Best places to go in the UK

So often vacations in the UK stick to castles, cottages, camping and city breaks. To look at the UK from a fresh perspective, itís fun to revisit how we explored these islands in the past. The Victorians created the Caledonian Canal to link up the lochs so that they didnít have to sail around the UKís treacherous tip. It is now one of the countryís greatest places to vacation. Sail Scotlandís remote islands on a traditional wooden fishing boat to discover marine wildlife. Walk the Pilgrimsí Way in southern England, which people have trodden since prehistoric times. Or paddle around Pembrokeshire in Wales to forget time altogether. Here are a few of our favourite places to go in the UK that celebrate this travel heritage, while throwing some secret ingredients into the mix.
Cairngorms National Park

1. Cairngorms National Park

The UKís largest national park is a destination for outdoor activities, many of them based out of Aviemore. But it is walking vacations in the Cairngorms that really allow you to appreciate the Highlandsí mountain scenery, variety of landscapes Ė many of which are being excitingly restored Ė and the sheer sense of space.

2. Devon

Devon is a cheerful, charming corner of England renowned for its decadent cream teas. Here, you can walk across moody Dartmoor or a section of the South West Coast Path that leads you past smugglersí bays and expanses of sandy beach. You can take to the lovely Tarka Trail for a pedal on electric bikes, or the sea for a kayaking adventure ideal for energetic families.
Inner & Outer Hebrides

3. Inner & Outer Hebrides

The Hebrides are one of Scotlandís greatest vacation destinations. You can fill your days searching for their astounding wildlife, including whales and dolphins; visiting their prestigious whisky distilleries; exploring their pretty port towns, where fishermen tidy their nets; walking isolated bays where you wonít see a soul. You can get to the islands with just a hop, skip and a jump from the mainland Ė no flight needed.
Lake District

4. Lake District

With landscapes beloved and popularised by Beatrix Potter, the Lake Poets and Alfred Wainwright, the Lake District is Englandís most popular national park. Visit Kendal on a summer day, and youíll know it. But there are many areas around the Lake District that are less well-known, where you can find some space to yourself and where families can set off on activity vacations.
North Coast 500

5. North Coast 500

Named one of the top five coastal routes in the world, the North Coast 500 is a scenic journey around Scotlandís wild north coast, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. We recommend cycling the NC500, or walking it, rather than joining the many drivers who come from across Europe to tackle Scotlandís answer to Route 66. Week-long small group trips are the most sociable, motivational way to go.
Northern Ireland

6. Northern Ireland

Sadly, many peopleís perceptions of Northern Ireland still skew towards the Troubles. They are unaware of how beautiful the landscapes are, how welcoming people are to visitors, and how easy it is to get around Ė mountains, coasts, cities and glens are all within an hourís drive of each other. Go on a walking vacation to explore the Giantís Causeway and Mourne Mountains.

7. Orkney

From Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar to the Old Man of Hoy and the lighthouse at Westray, the Orkney archipelago is popular with walkers looking to escape the crowds. Just off the Scottish mainland and easily reached by ferry, the islands are also a haven for wildlife. Peregrine falcons fly in the sky above you, puffins preen on the cliffs, and thereís even the occasional whale off the coast.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

8. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Itís subjective, of course, but if we were ranking the UKís national parks by beauty alone, the Pembrokeshire Coast would surely be a contender for the top spot. A 300km walking trail, much of it across clifftop vantage points, runs along the coast, and you can kayak, surf and go coasteering with curious seals watching from a distance.
Pilgrimsí Way

9. Pilgrimsí Way

The historic Pilgrimsí Way stretches for almost 200km from Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent via Rochester Cathedral. One of Englandís most famous long-distance walking trails, immortalised by Chaucer, it has been followed by the faithful since the 12th century and combined with a number of other popular walking routes. Allow two weeks to finish it in one go.
Snowdonia National Park

10. Snowdonia National Park

Home to the tallest mountain in England and Wales, Snowdonia National Park is among the UKís finest walking destinations. You can choose a demanding trek such as the famous 14 Peaks route or a more sedate hike. But Snowdonia is also wonderful for cyclists, thrill-seekers, and even beach-lovers, thanks to some 35 beaches.
South Downs National Park

11. South Downs National Park

With the South Downs on our own doorstep, we’ll admit to some bias. But the UK’s youngest national park is a dynamic, diverse region where countryside meets coast, where England’s emerging wine growing scene thrives, and a 160km long-distance walking trail sweeps from west to east. There is any number of unique places to stay, as well as self-catering cottages in abundance.
West Highland Line

12. West Highland Line

Rail is the finest way to travel Scotland, exploring landscapes where roads donít venture and meandering along with plenty of time to take in the views. The West Highland Line travels the west coast, letting you leap off into the Hebrides and the wildly beautiful Scottish Highlands. It passes Ben Nevis, the Great Glen and Loch Lomond, linking you with the Kyle Line and the Caledonian Sleeper.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about UK or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Mikadun] [Cairngorms National Park: Thierry Gregorius] [Devon: Paavan B] [Inner & Outer Hebrides: Jeremy Stewardson] [Lake District : Dave Lowe] [North Coast 500: Neil Williamson] [Northern Ireland: Phil Aicken] [Orkney: Giulia Hetherington] [Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Preseli Venture] [Pilgrimsí Way: Mikael Leppa] [Snowdonia National Park: Neil Mark Thomas] [South Downs National Park: © Sam Knight] [West Highland Line: Connor Mollison]