2021 is officially the year of the staycation, which means it's high time to embrace all that Britain has to offer and plan a weekend jaunt somewhere closer to home. While the UK might not offer the same boundless blue skies and soaring temperatures as some of the European hotspots you've been drooling over, you'll find no shortage of bucolic countryside, rugged coastlines and impressive historical architecture. Here's our pick of the best UK weekend breaks to take in 2021.
A short break in the Lake District will restore and reinvigorate the weariest of city-dwellers. Spend your time hiking along world-famous walking routes, exploring charming market towns like Keswick and Ambleside and sampling local ales in one of the many cosy pubs. Literature lovers should pay a visit to William Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage in Grasmere, or book in a stay at Greta Hall, the former home of the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. In the summer months, be sure to make the most of the lakes with a spot of paddle boarding and wild swimming.
A city break to Bath will leave you feeling enriched and inspired, thanks to its overflowing wealth of culture. There's a slew of independent galleries and museums, a vibrant year-round festival scene and stunning Georgian architecture at every turn. It's the perfect place to while away a day or two just wandering around. Visit cool concept stores like Found, Nãm and Berdoulat, before indulging your inner gastronome at one of the city's foodie hot spots – be it fine dining at the Michelin-starred Olive Tree, a Sunday pub lunch at Garrick's Head or posh fish and chips at the Scallop Shell. Finally, be sure to carve some time out to experience Bath's incredible spa culture and bathe in Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters at Thermae Bath Spa.
The great outdoors are calling. Pull on your sturdiest pair of hiking boots, pack your rucksack and make your way to Scotland's wild and rugged West Highlands. The region extends from the town of Fort William in the west to the Great Moor of Rannoch (one of the most iconic Outlander filming locations), taking in the southern reaches of the Great Glen. The West Highland Way is the country's best loved long distance walking route, with no shortage of high, rocky mountains and deep glens to leave you in a state of awe. Wild camping is legal here, but if you're looking for something a bit more luxurious, book a stay at the gorgeous Net Store, on the shores of Loch Beag.
West Dorset's Bridport frequently garners comparisons to Notting Hill, thanks to its abundance of trendy bars and hotels, thriving cultural and arts scene and buzzy Saturday markets. See a show at elegant art deco cinema and theatre the Electric Palace, catch some live music at 18th century pub The Ropemakers or visit an exhibition at The Arts Centre. A short drive from the main town, the Anchor Inn offers top notch pub fare on the cliffs above Seatown Beach and Hive Beach Café in Burton Bradstock serves up excellent caught-on-the-day seafood. For somewhere stylish to rest your head at the end of a busy day, you can't look past The Bull Hotel, which is housed in a 16th-century coaching inn.
East Sussex is brimming with charming historical villages, but the ancient — and somewhat spooky — town of Lewes gets our vote. Famous for its elaborate Bonfire Night celebrations that include a torch-lit parade, impressive fireworks display and effigies being set alight, it attracts tens of thousands of visitors every November. But there's a lot to love about Lewes, no matter the time of year. Soak up its old-world charm and get lost amongst the higgledy-piggledy cobblestoned streets; browse the second-hand bookshops, antique and vintage stores along Cliffe High Street; and brush up on your historical knowledge at Lewes Castle, a stunning Norman castle that you can climb to the top of and look out across the town.
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