Britain is a magnificent country that first charmed me 14 years ago. I was instantly taken by the quaint villages, charming countryside, moody beaches, and enchanting castles. I even found the unpredictable weather endearing. Yes, it’s true that direct flights to Europe make hot seaside cities very accessible and thus enticing, but with so much on our very own doorstep, why not consider exploring this emerald isle with her abundance of charm and charisma. With the staycation rising in popularity, I caught up with some of my favourite bloggers who are passionate about travel, to find out where their favourite places in the United Kingdom are.
Ellie Farrorw, lover of coffee with a penchant for Pinterest, and founder of the lifestyle blog Perfectly Put Together, a collection of perfectly pleasing ideas that fill her rather messy mind, passionately tells me about the beautiful beaches of Whitsand Bay, Cornwall.
Whitsand Bay is a collection of beaches in South East Cornwall. Stretching from Rame Head to Portwrinkle, it has beautiful sheer high cliffs, dramatic scenery, and in my opinion some of the best beaches in the world! Dogs are welcome too, so I often take my gorgeous (albeit slightly tubby) pooch. You can easily spend days exploring the rocks, surfing or swimming, before trekking back up the cliff – but luckily the cliff top café is right there to serve you nice hot choccy, a fitting reward for reaching the top alongside those magical views!
Best attractions to visit in Whitsand Bay
The beaches are by far the best part of Withstand. My personal favourite being Freathy. The super sandy, gorgeous beaches can stretch for almost four miles at low tide when the coves connect. They are a little bit of a hike to get too though. Car parks are located at the top of the cliffs, with small tracks cut into the rock that leads you down to the beach below – and I’ll tell you now, lugging your surfboard back up that cliff is not fun, but the beach is truly worth the climb!
Best places to eat in Whitsand Bay
Depending on what you are after there are a couple particularly good spots for food. You can visit The View Restaurant which is casual and relaxed, or you can make a show of it and visit the grand Vaults Restaurant and Bar within Whitsand Fort. Or you can go super casual and buy chips from the little shop on the beach, however, my personal favourite is the Cliff Top Café, nestled just at the top of the cliff’s edge, giving spectacle views of the bay. The food is amazing and the people there are lovely.
Where to stay in Whitsand Bay
Again, you have some choices depending on what you are after. You have the Whitsand Bay Hotel and the Whitsand Fort, both of which are quite grand. Or there is a relaxed little holiday park which is super family friendly. However, for me, the best option is renting one of the cute little chalets that sit dotted along the cliff’s edge.
Ian, a tall, hairy, middle-aged solo budget backpacker who occasionally wears shoes, with a preference for unusual/less-visited places, both in the U.K. and abroad and founder of The Barefoot Backpacker, tells me all about the wonderful Peak District.
The Peak District holds many cards. It’s incredibly convenient for many of the U.K.’s largest cities (it’s between Sheffield and Manchester, and areas like Leeds, Nottingham, and even Birmingham are close by). It has incredibly varied landscapes from the bleak moorlands in the North on the edge of the Pennines to rolling farmland and green hills in the south near Ashbourne. It’s an easy place to get around – there are some stunning roads like the A537 from Buxton to Macclesfield and the famous Snake Pass from Glossop to Sheffield) one of the best drives in the country), but they’re not narrow and windy. It is the perfect place to explore over a weekend.
Best attractions to visit in the Peak District
The Peak District is huge, at 1440 km², and different parts of it are good for different things. It’s great for hiking; the moorlands provide some spectacular scenery, and the old railway line across the Woodhead Pass is now part of the National Cycle Network providing an easy and comfortable passage right across the region. Further south, the area around Mam Tor is great for country hikes, including the main road now closed due to landslips, the Pennine Way which begins in Edale, and some amazing remote mountain walks near Sheffield, including Stanage Edge. There are lots of reservoirs too; Langsett at the end of Woodhead Pass, and Derwent (famous as the site of the Dambusters practice runs).
The towns are also worth visiting: Castleton has gemstone mines, with at least three caverns you can go explore. Chapel-en-le-Frith and Tideswell have important churches, whilst Holmfirth is famous for being the setting for long-running TV sitcom Last of The Summer Wine; note the signs on the public toilets. And not to mention Buxton – the Bath of the North.
Eyam is a quaint mediaeval village famous for shutting itself off during the Great Plague of 1666. You can still see cottages that housed plague victims, burial grounds, and the hillside used for church services, allowing infected and non-infected people to still pray.
Best places to eat in the Peak District
Obviously, the main draw is Bakewell, a town with its own speciality – the Bakewell Pudding (a round pastry filled with egg and almond paste, and topped with jam). However, for more all-around menu options you can’t do worse than visit several of the many pubs that are scattered throughout or just outside the National Park, including the Red Lion in Kniveton, the Old Hall Inn in Chinley, and the Peak Hotel in Castleton – the latter two also offer accommodation.
Where to stay in the Peak District
I tend to stay in the same place when I visit – a B&B and pub about two miles away from absolutely anywhere else, with barely a mobile signal, never mind the Internet. It’s called The Strines Inn, and is a traditional pub in a 16th Century building, with three bedrooms, each of them tastefully decorated in an old-fashioned style with wooden beams and four-poster beds. They do a couple of beers and a nice range of spirits, as well as having a decent food menu.
Travel blogger Charlie of Where Charlie Wanders, tells me I must go to the North Norfolk Coast, where she has lived all of her life.
Best attractions to visit in the North Norfolk
One of my favourite ways to spend the weekend is to go on a long walk around the coastline. Lungs full of clean sea air, breeze in my hair and views for days. The coastline of Norfolk is a long 84-mile stretch, and it is possible to walk the entire thing on the Norfolk Coastal path. But I would recommend heading to the part between the town of Wells-next-the-sea and the beautiful village of Cley-Next-the-sea.
It’s quite hard to describe how beautiful this area if the U.K is, the skies go on forever, the purple sea lavender waving in the wind and sunsets are out of this world.
There are so many great things to do in this area. You can catch a seal boat from the quay in Morston to go out to Blakeney Point and see the Common and Grey Seals in their natural habitat. Another great pastime is crabbing. Head to one of the quays, with a line in hand and spend hours hauling crabs out of the water before releasing them back in.
Best places to eat in the North Norfolk
Along the coast, there are so many delicious places to eat. The Morston Anchor has the best burger on the coast. But the place I would highly, highly suggest to eat is Wiveton Hall Café. It is incredibly unique, with Formica tablecloths and brightly coloured chairs. Food is served on Emma Bridgewater plates and is rustic, wholesome, local and filling.
Where to stay in the North Norfolk
And to cap off the perfect weekend, why not stay in a windmill! Cley Windmill is a restaurant, but you can also sleep in one of the rooms in the tower. With views over the marshes, it is a stay like no other.
Award-nominated lifestyle blogger Michelle from Fifty & Fab, tells me all about the charms of Eype, West Dorset.
My absolute favourite place to have a holiday in the U.K. has to be Eype, near to Bridport and West Bay in Dorset. You might recognise it from the TV series Broadchurch. When our children were growing up we had a large touring caravan and loved to stay at Highlands End Caravan Park along with my sisters and their families and my parents. It was all about making memories! And now the children are grown up they still love to visit. We don’t have the caravan any longer, but two years ago we hired a lodge and my daughter, son and his girlfriend joined us, proving it is a wonderful place for all ages.
Best attractions to visit in Eype
It offers everything – beaches, stunning coastline, places to visit, beautiful countryside and long walks with fresh air and amazing views. I always feel rested and relaxed after a week staying there.
My two recommendations for places to visit would be Portland Bill Lighthouse and Lyme Regis. Although to be honest, we don’t venture too far, as it’s all right there; walks, seaside town and the beach.
Best places to eat in Eype
For eating out, I love The Anchor Inn at Seatown, right on the beach. It does get very busy, but be patient and enjoy the view and a cold glass of wine while you wait, and the children can continue to play on the beach.
And definitely go off the beaten track and find the Garden Café at Down House Farm near Eype. Their scones are to die for! And no seaside holiday would be complete without fish and chips sitting by the harbour at West Bay.
Where to stay in Eype
You can’t go wrong with staying at Highlands End Holiday Park – they have a huge choice of accommodation to suit everyone. Holiday lodges, flats, bungalows, caravans both static and touring, glamping and camping. The views are simply stunning. One year from our caravan we watched the badgers coming out to feed every night – right outside our window. There is a fabulous leisure centre with an indoor pool and a good bar and restaurant that also offers takeaways, a café and a shop. It is a large holiday park but not at all your usual crowded, busy and uninviting environment. I love it and I am fussy! It is big enough that you do not feel on top of anyone else.
Personally, I have a sweet spot for Edinburgh. I love it for its beautiful cobblestoned streets that lie beneath magnificent Edinburgh Castle. It is a beautiful green city steeped in history, and the people are warm and friendly. It also has men who wear kilts. I’m just saying!
Whilst there are many places in the world I have loved to visit, there are few places I have felt that could be a home away from home – Edinburgh is one of those places for me.
Easily accessible by plane, rail or road, you can find yourself in the Scottish capital in as little as an hour and a half from London.
Best attractions to visit in Edinburgh
I am an outdoors kind of girl, so no trip to Edinburgh is complete without a gentle hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. At the peak, you will take in well-earned panoramic views out over the city, which really is a sight for sore eyes.
I also like a bit of history, and there is no shortage of it in Edinburgh. I once had a few hours to kill on a business trip so joined a one hour guided tour of The Real Mary King’s Close. Deep below the Royal Mile frozen in time since the 17th Century, you will discover a warren of hidden streets. It’s a touch cheesy, but oh-so-good.
Best places to eat in Edinburgh
Timberyard is probably the standout restaurant of the moment. Go for a creative menu of locally-sourced artisanal produce in a modern, industrial warehouse setting. Other notable Michelin starred restaurants include The Kitchen and Restaurant Martin Wishart (not to be confused with The Honours Brasserie, also one of Martin Wishart’s – which I personally found to be disappointing when I went).
Best places to eat in Edinburgh
I love a boutique design hotel. By the gates to Edinburgh Castle, you will find The Witchery by the Castle. A gorgeous Gothic styled property that is romantic to the core with opulent suites and roll top bathtubs and even a secret garden restaurant.
With so many wonderful places to explore right in our own backyard, why not consider one of our national treasures for your next getaway.
Until next time, safe travels.
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