Home Grown Holidays : Rural Retreats
Staycations are in vogue, and the UK is brimming with little-known gems that make it the perfect place to start your next adventure. Here are some of our favourite rural retreats.
Few places in the UK are blessed with quite so many sights to see as the West Country. The counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset are filled with sprawling coastlines, tiny fishing villages, picture perfect cottages and a diverse range of tourist attractions. St Michael's Mount is a must-visit; the ancient cobbled causeway provides a means to walk to the island if you time your visit well, otherwise you may need to rent a boat. Another great activity is visiting the open-air Minack Theatre which has been built into the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Catch a play here on a summer evening and you'll wonder how to make do with a normal theatre experience ever again.
There are no two ways about it - the Cotswolds truly are beautiful. From the earthy colours of the Cotswold stone that makes up most of the area's cottages, to the rolling green countryside interrupted from time to time by meandering rivers. Bourton-on-Water, Burford, Castle Coombe, and Chedworth are four of the chocolate-boxiest towns to visit, but there are plenty of other villages more than worthy of your time. It's no wonder this area frequently finds itself on even the briefest itineraries of those choosing to do a tour of the British Isles.
There are three National Parks in Wales that contain more than enough hills for the intrepid explorer; Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, and the Pembrokeshire Coast. Mount Snowdon is for the braver walkers amongst us, being one of only two mountains in the UK taller than 1,000 metres. If hills alone aren't enough to get your adrenalin going, then why not add a waterfall into the mix of your planned walk - Pistyll Rhaeadr is particularly beautiful and isn't far from Snowdonia National Park.
The Lake District was recently added as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted as an area of outstanding universal value. These are huge words to live up to, but the Lake District has risen to the challenge without batting an eye. Sixteen lakes, eight national nature reserves and 150 hills means there is no shortage of places to go. As you'd expect in such a natural wonderland, there are hundreds of outdoor activities for all ages and abilities; the area is famed for climbing, canoeing, windsurfing, and open water swimming, amongst many others. If working up a swear isn't your thing, then the abundance of wildlife might be to your liking instead; the national nature reserves being home to some of Britain's rarest wildlife including red deer, falcons, eagles, and ospreys.
Last on our list is the Peak District, which (fun fact!) was actually the first on this list to be made into a National Park. Edale was recently voted the best place in Britain to start a hike, and there is no shortage of hiking opportunities for all abilities in the area. The Peak District also lends itself to being one of the best places in the UK to explore on two wheels, with twenty cycle routes allowing you to enjoy those famous views.