Since the expansion of the airline industry in the 1970’s, us Brits have become fanatical about foreign holidays, with an average of 66.5 million holidays taken abroad each year. But it hasn’t always been this way. Before the competitively priced package holiday was immortalised in the 1980’s, the majority of Britons were more than happy to potter down to the local beach for a week revelling in the balmy British summer. Nowadays however, the humble car journey has been replaced with a short haul to the Costa Del Sol, and the bucket and spade swapped for a Tequila Sunrise and a bottle of bronzer. OK, I’m generalising here, but you get the picture.
With this in mind, we’ve come up with five things that all Brits should do in the UK before they go abroad. For too long, our great country- with its wealth of history, culture and beauty spots- has been bested by bargain-bin holidays in the Med that offer a complete lack of the culture they lay claim to; we aim to change this. All we ask is that you endeavour to experience at least some of the UK attractions below before you hop-foot it aboard the next 737 to the Balearics. And if, after you’ve embarked on your jaunt round the UK, you decide it just isn’t for you, that’s fine; but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
1. Kayak in the Wye Valley
Considered one of the prettiest valleys in the UK, the Wye Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which straddles the borders of England and Wales in Herefordshire. Home to the invigorating River Wye, this sweeping emerald vale is awash with charming townships, ruined castles and dense woodlands, making it ideal for a romantic retreat. One of the best ways to see the valley is by boat, with many stretches of the river offering tranquil waters on which to float. Spend an afternoon rowing gently down this majestic waterway, exploring hidden jetties or stopping off at bankside pubs for a cool pint or two- what could be a better way to spend a summer’s day?
2. Travel from coast to coast
Us Brits really do benefit from the bite-size proportions of our fair isle. In a matter of hours, you can travel from the dizzying heights of the big smoke, to the heights of the Highlands- and back again. But the really exciting part comes when you start travelling horizontally, from coast to coast. Whether by car, by bike or by feet, a journey from East to West (or vice-versa) across Britain truly is an invigorating experience. In the North, keen hikers can tackle the Hadrian’s Wall Path, an 84 mile route retracing the steps of the romans, whilst cyclists will relish the challenge of the Way of the Roses; a 170 mile cycle route from Morecambe on the West Coast, to Brilington on the East.
3. Eat well, wherever you are
British food has been pigeonholed for decades as uninspiring and flavourless, which I’m sure you’ll agree, is a load of tosh. Granted, our culinary palette may not be quite as varied as other European countries, but if you’re in the know about where to find top nosh, there is some deliciousness to be had. Those of a sweet tooth should head to Grasmere, where you’ll find Grasmere Gingerbread, a charming bakery which has been producing batches of award-winning gingerbread since the 1850’s. Alternatively, chow down on some proper fish and chips in Norfolk, the seafood capital of the UK.
4. Twitch on Bempton Cliffs
Managed by the RSPB, the towering chalk cliffs of Bempton are an undisputed haven for wildlife. Here, on our very own North Sea cliffs, over 200,000 different seabirds come to nest each year. Enjoy a brisk, blustery walk atop the rugged headland, glassing the horizon for signs of Danish trawlers en-route to Dover, before settling in the grass for an afternoon in the company of these majestic birds. Expect to see any number of puffins, gannets and guillemots tussling for space on the sheer cliff face- just don’t forget the camera.
5. Play on a British beach with your kids
There’s nothing quite like a trip to the beach, and as we witnessed on a previous blog post, Britain has plenty of them. In my view, you’d be mad to go anywhere else to enjoy a beach holiday (because let’s face it, Spanish beaches are terrible). OK, British summers may have a reputation for being a bit temperamental, but after three years of consecutive heat waves, isn’t it about time we shrugged this stereotype off? Pay a visit to a British beach this summer with your kids, whether on holiday or not, to enjoy the spoils of our wonderful coastline.
The UK is so much more than just Big Ben and the London Eye, so pause before you book that reasonably priced package deal in lord-only-knows-where, think of this blog and ask yourselves: this year, why don’t we stay in Britain?