The summer of nostalgia

A rise in staycations means we’re reliving our childhood memories – and hunting out secret corners of the UK


After the events of this year, it’s little surprise most of us are embracing some travel nostalgia — not wallowing in memories of cheap flights and hassle-free globetrotting, but reliving the UK holidays of our childhood.

Research from Expedia has found that almost half of those who responded to its Summer of Britain survey had had their holiday abroad cancelled because of the virus, with 74 per cent saying they intend to explore the UK more instead.

And if we’re more optimistic about the future — searches for “2021 holiday” are up 124 per cent, according to a study from travel company Kuoni using new Google search data, with the Maldives, Mexico and Bali topping the list for the UK — this summer is all about keeping it simple and sticking with what we know.

A quarter of British travellers tend to revisit the same place twice, mostly because they visited as a child, but also because it’s easier for extended family to join and because they’re reassured by going somewhere familiar.

With more companies offering flexible booking, including free cancellations or fee-free date changes, booking websites are also highlighting safety measures to reassure potential travellers further.

VisitBritain’s “We’re Good To Go” stamp of approval shows which businesses have introduced the necessary measures to keep staff and visitors safe, from training to cleaning, while accommodation listings are giving details on everything from contactless experiences to cleaning and sanitising policies.

And while the top UK destinations include traditional favourites such as Devon, Cornwall and Bournemouth, as well as London and Inverness, there are still plenty of little-known highlights to discover.

Expedia’s survey found that only nine per cent had heard of the Stones of Stennes in the Orkney Isles, compared to 78 per cent who said they knew Stonehenge.

The Neolithic monument on the mainland of Orkney may be the oldest henge in the British Isles, with four of its original 12 stones remaining. It is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site along with Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar.

And only one in ten had heard of the Heacham Lavender fields in Norfolk, 100 acres of lavender fields on the Sandringham estate, a fragrant alternative to the better-known purple glories of Provence. While the usual tours aren’t running this year, you can still visit and see the lavender in bloom later this summer.

Other less well-known sites on their list to visit across the UK, included the sweeping sands of Rhossili Beach in Wales and the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire.

England’s best views

If you’re looking to escape the crowds this summer, VisitEngland has put together a list of places where you can find some of the best views in the country, from city skylines to moorland sweeps. Be prepared to climb…

Chrome Hill/Parkhouse Hill, Peak District

In the white peak area of the Peak District National Park, you can look down on the countryside and farmland for miles around after hiking up the unusual shaped limestone reef knolls.

Start in the village of Earl Sterndale before venturing up to the hills — you can also refuel with one of the traditional sweet treats from the nearby village of Bakewell or visit the newly reopened gardens of Chatsworth House.

One Tree Hill, south London

Head up One Tree Hill in Honor Oak, south London, and you’ll find yourself 90 metres above the capital, looking to the skyline including the Shard and the Gherkin.

Supposedly a spot where Queen Elizabeth I gazed out during a stop on a journey to Lewisham, the views might have changed somewhat since then but it’s still a great place to soak up the skyline.

Part of a seven-hectare park and nature reserve, this conservation spot is also a wonderful location for wildlife. The “one tree” that gives the hill its name is over 100 years old, replanted after its predecessor was struck by lightning.

Saddleworth Moor, 

Less than an hour’s drive from Manchester city centre, a walk on Saddleworth Moor takes you up steep rugged hills to the high moorlands, looking down on reservoirs until you reach the Trinnacle.

The uniquely shaped rocky outcrop is a view worth seeing in itself, as well as more panoramas of the Peak District as you trek up the paths taking you to the top of the moors.

Beacon Hill, Norfolk

Known for its coast and the Broads National Park, you might not associate Norfolk with hills — but head to Beacon Hill in Cromer Ridge and you’re 103 metres above sea level, the highest point in the region with a great view onto the coast.

There are also walking routes which include a climb up Beacon Hill, passing the coast by West Runton, East Runton and Cromer.

Clent Hills, Worcestershire

Only 10 miles from Birmingham, the green stretch of the Clent Hills includes miles of footpaths and trails, with views looking out across the Cotswolds, the Shropshire Hills and even the Welsh borders.

For the highest point, take a walk to Walton Hill, 316 metres above sea level, for a wonderful 360 degree panorama.

West Burton Falls, Yorkshire Dales

There are picturesque sights galore in the Yorkshire Dales but few have been immortalised by Turner as this has. A short walk from the village of West Burton, you find the falls, also known as Cauldron Falls, where the water cascades by the remains of the town mill into the still pool at the base.

A great place to spot birds, you can then follow the footpaths up onto the towering fellside if you’re feeling energetic.

Drives off the beaten track

If you don’t fancy spending your holiday time walking up hills, VisitEngland has also picked out some of the best drives across the country to get away from the crowds.

Military Road, Isle of Wight

Running parallel with the west coast of the island, the A3055 (otherwise known as Military Road) is slowly being eroded by the sea, so it’s one to visit sooner rather than later.

Linking St Catherine’s Point with beautiful Freshwater Bay, the route is only 11 miles long but has some wonderful views over the waves and the countryside.

Cheddar to Ashwick, Somerset

Another short but memorable drive takes you 14 miles through the Mendip Hills, as the well-named Cliff Road twists its way through cliffs and tight winding bends of the Cheddar gorge on the route from Cheddar to Ashwick.

The quieter roads around the two villages might be less dramatic, but there’s some lovely countryside to discover here too, along with the famous cheese.

Wrynose and Hardknott Pass, Cumbria

Featuring some of the steepest roads in Britain, this is easily a drive to take the breath away — Hardknott Pass has a gradient of 33 per cent at once point, so it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

As you drive, you’ll pass the village of Eskdale and what was once one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire, Hard Knott Fort. The Roman road linking Ravenglass to Ambleside and Brougham to Penrith travelled through the pass here.

Alnmouth to Lindisfarne, Northumberland

The dramatic Northumberland coast is made for exploring, and this route from Alnmouth to Lindisfarne Nature reserve follows the shoreline with views across the North Sea.

Along the way, you’ll pass castles galore, including spectacular Bamburgh Castle overlooking the beach, until you arrive in Lindisfarne itself. You can gaze out to Holy Island and Lindisfarne castle from the mainland, although do check the tides if you’re planning to cross the causeway to the island itself.


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