With flights grounded, borders closed and quarantine enforced, Coronavirus means that our 2020 international travel plans are being put on hold. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore what’s on your backdoor! Travel restrictions across England are set to be lifted, so I encourage you to take this opportunity to see more of our country and the natural beauty it has on offer. Of course, you can head to the popular destinations of Cornwall, Dorset, The Cotswolds and the Lake District. They won’t disappoint. But, I also wanted to share some of my personal favourite spots which are a little more underrated for a staycation in England.
1) North Yorkshire.
I am a born and bred a Yorkshire girl so I have explored almost every nook and cranny of this beautiful county. North Yorkshire is known for its rolling moorlands, quaint market towns and beautiful ruined abbeys. It is the perfect spot for a hiking escape or outdoor adventure. My favourite spots are The Moors for hiking, Harrogate for afternoon tea (at Betty’s), York for unrivalled history, Robin Hoods Bay for coastal walks and the Dales for scenic strolls. My favourite walks include the Hole of Horcum, Rievaulx Abbey, The Rosedale Railway Route and Ravenscar to Robin Hoods Bay. And an insider tip? Head to Thornton-le-Dale for the most pictureque village in the UK!
2) The Scilly Isles.
As a teenager I spent every summer visiting this stunning archipelago off the Cornish coast. It is made up of 5 inhabited islands, the main one being St Mary’s, and numerous smaller uninhabited rocky islets. The Scilly Isles are a true escape from the mainland and everything runs at a slower and more peaceful pace. You can spend your days’ island hopping on small boats, relaxing on white sand beaches or hiking along beautiful trails. My personal favourite activities? Walking along St Mary’s Garrison walls at sunset and exploring Gugh during the daytime – an island connected to St Agnes by a sand bank.
Another spot which I frequented as a child, teenager and still do into adulthood, Northumberland holds a special place in my heart. It is also ridiculously underrated with the lowest population density in the UK. It has more castles than any other county and Europes largest area of protected night sky. It’s perfect for stargazing. I recommend staying on the coastline, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Here you can explore the numerous castles dotted along it such as Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh. If you’re a wildlife fan then catch a boat out to the Farne Islands to see the birds. Ifit you’re into flora and fauna then I recommend Alnwick Gardens. My favourite thing to do is walk along the coast. My top trails are: Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle, Seahouses to Bamburgh and Beadnell to Newton-On-The-Sea. And an insider secret from years of holidays there? Head to Chillingham Castle for the most eclectic historical experience you’ll ever have, I love it!
4) Peak District.
I loved exploring the Peaks during my time at Sheffield University, which is right on the city’s doorstep. It remains one of my favourite spots in the UK. The first official National Park in the UK it’s home to moors, dales, rivers, springs and beautiful market towns. It is heaven for hikers, with stunning routes ranging from easy strolls and working up to more challenging trails. Try the popular Mam Tor, The Roaches and Kinder Scout. Besides hiking, The Peaks are known for being the perfect location for numerous outdoor pursuits from rock climbing to cycling. If you’re looking for a two-wheeled adventure then I recommend giving Monsal trail a try. It’s a traffic-free cycling route that passes through some of the most stunning dales in the region. There’s also a handful of historic houses to explore, my favourite being Chatsworth House. It’s by far one of the most stunning stately homes in the country, you can wander through its gardens for hours!
5) Isle of Wight.
Just a short boat ride from Portsmouth, this island is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Plus it is officially the most sunny spot in England getting more days of sunshine than Spain! There are three main selling points which make the Isle of Wight one of my favourite spots in the UK. Firstly, the history. The island is steeped in it with numerous forts, castles and country homes to explore – my favourite being the Victorian fort at Needles Battery. Secondly, the beaches. There are numerous soft sand bays along the coastline which are home to crashing waves and little cafes to grab a bite to eat – my favourite being Alum Bay. Thirdly, the hiking. There are over 500 miles of walking routes to explore including stunning coastal paths, I recommend checking out the trail from Freshwater Bay up and over to the Needles, it’s breathtaking.
We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country and I hope that this article has given you some inspiration to explore what’s at our back door, for a staycation in England. L: Tiisiet me know over on instagram @zannavandijk where you want to go on a staycation.