The British countryside has inspired painters, writers, and many other artists throughout the centuries. Today, escaping to the countryside is the dream of many city dwellers, so in this article we have listed some of the UK’s best-rated (and less crowded) rural destinations. You are guaranteed to find a place that tickles your fancy whether you are coming from the North, the capital, or the West of the country.
Tourists flock to Cumbria to explore the Lake District National Park, which is one of the finest examples of natural beauty in the United Kingdom. The attractive towns and villages of the area offer visitors the possibility to stay in charming cottages or in rural retreats.
However, if you want to beat the crowds and enjoy the peacefulness and splendor of the Cumbrian countryside, head to the Pennines, a spectacular mountain rage that rises almost 3,000 feet above sea level. This is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty made up of valleys, moorlands, limestone caves, and a few picturesque villages, like Alston or Garrigill, where visitors can stay overnight.
Although the Home Counties might be listed as one of Britain’s top tourist destinations, the area is not short of attractions, especially for lovers of rural life and traditional English heritage. Bedfordshire is home to several outstanding market towns, such as Ampthill, Biggleswade, and Sandy. Bedford itself has been a market town for over eight centuries. Woburn Abbey is also worth stopping by, as this fine estate is surrounded by 30 acres of carefully manicured gardens and by a 3,000-acre forest and deer park.
The Luton Hoo Hotel in Bedfordshire is a good base for visitors interested in touring around the Bedfordshire countryside. This 5-star hotel, golf resort, and spa is conveniently located a few miles away from Luton, although its location amidst 1,000 acres of woodlands means that the venue is perfect to escape the pressures of everyday life.
The Black Mountains
Located right at the border between England and Wales, the Black mountains are generally overlooked by tourists. Narrow valleys, ridges, hiking and cycling trails, medieval castles and priories, and delightful villages are some of the area’s attractions. The charming market town of Hay-on-Wye is a pleasant stop for those travelling to or from the Black Mountains. The town (also known as the United Kingdom’s book capital due to its large number of bookstores) offers an interesting range of accommodation options, which includes inns, lodges, hotels, and bed and breakfasts.
Other places worth visiting in the area include the town of Talgarth, where you can go pony trekking and gliding in and above the mountains, and Crickhowell, a quaint market town half way between the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park.
Blackpool Tower is an iconic Northern UK landmark, and if you’ve never been up it then this is the year to be brave.
The school holidays are approaching fast, so why not check out Blackpool hotels and treat the kids to a fun few days away?
There’s so much to experience up Blackpool Tower that it’s a full day destination in itself. It’s especially great for kids, but there really is something for all ages. It’s a genuinely family friendly place to enjoy.
For the thrill-seekers among you, with extra brave offspring, the Blackpool Tower Eye is an amazing experience for those with a head for heights. Zoom to the top of the tower in the lift, then step out onto the SkyWalk for vertical drop views, as well as far reaching views across Blackpool.
If the Blackpool Tower Eye isn’t thrilling enough for you then why not brave the Blackpool Tower Dungeon as well? This scare attraction is gentle enough for over eights to enjoy, so you don’t need to worry about the kids not sleeping that night!
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Speaking of sleeping, Travelodge has some great budget Blackpool hotels for you to choose from. Blackpool Central, Blackpool South Promenade and Blackpool South Shore are all in the heart of this busy seaside resort, and make a great base for any short Blackpool break.
All Travelodge Blackpool hotels offer family rooms for four, so you can all enjoy a comfortable night’s rest and relaxation after a day up the Tower.
If the Eye and the Dungeon aren’t enough to wear you out, Blackpool Tower also has its very own circus (check for show times, they will vary), as well as the huge (and hugely exciting for kids!) Jungle Jims indoor play area, and the world famous ballroom.
Wild and beautiful, civilized and friendly. Ever since Eric Idle sang that it was ‘The country where I want to be”, Finland has held a place in the hearts of Monty Python fans. Finland is an amazing country to visit for many reasons. Here are seven of the best ones.
The Northern Lights
The most spectacular light show on Earth, the Aurora Borealis can be clearly seen from Finland. Never forgotten, this unearthly display of charged particles reacting with solar winds lights up the sky in greens, pinks, reds and other colours, all in amazing patterns unique to each occurrence. The Northern Lights appear regularly in Finland, though they cannot be predicted. The most common months to see them are April-September.
Christmas in Finland
The Christmas season in Finland is a magical time, with a wealth of traditions that appeal to the nostalgia of visitors. Helsinki hosts the Santa Lucia Festival, which predates Christmas, being based on a pagan fertility celebration all mixed up with celebrating the life of a Christian saint. The St. Thomas Christmas Market is a wonder to behold, with its lovely Christmas lights and stalls selling all the gifts, food and drinks you could possibly want for the festive season. Best of all, the Santa Claus village is open all year round, with the chance to meet St. Nick himself, as well as his reindeer and helpers.
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Finland is a land of opposites. It has gorgeous hot summers with an average 23 degrees Celsius, perfect for making the most of the stunning scenery and walks, followed by a lovely sauna. Winters are crisp and snowy in the north, with winter sports aplenty. The temperature regularly reaches -20 degrees. Above the Arctic Circle there’s a night called ‘the polar night’ when the sun doesn’t rise at all and the opposite is true, of course, in the summer. Whatever type of holiday you’re looking for, from sunbathing to hiking or skiing or snuggling up with a hot chocolate in front of an open fire, Finland can supply it.
Outdoors all year round
This variation in the weather with four distinct seasons makes it an ideal holiday spot all year round. Check out the latest cruise offers from cruise.co.uk for some ideas. In the summer there are nature trails, saunas, hiking, cycling and any other kind of outdoor activity you fancy. In the winter there is skiing, dog sleigh rides, snowshoeing and snowboarding amongst other activities. There is never a reason to sit indoors, unless you want to!
[Photo courtesy of jackmac34/pixabay.com]
Finland has some fascinating wildlife due to its seasonal climate and geographic position. You can see much of it on nature trails, from fish to birds of prey. In the vast forests you can hire a guide to seek out that which interests you the most, or you can choose to sit comfortably in a specially set up hide to see if some of the country’s more timid inhabitants might make an appearance. Brown bears, wolves and elk roam freely, alongside 248 species of bird and many others.
You should always try new foods if you can and in Finland the sheer variety of meats and fish available means there’s certain to be several that you discover you love, unexpectedly sometimes! Finland serves up reindeer, horse and other meats that are more commonly found outside the UK and they’re delicious!
Finland is English speaking, so although you’re surrounded by a fascinating and very different culture you’ll have no problems getting across your needs, asking for directions or ordering another mulled wine.