Turn Back the Clock on Anglesey
Slow travel reigns supreme on the small island of Anglesey in North Wales, where on crossing the Menai Bridge, the pace of life slows considerably and seems to have changed little for centuries. No wonder the Prince and Princess of Wales chose to live here quietly when first married – it’s an oasis of lush hinterland and dramatic coastline. There’s plenty of ocean-going action from coasteering, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and wing foiling; and the 130-mile coast path around the island crosses heathland and woods and rewards hikers with dramatic coastal views. The south is hugged by views of the peaks of Snowdonia, and it’s any easy hop into the national park to bag a mountain top or swim in a tarn. Stay on the west coast at Driftwood, a newly refurbished six-bedroom hotel - with a separate self-catering lodge - just a short stroll from the beach in Rhosneigr. There are a range of pubs and a choice of good eateries in the village.
Pootle around The River Tees, County Durham
Sandwiched between the North Pennines AONB and The Yorkshire Dales, The River Tees Valley is awash with unspoilt countryside, historical market towns, grand estates, and Medieval castles. It passes through the now infamous Barnard Castle, a bustling market town where antiques shops still outnumber opticians. Richmond has a grander air, large town houses overlooking cobbled streets and thriving independent shops. The rugged moors offer tantalising fell walks in all directions. Swoop down into Swaledale for softer pastures, or head to the dramatic waterfall of High Force. Take a spectacular drive across the Pennines, stopping off at Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub, or picturesque Appleby, where travellers congregate annually to trade horses. Stay at Boot and Shoe Cottage, which dates from the eighteenth century, and is one of a handful of riverfront houses in the hamlet of Wycliffe. Take a daily dip in the natural river pool accessed from the cottage garden, and share the bank with kingfishers, heron, and otters.
The Golden Sands of Cornwall
If beach holidays are your thing, look no further than Praa Sands, possibly Cornwall’s finest beach: the mile long, white-sand, dune-backed bay has something for everyone. It is a popular surfing spot at one end, with plenty of parking and a sand in feet café, surf school, kayak and SUP hire. The quieter Western end has plenty of space for bucket and spade adventures, games of rounders or simply sitting under a beach brolly with a good book. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the season. Visit the historic Pengersick Castle and gardens and climb to the top of the ancient tower for wonderful views. Enjoy a day’s coasteering from the steep cliffs east of the bay. Strike out on the coast path westwards past the kilns of ancient tin mines at intervals and after five miles is trendy Porthleven, a great spot for fine dining – including Michael Caines Harbourside Restaurant. South west holiday specialist Luxury Coastal has several affordable chic, self-catering properties in the area.
Suffolk’s coast, heaths, and estuaries
Suffolk is renowned for its landscapes, made famous by the artists Gainsborough and Constable, as much as for its extensive coastline. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB offers an array of walks and cycle rides along quiet lanes, forest tracks and coast paths. Or simply wander the banks of the River Orwell, with a fine array of wading birds including rare avocets and stop off at The Butt and Oyster Inn for a pint of Adnams. Discover Anglo-Saxon burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, with an historic house and sprawling gardens, and learn how the site was identified and excavated prior to the outbreak of WW2. Southwold can draw the crowds, but head through the car park to the quieter northern end, which has miles of beach and wonderful sea swimming. The Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead offers an array of local produce to stock up on. For a birds’ eye view stay at Freston Tower, a six-storey Tudor folly with unrivalled views over the River Orwell.
Scotland in Miniature - Isle of Arran
Arran is ideal for those new to exploring Scotland’s western isles and arriving by sea - on the historic CalMac ferry that runs almost daily - is an adventure of its own. The north of the island is the most scenic, with four high peaks including Goatfell, which at 874 metres can be summited by a variety of tracks depending on suitable footwear and hiking ability. The port of Lochranza is one of the most beautiful in Scotland, with a fortified tower house overlooking the sea, a clutch of houses, and a pub hugging the shore. Spot seals and dolphins playing in the bay and look up into the sky for rare sightings of the pair of Golden Eagles that are known to nest locally. Pay homage to the seven stone circles on Machrie Moor, some of the sandstone pillars rising to 5 metres, as well as the whiskey and gin distilleries on the island. Stay in the south eastern seaside village of Whiting Bay, at Cruickshanks B&B, which has just four rooms.
Fliss Hoad is an independent travel and lifestyle PR who has worked in tourism for over 20 years.