Far from the madding crowd: UK staycation destinations to try this summer

From Northumberland to Essex, beauty can be found in less touristy areas

For many, a British holiday means a trip to well-known holiday boltholes such as Devon and Cornwall, the Lake District or the New Forest. But there is real beauty in slightly less trodden parts of coastal, urban and rural Britain.

The Peak District

When it comes to spectacular hills and rolling rivers, the Peak District is sometimes unfairly overlooked in favour of the more tourist-heavy Lake District. If you want miles of unspoilt countryside, with plenty for the kids to enjoy, then the Peak District national park has everything you need. Take a trip to Bakewell, home of the original Bakewell pudding shop, walk the Monsal trail or book tickets to Chatsworth House. For walkers, taking on Mam Tor and Kinder Scout is a must. Kids can enjoy alpaca trekking, abseiling, canoeing and caving.

The Northumberland coast

With more castles than any other English county, you will never be short of ideas for a day trip in Northumberland. Perhaps the most dramatic medieval seat is Lindisfarne castle, which sits atop a volcanic mound a few miles off the Northumberland coast. Sadly, due to coronavirus the castle remains closed but Holy Island itself is open. Beware, however, as the island is cut off from the mainland twice-daily owing to the fast-moving tides. A short drive away are beautiful coastal villages such as Seahouses and Bamburgh, as is the market town of Alnwick.

Mersea island, Essex

A short hop from London, this tiny estuary island has been a somewhat-secret place of pilgrimage for seafood fans for years. Across the Strood – the ancient Roman causeway that links Mersea to the mainland – lies what is said to be the UK’s most easterly inhabited island. Those who fancy a challenge can walk the 13 miles (21 km) round the island’s edge. Alternatively, take a stroll on Monkey beach. Cudmore Grove country park at the far point of East Mersea is also recommended.

Lochgilphead, Scotland

Just over a two-hour drive from Glasgow, Lochgilphead is a jewel of the mainland. The village sits at the top of Loch Gilp, an offshoot of the much larger Loch Fyne, at the head of the Kintyre peninsula. It is surrounded by beautiful forests, excellent seafood, the Crinan canal and, for climbers, the Cobbler mountain is only an hour away by car.


While most UK holidays involve a pilgrimage to the coast or countryside, travel experts say people may be missing a trick by not visiting cities. City hotels have not enjoyed the same booking boom as those by the seaside since lockdown restrictions were eased but many are offering great deals. York is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations in normal times but its visitor income has disappeared virtually overnight. The biggest surviving remains of York castle, Clifford’s Tower, reopens to visitors from Saturday, as does the castle museum. Enjoy alongside the city’s other plentiful attractions, shops, bars and restaurants.


Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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