Summer in the UK: Cumbria, the Tuscany of the North

July 24, 2013 at 12:45 AM

Over the last few weeks, we’ve brought you some great ideas for summer holidays close to home in the UK; after all, with the best July weather we have had since 2006, why deal with the hassle of airports, check-ins and changing your money? This week Beth Pipe whisks us off to the Lake District. With its undulating hills, breathtaking views, rich history and great rustic food and drink, Cumbria is Britain’s answer to Tuscany – and at just 4 hours drive from London, it’s pretty close, too!

Stay by stunning Lake Windermere

Stay by stunning Lake Windermere. Photo: Beth Pipe

Cumbria has many connections to the Romans, so why not consider a couple of weeks exploring the Lake District instead of traipsing all the way to Italy? For instance, one of our highest fells, High Street, was so named because the Romans used it as a transportation route – and the connections don’t end there.

Many people seem to imagine Cumbria as hard to get to, but in fact the beauty of this county is within easy reach. The West Coast Mainline will zoom you up to Oxenholme (Kendal), Penrith or Carlisle in 3 -4 hours from central London, and there are connections from all of those stations to the heart of the Lake District. And if you prefer to travel by car, then just head north on the M6; I promise you it gets really quiet north of Manchester.

So, what have we got to rival Tuscany then?

Last minute ideas for the May Bank Holiday weekend

May 23, 2013 at 12:48 AM

If half-term and May’s second bank holiday have crept up on you again, leaving you scrambling for ideas on where to take the kids and how to entertain them once you’re there – take a deep breathe, make a cup of tea and read on. With the ‘staycation’ the current “in” holidaying trend (recently promoted by everybody’s favourite animated plasticine characters, Wallace and Gromit), forget heading off to Europe and instead, look to what England has to offer.

Brighton Pavillion (Photo: Steve Slater/a>)

Brighton Pavillion. Photo: Steve Slater

Family festival time in Suffolk

May 21, 2013 at 7:23 AM
Latitude Festival

Photo by Latitude Festival

Are you looking for a family break this summer? Something a little different that will captivate the whole family? Then look no further than the Latitude Festival. Taking place in July in the beautiful county of Suffolk, this is the perfect opportunity to plan a family adventure where you’ll enjoy a weekend of music, theatre, comedy, literature and more. And after this cultural medley, you can take the time to explore the historic towns, pretty villages and gorgeous coastline that make up this spectacular county.

The Latitude festival takes place at Henham Park in Southwold, within acres of stunning countryside originally used as hunting land. There is a working farm and brewery, as well as walks and trails which allow you to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

With four main stages making up this cultural extravaganza, acts such as The Maccabees, Rudimental, Matt Corby and Lee Nelson will accompany performances from the likes of the National Theatre of Wales, The Royal Exchange Theatre and The National Gallery presenting the Titian experience. Latitude is literally jam-packed with entertainment, with something stemming from every genre! Explore Suffolk’s beauty, book a cottage, and enjoy planning your tailor-made break.

Going underground in the Peak District’s show caves

April 6, 2013 at 7:57 AM
Lady Bower, The Peak District

Lady Bower, The Peak District (Photo: DaveOnFlickr)

The Southern  area of the Peak District, known as White Peak, is well-known for its limestone hills that stretch as far as the eye can see; a natural geographic feature which makes the region popular for hill climbers and paragliders alike. The limestone and coal sedimentary rocks, which form most of the Peak District and date back to the Carboniferous period some 300 million years ago, have made the region a rich mining area for both coal and mineral veins including lead, silver, copper and tin which formed in the porous limestone rock.

But the limestone rock has also resulted in subterranean tunnels which predate the manmade excavations which would have started during the Roman occupation of Britain. Due to limestone’s porous and soluble nature, glacial meltwaters and water pouring off the Peak’s high ridges have not only carved deep valleys through the region but also found their way into and under the limestone rock, creating large natural cave formations.

Several of the larger and more accessible of these caves are now open as ‘show caves’, open to the public with guided tours of these mysterious and ancient caverns.

Say hello to spring with a bank holiday getaway

April 4, 2013 at 8:21 AM

After a very cold and long winter, what better way to welcome the warmer months than by enjoying a long weekend away, relaxing with family and friends. May is blessed with two bank holidays that allow you to enjoy an extended weekend getaway. Wherever you go for the May bank holiday weekends, finding excellent entertainment in the UK won’t be hard. Whether you want to take a well-earned break at the beach or in the countryside, if you’re looking for inspiration for a great bank holiday weekend, here are a few places you may want to consider visiting:

Fun for the whole family in Gwynedd County, Wales

Snowdonia National Park is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful walk (Photo:

Snowdonia National Park is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful walk (Photo:

If you’re looking for a holiday rental where you can unwind surrounded by magnificent mountains, cascading rivers, wooded valleys and wild moors, then the Welsh county of Gwynedd is the place to go. It lies in the North West of Wales and is home to the stunning Snowdonia National Park. When you’re not hiking, cycling or swimming in a mountain lake you can explore the gorgeous Cumbrian coast or visit historical sites like Bangor Cathedral, Plas Glyn y Weddw art gallery, or the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery. Visitors to Gwynedd County can enjoy some early May bank holiday fun at Caernarfon Castle. You’ll be able to travel back in time and meet medieval characters and participate in a variety of hands-on activities for the entire family. It’s not the only castle in Wales where you can enjoy some family fun during the early May bank holiday weekend. Caerphilly Castle and Raglan Castle will also be hosting some magical May Day entertainment.