The only families with firm holiday plans this summer are those who’ve decided to stay in their own back gardens. But as Britain slowly emerges from lockdown, there will be opportunities to travel and it’s likely that the UK will be our first port of call, giving us a chance to rediscover – or discover – the beauty of our own islands.
Where should you go? Guest writer Mark Hodson, of 101 UK Holidays, picks ten of the best family holidays in the UK to book once the restrictions are eased.
Take the kids on safari … in Kent
It might sound unlikely but you can really enjoy a thrilling wildlife safari in the Kentish countryside. Port Lympne near Hythe is owned by The Aspinall Foundation and is home to more than 900 rare and endangered animals including giraffe, rhino, gorillas and spectacled bears. There’s an inspiring choice of places to stay including a luxury hotel set in a manor house and Tiger Lodge and Lion Lodge where you are separated from the big cats by a single sheet of (very thick) glass.
Glamping in Wales
More than anywhere else in the UK, Wales seems to boast an extraordinary number of gorgeous, quirky places to stay where you can immerse yourselves in nature and gaze at the night sky. Sugar & Loaf has pulled together a glorious collection, including a converted hayloft in the Black Mountains with log fire, spa room and sauna, and a yurt near Hay-on-Wye with roll-top bath and wood-fired pizza oven.
Fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast
Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is best known to some as the backdrop of ITV’s Broadchurch, but for centuries it’s been famed as one of the best places in the country for beachcombing, with fossils and other treasures washed up from the Atlantic. There are new finds too including hip beach cafes where you can dine on fresh seafood. Bridport Cottages has a great range of self-catering properties.
New England style in Devon
If you crave a stylish break with zero formality, head to Babbacombe Bay in Devon where the stylish Cary Arms has a touch of New England charm. The ‘inn on the beach’ is a pet project of veteran hotelier Peter de Savary and his wife Lana and has a stunning spa and unpretentious gastro dining. Families should check into one of the seafront cottages which have their own outdoor dining terraces, gardens and BBQs.
Escape to the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons is among the country’s most appealing National Parks, yet only gets a quarter of the visitors of the Lake District. Go for the hiking, mountain biking, caving and rock climbing (you’ll find more than 1,200 miles of public rights of way) and discover charming villages, ancient castles and sensational stargazing. For the full wilderness experience, rent a cottage with Sykes Cottages.
Set sail in the Hebrides
The Western Isles of Scotland combines sensational natural beauty with rare wildlife experiences. You can explore them on an informal small-ship cruise with St Hilda Sea Adventures and introduce the kids to fishing, kayaking and hunts for dolphins, basking sharks, otters and sea eagles. The three ships sleep six, eight and eleven passengers and can be privately chartered by families.
Trevella Park, Cornwall
If you think you don’t like holiday parks, you need to take a look at Trevella near Crantock on the coast of Cornwall. You can sleep in a comfortable lodge, a safari tent, a caravan or a geodome. There is no organised entertainment, but lots of nature trails, two fishing lakes, an adventure playground and a heated outdoor swimming pool. The beach at Crantock is among the finest in Cornwall.
Boating on the Broads
Britain is home to vast networks of canals you can explore by boat, but the lazy family’s favourite option is the Norfolk Broads which is so flat that you won’t spend all day opening and closing locks. It’s a great place to unwind as you potter along at 5mph gazing at pretty thatched cottages and long stretches of reed marsh and woodland, and stopping at picturesque pubs. Rent a cruiser from Waterways Holidays.
Family adventure holidays
PGL – known as Parents Get Lost – is best known for its kids-only summer camps, but it also runs family adventure holidays across the UK. You’ll be offered a non-stop menu of exciting things to do such as raft-building, zip-lining, quad-biking and abseiling. It’s great value and a proven way for kids to develop self-confidence and independence and make new friends.
Stay on a farm
For worldly adults, this is one of the most underrated holidays of all time. Young children who have grown up in towns and cities can have their minds blown by staying on a farm, helping to bottle-feed lambs and milk cows, getting to know farming folk and seeing how the food they eat is produced. It can be life-changing, insanely good fun … and cheap. Holidaycottages.co.uk has a great selection of working farms where you can stay as a family, with a strong focus on Wales and the South West.