It’s true that London is a vibrant and exciting city and it’s also true that it rains a lot across the British Isles, but if you know where to go and what to explore and experience, you can happily leave the hustle and bustle behind and the weather won’t matter.
1. St. Ives, Cornwall
The beaches of Devon and Cornwall can rival any tropical paradise when the sun is out, but harbor town St. Ives—on the tip of Cornwall—is captivating at any time of the year.
St. Ives has four terrific beaches and famously good surf any time of year although the little shops and bars in the cobbled streets and the thriving arts scene are surely what make the place so irresistible. Little boats and their larger brothers bob about on the waves when the tide is in and tiny fishermen’s cottages seem to rub shoulders with the many galleries and studios all topped off by the town’s very own Tate Gallery.
There really is a wealth of bars and restaurants in the center although there is still something quite wholesome about eating a freshly prepared Cornish pasty from a paper bag while perched on the harbor wall just looking out at the sea. While you’re there, it’s worth exploring the nearby destinations of Penzance, Falmouth and Lands End.
If you’re looking for somewhere ‘not by the seaside,’ Cheltenham might tick all the boxes for you. There may not be white sandy beaches in Cheltenham but with the Cotswolds on your doorstep, who really cares?
As a base for a short break, this regency town has a lot to offer. From art galleries to the waterway museum, good shopping and interesting architecture, Cheltenham and the nearby town of Gloucester are teeming with things to do and see.
It’s easy to spend a lot of time eating and drinking as you will be spoilt for choice while you wander around the various Cotswold villages. Yellow stone cottages and village greens are plentiful while some of the villages have bubbling brooks and streams, some have souvenir shops and others are just picture postcard pretty—all are unarguably romantic though.
Broadway is one such village, boasting a pub apparently frequented by King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. It also offers well-kept cottages and assorted buildings that run alongside a village green complete with a myriad of gift shops and the obligatory tearooms.
Chipping Camden, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold are all different but similarly attractive with interesting buildings, markets and things to do and see—although the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds is a site worth seeing in itself.
3. The Isle of Wight
An island within an island and one that should not be missed, the Isle of Wight has a charm all of its own. It all starts as you get onto the ferry for the short hop across the sea to Cowes, the capital of this little island just off the coast in southern England. Cowes is a sailing town and various boats from tugs to sizeable yachts jostle for position in the wake of the big ferryboats as they pass by.
Once you disembark from the ferry, drive around the little island stopping off at any number of cute villages and bustling towns; wherever you decide to drop your anchor, you’ll never be far from the sea. Shanklyn Beachfront has an attractive array of beach bars and restaurants as well as a pub right on the sands.
Hilly Ventnor is also worth a visit while the smaller towns of Bembridge and St. Lawrence are charming too. Make sure that you don’t miss Alum Bay on the southwest tip of the island where you will be able to see the Needles Rocks and the Trinity Lighthouse
Years of history meet vibrant contemporary surroundings in Edinburgh. Take the Great Western railway out of St. Pancras Station all the way up through the backbone of England and into Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. If you are lucky, you’ll have a clear day and as you sit back and relax on the train, the views outside of the changing landscape are captivating.
The town itself is a wealth of old charm: the castle, the cobbled streets, the myriad of restaurants, cafes, museums and galleries are simply awesome. It’s worth arranging a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia while you are here too. Visit in September to get involved in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a celebration of arts and culture from all over with the occasional bagpiper thrown in for good measure.
Charming Bakewell is brimming with heritage, tradition and, of course, lots of Bakewell puddings. Head for the Derbyshire Dales and take in all that this marvellous part of England has to offer. It’s worth the trip just to stand on one of the hills looking out over the dales. The scenery itself in the Peak District is just stunning although the country houses, little villages and towns that lie about have a wealth of interest and history too.
There are too many festivals and events to mention that take place in the area throughout the year—some specific to their town or village. Worth seeing is Chatsworth house, stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, which stands proud on the horizon about 3 miles northeast of Bakewell.
Chatsworth is a stunning piece of original Tudor architecture. Its interior is full of scene-painted ceilings, carvings and restored antique furniture of the day surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens, which include fountains and cascades, monuments and bridges.
Great Britain can be a magical place to spend some holiday time. Come with friends and family and take in London Town for sure, but try to ensure that you visit some of our other towns and villages too—they’re definitely worth it.