Don’t fancy spending your weekend away sleeping on a bench at Heathrow? These UK breaks will ensure a pleasant trip – whatever your passport status.
Another day, another set of holiday-makers left wondering whether or not to cancel their European city break.
Brexit confusion has gripped the House of Commons, the UK Passport Office, and most travel agents and insurers.
You could risk it and hope for the best, but why bother when there’s so much on offer within the UK?
1. Stay in a castle
Staying in a castle may seem unattainably regal, but more than 60 UK castles have now lowered their drawbridges for members of the paying public.
Scotland is lord of the manor – Culzean Castle, for example, is so fabulously grand that American president Dwight D. Eisenhower maintained a suite on the top floor. Wales has more castles per capita than any other country in the world, and Roch Castle wins our vote for looking most like something out of Game of Thrones.
England is less well-stocked (many were apparently knocked down by Oliver Cromwell – a man not known for his love of holidays), but Amberley Castle in Sussex deserves a shoutout. With crooked bannisters, ivy-strewn ramparts and weather-worn towers, it looks every one of its 900 years.
2. Hire a canal boat
Most people go on holiday to relax, and we can’t think of anything more blissfully therapeutic than drifting downstream on your very own narrowboat, accompanied by chirruping birds and the sound of running water.
Most modern boats are surprisingly liveable – on-board shower, cooking facilities, the works – while every bend seems to boast a great British gastro-pub. (Just make sure you have a sober helmsman – even on a canal it’s illegal to drink and drive!)
We recommend the Avon Ring – historic stops like Stratford and Tewkesbury, locks-a-plenty, and mile upon mile of wooded river bank. Drifters offers the choice of 550 boats from 45 bases across the country, all with life jackets and boat steering tuition included.
3. An overnight safari
The African safari is one of the great travelling fantasies. The dusty plains of the savanna, the distant roars of immense predators, the intimate sightings of some the world’s most coveted wildlife.
Now take that image, and transpose it onto the verdant pastures of Kent.
Giraffe lodge claims to be the UK’s only overnight safari, and you’ll emerge from your safari tent each morning to a watering hole surrounded by giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and rhinoceros. Rub your eyes, pinch yourself, and remember – you’re in England.
4. Be a London tourist
London isn’t universally adored outside the M25, but there’s a reason that it pulls in some 20 million foreign tourists every year.
The capital houses a king’s ransom of cultural riches – from Buckingham Palace to Soho’s comedy clubs; from the National Gallery to the O2 Arena – but domestic visitors are often too preoccupied complaining about the Tube.
This applies to London natives too. No one gets out of bed for something they know is on their doorstep, and when was the last time any of you actually went to the British Museum?
Yep, thought so. Don’t forget your selfie stick.
5. Embrace the wild with a bushcraft weekend
Did you know that you if you scrunch them up in the right way, you can eat the leaves of a stinging nettle straight off the plant?
There’s a lot more to bushcraft than glorified outward bound, and participants will learn proper survival skills with the kind of tools you’d see on Crocodile Dundee. Embers Bushcraft offer a wide selection of glamping getaways, featuring fire-making, fly fishing, deer-skinning, spoon-carving, and, if you’re deemed responsible, axe-throwing.
But the highlight is the bow-making: saw off a tree branch, cut and taper it into shape with a drawknife, bend, string, notch, and fire.
6. Scale Yorkshire’s ‘three peaks’
It’s not quite the Seven Summits, but the Three Peaks of Yorkshire still present a daunting task for hill walkers of every ability.
Your to-do list consists of the 694-metre Pen-y-ghent, the 723-metre Ingleborough, and that Everest of the Dales, the 736-metre Whernside. In theory the ‘challenge’ is to complete all three in under 12 hours, but we recommend a long weekend, taking the time to enjoy the views, and the charming villages nestling in the valleys in between.
You won’t need crampons or ice axes, but sturdy footwear is a must.