Static caravans, fish and chips, fairground rides overlooking Victorian piers – the British holiday used to be a predictable affair which failed to appeal to many.
Then, 2020 arrived.
With many holidaymakers finding themselves grounded, exploring our own backyard has become the latest trend.
Brits are discovering there’s more to home holidaying than seaside rock and Helter Skelter slides. In fact, a study by Timetastic confirmed we’ve fallen head over heels with home turf – 73 per cent of Brits plan to holiday within the UK even after international travel restrictions are eased.
With this in mind, here are six unusual places to discover within the UK.
1 Swinton Druids Temple, Yorkshire
You’ve probably heard of Stonehenge – but what about Swinton Druids Temple? This arrangement of rocks looks similar to England’s most famous Neolithic stone circle and attracts groups of new-age pagans at the summer solstice.
Unlike Wiltshire’s prehistoric monument, the Swinton Druids Temple is a 200-year-old folly constructed by an eccentric landowner to channel the mysteries of ancient Britain. It is surrounded by lush shrubbery, and the arrangements create a unique atmosphere which is ideal for photo opportunities, eerie picnics and country walks.
This is one of many idyllic locations in rural Yorkshire, which also boasts the historic city of York, the metropoles of Leeds and Sheffield, plus charming towns such as Harrogate – and let’s not forget the breath-taking beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s possible to get great deals on city stays and wild country retreats in Yorkshire with sites such as Travelzoo.
2 Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses, Staffordshire
What’s better than visiting historic houses in the heart of England? Historic houses carved into cliffs could be quirky contenders.
At Kinver, in Staffordshire, houses are tucked into the sandstone cliffs. Unbelievably, these hideaways were occupied until the 1960s. Today, two have been restored to reflect their 1930s heyday – expect to see quaint rose gardens and chimneys emerging from the rock.
Kinver Edge is an attraction with great connections, too – nearby footpaths lead to Nanny’s Rock and boast panoramic views over the West Midlands.
3 The Shell Grotto, Kent
Britain is known for its Gothic cathedrals and luxuriously adorned stately homes. At the Shell Grotto, in Margate, our love of detailed décor takes on an entirely different form.
More than four million shells have been painstakingly arranged in this set of subterranean tunnels, creating a mosaic-like appearance which charms visitors. The debate about their origins and purpose seem to make the tunnels even more intriguing – some say it’s an ancient pagan temple, while others believe the mesmerising mosaics were arranged in the Victorian era.
4 Dolbadarn Castle Ruins, Snowdonia
Wales is an historic land steeped in legend and its most popular National Park – Snowdonia – attracts more than four million visitors each year. At Dolbadarn Castle on the edge of Snowdonia, it’s possible to experience the best of heritage and nature.
This picturesque structure benefits from stunning views over Llanberis Pass. It was constructed by King Llywelyn the Great in the 13th century. The information boards help visitors to appreciate the history, but the real star of the show is the glistening lake – Llyn Peris – which creates enviable photo opportunities behind the stone fortification.
5 St Ninian’s Tombolo, Shetland
Island stays are popular for international holidays – but of course, the UK has archipelago assets of its own.
The magnificent Shetland Islands perch 110 miles from the north of Scotland. Ferries run year-round from Aberdeen, transporting adventurous souls to some of the UK’s most peaceful locations.
Due to their remote location, the Shetland Islands are home to some of the most unspoilt beaches around – such as St Ninian’s Tombolo.
A tombolo is a beach maintained by wave action, and the St Ninian’s sands form the largest active beach of this kind in the UK. At low tide, it forges a distinctive sand bridge between two sections of coast.
6 Fingal’s Cave, Isle of Staffa
An unlikely contender for musical tourism, Fingal’s Cave is known for having influenced 1960s’ rockers Pink Floyd – as well as the likes of John Keats before them. Even Queen Victoria visited this otherworldly location.
The reason? Unique, hexagonally-jointed basalt formations which create natural acoustics. When waves brush the rocks, the cave seems to sing. To get there, book a journey by boat from the neighbouring islands of Iona and Mull.
Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Swinton Druids Temple by Sinjy and Sadie; (2) Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses by Quisnovus;(3) Shell Grotto in Margate, Kent by Grahamvphoto; (4) Castle Dolbadarn ruins by John Englart; (5) St Ninian’s Tombolo by nz_willowherb; (6) Fingal’s Cave by David Nunn