So, as you may or may not know, we arrived back from our two year travels in July 2018 and we have been residing in the UK ever since. This has given us the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful places in our own country, places we didn't even know were on our own doorstep. It's safe to say we've made the most of our year back in the UK however, we've got some exciting plans for the future! Check how you too, can make the most of weekend breaks in the UK with our Best British Staycations...
Strawberryfield Park, Somerset
With our wedding anniversary fast approaching in May, we were kindly invited to check out these eco-friendly lodges at Strawberryfield Park. Perfectly located between Cheddar, the origin of cheddar cheese, and Wells, the smallest city in England. Living up north, we don’t often get a chance to explore the south of England - apart from Glastonbury Festival where Liam doesn’t see further than the fields - so we were excited to see what this place had to offer.
The start of our journey began at the supermarket and, if anyone knows Philippa, you’ll know how much she loves a supermarket shop, so being self-catering lodges, she jumped at the opportunity to stock up on the essentials (pizza and prosecco) and with a boot full of food, we started our journey down south. Now, heading down south on the Friday of bank holiday, also meant sitting in traffic for 5 hours so by the time we arrived, we were more than ready for some rest and relaxation.
Thankfully, being located outside of the main villages, meant we were greeted with tranquility. We quickly unpacked, cracked open the prosecco and jumped into the hot tub. Even your gowns are provided if it’s a little chilly when you get out. We then made dinner with ease with the well-stocked kitchen and luxury appliances - we could have definitely lived there for a while! We then took a short walk up to the top of the site to check out the cider and ale barn, we mingled with the locals whilst enjoying a rhubarb cider or two!
The next morning, to clear our prosecco heads, we took a peaceful stroll to the village of Cheddar and then hiked the 3 mile circular walk of Cheddar Gorge. Start the hike opposite the National Trust store (who will also provide you with a map if needed). It starts with a steep climb until it opens out with incredible views over the gorge, follow the well signposted trail as it heads down into the valley and up the other side. We sat here for a while to enjoy our picnic with views over the Cheddar reservoir. We followed the route down Jacobs Ladder - you must pay to go up Jacobs Ladder but if you do the route backwards like us, its free. We then sat outside one of the many pubs and enjoyed a pint of cider in the sunshine - we’d earnt it. Pick yourself up some cheese from the only shop which sells cheese actually made in Cheddar, or just go in for some tasters, before a stroll home. We totalled about 8 miles this day and enjoyed a soak in the hot tub before heading out for an evening meal.
The welcome pack in the lodge recommends nearby restaurants and we chose to take a short walk to the Rodney Stoke Inn, where we enjoyed homemade fishcakes and a steak, before enjoying a late night hot tub under the stars. The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in our robes out on the decking in the morning sunshine. We drove the short distance to the city of Wells, to check out the impressive cathedral and grab a coffee in one of the many coffee shops, before continuing our journey on to Glastonbury. Here we explored the hippy town before donning our hiking boots and heading up to the Tor. It’s a short and steep walk but boasts impressive views at the top. As you head down the other side you may find a pagan alter which will either enlighten or creep you out.
Finally, we enjoyed the live music at the cider and ale barn on Sunday before having a Prosecco and pizza party for two and fitting in one last glass or two in the hot tub.
Netherwood Hotel & Spa, Cumbria
In the bitterly cold February half term, we took a short break to the Lake District. But with different places we wanted to visit, we decided to make a base on the edge of the Lake District. Here lies the classic grade II listed mansion that is Netherwood Hotel and Spa, ideally situated as a gateway to the surrounding lakes. From here, we drove 40 mins north to spend one day shopping and visiting all things Peter Rabbit, such as Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's 17th century farmhouse.
The next day we drove 40 mins north to Coniston Water and spent the day hiking the old man of coniston. Starting the hike just opposite the Yewdale Inn, it’s a long hard hike to the top, nevermind battling against the elements of wind, rain and even some snow! Once at the trig point, it’s possible here to turn around and head back down to Coniston however, we decided to continue our journey, coming down the other side to the village of Torver, stopping for a quick pint and a bite to eat, before walking to back to Coniston, which was mainly lakeside. We racked up a total of 18km!
What better way to relax and ease our muscles after a long hike than with the thermal experience at the hotels spa. From just £20 per person, guests have 3 hours access to the hot tubs, steam rooms and relaxation areas including robes and towels. And when you can just about tear yourself away, take a short walk into the village for afternoon tea at the Hazelmere. Featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, we can’t deny that their scones are amongst some of the best!
Snowdonia National Park
Located in North Wales, Snowdonia National Park is a picturesque getaway for hikers and thrill-seekers alike. Here, there’s something for everyone. We were kindly invited to experience the world’s fastest zipline at Penrhyn Quarry - much to Philippa’s delight, you can read more about it here. Zipworld also offer other thrilling experiences such as quarry tours, treetop adventures and even their very own music festival on the 15th June (link). A short drive from here is the quaint town of Betws-y-Coed, known as the gateway to Snowdonia and a great place to start your Snowdonia trip. There’s plenty of accomodation options and a range of pubs and restaurants.
But one of the main attractions in Snowdonia National Park, is mount Snowdon itself. Standing at 1085m tall, it is the second highest mountain in the UK. Having hiked Mount Snowdon twice, once on a bitterly cold October day and once in a glorious April heatwave, it’s safe to say we love this hike come rain or shine. We took the Llanberis path both times as it’s said to be the easier route - though it’s still a tough 6-8 hour slog. Though if you can’t manage that or if you’re stuck for time, the Snowdon Railway will see you up there in 1 hour. Make sure to book in advance at busy times!