While many European destinations have given British holidaymakers the green light to return, concerns about the further spread of coronavirus and accompanying travel restrictions have led many to consider a staycation this summer.
Losses to the UK tourism industry as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic have been profound, but from 4 July hotels, restaurants and other attractions in certain parts of the UK have been given the go-ahead to reopen.
Here are 10 great places to visit this summer that will give this essential industry a welcome boost.
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From 4 July, hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, restaurants, cafes, museums and other attractions throughout England will be allowed to reopen their doors. Local councils and tourist boards are asking visitors to maintain social distancing, treat others with respect and take litter home with them.
If you haven’t visited Hadrian’s Wall until now, you’re in for a treat. Stretching 73 miles across some of England’s wildest countryside, work began on this Roman fortification in AD 122 – it was built by an estimated 15,000 men over a six-year period. Now a World Heritage site, it’s a magical place to visit. Like many attractions, visitors will need to book in advance for certain sections of the wall – check out the website for more information. Further up the coast is Bamburgh Castle, an intact castle with imposing views over the sweeping Northumbrian coastline; visitors are welcome here from 6 July. Stay at Layside, a collection of self-contained luxury rooms, which won a Bronze Award for Bed and Breakfast of the Year 2018 at the North East England Tourism Awards.
The Cornish coast has long been a major draw for UK holidaymakers, with 400 miles of glorious coastline – 158 of which are designated Heritage Coast – and no inland area more than 20 miles from the sea. Avoid the crowds at Porthcurno and St Ives beaches and instead head for the more secluded Pentire Steps and Portherras Cove for your sea and sand fix. Elsewhere, there’s the award-winning Eden Project, an eco-park with plants from around the globe. Stay at St Petroc’s Hotel, part of the Rick Stein dynasty, where you’re guaranteed a fish supper fit for a king.
While Essex has long been blighted by unfair stereotypes, those in the know have long understood that this county bordering the nation’s capital offers exceptional countryside, green marshlands and over 350 miles of coastline to enjoy. The Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty on the border with Suffolk is particularly bewitching and home to Constable Country – we recommend this walk along the bucolic River Stour which takes in Flatford Mill, the building made famous in Constable’s famed Hay Wain painting. In the northwest of the county, visitors can head to Audley End House and Gardens, one of England’s finest country houses. Stay at Milsoms House in Dedham, a contemporary country house holding four AA stars and one AA rosette for its restaurant. Here, guests can hire bicycles and canoes to explore the surrounding region at leisure.
As England’s largest National Park, Cumbria and the Lake District have long been a firm favourite with Brits and overseas visitors alike. At the peak of the coronavirus lockdown, tourist officials were asking visitors from elsewhere to stay away, but activity in the region is slowly returning. Outdoor activities are the name of the game here, with walking and cycling top of many visitors’ lists. Coniston Boating Centre is now open for boat hire, while outdoor pursuits company Adventure North West is taking bookings for activities such as kayaking, abseiling and archery. L’Enclume, Simon Rogan’s two Michelin-starred restaurant and rooms, is also taking bookings from July. Avoid traffic (and human) bottlenecks and find out about available car parking and toilet facilities while visiting by going to saferlakes.co.uk.
Dodge the crowds in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors and instead head west to Haworth Moor and Top Withens for a wild moorland walk. This is Brontë country, birthplace of the prolific sisters, and while the Parsonage where they grew up remains closed, the “wild and windy moors” remain open. The Pennine Way long distance footpath passes through this area, as does the Brontë Way, the Bradford Millennium Footpath and the Great Northern Trail, meaning plenty of options to roam. Elsewhere, Bradford’s grandiose Piece Hall is gradually reopening – and well worth a visit. Higher Scholes Cottage offers jaw-dropping views of the surrounding countryside and includes an outdoor hot tub.
Honey-coloured stone buildings, chocolate-box villages and rolling hills make the Cotswolds region extremely popular. Situated in the heart of the region, Sudeley Castle and Gardens is a 15th-century stately home complete with peacocks and no fewer than 10 gardens; it’s due to reopen on 20 July. The regal Blenheim Palace, on the edge of Oxford, is already open for visitors. Birthplace of Winston Churchill and a Unesco World Heritage Site, the sprawling grounds were created by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 16th century. And, for walkers, all 102 miles of the Cotswolds Way walking route await.
The New Forest
Covering parts of Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire, the New Forest National Park offers some of England’s most beautiful green space, which is also home to its famous wild ponies. With over 140 miles of car-free approved cycle trails, this is a great place for families who like to stay active. Fancy making your child’s year? Head to the award-winning Paulton’s Park Theme Park. With over 70 rides, the park is also home to Peppa Pig World. Stay at Chewton Glen, which has treehouse suites guaranteed to impress the little ones.
Self-contained accommodation is expected to reopen “safely and carefully” from 11 July. Included under the umbrella of self-contained accommodation are hotels “that are organised on a self-contained basis”, such as self-catering lets that can be hired in their entirety, cottages and static caravans. Outdoor tourist attractions will be open from 6 July, while bars, restaurants and cafes are expected to reopen from 13 July. At present, there is no information about when camping will be reinstated. A further announcement from the Welsh government is expected on 9 July.
Brecon Beacons lush National Park is a beautiful region to explore on foot or by bike at any time of year. The Taff Trail is a popular walking and cycle path running for 55 miles between Brecon and Cardiff Bay. So-named because it follows the course of the River Taff, the route is largely off-road and follows the National Cycle Network Route 8. The Park is also home to Pen-y-Fan, South Wales’ highest mountain. Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages are taking bookings from 13 July onwards – look out for Mayberry Cottage and Old Crofftau.
Hotels, pubs, restaurants, museums and cinemas are all due to reopen on 15 July, while self-catering properties are allowed as of 3 July.
The picturesque Scottish capital has long been an ideal destination for a weekend break, not least because of the mainline route connecting the rest of the country to its door (journeys from London and York take four and two hours respectively). While Edinburgh Castle and Scottish National Gallery remain closed, this is expected to change in mid-July. The Royal Botanic Gardens have reopened and active types can still clamber to the top of Arthur’s Seat. Rutland Square Residence, a 19th-century townhouse, is exquisitely furnished and home to luxurious one and two bedroom serviced apartments.
Loch Lomond and the Trossacks National Park has implemented a phased reopening from 3 July – and it’s a veritable wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts. Climb a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3,000ft), cycle, golf, hike or simply enjoy a peaceful cruise over the Loch where you can admire breath-taking scenery and look out for Scottish wildlife. Stay at Loch Lomond Lodge, which incorporates 23 individually styled cottages on the banks of the loch.
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