With lockdown rules beginning to ease, campsites, hotels, and holiday homes began reopening from 4 July.
After months of being stuck at home, you’ll no doubt be keen to get away, even if just for a long weekend. But you’ll want to avoid the crowds too.
If you’re looking for a break but are keen to dodge the scenes on Bournemouth Beach or at Durdle Door, try these alternatives – our pick of five beautiful staycation destinations to avoid the worst of the crowds.
1. The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty might be on many of our doorsteps but it’s still full of surprises and a great destination for a short break.
Keep away from the crowds by walking a section of the Cotswold Way, a 100-mile path from Chipping Campden to Bath. Famed for its picturesque Cotswold stone-built villages and market towns, Broadway Tower, the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap, and Sudeley Castle all line the route.
The historic town of Stow-on-the-Wold has cafes, tea rooms, and the Porch House inn, a pub that claims to be England’s oldest, dating from 947 AD.
A ten-minute drive from Stow-on-the-Wold, is Burford, another quaint and beautiful market town.
It is home to Greyhounds, ‘perhaps the finest B&B in Burford’, and previously featured in both Cotswold Life and Gardens Illustrated magazines. A beautiful establishment in a stunning part of the country.
2. Peak District
The Peak District in North Derbyshire is home to some stunning scenery, some beautiful walks, and some amazing historical attractions.
Home to Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall, as well as the plague-hit town of Eyam, there is plenty to see and do.
Try Castleton and the village of Hope in Hope Valley in the shadow of the 517-metre-high Mam Tor.
And if you need luxury and comfort after a hard day’s sightseeing or hiking, consider staying at Losehill House Hotel and Spa situated between Hope and Edale.
3. Quantock Hills
Comprised of heathland, oak woodlands, ancient parklands, and agricultural land, Somerset’s Quantock Hills were England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, designated in 1956.
Walk through ancient woodland, track the medieval Drove Road – part of King Alfred’s Way – and keep a lookout for red deer. There’s also the Iron Age hillfort on Bicknoller Hill.
Poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, lived in the Quantocks for several years. He wrote both The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan while living here. You can learn more about Coleridge at his former home, Coleridge Cottage, and follow in his footsteps along the Coleridge Way, which passes through the Quantock hills.
As Airbnb’s, as well as hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, begin to open, you’re sure to find secluded accommodation off the beaten track.
4. Lake District
The Lake District is fully open for visitors so be wary of crowds here, especially around Lake Windemere. As well as having to share local beauty spots with dozens of others, you might also find road closures due to parking restrictions and could struggle to find a space.
The Lake District website has lots of useful information on where to go, where to stay, and how to remain safe. Their dedicated coronavirus news page could prove especially useful when planning your trip.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, try the Western Lakes. The scenery is equally stunning – if not more so – than its more famous locations to the east. You’ll probably meet far fewer people too.
Try Crummock Water and Buttermere in the north-west, or Wastwater to the west. Situated in the Wasdale Valley, Wastwater is a National trust-owned lake that was voted as the nation’s favourite view back in 2007.
It’s also home to a National trust-owned campsite if you’re looking for adventure and are happy to brave the elements.
5. North Shields
If you’re looking for a seaside trip but wary of crowds along the Jurassic Coast or in Cornwall, consider North Shields in Tyne and Wear.
Just ten miles east of Newcastle, the coastline boasts the Tynemouth Priory and Castle. A former Iron Age settlement, Anglo-Saxon monastery, and royal castle, it has recently reopened to the public following its closure during the coronavirus pandemic.
As with many reopening attractions, timed tickets are currently being used to limit numbers and ensure the safety of its visitors.
The stretch of coast also boasts the beautiful King Edward’s Bay, Long Sands Beach, and Whitley Bay Seafront.
There’s plenty to see locally but also consider taking a train further up the coast. The train routes offer beautiful coastal views with plenty of towns and villages to explore.
Stay in Whitley Bay itself or nearby Cullercoats. Try the York House Boutique Hotel in Whitley Bay.