It’s been a long winter, so why not cheer yourself up by dreaming of a tranquil break? Here is a selection of sensational holidays to unsung but gorgeous countryside, far from the crowded honeypots.
When the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased this spring, most of us will be looking to book a holiday or weekend break and keen to enjoy sometime away from our homes. With foreign travel still looking uncertain, the British countryside and coast is likely to be busier than ever this spring and summer.
Avoid the crowds by planning a holiday with a difference in a less touristy location. Here is a selection of the best crowd-free escapes in the UK.
Best crowd-free holidays in the UK
Wild coast, Mull
The Isle of Mull has a 300-mile coastline, a population of under 3,000 and oodles of wilderness. Take a one-day wildlife tour and spot golden and white-tailed eagles, otters, seals and more. Stay at Achnacraig Cottage in the midst of all the glorious nowhere.
One-day wildlife tour, £60; naturescotland.com. Achnacraig Cottage (sleeps six) costs from £325 a week. isleofmullcottages.com/cottage/ achnacraig-cottage
Forgotten Hills, Denbighshire
There’s plenty for walkers to enjoy in North Wales beyond busy Snowdonia. Try out the generous network of footpaths along the upper Dee Valley, or the surprisingly remote moorland of the Berwyn range. Stay at The Landmark Trust’s Plas Uchaf, a glorious medieval ‘hall house’ above the Dee with easy access to the Photos: Berwyns. From £244 for four nights. landmarktrust.org.uk
Between shore and moor, Somerset
Get your seaside vibe on at Porlock Weir in Exmoor National Park. The bijou Locanda on the Weir hotel enjoys magnificent views over the 15th-century harbour, while local Exmoor Adventures offers everything from paddleboarding and kayaking to archery and mountain biking. From £350 for two nights B&B. locandaontheweir.co.uk
Secret beaches, Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a beach-hopper’s delight. Avoid the crowds at Barafundle and head for lesser-known gems such as Bullslaughter Bay and Mowingward Bay. At nearby Stackpole Under The Stars there are yurts, luxury pods and safari tents, and plenty of space to pitch your own tent. Glamping from £110 a night, camping £25 (for two). stackpoleunderthestars.wales
Great estates, Yorkshire
From the landscaped ‘wilderness’ of Hackfall Wood to the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, discovering North Yorkshire’s less-frequented parks is a joy. Trundle jauntily between them in the eDub – based near Knaresborough, it’s the world’s only classic VW campervan for hire that’s entirely battery-powered. The campervan is £149 per night (including campsite and recharging). edubtrips.co.uk
A leafy Eden, Powys
Seek out the quiet of the night in or around the Brecon Beacons National Park – one of only 18 Dark Sky Reserves on the planet – and go stargazing. Stay at Plas Bach eco-cabin and during the day you can enjoy its seven acres of sumptuous garden, woodland, orchards and fields. From £88 a night (sleeps two). canopyandstars.co.uk/britain/wales/powys/lower-house/plas-bach
A secluded retreat, Cornwall
The Roseland Peninsula is a ravishing corner of Cornwall yet most visitors rush to St Mawes and miss out on its tranquil interior. Hire a boat or take a sailing lesson on the picturesque Percuil River with Roseland Paddle and Sail. And stay in one of four pretty holiday cottages on the glorious Place Estate, with its manor house and church, at St Anthony-in-Roseland. From £378 a week. roselandcottages.co.uk
Simple pleasures of the peak, Derbyshire
Standing alone on the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate with magnificent Peak District views on every side, White Edge Lodge is a holiday cottage in the classic tradition, even down to the roll-top bath. Hire bikes from nearby Monsal Trail Cycle Hire (hassopstation.co.uk) and hit the family friendly cycle path following a former railway line. From £659 a week (sleeps five). 03448 002070, nationaltrust. org.uk/holidays/white-edge-lodge-derbyshire
Nest in the wilderness, Scottish Highlands
Head for the Cairngorms and you’ll find the Crofthouse on a farm in the remote fastnesses of the national park. Ideal for a large family, there’s the beautiful River Spey to explore and a separate studio thrown in free, where guests can paint, draw, sing, dance, or practice yoga to their heart’s content. It’s £786 a week (sleeps eight). myhighlandcroft.co.uk
A floating paradise, Devon
Fancy some time simply lounging around reading that book you never have time for, while rocking gently on water? Try Blackbird. Moored on a private lake in north Devon, it’s a brand new deluxe narrowboat just for two. Its “patchy mobile reception” and lack of internet make it perfect for a total escape. Four nights from £400. tregullandandco.co.uk
Railway retreat, Sutherland
The beautifully converted railway carriages at Rogart – one of the nation’s most remote railway stations – is in one of the least populated parts of Britain. This inspiring get-awayfrom-it-all destination comes with a nearby nature reserve and expanses of sandy beach beyond. The carriages are open from April to October; £58 a night (sleeps two) or £88 (sleeps four). sleeperzzz.com
A green escape, Northumberland
The hamlet of Greenhaugh is home to the Holly Bush, a 300-year-old drovers’ inn that ticks all the boxes: tasty locally sourced food, real log fire and wonderfully comfortable rooms. Nearby Kielder Water and Forest Park (visitkielder.com) offers everything from watersports and mountain biking to zip wires and zorbing. Double rooms from £95. hollybushinn.net