Forget Dubai or Barbados – we can’t wait to explore more of the UK when things open up again.
This is where seven travel writers share where they long for the UK lockdown, from the Norfolk Broads to the Isle of Skye.
Angelina Villa-Clarke – Isles of Scilly
Angelina Villa-Clarke’s Post on Sunday wants to wander through the famous Abbey Garden of the Isles of Scilly
Others may dream of the powdered sugar sands of a Caribbean island, but I can’t wait to get to our own version – an idyllic archipelago found 28 miles west of Land’s End. There are no long-haul flights to the Isles of Scilly, but a 15-minute helicopter ride is enough.
First I go to Tresco, one of only five of the 140 inhabited islands, for a stroll through the famous abbey garden.
With its sapphire sea and mild climate, the Isles of Scilly may have a decidedly exotic feel to it, but they still have an enchanting sense of the 1950s. I will cycle in the hedged alleys on St. Mary’s, the largest island. I pass honesty boxes that have been left out for homemade fudge, jam and bread.
I’ll be spending afternoons at Lawrence’s Bay on St. Martin’s looking for pink cowrie shells, and maybe I’ll snorkel with the resident seal colony. Throw in a ginger beer and it’s a holiday apparently made up by Enid Blyton.
I will definitely be booking the famous “1 Mile Lobster Lunch” at Holy Vale Vineyard on St. Mary’s – a glass or two of Pinot Gris is a must.
At night I retire to one of Tresco’s picturesque Sea Garden Cottages. Here I fall asleep with salt in my hair and sand between my toes to the sound of the Atlantic breakers. It’s the ultimate UK holiday in the face of the dreamiest tropical twist (tresco.co.uk).
Sarah Turner – Ribble Valley, Lancashire
The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that surrounds the Ribble Valley in Lancashire
In a year of troughs, I spent several unsuccessful months trying to get to a very special one: the Ribble Valley in Lancashire.
The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, filled with rivers, perfect villages and lovely walks. In 2021, I’d like to go to the top of Nicky Nook so I can look down towards Morecambe Bay and the lights of Blackpool at sunset to find a mix of scenery and coastline.
Eating is an important part of my mission as this area has become a culinary hunting ground in recent years, with chef-owned pubs, Michelin-starred restaurants, artisanal producers, and bustling market towns.
There are many places I want to stay but the first choice has to be the Inn at Whitewell. On the River Hodder, with 23 rooms and award-winning food, the B&B costs from £ 100 a night (innatwhitewell.com).
Sarah Hartley – The Sacred Isle of Lindisfarne
Sunday Post Sarah Hartley dreams of spotting seals at Emmanuel Head on the sacred island of Lindisfarne
To feel the full spiritual power of the holy island of Lindisfarne, I would visit it when winter sets in, when the Northumberland fog closes over the ruined monastery and castle and the dam disappears under the North Sea.
I packed binoculars to spot seals at Emmanuel Head in the early morning and kept climbing over the rocks.
I planted my bare feet in the sand and let my mind wander before warming myself up with a strong brew at the Pilgrims Coffee House.
For a stronger drink later in the day, I’d visit St. Aidan’s Winery, which keeps the Lindisfarne monks’ secret mead recipe, to try this elixir of honey and herbs. Here I would hope to meet one or two of the roughly 160 islanders (whose population rises to 650,000 with visitors) to learn firsthand about life in such a sacred place.
At low tide I followed the old pilgrimage route to the priory and listened to the echoes of the island’s bloody, brutal past with fire and religion at its core. And the scream of the seagulls would get caught in my mind with the pleading of the monks when the Vikings raided more than 1,200 years ago.
I’ve settled in a cozy spot in the heart of the village, like the Crown and Anchor Inn, where the chef offers tempting seafood: hand-picked white crabs for lunch and fish and chips to round off the day.
Hopefully an overwhelming sense of peace would resonate deep within me, so I am driven to look up the illuminated manuscripts, the Lindisfarne Gospels in the British Library, and ask my friends: Was it you? You have to go.
B&B costs from £ 125 a night (Holyislandcrown.co.uk)
Tamara Hinson – Norfolk Broads
The Mail on Sunday Tamara Hinson wants to cross the Norfolk Broads and treat herself to a pub lunch in quaint villages
In the fall I spent three days on the Thames on a cruiser.
After a year of lockdowns, this idyllic, deserted escape offered a new perspective on a popular river (I’ve been riding its towpaths for years).
When I returned home, I began to investigate which waterways I wanted to conquer next. The Norfolk Broads immediately appealed. I planned to glide down the serpentine waterways and slip past the windmills of Broads National Park before indulging in a lazy pub lunch in quaint villages.
There’s another reason the Broads appeal: the lack of locks. A leisurely float on 125 miles of lock-free waterways sounds infinitely less stressful (herbertwoods.co.uk/boating-holidays/boat-hire).
Stuart Forster – St. Davids, Wales
Dreamy: The Gower Peninsula in Wales has some spectacular beaches. Pictured above is Three Cliffs Bay
It seems almost sinful that after studying history in Swansea, I never drove west to St. Davids – the tiny town named after the patron saint of Wales.
The drive to the UK’s most sparsely populated city is a welcome reason to explore the Gower Peninsula’s beaches and stroll in the Brecon Beacons.
There are ample opportunities for long walks from St. Davids. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path shares its name with the national park along the nearby coast, spoons over St. Brides Bay and overlooks Ramsey Island, a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve that can be visited via boat trips from St. Justinians.
The Treasury in St. David’s Cathedral displays objects that represent aspects of the region’s Christian heritage. On the other side of the narrow river Alun are the still impressive ruins of the bishop’s palace. Arches over the walls from the 14th century, demonstrating the pre-Reformation importance of St. David’s.
I would treat myself to a room at the Twr y Felin Hotel, a converted windmill with more than 100 contemporary works of art and a fine-dining restaurant whose Welsh name Blas means “taste”. B&B costs from £ 200 per night (twryfelinhotel.com).
Jennifer Cox, South Devon
Gothic splendor: Powderham Castle is one of the attractions on the Riviera Line from Exeter to Paignton
For years I took the train to South Devon to see my parents, which always meant but never found time to take the Riviera Line from Exeter to Paignton.
It’s an intoxicating blend of bold Victorian engineering, great views of the coast, and historic towns.
It starts slowly, chugging south along the Exe River as the city’s streets give way to the Exe Estuary – sheltered mud flats and reed gardens that stretch eight miles to the sea.
The railway line was built in 1846 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose unsuccessful vacuum propulsion system was referred to as the “Atmospheric Line”. And it’s atmospheric.
This is the year I get off at Starcross to see the remains of Brunel’s pump house, perhaps a mile to the Gothic grandeur of Powderham Castle.
Then I follow the South West Coast Path to the pretty fishing village of Cockwood and watch boats in the harbor while having lunch in front of the 450 year old Anchor Inn.
Then it’s back on the coastal path to the Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve. From here it leads past the dramatic Dawlish Cliffs and smugglers’ caves to the Georgian town of Teignmouth. I’ll check into The Ness, a historic cliff-top inn, to eat fresh seafood on the terrace and take in the coastal views. B&B costs from £ 150 per night (theness.co.uk)
Annabelle Thorpe – – The Isle of Skye
Dramatic landscape: Neist Point lighthouse on Skye
Jagged mountains, shimmering lakes, spectacular volcanic landscapes – since learning the Skye Boat Song in school, I’ve longed to visit Scotland’s most dramatic island. There always seemed to be something otherworldly – steeped in a history of warring clans, with castles rising between clouds of purple heather and green forest.
I spent days walking among the cliffs of Talisker Bay, paddling in the crystal clear seas at Glen Brittle Beach, exploring the glowing peaks of the Black Cuillins, and stopping at the Fairy Pools to dip my toe in the deep blue waters, that attracts visitors from all over the world.
But it’s not just the landscapes that call me to Skye. The island is famous for its seafood – creamy Dunvegan crabs, salty oysters, tender langoustines, lobsters and prawns. At noon I stopped at seafood huts on the water and returned at night to Kinloch Lodge, which belonged to one of the island’s original clans. There I would drink Talisker whiskey and eat juicy scallops and enjoy the knowledge that after 30 years of wanting, I finally made it “across the sea to Skye”.
B&B costs from £ 360 per night (kinloch-lodge.co.uk).