When you think of a holiday or break, eyes are often cast to far-flung, tropical places, even if the time you have at your disposal is limited. It’s easy to forget just how many jewels there are in the UK’s crown.
An escape away from the hustle and bustle is often closer, and easier than many once assumed (this writer included). Unspoilt stretches of the coast are only a few hours away from the UK’s biggest cities, and often even less. It only takes a couple of days off at the weekend to immerse yourself in the lush countryside, contrasting culture and undiscovered history of a different part of the country. We’ve had a little look at five fantastic regions we think give you one of the best weekend breaks the UK can offer, and the great news is that one of our parks is never too far from these desirable destinations.
Cornwall is more than worth the relatively longer journey from most parts of the country. Worth the windy roads, you can even hop on a sleeper train via London to get you there by Saturday morning. The distinct culture of the county makes it one of the most contrasting and best destinations for a weekend break in the UK. Mile after mile of spotless beaches await you, with what must be some of country’s most clear blue sea.
Deserted coves dot the coastline, and there are endless enticing places for a surf. There are areas of national importance like Lands End, an attraction you must check out marking the UK’s endpoint. Culture past and present is waiting to be discovered. We’d recommend the Eden Project, the world’s largest indoor rainforest. You can also look into the Cornish language’s influence on the region at the National Trust’s Tintagel Old Post Office exhibition.
Dorset feels as if it’s the quieter, less championed sibling of nearby Devon, and yet it has everything in abundance to give visitors a great weekend break. With over half of the county labelled as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s an unrivalled place to explore mile after mile of rural life, a world away from congestion of the UK’s largest towns and cities.
To the south, the county’s coastline has also been given a label. The 95-mile-long Jurassic Coast has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the area around our Littlesea park is home to the unique Chesil Beach. A barrier beach, it actually sits separately from the shoreline and is a standout natural feature in this, a county awash with nature. You’ll also find the iconic Durdle Door along the coast, great for a picture with the family. If you fancy a weekend day out, head to Bournemouth, consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the UK.
Home to charm both by the sea and inland, Somerset is a lovely area to escape to for a weekend break. With over 25% of the county’s population concentrated in just three towns, Somerset is rural by nature and generally one of the quietest areas of the country- a world away from the daily grind of working life. A hilly place, the idyllic surroundings of the Blackdown, Mendip and Quantock Hills are picture-perfect, as is the vast Exmoor National Park.
For a day trip, head to Bath, another UNESCO World Heritage Site that makes this list. Fittingly named for its Roman Baths, it also offers unique Georgian architecture. Naturally, we’re massive fans of the county’s coastline to the north, with Minehead, Bridgewater Bay and Burnham-on-Sea each giving you a distinct flavour of the beautiful British coast. The incredible Cheddar Gorge will inspire you inshore, as will the quaint Glastonbury that is transformed once a year by its world-famous festival.
Kent will always be up there as one of the best weekend breaks. Its proximity to the capital city ties in perfectly with its renowned status as the Garden of England. As the closest part of the country to mainland Europe, this county offers variety in abundance. From the sweeping shores of the Thames estuary in the north to the banks of the English Channel in the south, you are guaranteed a relaxing couple of days away. Towns along the coast range from the upmarket, to the up-and-coming and the fully-fledged gentrified. (Margate, we’re looking at you.)
Rolling hills and beautiful scenery dots the landscape as you journey through the heart of Kent. It would be rude of us not to mention the beaches you can discover here too, with Dymchurch and Herne Bay being underrated gems. For a quality day out, head for Whitstable, where the bay sits pretty, and the food is something to savour. Naturally, historical sites are here in numbers too, with Leeds Castle a great place to stop off at on your way back home.
The largest of England’s counties, Yorkshire is big enough to host major cities of its own and some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole country. It’s an area that you can escape to in such little time from the largest of concrete jungles, ideal for a weekend break in the UK. And because we’re hungry, we’ll start off on the food. Is there a better place for quintessential British grub? We’re already imagining a sumptuous Sunday roast complete with, you guessed it, an authentic Yorkshire Pudding.
Keeping on the culinary front, there are also incredible breweries across the county, with John Smith’s in Tadcaster and Theakston in Masham favourites of our guests. When you’re done consuming, head for the coast and sample the sea breeze in Scarborough. Tie it in with a visit to Filey Beach if the weather is hospitable enough. You won’t be short of greenery either, with the North York Moors, the Dales and the Peak District all nestled within Yorkshire’s borders.