5 beautiful places in the UK to enjoy the great outdoors
Go over the sea to Skye, wander in Wordsworth’s footsteps, take the easy route to the top of one of Britain’s highest mountains, set sail for new horizons or make a pilgrimage to Holy Island. Here are a few of my top choices around our wonderful country for you to enjoy any time of the year …
1. The Isle of Skye
What’s not to love about stunningly beautiful Skye, epitome of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland? The majestic mountains of the Cuillins and Quirang ranges give it an impressive grandeur, its seascapes are sublime and there is a great choice of places to stay and delicious fresh local food. The main town of Portree is a colourful mix of fishermen’s cottages, excellent restaurants and a busy working harbour. I visited one Easter and we got every bit of weather imaginable, from a snow-blinding blizzard, pouring rain, thick sea mist and blazing sunshine – and this little island looked glorious throughout!
2. The Lake District
The loveliest place in England – well, I’m completely biased as it’s on my doorstep, but everyone should visit the Lake District at least once. With its many lakes, tarns, rivers and fells, picturesque villages, adventure activities, literary links, historic towns, welcoming pubs and world-class accommodation, there really is something for everyone. Top Tip – avoid the summer crowds around Lake Windermere and the south lakes – head for the quieter far north or west to dramatic Wast Water and Scafell Pike, setting for ‘Britain’s Favourite View’.
Described as the ‘crowning glory of North Wales’, Snowdonia is a wild and dramatic landscape is also full of surprises. I find the mountains rather daunting but love wandering along the river at Betws-y-Coed or up to Gelert’s Grave at Beddgelert. Children love the Ffestiniog Railway which curls up to the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog from Portmadog, not far from quirky Portmeirion. I’ll be honest – I’ve never managed to walk up Snowdon but the 5-mile rack and pinion Snowdon Mountain Railway gives everyone the chance to get to the top. But do leave plenty of time – it’s a long slow haul there and back.
If you’re a lover of literature you’ll be familiar with Thomas Hardy’s Dorset with its quaint villages of thatched cottages and rural countryside. But this country is also a great area for sailing. Weymouth took centre stage for yachting during the Olympics and its legacy is seen in some excellent facilities just outside the town, near the long sandy stretch of Chesil Beach. Bournemouth is fun for water sports of all kinds and Poole has a big marina with sailing for all levels. I love getting the little ferry over to Brownsea Island where Baden Powell took the very first Scouts and red squirrels romp around the woods.
5. Northumberland Heritage Coast
Want to really get away from it all? Fancy walking in the footsteps of St Aidan and St Cuthbert in some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in Britain? Eat fresh crab sandwiches beside the fishing boat that caught the crab that morning? Then Northumberland’s inspirational coastline is for you. From the attractive and much fought-over Border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed it’s not too far south to dramatic Lindisfarne or Holy Island, ancient centre of Christianity in the Dark Ages. A bit further along the coast is one of my favourite places – impressive Bamburgh Castle overlooking undulating sand dunes and a splendid beach, great for bracing walks and oodles of fresh air. You can read about the Northumberland market town of Morpeth here.
Of course there are very many more places to explore around this beautiful country so make sure you get out into the great outdoors and try somewhere new for a change!