Now lockdown is lifting, we’ve come up with some ideas for great places to visit in your caravan. For this summer, at least, by far the safest bet is likely to be by way of a staycation – a golden opportunity to reacquaint yourself with just some of the riches you may find in just about any corner of the British Isles.
Before lockdown becomes too distant a memory, however, it is important to remember that the coronavirus is still with us – and you risk spreading or catching it still .
Before we share any inspirations for staycation destinations, therefore, we’ll issue a gentle reminder or two about how to stay safe when travelling.
Staying safe on holiday is largely a question of continuing to do all those things you have been learning instinctively to do these past few months.
That is to say:
- remember that social distancing is one of the most effective ways of preventing the transmission of the virus from one person to another;
- the distance you should aim for is still to keep 2 metres apart, but, in situations where that has become impossible, government advice is to maintain a distance of “1 metre plus” – and a video made by the BBC on the 4th of July helps to explain what that means;
- wash your hands often with plenty of soap and warm water – and where neither is available, use hand-sanitisers containing at least 70% alcohol;
- hard surfaces are also areas from which the virus may be transmitted, so always keep by you plenty of hand wipes to wipe down surfaces and your hands wherever you go;
- as lockdown rules have eased, so the use of face masks has become increasingly important and often mandatory across the UK;
- along with hand wipes, carry small bottles of hand sanitisers and use them frequently.
Now that you can be reasonably comfortable about keeping you and yours as safe on holiday as you are at home, it is possible to open and explore the veritable treasure-trove of potential destinations for your staycation treat.
It’s not as though you’ll ever be stuck for choice. Just about every region, county, landmark, and town across the country has its own particular draw and appeal. So, let’s take a virtual round-Britain tour to identify some of your jumping-off points.
The Southeast of England
The Southeast of England is the closest these islands come to our neighbours on the continent, so it is little wonder that this is where you may find some of the oldest remaining evidence of invasions from the likes of the Vikings, the Romans, and the Normans.
A relatively unexplored historical gem from that part of the world is the Isle of Thanet, where there is still plenty of evidence from both the Viking and Roman invasions. The Viking Coastal Trail, for example, takes you the entire length of Thanet’s coastline from Margate in the north, down to Ramsgate, via Broadstairs, and then inland through many a picturesque village.
You might be glad of the bike-rack you mounted on your caravan since the trail is some 32 miles long – a good cycling distance but one you might want to break into several sections if you are on foot.
The Southwest of England
If it’s a staycation, in summer, with a caravan, you are almost certain to be drawn to the Southwest of England – along with what might feel like the whole of the rest of the country.
It’s certainly not difficult to understand the immense popularity of the Southwest’s beaches, shimmering sands, and glistening waters on a sunny summer’s day. With your caravan in tow, though, you can kiss goodbye to the crowds, head inland and discover a different kind of Devon or Cornwall.
For somewhere different this year, therefore, why not explore the less well-known Goss Moor National Nature Reserve – right in the middle of Cornwall. Whether you are coming in from Exeter or St Austell, the world-renowned Eden Project is only a short drive away and offers something pleasantly different from the buckets and spades of the innumerable beaches.
Is it the Snowdonia National Park of North Wales or the Gower Peninsula or Pembrokeshire coast of South Wales that’s likely to host the better staycation?
This year, both North Wales and South Wales are likely to see more than their fair share of visitors, day-trippers, and holiday home renters. Delightful as Snowdonia, the Gower and the Pembrokeshire might be, therefore, perhaps now is the time to discover the hinterland of mid-Wales – the very heart of the Principality.
Here, you’ll find one of the great unspoilt natural landscapes of the UK, where the Cambrian Mountains give rise to two major rivers – the Severn and the Wye.
The mid-Wales Marches are a magical land of small market towns, country houses, gardens, and mile upon mile of walking and cycling trails. Why not make your base at the market town of Machynlleth and explore the surrounding countryside from there.
Wales opened its hospitality industry – including its campsites for overnight stays – slightly later than in England, on the 11th of July.
The North of England
Just as the family has finished arguing over North or South Wales, so you might introduce another bone of contention – the Northwest of England’s Lake District or the Northeast counties of Northumberland and Durham.
Once again, there’s so much to be said for both the Northwest and the Northeast that you might want to follow the road less travelled and opt to explore the northern tip of the Pennine Range.
It’s one of the most remote parts of England, with Kielder Water being the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe, surrounded by England’s largest forest – it’s truly a natural paradise for exploring on foot or by bike or challenging yourself in one of the many available water sports.
After a strenuous day of outdoor activity, in the quiet of the evening, you might spark another family debate about whether the nearby border towns of Hawick and Jedburgh are in England or Scotland – in fact, they’re both in Scotland.
And, so, across the border we go into Scotland – a staycation that makes you feel that you’ve practically come abroad.
You asked us for inspiration in our suggested destinations, but Scotland is a nation unto itself – with more history, landmarks, geography, forests, mountains, and lochs than you could shake the proverbial stick at. So, we’ll dodge any attempt to highlight the best of an already stunning bunch by suggesting just some of those likely to sound most familiar:
- Edinburgh – the capital, of course;
- Glasgow – not just historic, but now a major European capital of culture in its own right;
- The Highlands – rugged, bleak, romantic and with a brooding air of mystery;
- Loch Ness – you know that “Nessie” is there, and maybe you’ll be the one to finally capture it on film;
- Isle of Skye – gateway to the Western Isles.
It’s part of the UK – so, yes, your holiday in Northern Ireland counts as a staycation.
For many of the UK’s caravan owners, however, the trip to the Province certainly counts as a route less travelled – and all the more eye-opening and exciting for that. You’ll probably need to do a little homework to get to know something about all that the six counties (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone) have to offer – and a good place to start is the official Discover Northern Ireland website.
It’s a compact Province – taking only around two hours to drive from one end of it to the other. If you want to tack on some international travel, of course, then it’s easy enough to hop across the border into the Republic of Ireland.
There’s natural beauty galore – not to mention the castles that survive its turbulent and troubled history. The City of Derry is one of the most complete examples of any European walled city.
The museum that goes by the name of Titanic Belfast is a World’s Leading Tourist Attraction, no less.
We hope these staycation ideas have whetted your appetite for making the most of the Summer – and safely.