Experience and enjoy a quintessential English break after lockdown...
Overseas travel may not be a sure thing this summer but if you’re looking forward to life after lockdown, now is the perfect time to start planning a staycation to one of Britain’s fabulous small towns.
Britain is blessed with some cracking coastlines, quaint historic towns and spectacular rural regions.
When the weather’s right (and it does happen occasionally!), it’s hard to beat the UK as a holiday destination.
So, without further ado, here are our 5 favourite small but spectacular UK towns.
UK towns to visit this summer
Beverley, East Yorkshire
Just a 20-minute drive from the dynamic city of Hull, Beverley offers a more sedate introduction to this underrated area of Yorkshire.
The market town, founded in AD 700, had its heyday during the Georgian period. It houses a good collection of handsome buildings and a wide selection of traditional pubs.
The main attraction in Beverley is the Minster, which towers over 160ft above the town and makes for an enjoyable morning exploration. Take the roof tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the building was constructed and how it’s still standing after more than 800 years, and see some of the oldest graffiti you’ll ever lay eyes on.
There are numerous walking trails you can follow throughout the town (get maps from the tourist information centre), but one of the joys of Beverley is simply wandering in and out of its independent stores, pubs and cafes.
Falmouth is often overlooked in favour of the Cornish coast’s biggest beauty spots. But let the crowds congregate elsewhere and book a weekend in this vibrant university town. Enjoy its many independent shops and bars, pretty little coves and some excellent accommodation.
Explore Pendennis Castle, get some seafaring history at the National Maritime Museum, and choose the pirate’s life on a boat trip across the mouth of the River Fal to St Mawes. Here you’ll find another fortification, along with cream teas in the village bakery.
For something altogether more relaxing, hole up in St Michaels hotel and spa and take advantage of its vast thermal pool and divine treatments.
Eyebrows were raised this year when this little Suffolk town made Tripadvisor’s ‘emerging destinations’ list for 2020, but there’s no need to snigger.
Ipswich is reported to be the oldest existing town in the UK, with historic buildings aplenty and hosts the largest free one-day music festival in the country. Plus, its location on the River Orwell gives it some natural appeal, too.
Christchurch Mansion is a highlight with its Tudor brick architecture and vast, hilly parkland. Inside the house, an incredible collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings will inspire your inner artist.
Another charming market town, Wallingford is one of the lesser-visited spots along the River Thames.
But with a ruined medieval castle dating back to 1067 and a pretty town centre, there’s plenty of reason to stick around for a night or two.
Independent eating, drinking and shopping opportunities abound here, as the town’s strong sense of community has helped local businesses thrive. Head to The Keep bar for a hand-crafted gin and tonic or cocktail, try new wines at Le Clos. For a superb meal, pop into the excellent Shellfish Cow seafood restaurant.
For walkers, the UK town offers plenty of beautiful trails. Take the Thames Path towards Benson and enjoy lunch at the Waterfront Cafe. Or follow the footpaths through residential areas west of the town and take a long hike to the quaint neighbouring village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.
Further afield, you could explore more traditional English villages such as Goring and Streatley, with its beautiful stretch of Thames and stunning walking trails into the hills.
Rye, East Sussex
The medieval town of Rye, perched on a hilltop, is so pretty you will hardly believe it’s real. When it comes to UK towns, you can’t get much better.
Amble around the picturesque old town and take your time to explore its pretty streets and alleyways. There are cobbled lanes, narrow passages, ‘secret’ steps and hidden areas of green.
Be sure to walk down the historic – and steep – Mermaid Street, spotting the quaint names, such as ‘The House Opposite’ and ‘The House with the Seat’. Then explore St Mary’s the Virgin church, stopping to look at the 16thcentury church tower clock, before heading down to the old harbour.
Rye is packed with great shops, selling everything from luxury goods, hand-made crafts, new and secondhand books and quality clothes. Fans of ceramics should visit Rye Pottery, while music lovers should head for Grammar School Records, which is sited in an historic 17thcentury grammar school.
For a peaceful stroll along quiet footpaths with open skies above and the chance to do a bit of nature spotting, head to the nearby Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Its shingle beaches, grassland, saltmarsh and reedbeds are the perfect habitat for a wide range of wildlife. The information centre will help discover what you’re seeing. There are also five bird-watching hides, three of which are wheelchair-accessible.
Rye is also just a few minutes away from one of England’s most famous beaches, Camber Sands, a two-mile-long playground for kitesurfers and beachlovers.
So which of these UK towns will you visit?