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Official summer holiday season is almost upon us! And lo and behold, we’ve got the weather to match… so far. Pack your beach towels, your hiking boots, your fishing tackle (and maybe your rainy day games, just in case the real British summer decides to pay us a visit) and head off on your jollies!
Whether you’re bound by the school holidays or not, planning a summer break in the UK can take a lot of effort. Accommodation is often booked up months in advance and when you do manage to squeeze into one of our more celebrated resorts, the crowds can make your time away a little less peaceful than you intended.
These summer holiday destinations offer some really quaint places to stay including brick farmhouses, centuries-old thatched cottages, quiet bungalows and apartments overlooking historic market squares. Whatever style you favour, your wallet will thank you – as will your travelling companions. You’ll enjoy more living space, added privacy and amenities that you’re used to at home.
The heart of this charming North Yorkshire market town is its cobbled square. The former home of celebrated author James Herriot is located here and is now a public museum. Thirsk also provides some lovely walking terrain, either of the easy, flat variety, including the Blue Plaque Trail, or much longer rambles around neighbouring villages and into the stunning Yorkshire Dales. The spa town of Harrogate and the impressive medieval city of York are both within 45 minutes’ drive, and just an hour away you’ll find bustling Leeds, perfect for a shopping or theatre trip.
Named after a long-vanished deer park, picturesque Dereham is a charming summer holiday idea, home to a weekly market, the flint stone church of St Nicholas, and a history and archaeology museum. The town’s oldest building, Bishop Bonner’s Cottage, is also well worth a view. Visitors can catch a steam train and puff along the Mid Norfolk Railway or take the car out to visit the gorgeous Norfolk coast with its pretty towns and shoreline. The vibrant city of Norwich is around 15 miles away.
The County Down village of Hillsborough is home to the rather impressive Hillsborough Castle, a broad Georgian edifice still used by Queen Elizabeth on royal visits. There are 100 acres of grounds to explore and visitors can book guided tours of the state rooms. Also of interest is the tower of the Hillsborough artillery fort and several charming local pubs and eateries, including the inviting Plough Inn. This place makes a thoroughly pleasant summer holiday base and is only half an hour’s drive from the centre of Belfast.
This Cornish town is rather photogenically crowned by the remains of its Norman castle. Walkers love the town’s proximity to Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, as well as the pebbly shore at Crackington Haven beach, just half an hour away. You can easily lose a day chugging up and down the charming narrow-gauge Launceston Steam Railway and taking in the country views.
This Lincolnshire hub is full of cafés and antique shops where you can potter around until your heart’s content. It’s well worth a visit for its 18th and 19th-century architecture, the beautiful church of St Mary’s and its busy market days. It’s not far from the rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where you can walk, cycle or ride around on horseback. Plan a getaway to Horncastle and it might be the best summer holiday you’ve ever had!
This Perthshire town on the River Ericht is known for its raspberries, and even hosts the ‘World Jampionships’: a quirky competition to find the world’s best jam-maker! There’s a pretty riverside for walking, picnicking and fishing, and the elegant cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are reachable within an hour and a half by car. Sporty types can use Blairgowrie as a base to access Glenshee, where they can paraglide and mountain bike over the summer months.
The little town of Ashburton is perched on the southeastern edge of Dartmoor National Park, a veritable walker’s’ paradise. Visitors come to these parts for long meandering hikes, fishing and pony trekking, and if the seaside beckons, the glorious Devon coast isn’t far away.
Langport enjoys a gorgeous position slap bang in the Somerset Levels: a tranquil area brimming with plant and birdlife. You can enjoy a picnic by the River Parrett or take in the fantastic views of the town and the surrounding countryside from the top of the hill. Here, you’ll find All Saints’ Church, so you can take a pew and cool off after your walk whilst admiring the beautiful architecture. Langport is around half an hour’s drive from Glastonbury to the northeast and Taunton to the west.
It’s hard to imagine a more scenic summer holiday destination than this one. Fort Augustus occupies an enviable position at the southern tip of majestic Loch Ness, where the boat-lined Caledonian Canal begins. This place is simply heaven for cyclists and walkers, where you can take in the views along the Great Glen Way. Boat along the canal or around the Loch looking out for Nessie, and if you miss the bustle of town, you can be in Inverness in under an hour.
This historic university town prides itself on being the birthplace of Welsh rugby – check out the rugby ball monument on campus. Crafty folk will appreciate the exhibitions at the Welsh Quilt Centre and there’s also the Lampeter Food Festival – unmissable if you’re visiting in July. The lovely beaches lining Cardigan Bay are an easy drive away, as is the Brecon Beacons National Park.