As foreign travel and actually getting out of the country for some sun seem to be hanging in the balance at the moment (thanks, COVID), I have compiled a list of staycations: new places that you can explore and enjoy in the UK that don’t entail getting on a plane (*cries*), but do involve adventure, sun (hopefully), and drinks all the same, so that you can get your summer fix and forget about the travelling FOMO, for now.
1) Noss Mayo
Whilst all of Devon is well worth a visit, I think Noss Mayo should be at the top of everyone’s list to see first when coming down south. Tucked into the valleys deep down in rural south Devon, it is a tiny village on the banks of the River Yealm, with traditional cottages, beautiful scenery, and the open sea right on your doorstep. This hidden gem is six miles from Plymouth, the nearest city, and is truly magical. If you’re a fan of water sports, you can hire a paddleboard or kayak to enjoy the crystal-clear tranquil waters of the river, or, just around the corner, a hidden cove called Cellars beach, only accessible by boat or paddle board at high tide or by a secret path at low. Plus, if you go out far enough, you may spot some dolphins around the famous Mew Stone!
If you love walking, then you can join the stunning south-west coastal path and take a circular walk around the cliffs, taking in surrounding scenery of the sea, moorland, rolling fields, and working farms. Or, venture further and visit the other local beaches such as Mothecombe, Wembury or Bigbury, all accessible through the path. If you’re a foodie like me, then spend a day eating and drinking to your heart’s content at The Ship Inn, a glorious waterside pub that has a nautical theme inside and out.
You can sit just steps from the water’s edge while enjoying a classic Fish and Chips or a more sophisticated bowl of Moules Mariniere, paired with a large glass of Provence rose, or a Salcombe G&T, of course! There are lots of holiday cottages or Airbnbs to choose from, but be quick- they get booked up!
If you love being near the sea, eating good food, chasing sunsets, and just need a place away from the usual seaside destination crowds, then this is the place for you!
If your thing is exploring historical towns and you fancy venturing further north, the city of Chester is a must-visit.
Founded as a Roman fortress, its known for its extensive ancient architecture and old town, which is distinguished by Tudor-style buildings. Chester boasts the largest Roman amphitheater in Britain, as well as medieval cathedrals, and almost complete original city walls, built out of stunning red sandstone.
A must-visit are the Chester Rows, with galleried walkways and old timbered buildings. These are found in the main streets of the city, which follow the original Roman town plan.
You can even take in these sights in an open-top bus tour or a pleasure cruise on the River Dee. If you’re looking for a romantic couples getaway or a family holiday and need somewhere to stay, look no further than Dee House Properties, with a choice of two stunning homes, located right in the heart of Chester’s most historic streets.
These homes are beautifully renovated, spacious, family and dog friendly!
If you fancy a day trip, head to the renowned Chester Zoo, the UK’s number one zoo and home to over 11,000 animals! If you’d rather relax and wander the streets, why not pop in to Grosvenor shopping centre and peruse the 70+ stores they have? After a busy day, head to Bar Lounge for a Sicilian-style pizza or the Barlounge Burger, or choose an incredible cocktail from their huge menu- you deserve it!
If you want to experience seeing the remnants of history thriving in a beautiful city, and enjoy exploring as well as relaxing, Chester is the place for you.
3) The Lake District
The Lake District is England’s largest national park in Cumbria.
It’s known for its glacial lakes, rugged mountains, thick forests and beautiful market towns and farmlands nestled between. This beautiful landscape is the ideal place for walking, hiking, cycling, kayaking, or simply taking in the breath-taking sights.
A popular are to explore is Windermere, which is packed with lots of things to do, whatever the weather and however active or relaxed you want to be. You can hire a motorboat, kayak, or paddleboard to experience the stunning lake. If you would prefer to get your walking boots on and see some spectacular summits, you can plan either a long hiking trail, or just a short amble complete with guided tours and mapped routes.
If you’d like to venture into the historical town of Windermere, you can visit gardens, museum, and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top and Gallery. Because of the secluded valleys and low light pollution, the Lake District is the perfect spot for stargazing, the top places to visit for this are Ennerdale, Wasdale and the Grizedale Forest. For the perfect rural retreat, book a holiday cottage rather than a hotel, and experience bucolic life at its finest.
If you’re a lover of natural beauty and have an appreciation for untouched landscaped, this is the place for you. Don’t forget your camera!
Last but not least, I recommend Cambridge, a city nestled on the river Cam in the East of England.
Home to the prestigious University of Cambridge, this city boasts history, architecture, and anthropology galore. The first thing to do would be to go on a guided tour of the historic university colleges and campus, including the famous King’s College and the chapel.
Then, head to the river Cam to do a spot of traditional punting- you can even do this while enjoying a cream tea on the go! Putting is harder than it looks though so be careful to not fall in!
Whilst on the river you can take in the sights, watch out for the Mathematical bridge– an impressively engineered wooden footbridge.
Make sure you blend in with the locals and hire a bike to get around, it’s a lot cheaper and way more fun than walking or driving! To get great views of the city skyline from above, check out the Varsity rooftop restaurant! If you’re looking for some super sophisticated cocktails, head to the Hidden Lounge. For food, try out the Old Bicycle Shop for some inventive dishes served in what was once Britain’s oldest bike shop.
Brimming with education, discovery and stunning scenery, Cambridge is the traditional city that feels like it hasn’t aged- a must see for culture lovers.
I hope that these recommendations have not only inspired you to book a staycation this summer, but also shown you that you don’t necessarily always have to go abroad to have an amazing holiday. There are so many beautiful places to see right here in England, so go and explore!
Words By: Dasha Pitts-Yushchenko