus prices and start planning your trip today?
Head south of the Scottish border and you’ll end up in another region that has something for everyone — Northumberland. On England’s north east coast, the area is constantly winning rave reviews for its range of beautifully clean beaches, making it perfect for a day by the seaside if the sun comes out to play. You can also take a boat from Seahouses to the most famous Sea Bird Sanctuary in the British Isles, the Farne Islands. Here, you are likely to see its large colony of Atlantic seals. With many cruises available to book, there are plenty of excellent opportunities to view the island’s offshore birds and larger mammals.
Elsewhere in Northumberland, you can venture to the home of Harry Potter. Not only was the blissful setting at Alnwick Castle used for several scenes in the wizarding world, you can even undergo some broomstick training while you’re there! One for the kids (or you) perhaps?
With a whole host of other scenic wonders to marvel over, a trip to Northumberland surely must be on every Brit’s to-do list.
Continuing the journey south, next up is the Lake District. With a running theme appearing, this is another spot for the nature lovers. As the UK’s largest national park, it is the perfect location to don your walking boots and be one with mother nature. Whether you’re hiking in Great Langdale, climbing Helvellyn or cruising on Lake Windermere, this really is a beauty spot for the UK. There’s plenty for the kids off the nature trail, too. The World of Beatrix Potter is an awesome attraction close to Lake Windermere and should definitely be penciled into your itinerary.
While it’s pretty much a knocking bet that you’ll encounter rain at some point during your stay if you’re there for more than a few days, it’s important not to let the weather conditions dampen your spirit.
Pembrokeshire is the Welsh addition to the list and is home to the UK’s only coastal national park. Sitting on Wales’ south coast, the hotspot of Tenby was voted the best place for a holiday in Wales by the country’s residents. The quintessential seaside town attracts tourists of all ages thanks to its beautiful beaches, top-notch pubs and boutique shops.
Again, for those with kids, there’s plenty nearby to keep them entertained. The Overhang Indoor Climbing Centre is suitable for anyone over the age of four and provides both indoor and outdoor rock climbing sessions. Elsewhere, there’s the Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo in Kilgetty which is the place to be for animal lovers. Home to over 100 species of wildlife, including lions and penguins, the park also has a pirate adventure centre for the little ones to play in.
Or how about visiting the animals of yesteryear? Tenby’s Dinosaur Park takes you back in time, providing fun for all ages. So, be sure to go along and dig for dinosaur fossils and embark on the dinosaur trail in a bid to spot the 30 dinosaurs that are lurking deep in the undergrowth.
Crossing the border back to England once more and Cornwall enters the list as the most southern location to receive a mention. Again, this destination is blessed with beautiful beaches and a rugged coastline and it would be an impossible task to list all walks available, but Lundy Bay walk and St Agnes lookout are two that must be considered. Also worth a visit is Land’s End, with stunning views across Britain’s most southwesterly point, the location is a prime spot for keen birdwatchers.
Away from the relaxation, Cornwall is also home to some great activities. Have you ever thought about tree surfing? If not, why not? You won’t need a board or wetsuit for this variation of the Cornish surf scene, but one thing for sure is that you can’t be afraid of heights. Tamar Valley is home to a series of rope bridges, swings and zip wires that allow you to weave through its woodland. Of course, there’s a host of watersports at the ready, too, with Cornwall having a cluster of surf schools to choose from.
It goes without saying that the UK is home to many more ideal holiday locations, all offering their own unique selling points. With the Isle of Wight and Northern Ireland — home of the mythological Finn McCool, Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones — slightly further afield, but accessible by ferry, there are endless options available. So, instead of reaching for this faraway travel brochures, maybe think twice about your next vacation and consider somewhere a bit closer to home.