AWAY we go! With Boris Johnson giving the go-ahead for holidays in England, there’s been a surge in demand for staycations.
There’s more good news as swimming pools, outdoor gigs and gyms are on the way back, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-Budget saw VAT on food, accommodation and attractions slashed from 20 to five per cent.
And then there’s the Eat Out To Help Out discount which means we can save up to 50 per cent on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
All over Britain holiday fever is back in fashion.
In Scotland, caravan parks and cottages without shared facilities are opening, and the rest will follow from Wednesday.
Wales is preparing from Monday for stays in caravans and cottages while Ireland is open to tourists from July 20.
We have scoured the country to locate coastal gems for you, finding secluded beaches and coves, and with Sun Holidays from £9.50 back soon we have suggestions for parks nearby.
We’ve also picked out top fish & chip shops, ice cream parlours and great pub gardens . . . and have lots of tips for first-time campers.
Read on for your guide to the best Britain has to offer this summer. All we need now is some sun . . .
Porth Joke, Cornwall
KNOWN locally as Polly Joke, this hidden, private cove is nestled between the headlands that surround Newquay. Despite its proximity to the bustling tourist town, it’s surprisingly remote.
The beach is deeper than it is wide and backs on to a valley with a stream running through it.
At low tide there’s plenty of sand to enjoy as well as rock pools to explore. The water here is also shallow, so perfect for little ones to paddle in.
Take a walk along the clifftops and headlands and admire the fields and meadows bursting with wild flowers before descending on to the soft, golden sands. The views from the West Pentire Peninsula are spectacular.
Dogs are allowed on the beach but there is no lifeguard.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s Crantock Beach holiday park is just a gentle stroll from the spectacular sands and offers great views from the park itself.
North Landing, N Yorks
THE imposing chalk cliffs that flank the beach near Flamborough have an uncanny effect on this natural cove, with the waters an azure blue lagoon on a sunny day.
There is soft sand and pebbles as well as rock pools to discover at low tide.
It also had a starring role in the ITV smash hit Victoria, in which the young Queen enjoys a day out there with her husband Albert and children.
Keep an eye out for the local bird life, with cormorants, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and even puffins to spot.
The beach can be accessed via a paid car park where there are toilets and a small cafe. The descent to the beach is quite steep, which may be an issue for anyone with mobility problems.
Dogs are allowed on the beach but there is no lifeguard.
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Thornwick Bay Park is just a mile away and has star power of its own – it featured in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1.
PRONOUNCED “haze-bruh” this fabulous stretch of sandy beach on the Norfolk coast is home to a famous red and white lighthouse.
Dating from 1790, it is apparently the oldest working lighthouse in the UK and on some weekends in the summer it opens so you can climb the 96 steps for an amazing view of the beach and village.
The surrounding cliffs have been affected by coastal erosion and you can spot some of the attempts to keep the sea at bay at low tide.
From the beach itself there are miles of coastal paths to walk as well as footpaths to discover the surrounding area.
Dogs are allowed on the beach but there is no lifeguard.
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Caister-on-Sea park is half an hour’s drive from the beach and has been welcoming visitors since 1906. It’s new Adventure Village is due to open this year.
Whitesands Bay, Lothian
THIS rural, secluded beach features a stretch of fine, clean sand curving gently around the bay.
The bay faces east so it gets lots of early morning sunshine, making it perfect for those who enjoy a sea swim with soft sand and gently sloping waters.
Backed by grasslands filled with wild flowers and flanked by low-rise cliffs and rocky areas, it is relatively sheltered and good for surfing too in the right conditions.
There are interesting rock pools to explore at low tide, too.
You can access the beach from a grassy car parking area behind. A geology trail starts in the car park, and footpaths from the car park pass the old lime quarry areas and the former lime kilns.
Dogs are welcome on the beach but there is no lifeguard.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s Eyemouth Holiday Park is half an hour’s drive from Whitesands and there are plenty more charming fishing ports and breathtaking coasts to explore along the way. The park itself sits on a dramatic headland and has stunning sea views as well as three beaches nearby.
Presipe Bay, Pembrokes
DON’T forget to check your tide times before making the trip to Presipe Bay because outside of low tide there isn’t much beach available.
But when the tide is out, it is definitely worth a visit to this treasure of a beach on the wonderful Welsh coastline.
The stretch of golden sand near Tenby is accessed by 162 steep steps but it’s certainly worth it as you look at the rich red rock sandstone cliffs jutting out towards the sea.
It is very much secluded and a real gem of the Pembrokeshire coast – keep an eye on the ground as the surrounding cliffs are rich in fossils and you may find a treasure or two.
Dogs are allowed on the beach but there is no lifeguard.
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Lydstep Beach is around one-and-a-half miles from the bay and has easy access to the coastal walks in the national park.
It’s one of Haven’s smaller parks but still packs a punch with its very own bay with a sand and pebble beach and stunning sea views.
Fleet Lagoon, Dorset
MANY people have heard of Chesil Beach on the so-called Jurassic Coast but did you know that it doesn’t just join Portland and Abbotsbury?
There is also a bank of pebbles that arcs around the north-eastern edge of Lyme Bay.
This smaller body of water between the bank and the mainland is Fleet Lagoon.
Technically longer than Lake Windermere at 8½ miles, the waters are tidal and the views are breathtaking.
Its unique location means it is a haven for a huge range of birds, animals and plants, including many that are rare or endangered species, and it is listed as a site of special scientific interest as well as a special area of conservation.
While you may not want to swim here, and you definitely can’t fish here, the area is stunning for secluded walks.
STAY NEARBY: Head to the Haven park Weymouth Littlesea as it overlooks the lagoon and has direct access to coastal paths along to Chesil Bank.
White Park Bay, Antrim
ENJOY secluded relaxation on this gorgeous stretch of golden sand on Northern Ireland’s North Antrim Coast.
White Park Bay forms a white arc between two headlands on the coast. It’s the perfect place to relax on a warm summer day and is rarely busy.
The beach – owned by the National Trust – is also backed by ancient sand dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for a vast range of bird and animal life.
If you are lucky you might even spot the cows who roam the dunes with the job of keeping the grass short.
Thousands of exoskeletons of transparent sea cucumbers were spotted at the west end of White Park Bay recently.
Experts believe they are well out of their usual waters as they have only been recorded in Ireland a handful of times and normally live in very deep oceans.
STAY NEARBY: Hagans Leisure Causeway Coast Park at Ballycastle is just a ten-minute drive from the bay and sits in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.
Penhale Sands, Cornwall
JUST over a mile along the coast towards Newquay from Perranporth, Penhale Sands is a fantastic stretch of sandy beach in part of a special area of conservation.
It rarely feels busy, even in peak season, and can offer some excellent surfing conditions.
The waters here are also ideal for kayaking, canoeing and kite surfing and offer some excellent fishing, too.
The beach is backed by stunning dunes among which you’ll find the half-buried ruins of St Piran’s Oratory – a chapel thought to be one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain dating from the 6th Century.
It’s one of the few Cornwall beaches where dogs are allowed year-round and there is a lifeguard on duty.
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Perran Sands is just a mile from the beach and its unique beach houses have stunning sea views.
And these extra-special holiday homes sleeping up to six feature floor-to-ceiling windows, private hot tub, sun deck and garden.
Kingsdown Beach, Kent
THIS shingle beach near the costal town of Deal never normally gets busy and has plenty of benches for picnics.
At low tide, some areas of sand are exposed – as well as a chalk shelf that mirrors the gleaming cliffs.
The beach, backed by grassy scrubland, slopes off quite steeply and there are strong currents so the water is not ideal for swimming.
But the beach is great for getting away from the crowds and taking a solitary stroll. Seals are often spotted along this stretch of coastline and, on a clear day, you can see France.
There is no lifeguard here and dogs may be banned in high season – best check ahead. For a spot of lunch or drinks, there are three pubs nearby, including one right on the seafront.
There’s a purpose-built cycle track that will take you from the beach to nearby Deal, and a path in the other direction that takes you along to St Margaret’s Bay.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean Resorts St Margaret’s Bay is within walking distance and the calm atmosphere of its landscaped grounds is ideal for a relaxing family break.
Barricane Beach, Devon
KEEP a careful eye out as you stroll on the golden sands of Barricane Beach on the northern end of Woolacombe.
Beneath your feet could be exotic shells carried in by waves from the Caribbean.
The waters are clear and calm and the beach is never as busy as the nearby holiday hotspot.
As well as the golden sands, there is some shingle but the little bay surrounded by rocky outcrops is great for rockpooling and shell collecting.
Check the tides before you head off – it becomes a large natural pool at high tide.
Dogs are welcome on part of the beach but there is no lifeguard on duty.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean Resorts Ruda is a 15-minute drive from the beach and is set alongside stunning Croyde Bay beach.
The park is close to the picturesque village of Croyde and even has its own tranquil fishing lake to enjoy.
Top five ice cream sellers
- GELATO GUSTO, BRIGHTON: With two shops in the seaside city, expect unusual flavours and even an ice-cream burger served in a hot brioche bun. Tasty! (gelatogusto.com).
- MOOMAID OF ZENNOR, ST IVES: Made with milk from local dairy cows and Cornish clotted cream. Favourites include the Shipwreck made with sea salt ice cream, caramel and honeycomb (moomaidofzennor.com).
- ICE CREAM FARM, TATTENHALL: An entire theme park dedicated to icy treats with rides and attractions as well as tasty treats. Re-opens Monday (theicecreamfarm.co.uk).
- NOTARIANNI ICE CREAM, BLACKPOOL: A traditional gelato shop that has been serving holidaymakers for more than 90 years. Generous portions and a huge variety of toppings (notarianni.co.uk).
- MORELLI’S GELATO, BROADSTAIRS: Another gem, serving since 1932 on the front at Viking Bay (morellisgelato.com).
Top five fish and chips
- THE FISH SHED, EXETER: Part of the Darts Farm food hall, it serves uber-fresh fish and beef-dripping chips as well as lobster and scallops (dartsfarm.co.uk).
- PAPA’S FISH & CHIPS, CLEETHORPES: Great views and food at a family favourite on the pier (papasfishandchips.com).
- COLMANS FISH & CHIPS, SOUTH SHIELDS: Run by the same family for 94 years. Cod in their secret batter, scampi and line-caught haddock (colmansfishandchips. co.uk).
- HARBOUR LIGHTS, FALMOUTH: Enjoy line-caught hake and haddock as well as MSC cod, plus vegan options (harbourlights.co.uk).
- SHILLINGFORDS, NEATH: Serving all the favourites, sustainably- sourced, at bargain prices (shillingfordsfishand chips.co.uk).
We hand you the remote
IT’S not just our captivating coasts waiting to be explored this summer. There are plenty of secluded spots where you can relax in stunning natural surroundings.
Our heavenly countryside offers the perfect setting for post lockdown Brits to get away from it all. Here, we’ve picked the UK’s best remote treasures.
HARTSOP, LAKE DISTRICT: FOR spectacular scenery without the crowds, head to Hartsop – one of the Lake District’s lesser-known villages.
Located just over the Kirkstone Pass, it’s a great starting point for some socially distanced hill walks, including to the Angletarn Pikes and Hayeswater Gill. The hamlet is a conservation area with many listed 17th Century buildings to enjoy.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s White Cross Bay is on Windermere’s shore within easy reach of the fells.
LEWESDON HILL, DORSET: YOU’LL have to climb 297 metres to reach its summit, but the views from Lewesdon Hill are well worth the effort.
This Iron Age hill fort is Dorset’s highest point, rising above the town of Beaminster and the surrounding countryside. The spot was also the site for one of the Armada Beacons in 1588, used to warn of an impending attack by Spain.
Expect to be surrounded by beech trees, with views over Devon, Somerset and out to sea. In autumn, you can spot fascinating fungus on the beech and oak trees.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s West Bay is just 200 metres from the Jurassic Coast with its giant cliffs, fossils and gold sand beach.
EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK, DEVON: THIS vast, open moorland in north Devon and west Somerset stretches for some 267 square miles – so you are bound to find a spot of your own.
This is prime hiking terrain, with everything from short strolls to long-distance yomps through woodlands and heather-covered moorland. Look out for the Exmoor ponies that roam here – and for extra Instagram points explore the ancient Landacre Bridge.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s Ruda park is tucked away near the surfers’ paradise of Croyde Bay and a string of other sandy beaches.
BYRNESS, NORTHUMBERLAND: NORTHUMBERLAND is the most remote and least populated of all of England’s national parks – so it’s a good place to keep your distance from others.
The village of Byrness is the gateway to some less trodden walks, such as Ogre Hill and Windy Crag, where you can stop for a picnic and admire the crowdless view. It is also on the edge of Kielder Forest – with opportunities for spectacular stargazing from this Dark Sky Park complete with its own observatory.
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Haggerston Castle has oodles of outdoor space, including seven lakes, Italian gardens and acres of mature woodland.
LOCH TUMMEL, PERTHSHIRE: FLANKED by rising green hills, this long, narrow loch near Pitlochry is a majestic sight.
Instead of heading up to the Queen’s View Visitor Centre lookout point, admire the glistening water from one of the surrounding hiking and cycling trails, where you can find a quiet spot to yourself. To get closer to the loch itself, there are cycling routes along the quiet south shore road.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s Tummel Valley Holiday Park lies in secluded woodland on the banks of the River Tummel. Expect wild and spectacular views, plus good walking trails nearby.
DUNGENESS NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE, KENT: STROLL through the reserve and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re walking on the moon. Stretching as far as the eye can see, this is one of the largest shingle landscapes in the world.
It’s also a diverse habitat – packed with a vast array of flora and fauna.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s Romney Sands is a natural hideaway, close to the wildlife-filled marshes and a short stroll through the dunes to sandy beaches. There’s even a fishing lake on site for budding anglers.
ARNSIDE AND SILVERDALE, LANCS: ON the Lancashire/Cumbria border, with views of Morecambe Bay and the estuary, this is an often overlooked Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Finding a secluded spot is easy among the limestone cliffs, wildflower meadows and ancient woodland, where you can see an array of wildlife.
STAY NEARBY: Parkdean’s Regent Bay is just a short walk to Morecambe promenade with its huge sandy beach.
QUEEN ELIZABETH COUNTRY PARK, SOUTH DOWNS, HAMPSHIRE: WITH more than 20 miles of trails, plus meadows and woodlands, you’ll be able to find a secluded spot in this country park in the South Downs.
It’s ideal for families looking for everything from a short stroll or bike ride to a picnic beneath the trees or longer hike.
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Church Farm, near Bognor Regis, West Sussex, is within easy reach and has a lagoon with a nature reserve just next door.
GLENARIFF FOREST PARK, COUNTY ANTRIM: GO for a wander through Northern Ireland’s magical Glenariff Forest Park and discover the beautiful waterfalls tucked away in the reserve.
Take the Waterfall Walk marked trail through the river gorge and past the spectacular waterfalls along the way.
This route will take you through some stunning woodland scenery and the damp conditions make the place ideal for ferns, mosses and liverworts, with several rare species present.
STAY NEARBY: Hagans Leisure Causeway Coast is around half an hour by car from the Glenariff Forest park.
WAVENEY FOREST, NORFOLK: EXPLORE the beauty of the Broads from Fritton, a picturesque village south-west of Great Yarmouth surrounded by woodland and marshes.
There are wonderful walks to be had through Waveney Forest to the river and a pub and restaurant nearby. Stroll along the River Waveney and spot sights including the now deserted Fritton Marsh Drainage Mill
STAY NEARBY: Haven’s Wild Duck park is the company’s only woodland park with forest trails and secret wooded clearings to explore.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON CAMPING
WITH millions of us staying at home this summer, many are looking at camping for the first time.
We asked David Scotland, from Outdoor World Direct, for his tips for beginners that could come in handy. See outdoorworlddirect.co.uk.
- Research features and materials of tents before buying. Polycotton is ideal for spring, summer and autumn as it offers extra protection from condensation, retains heat in cooler environments and remains cooler in warmer conditions.
- Consider weight when purchasing a new tent. Are you going to walk a lot while carrying your tent? Go lightweight. Parking right next to your pitch? You can opt for a larger model for additional comfort.
- Choose a tent that is one to two berths bigger than you need. This will give you plenty of room for your belongings. Family tents with separate bedrooms are ideal. Maybe even opt for two separate tents.
- Don’t rely on just a sleeping bag. A sleeping bag by itself is going to make for a cold and uncomfortable experience. A camping mat is lightweight and does the job of adding a layer of insulation between you and the ground. For a more enjoyable experience, consider an air bed or treat yourself to a self-inflating mat.
- Select a sleeping bag that is designed for the summer. Sleeping bags typically have a seasonal rating (1-2, 2-3 or 3-4) and a comfort rating. 1-2 season sleeping bags are very small and lightweight and suitable for the warmest months only. 3-4 season sleeping bags are suitable for year-round use.
- Always do a test pitch a week before a camping trip. Tears and holes can occur and go unnoticed as your tent may have been damaged during transit or in storage. Test out new tents, too. It’s better to know your poles/pegs are missing before setting off.
Top five pub gardens
- THE OLD NEPTUNE, WHITSTABLE: Enjoy a pint at this ancient inn right on the beach. Watch the waves roll in and relax (thepubonthebeach.co.uk).
- THE OAST HOUSE, MANCHESTER: With oodles of space in the Spinningfields district, enjoy a cold pint and one of their signature hanging kebabs (theoasthouse.uk.com).
- TWEEDIES, GRASMERE: A huge garden with tables overlooking the fells, serving a dozen craft beers, ciders and perries as well as traditional food (tweediesgrasmere.com).
- FOX AND HOUNDS, BLIDWORTH BOTTOMS: With one of the largest gardens in Nottinghamshire, there’s plenty of space to enjoy a pint of real ale and pub grub (foxblidworth.co.uk).
- THE ANCHOR, WALBERSWICK: An acre of land to relax in at this lovely Suffolk pub – enjoy a pint and pizza from the wood-fired oven (anchoratwalberswick.com).
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