Easing lockdown, legal travel, and loads of closed borders: the three ingredients required for an absolute avalanche of staycationing.
By late-July the New Forest will be choc-a-bloc, the Lake District overflowing, and the beaten track will start looking very beaten indeed…
These alternative – but not too alternative – staycation locations should keep you away from your fellow tourists, and hopefully Covid-19.
1. The North York Moors
Perhaps the most underappreciated of the UK’s national parks, what the North York Moors lack in elegance they make up for with sheer rugged power. Wild, windswept, and covered with a thick layer of heather, the moors are marked by stone crosses, ancient roadways, and banks of low-hanging fog. Never mind two metre distancing – here you can have two miles.
This isn’t the place to don your plimsolls and go flower picking; it’s the place to strap on your walking boots, tramp through vast, desolate vistas, and enjoy a triumphant pint in a hilltop pub as the sun starts to dip beneath the clouds.
2. St. David’s
The smallest city in the UK – thanks to a magnificent 12th century cathedral and paltry population of 1,600 – St David’s is a jewel of the Pembrokeshire Coast which has spent decades charming visitors with its network of coastal trails. Probably one of the prettiest places in the land, guests can sample the sumptuous scenery via sea kayak, surfboard, or a good, old-fashioned hike.
The cathedral alone is worth the journey, and after its consecration in 1123, the Pope declared that “two pilgrimages to St David’s equals one to Rome.”
3.The Isles of Scilly
Scattered 30 miles off the westernmost tip of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly tick off all the staycation criteria while letting you feel like you’ve actually travelled. Catch a boat, plane or helicopter to the hub island of St Mary’s, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty crawling with puffins, fur seals, and Bronze Age burial sites.
The five inhabited islands each offer their own flavour – from the lush landscapes of Tresco to the boundless beaches of St Martin. Isolation has understandably been getting a bad name in recent months, and the Isles of Scilly are eager to reclaim the word.
4. The Norfolk Broads
There is a ‘right way’ to visit the Norfolk broads, and it involves a boat and a tent. There are few things more soothing in troubled times than chugging merrily downstream, as verdant hedgerows, picturesque villages, and squads of squawking ducklings slide slowly past.
The Broads have one key advantage over their canal-based brethren – in their entire 125 miles of waterways, there’s not a single labour-intensive lock.
5. Fort William
We mean no disrespect to Fort William when we say most people arrive there just to leave again. Nicknamed ‘the outdoor capital of the UK’, hiking, riding, golf, and mountain biking have all found natural homes in the surrounding highlands, and weekend trips yield all sorts of scenic wonders.
There’s the mountainous vistas of Glencoe, the castle-studded coast the West Highland Peninsula, and uphill exertions of the Great Glen Way. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there’s even Ben Nevis.