As I finally glimpse signs of no longer needing crutches (well, it is day 38!!), I can start to picture the places I want to go to and explore! I’ve been reading up on some places over the past few days which I’ll share with you later this week but I thought I’d tell of my 10 favourite places in the UK that I’d found so far.
1.The Lake District
I discovered the Lake District for the first time in May and oh. my. word!!! As I headed there on my UK road trip and could see mountains in the distance, I wondered what I was going to see. Lakes? Yes, probably! A mountain or two? Yes! But nothing prepared me for being in this huge area where you’ve only to turn a corner and have the most stunning view in front of you! The Lake District is a great place if you love hiking and there were clearly thousands of super fit people with their walking poles and even people like me can get wrapped up in the culture and want to get out to explore. I went on boat trips on Windermere and Ullswater, went to a jazz festival in Keswick, went in a hot tub at my stunning accommodation in Windermere, visited The World of Beatrix Potter and took so many photos! I watched the sunset over Windermere with a group of strangers, some armed with drones for their photos! As someone who’s never ranked the UK in terms of somewhere to holiday, the Lake District is somewhere I can’t wait to take hubby back to as he’s never been there either.
I’ve just entered the above photo in a photography competition but I also loved going to Surprise View in the shot below with Derwentwater stretching out in front.
Again, another discovery for me in the past 12 months (my past year has been super busy with venturing all over the country!). Yes, I’d seen Cotswold stone at Homebase but I didn’t realise that nearly every house in this charming area is made of the same type of stone that gives the many villages a quintessentially English charm. Castle Combe is often voted as one of England’s prettiest villages and I second that! It’s been used in many films and is somewhere you can imagine people being taken on horse-drawn carriages. And then there’s Arlington Row which is one of England’s most iconic row of cottages dating back to the 14th century. In fact, if you have a UK passport, you may well see an image of Arlington Row on one of the pages.
3. Alnwick, Northumberland
What more could you want than Alnwick Castle (the filming location for Harry Potter when he learnt to use his broomstick), a poison garden in which many of the plants could make you very ill (or worse) and a stunning treehouse restaurant?! Alnwick is about a 40 minute drive north of Newcastle and fairly close to the coast. This restaurant, which I’ve mentioned a few times in my blog, is THE number one place I want to take hubby to. I went in the early evening before it got dark and had the most incredible meal. But it’s when I left in dark and saw the wooden walkways lit up with fairy lights that just made it all even more magical. I cannot rate this place (and the castle, etc.) highly enough!
4. The Rollercoaster Restaurant, Alton Towers
On the subject of unusual restaurants, this has to rate pretty much up there. Although you can go to the restaurant as part of your day to the theme park, the restaurant is open after hours too and your food gets delivered by rollercoaster! Yes, you order it using a tablet and then wait for it to dart along the tracks above you onto your table. With the bright flashing lights, loud music and all-round bizarreness of the place, this was about having fun and doing something a bit out of the ordinary.
I love London full-stop! I love the buzz, the architecture, how there’s so much to do, the different cultures but it’s Borough Market that I adore most! Just a stone’s throw away from London Bridge train station, you find yourself surrounded by stalls selling food from all over the country. But I also discovered Canary Wharf. Do you think of it as just somewhere that business people go to do multi-million pound transactions in the glitzy skyscrapers? Go along on a quiet Sunday morning like I did and you’ll find a place with art installations, cafes offering a mouth-watering breakfast, shops in several underground malls, etc. I loved the tree made of traffic lights and the Crossrail roof garden. I loved the Six Public Clock display. And on top of all of this, you get 3 hours of free parking on a Sunday if you spend £10 in any of the shops or restaurants there. And, then if that isn’t enough, what about places like the view from the Greenwick Observatory, the British Museum, the Sky Garden…….and all the things including my actioned packed day in London earlier this year.
6. Wells, Somerset
Wells is England’s smallest city and a pure delight to go to! It really is small making all parts very accessible and has a stunning cathedral. I went on a rather drizzly day just before Easter when I stumbled across the choir’s last rehearsal of St. Luke’s Passion and the music filled every space! But Wells is also the filming location for films like Hot Fuzz which was good fun to go round and find some iconic scenes. Wells also has the oldest row of houses in Europe, just by the cathedral, in a street called Vicars Close. Nearby, you can go the Wookey Hole Caves which was brilliant fun….you might even find the resident witch there!
7. West Wittering Beach, West Sussex
Despite living in West Sussex for more than 22 years, I’d never gone to a beach that many people had told me about. Tucked away south of Chichester in the very south west corner of the county, this is a stunning sandy beach where you can capture sunset at the right time of the year. I say that as the car park closes in the evening but I went down there the day before we got the snow earlier this year and gritting my teeth through the bitter air paid dividends when I saw the sun descend. Nice!
And want to find somewhere in Sussex to capture sunrise, Beachy Head is the place to head to. It was a very early start as I left the house at 3.15am but I found other people who’d had the same idea and wanted to watch the sun rise over Eastbourne Pier. Beautiful!
I happened to work in Exeter last summer but it was first time I’d gone away alone overnight for many years and probably got me started on my adventures. I’d been to Exeter as a child as a great-uncle lived down there and many students I see in my job tell me about their plans to head down there for university. But I was keen to check out the city in the evening as well as work and I was struck by how it’s so compact. The city centre is full of beautiful architecture and I don’t know. It felt safe. That might sound a bit weird but it was my first time I’d gone out on my own for ages and the first time I could recall going to a restaurant asking for a table for one. But I loved the city’s charm. As our youngest child goes on various university open days next month, I was hoping that Exeter might be on the short list as I wouldn’t mind coming down time to time, not that I should be dictating university choices!
Another day; another city in the south west. In fact, I drove down to Bath and other places for the day as it’s only about 2.5 hours from where I live. A bit like Exeter, I loved how the city feels compact and there’s the beautiful architecture. But I loved the Roman baths! It felt a bit special being there and taking in all the history although I did feel a tad bit sorry for the 20-something guy dressed up as a Roman, clearly exhausted from a day of having his photo taken!
10. National Trust
Okay, so I cheat! We joined the National Trust last Christmas and have well and truly made good use of our membership and all the free parking. Not only were most of the car parks in the Lake District National Trust but the organisation means that you have so many days out without reaching for the purse. Castles, stately homes, parks, etc…..there’s so much choice all over the country! And for what it gives you, no wonder why the National Trust has more than 4,000,000 members.
Cornwall is on my list to hopefully go to over the next couple of months plus a handful of othr counties to visit until I can say I’ve been to all of England’s 48 counties since starting this bucket list……. so I’m sure that my top 10 list may evolve! Do you have favourite places in the UK? What’s at the top of your list? xx