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Staycations | Girl About’s tried and tested favourite staycation holidays across the country

By Rebecca Miles – 1st December 2020

Staycation has been one of the words of the year in 2020 (and what a year it’s been…) and it looks like it’s here to stay for 2021.

Here at Girl About, we can’t get enough of staycations – the catchy name for holidays in your home country, and sometimes even taken in the most literal sense of meaning a holiday in your own home. While we’d rather get away for a few days and explore somewhere new, there is also a certain charm in taking a break to spend time on your home turf.

a staycation with rocky shoreline and Bamburgh Castle in the distance
Could this image of Bamburgh Castle be one of the most beautiful views in England?

And the best thing about staycations is that we’re extremely lucky to have such a wealth of holiday options in the UK. We’ve got beaches and national parks, forests and lakes, theme parks, resorts, villages and cities, all just a short car or train ride away.

According to the Ordnance Survey, mainland Great Britain has a staggering 17,819km of coastline (that’s a lot of beaches, coves and estuaries), then we’ve got 14 National Parks in the UK, 34 Areas Of National Beauty in England, four in Wales and eight in Northern Ireland, plus 40 National Scenic Areas in Scotland.

We are literally bursting with beautiful places to visit, which is why we’re dedicating the next month, across our website, social media and Travel Club, to the joy of a staycation. We’re starting closest to home and focusing on England this month; we’ll branch out to the rest of the UK down the line.

To kick things off, the Girl About blog squad and HQ team have shared their favourite staycation spots from across the country. These are our go-to places for everything from R&R and family fun to simply a change of scene.

The north of England

Starting in the north of the country and the Lake District, Megan (Girl About Rutland), recommends Castlerigg Hall camping, glamping and caravan site for its amazing views over Derwentwater. “We stayed in one of their caravans for a week and loved it,” she says.

Over in Northumberland, Victoria (Girl About Harrogate), highly rates the Lord Crewe Arms in the village of Blanchard, in Northumberland. So much more than just a decent pub, it’s a hotel dating from the 12th century, complete with great hall, turret bedrooms and a bar in its crypt, and was ideal for a weekend away with a friend.

Moving south from Northumberland into Yorkshire, Nat (Girl About North Yorkshire) loved the newly opened Coast & Camplight, a glamping site between Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, with views over Whitby Abbey. She stayed in September 2020 and loved its off-grid safari tents set among the woods and finished with lots of cosy, quirky touches.

Heading west to Cheshire, Jenny (Girl About Cheshire), is a big fan of the holiday cottages at Combermere Abbey, on the border with Shorpshire. B&B accommodation is available in the North Wing of the Abbey, while in its 1,000-acre grounds are 10 beautiful red-brick cottages. Close by are such attractions as Ironbridge Gorge, Alton Towers and Nantwich.

The Midlands

Moving into the middle of the country, Hoe Grange Holidays in the Peak District, between Bakewell and Ashbourne, gets a mention from Megan (Girl About Rutland) for its award-winning self-catering cabins and glamping. “They’ve won loads of awards for accessibility so are perfect if you have a less-able family member,” she says.

Just north of Birmingham lies New Hall Hotel on the edge of Sutton Coldfield. It’s a fabulous country manor house style hotel with lots of grounds to explore, says Emma (Girl About Hertfordshire). “It’s great for families with a very friendly welcoming service and is such a beautiful building.”

We now head east to the country’s smallest county Rutland and another recommendation from our Girl About there, Megan, this time for In The Stix, a glamping site close to the pretty market town of Oakham. Open seasonally, it has four off-grid custom-built geodesic domes, which unusually feature a second floor, meaning you can have some time and space away from the kids. “Just saying…,” says Megan.

Heading further east to Cambridgeshire and the edge of Fen country is Houghton Mill and Waterclose Meadows campsite, a small riverside campsite with four glamping pods run by the National Trust. My recommendation for a great value family break, the pods sleep up to four and cost from £50 a night. The surrounding countryside is great for long walks and bike rides under huge skies.

The south of England

On the edge of the Cotswolds and straddling Shakespeare country is the snug Fuzzy Duck pub with rooms at Armscote. Recommended by Molly (Girl About Derbyshire), it’s small, perfectly formed and family friendly. Set up by the creative director of Baylis & Harding, it celebrates indulgence – an ethos we can definitely get on board with.

Moving deeper into the Cotswolds, Sara (Girl About Surrey) recommends Dormy House, overlooking the pretty village of Broadway. “Dormy House is the coolest of the cool – farmhouse country chic!” she says.

“It offers the perfect blend of stylish, cosy and laid back, and the staff are wonderful! The spa is incredible (the outdoor hot tub beside the fire is something that dreams are made of), and both the restaurant and onsite pub are sublime, with really relaxed atmospheres and outstanding food and wine. Lastly, the rooms are divine; chic and incredibly comfortable. What’s not to love?” says Sara.

Another treat from Sara, moving south-west into Somerset, is the family-run Combe House Hotel. “It’s a real hidden gem nestled deep in the Somerset countryside,” she says.

“With low beams, log fires, a water wheel, cattle grids and beautiful gardens nestled among the Quantock Hills, it’s the perfect place for a West Country get away and to cut off from the outside world. Bring wellies and waterproofs and explore the whimsical meadow with its shallow stream a few footsteps away, or hike up the combe and soak in the views if the weather is kind. There is even a good chance you’ll spot a few wandering deer! The restaurant and bar offer high-end West Country food and the afternoon teas are highly recommended too!” says Sara.

Carrying on into north Devon is another recommendation from Jenny (Girl About Cheshire), this time for Strawfields, a smallholding with self-catering cottages, shepherd huts and a little campsite. Near the big sandy beaches of Woolacombe, Saunton, Croyde and Putsborough, it’s a tranquil, friendly place with lots for kids to explore and do.

Crossing Devon to its south coast, Sarah (Girl About Hampshire) recommends Traine Farm Holiday Cottages near the village of Wembury, just along from Plymouth. A mile from the beach, the converted barns are dog-friendly, have disabled access and sleep up to six – or of course, when we’re allowed, rent all four for a large gathering.

Last but not least, we head to Cornwall and the popular Watergate Bay Hotel, recommended by Sara (Girl About Surrey). “It invites you in with its comfortably cool seaside interior and beach chic vibe,” she says. “Perfectly set up for children within a stones’ throw of a vast sandy beach, a great kids club, children’s high tea and an excellent baby listening service, it makes the perfect family get away.”

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