It’s that time of year again when the school bell rings for the last time and the kids have the whole summer to look forward to. This year, we think you’ll agree, the excitement to get away has never been bigger! However, with restrictions on foreign travel perpetually being enforced and lifted like a change in the wind, and the new stress-provoking security procedures to consider before and during your trip, perhaps 2021 will be the year of the ‘staycation’, particularly if you’ve got kids in tow.
As a parent, where can you go with the family to get back to nature, breathe in some cleansing fresh air, put smiles on your kids faces, create memories and enjoy some well-earned respite?
We’ve taken a look around the UK and below we share our ideas for the perfect family wellness escape, as well as what to pack to boost your self-rejuvenation and wellbeing.
One thing the UK has plenty of is beautiful and age-old forests. And surely the one that grabs the imagination of all kids and grown-ups alike is Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Spend a few days in a private wooden cabin surrounded by centuries old pine trees and explore and discover the flora and fauna of Robin Hood’s old stomping ground.
Learn the ways of a Forest Ranger by tracking animals, setting up camp, building fires, practicing survival techniques and having nightwalking adventures with night vision equipment. There are also miles of biking tracks and hiking trails to get the blood flowing.
And at the end of the day, relax in your very own hot tub, secluded and safe in the absorbing embrace of the woods.
THE SEA & COAST
I’ll tell you a secret: the UK has some of the most beautiful and untouched coastlines in the World. Yes, swimming may be for the brave as the water temperature is not that of the Mediterranean, but in terms of beauty and peacefulness, the UK offers real competition. And since when have kids cared if it’s cold?
The south west has some real gems. From Swanage to Exmouth there is the 95 mile long Jurassic Coast, where you literally stumble across 185million year old fossils. Just inland is the East Devon area of Outstanding beauty, filled with nature trails, cycling tracks, challenging coastline walks and excellent traditional pubs and restaurants.
The North Devon Coast also offers spectacular sandy beaches, hidden coves and an abundance of things to do for kids and big kids too. There are children play centres scattered around everywhere offering a wide range of games and events, historical battlefields and defences to explore, community beach clean days to give a helping hand, as well as nature trails, coastline walks, cycle routes and all watersports.
You’ll be in for a real surprise if you haven’t been before.
THE HILLS & LAKES
Yes, you guessed it. There is a reason The Lake District is world-famous, you know? And it’s not just Beatrix Potter, although we do have her to thank that it remains all-but untouched from the industrial world of man.
It is staggeringly beautiful. If you haven’t been before, maybe now is the time?
Aside from the natural rugged beauty and the pristine mirror-like lakes, there are activities to feed all appetites; sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, mountain-biking, hiking and trekking, nature trails, waterfalls, museums, galleries, bookshops, restaurants, pubs, and on and on.
You may be surprised that it isn’t going to burn a hole in your pocket either, there are hundreds of hotels geared toward families and the one we’ve chosen is a castle!
Augill Castle offers everything a family needs and as a result has been repeatedly awarded. It is also ideally located both as a relaxing haven and a starting point for your day's adventures. It is also an actual castle. You are guaranteed to put a smile on your family’s faces and create lifelong memories.
If you feel the need to enter another world altogether then you really must go to the Western Isles of Scotland. Getting there may take a long time, but it is the journey itself that first gets the imagination going and is a symbolic act of leaving your world and arriving in another. The ferry journey from the city of Oban out to the unknown will rip away the urban cobwebs.
All the islands have their charms with Skye being the most popular with international tourists. However, the Isle of Mull is our choice for at least a week-long escape. The colourful small fishing town of Tobermory, with its very own whiskey distillery, golf course and beautifully secluded natural harbour is a good place to stay. There are many locally run B&Bs, Hotels, private apartments, bungalows and more isolated traditional cottages to choose from.
From Tobermory, you can take whale and dolphin boat tours out to the mythical island of Staffa, home to Fingal’s Cave, or the tiny island of Iona which has its own surprises. Standing stones are dotted around the island adding further mystery and other-worldliness.
The island has challenging hills and mountains to climb, bike tracks, nature walks, lighthouse paths, forests, unbelievable valleys for camping, white sandy beaches and turquoise sea, waterfalls and lakes. And very little else. Oh, apart from the seals, puffins, eagles and other birds of prey, sunbathing highland cows, whales, and dolphins who might come into the bay to play. Being so far north, the summer days are long and on lucky occasions a glimpse of the northern lights can be had.
Like all of the islands, nature and the elements are in total control and we mere Humans are at their indomitable will. You will be tested.
The bottom line:
The UK has got some incredibly special places to visit and enjoy. Most of which are based in blissfully untouched nature with first-rate accommodation and facilities. Putting your and your loved ones' wellbeing first has never been easier. What's more, you don't need to learn any new lingo and people drive on the right side of the road.