After months of pandemic restrictions affecting our travel and social lives, we all need something to look forward to. Overseas travel may seem a way off right now, but with vaccinations being rolled out for priority groups, we can at least start planning some trips around mainland Britain.
But where to go?
Here are the destinations that will be at the top of my wish list when regulations relax and my husband and I can book a much-needed break. As always, check local restrictions before you travel.
Suffolk was the last county we visited before November lockdown and I can’t wait to go back.
The 50-mile Suffolk Coast is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and I love its unspoilt beaches, atmospheric marshland and heritage towns.
Visit the traditional seaside resort of Aldeburgh, take in a concert and explore the craft shops at Snape Maltings. For something different, why not climb the medieval keep at the historic riverside village of Orford?
The New Forest
Deep in the heart of Hampshire, this former Royal hunting forest offers so much more than just trees.
Ramble through shady woodland and open heath; take a seaside walk at Milford-on-Sea or Lymington; and go cycling or horse riding along forest trails.
Forest villages such as Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst are full of antique shops, independent boutiques and tempting cafes, while Palace House and the Montagu Motor Museum at Beaulieu also never fail to delight.
Whatever you want from a city, York can offer it.
If you’ve a head for heights, don’t miss the view from the tower of York Minster or from the walkway round the city walls.
Step back into transport history at the National Railway Museum and discover history of a different kind at York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Museum, and Jorvik Viking Centre.
Cruise the Ouse, meander through The Shambles, and refuel at legendary Betty’s Café Tea Rooms. Scrumptious!
The Lake District
It doesn’t matter whether you are an ambler, a rambler, or a hardened hiker, England’s Lake District has trails to suit your ability.
Looking for something a bit less energetic? Then simply admire those mountain peaks from the comfort of a gentle lake cruise on Windermere or Coniston, Ullswater or Derwentwater.
I can’t resist the atmospheric properties associated with Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth (National Trust), nor the free outdoor heritage sites that include Roman remains to Neolithic stone circles. The Lake District National Park website has plenty of ideas for things to see and do and is a great starting point for planning your trip.
I am lucky to live within an easy commute of the capital and have really missed my regular visits in recent months for theatre, heritage attractions, and city walks.
This world-famous city has suffered badly in the pandemic but as life begins to open up again, take advantage and book a trip before tourists from overseas return.
This is a holiday the weather really can’t spoil and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Many major museums and galleries are free, although you may have to book ahead as numbers are likely to be restricted. London is a city that richly rewards anyone who explores on foot with their eyes open. Just remember to look up!
I’ve loved the landscapes of Exmoor since childhood, not just the rounded hills and deep valleys, but the seashore too. Designated a National Park in 1954, Exmoor boasts 37 miles of unspoilt coastline, spread across Somerset and North Devon, and officially the highest coastline in England and Wales.
Enjoy coastal and marshland walks from the pretty village of Porlock; visit historic Dunster with its castle and packhorse bridge; and take the steam-powered funicular from seaside Lynmouth to clifftop Lynton. Feast on local produce and don’t miss a traditional cream tea!
From iconic monuments to fabulous food, royal history to literary heritage. Edinburgh has it.
I particularly love the hidden history revealed at The Real Mary King’s Close; the insight into our Royal Family at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and on board The Royal Yacht Britannia; and the atmospheric explanation of our universe at Our Dynamic Earth.
Add to that three National Galleries of Scotland; a castle, a zoo, and the Scottish Parliament building, and Edinburgh really does offer something for everyone. Discover more by visiting the This Is Edinburgh website.
If fresh sea air is your ideal way to ease back into holiday mode, Pembrokeshire delivers in spades.
Walk a section of the 186-mile coast path; breathe deeply on one of its 50-plus beaches; and visit Britain’s smallest city, St Davids, named after the patron saint of Wales and with a population of barely 1,600.
St David’s peninsula lies at the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and offers magnificent scenery, but don’t miss the walled seaside town of Tenby nor the craft boutiques and workshops of enchanting Narberth.
Nestled between Oxford in the east and Bristol in the west, The Cotswolds runs through five counties and covers almost 800 square miles.
To overseas visitors, this is quintessential England with its honey-coloured cottages, pretty villages, and lively market towns.
To me, the Cotswolds is a favourite destination for a leisurely short break that combines atmospheric pubs, gentle walks, and a choice of attractions that range from Blenheim Palace to Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park.
I first set eyes on this marvel of Roman engineering on a group walking holiday between the North Sea and the Irish Sea, walking its 80-mile length through rolling farmland and across barren crags to the coastal landscape of the Solway Firth. But you’ll be pleased to know you don’t need to walk the line of the wall to enjoy it!
My husband and I went back with our car, stopping off to visit the ruined forts and museums at Chesters, Housesteads and Vindolanda and of course to walk sections along the way.
Or you can take the AD122 hopper bus – named after the year the wall was built – which provides a shuttle service between key points along the route from around Easter-time to the end of September.
The Peak District
After so many cancelled trips last year, I was particularly sad to miss a pre-Christmas cottage break last year in the glorious Peak District. So I’m looking forward to rebooking and enjoying the heritage towns of Buxton and Bakewell, the opulence of Chatsworth House, and some the best upland scenery in the British Isles, not to mention a calorific portion of authentic Bakewell Tart!