The best places for action adventure sports in Britain

From white-water rafting in Snowdonia to sea kayaking in the Highlands or flying high over the rolling hills of Surrey, Britain is home to an array of exciting action adventure sports. Now the UK is set to add a new, state-of-the-art inland surfing destination to its repertoire, with the opening of The Wave in Bristol this October. For those yearning for adventure, it marks another glorious spot to enjoy some adrenaline-fuelled action…

The Wave, Bristol

As the first destination in the northern hemisphere to [SW1] [PW2] use innovative Wavegarden Cove wave-making technology, the surf lake will feature up to 1,000 waves of different sizes and shapes every hour, making it suitable for all levels and abilities. That equates to a wave every 10 seconds, with heights varying from 50cm up to 1.8 metres! Specific parts of the 200-metre-long surfing lake, located in a rural area on the edge of Bristol and close to the M5 Motorway, will be dedicated to beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers.

The launch of The Wave is part of a wider project by founder Nick Hounsfield to bring surfing to more cities across the world, with the experience combining surfing with adventure and nature. High quality coaching can be provided to all guests, along with wetsuits and surfboards, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of surfing all year round. This should help to boost accessibility, as surfing at the site is not restricted by geographic location, the weather, swell conditions or tides. Adaptive surfing opportunities for those with a wide range of physical disabilities will also be available.

With a distinct focus on health and wellbeing, the site will also house a surf shop, an array of gardens and meadowlands, numerous peaceful hideaways and a family-friendly camping area.

The first wave of tickets goes on general sale on 20 August, covering the period from 25 October 2019 through until 4 March 2020. A one-hour surf session costs £40-£45 for adults and £30-£35 for children, depending on the time of year and day of the week. A two-hour surf session with coaching is priced at £55-£60 for adults and £45-£50 for children, with all equipment included.

Lee Valley White Water Centre, Hertfordshire

Developed for the London 2012 Olympic Games to host canoe slalom events and set in the picturesque beauty of the River Lee Country Park in Hertfordshire, the Lee Valley White Water Centre offers an abundance of different water sports. Easily accessible from London, visitors can try their hand at white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking, as well as a number of other activities including hydrospeeding, tubing, hot dogs (inflatable two-man kayaks) and paddleboarding.

Many of the activities need to be booked in advance and prices vary by activity, date and time. A White Water Raft Adventure costs from £50, although it can be purchased at a Super Save rate on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday during March, April, October and November. Peak pricing applies on Saturdays from May to September.

Zip World Velocity 2, North-West Wales

Take in breath-taking views of Snowdonia while soaring over the Penrhyn Quarry at speeds that could top 100mph on Velocity 2. The fastest zip line on the planet, and the longest in Europe at 1,555 metres, can be found at Zip World, near Bethesda in North Wales. The thrilling experience offers spectacular views of some of Wales’ most dramatic scenery.

Pre-booking is highly recommended. Velocity 2 is priced from £65 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; from £75 on Monday and Friday; and from £99 on weekends and Bank Holidays.

Kitesurfing/Kite Buggying, East Sussex

Learn the art of kitesurfing along the expanse of Camber Sands with expert help from The Kitesurf Centre. With its shallow shelving sands, small waves and consistent wind, the beach has ideal conditions and the school offers a range of courses for all abilities between March and September. Based at the eastern end of the beach, the centre offers one to five day courses, as well as coaching sessions and one-to-one private tuition with instructors that have a wealth of local knowledge. As one of three national training centres, guests can also try their hand at the exhilarating extreme sport of Kite Buggying. Involving a kite and a three-wheeled cart, it’s possible to achieve speeds of more than 50mph while racing along the beach.

A two-hour introduction to kite sports session is priced at £49. A one-day kite surfing course costs £99 on weekdays, rising to £119 at weekend. A five-day course costs £469. Kite Buggy sessions cost £59 for two-and-a-half-hours or £89 for four hours.

Sea Kayaking, Scottish Highlands

What better way to explore the striking landscapes of the Scottish coast than from aboard a sea kayak? From its base in a European Special Area of Conservation, Sea Kayak Scotland offers tailored lessons throughout the year for those wanting to give sea kayaking a go. Based on the Isle of Seil, around 30 minutes from Oban, the centre provides all of the equipment needed to take in the scenic beauty of the region. Guided trips and instructional courses are available for beginners, while hire is available for those with more experience. For those wanting a challenge, the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail offers a 500km route around the most scenic parts of the Highlands and Isles.

Tailor-made courses are priced from £60 per person for groups of five or more people, rising to £125 for one person on their own. Kayak hire costs from £50 per day, with one-piece paddle suits available for a daily charge of £10.

Paragliding, Surrey

Take to the skies and enjoy staggering views of the Surrey and London landscape on a tandem paragliding experience with Green Dragons. Jumps are made in harnesses attached to highly experienced qualified instructors and reach heights of 500ft, providing a new perspective on the stunning countryside below. Although jumps are dictated by weather conditions, the instructors alter the location and launch method to ensure an exhilarating experience.

A tandem flight costs £89 per person.

National White Water Rafting Centre, North Wales

Speed down the frantic natural rapids on the River Tryweryn in the heart of Snowdonia National Park at Wales’ National White Water Rafting Centre. Since the river is controlled by a dam at the Llyn Celyn reservoir, high flows provide an abundance of conditions that are ideal for white water activities. Water releases on the River Tryweryn happen on around 200 days every year and the centre is open whenever this takes place. Alongside full rafting sessions, there are also Rafting Safari sessions on the calmer lower parts of the river specifically designed for families with 10 and 11-year-old children (minimum age of 10 to be on the water). Alternatively, embark on a canyoning experience to climb, scramble, slide and swim down the cascading river while taking in the stunning surroundings of Wales’ largest national park.

White water rafting taster sessions cost from £37 per person. Wetsuits are available to hire for all activities for £5. The Rafting Safari costs from £49 per person, with a full rafting session priced from £67 per person, or from £320 per raft for groups (minimum of four people). Canyoning costs £56 per person.

Hangloose Adventure, Cornwall

Next to the famous Eden Project site, just 10 minutes from St Austell in Cornwall, Hangloose Adventure offers an array of adrenaline-fuelled activities. The Skywire is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience, enabling guests to fly down a 660 metre course at speeds of around 60mph, while seeing the Eden Project’s massive biomes from a new perspective. Tower over the site while tackling Skytrek, a new aerial trekking course featuring zip lines and a host of other elements, or get involved with Big Air, a test of nerves where individuals jump from towering platforms onto a giant bean bag below. Alternatively, guests can opt to be strapped in on Gravity, a 20-metre high giant cliff swing that overlooks the Eden Project site.

Skywire and Skytrek both cost £30, Gravity is priced at £20 and Big Air at £15. All prices are per person.

Adventure Parc Snowdonia (Surf Snowdonia), North-West Wales

Presenting an opportunity to surf inland in the heart of Snowdonia, Adventure Parc Snowdonia puts adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports top of the agenda. At the world’s first surf lagoon, visitors can get to grips with a range of waves, from gentle undulations for beginners up to advanced waves for the pros. Surrounded by the stunning natural landscapes of Snowdonia, Adrenaline Indoors hosts an array of new adventure features too, including one of the longest artificial caving courses in the world, Britain’s only kicker flight slide, a ninja parkour floor trail and climbing and racer walls.

A range of surfing options are available, from beginner classes and specialist classes for children up to advanced waves, three-day beginner courses and development days. Prices start from £40 for children and £50 for adults. Surfboard and wetsuit hire are available for £6. Indoor activities cost from £12. Stand up paddleboarding, coasteering, climbing and gorge walking are also available, starting from £35-£40.

The Canyoning Company, Scotland

Discover unforgettable canyoning experiences hidden within Scotland’s rugged landscape with the Canyoning Company. With several routes to choose from, the canyons include jumps ranging from two to 10 metres, numerous flumes, vertical rock slides and spectacular waterfall abseils. The Tummel Canyon route, found along the shores of Loch Tummel in Perthshire, is the newest to open – from summer 2018 – and includes an incredible 14 abseils to get pulses racing!

Canyoning experiences cost from £65 for children aged 12-15 and £70 for adults, and vary depending on the canyon route used. All equipment is included.

Windsurfing, Norfolk

Dive into the world of windsurfing with a half-day taster session near Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coast. With fantastic wind conditions and a suitable expanse of beach, it’s the ideal location to learn how to windsurf. Hunstanton Water Sports also runs progression sessions for those with more experience while kitesurfing and power kiting sessions are also available.

A three-hour windsurfing taster session costs £40. Kitesurfing is priced from £120 for a one-day course, rising to £289 for a three-day course. One-to-one tuition is available from £45 per hour.

Cardiff International White Water, Wales

Nestled in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff International White Water offers an abundance of exciting water sports from white water rafting through to stand up paddleboarding. Thrill seekers may want to ditch the raft in favour of a river board (similar to a body board) or practice their surfing on the indoor wave machine. There’s a number of exhilarating ways to complete the water course, while those wishing to stay dry can tackle the Air Trail, a set of high wire ropes that tower over the centre.

White water rafting costs from £40 per person and river boarding costs £55 per person. Visitors can ride the indoor wave from £22.50. The Air Trail costs £10.

Dive into Scotland's Coasts and Waters

Scotland’s varied coastline and inland waters in both urban and rural settings provide a wealth of exciting leisure and adventure opportunities all year round. In 2020, the country’s coasts and waters will be celebrated with a year-long programme of events that showcase the amazing array of aquatic things to see and do across Scotland.

Special events for 2020

A set of exciting events will put Scotland’s Coasts and Waters in the spotlight throughout 2020, including regular gems such as Crail Food Festival and the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy, as well as an expanded Clydebuilt Festival and The Fife Regatta. The Edinburgh International Film Festival will also run a special set of screenings called Scotland’s Shores, showcasing the nation’s spectacular coastal charms in addition to a special outdoor coastal experience.

Aberdeen’s position as a place to spot dolphins will be celebrated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds at DolphinFest 2020, while National Theatre of Scotland is developing a production called Ferry Tales to celebrate Scotland’s waters and the journeys made across them. Scotland’s Boat Show and Kip Marina will also showcase ‘River of Light’, a special event featuring numerous illuminated boats in October 2020.

The country’s lochs, rivers and canals have helped to shape the nation’s history and the provide visitors with a wealth of experiences from boat trips and adventure sports to wildlife watching and diving with large marine creatures. In addition to the many events planned to celebrate the year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters, visitors can navigate around Scotland’s many isles and waterways, dive in to the country’s maritime heritage and embrace its waterways as part of a range of seasonal activities to be enjoyed at different points throughout the year.

The Loch Ness 360 Trail

Connecting the Great Glen Way with the South Loch Ness Trail, the Loch Ness 360° Trail is a new long-distance walking and cycling route around the striking Loch Ness landscape. Covering a distance of circa 80 miles, it will take walkers around six days to complete the trail, although the route can be split up into sections for more manageable experiences. Taking in the city of Inverness, as well as Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston, Fort Augustus, Foyers and Dores, there are numerous spectacular sights and stopping points along the way. For those wanting to discover more about the history of the loch and the surrounding highlands, guided tours and bike hire are available. Look out for the splendour of Urquhart Castle and the Telford Bridge on-route, alongside the Falls of Foyers, where the water cascades 165ft down over the clifftop.

Water sports

With its unique mix of calm lochs, crashing waves and fast moving rapids in addition to more than 6,000 miles of coastline, Scotland’s waters are well-suited to an array of different water sports. Outdoor activity centres across the country offer everything from gentle introductory lessons to the toughest challenges, meaning there is something to suit all ages and abilities.

Diving and snorkelling

Scotland’s Coasts and Waters are home to wonderfully diverse marine life and numerous ship wrecks that are incredibly popular with divers. Nestled in the heart of the Orkney Islands, Scapa Flow is one of the largest sheltered anchorages in the world and is a graveyard of sunken ships. Explore the Sound of Mull with Lochaline or dive into the history of the Firth of Clyde on a Wreckspedition Dive Charter. Whether visitors are looking for day trips or even on-board accommodation on specialist dive boats, Scotland has a range of options to suit. The Puffin Dive Centre in Oban provides opportunities for beginners to discover the delights of scuba diving, while selected parts of the coasts of Berwickshire and the North West Highlands are designated snorkel trails, where visitors can catch a glimpse of everything from sea squirts and anemones to dolphins and whales.

Kayaking and canoeing

As a paradise for paddlers, both the inland and sea waters of Scotland are packed full of opportunities to try out kayaking and canoeing. The River Tay has conditions to suit both beginners and advanced kayakers, with both tandem and single craft available from Outdoors Explore. Alternatively, visitors can get to grips with a paddle on Britain’s largest body of fresh water at Loch Lomond, ably supported by Wild By Nature. Scotland’s eclectic coastline boasts an abundance of caves, cliffs, tunnels and secluded beaches to explore as part of a sea kayak adventure too. A range of day trips and multi-day expeditions allow visitors to uncover new sights, paddle alongside local wildlife and take in the region’s spectacular geography. The Orkney Sea Kayaking Association can help visitors to discover Orkney’s famous Old Man of Hoy while the Scottish Sea Kayaking Trail is a challenging 500km voyage around the most scenic parts of the Highlands and Isles.

White water rafting

The rivers of Scotland offer some of Britain’s most thrilling natural white water rafting experiences which can be enjoyed all year round by both first time rafters and adrenaline junkies. Calmer waters in the summer months are ideal for beginners, while challenging Grade 4 or 5 rafting follows the snow melts in early spring or periods of heavy rainfall. The River Findhorn in the Cairngorms National Park offers exceptional thrills and beautiful scenery, as the river drops 500ft over 18 miles. As one of Scotland’s last wild rivers, weather conditions often regulate which sections of the river can be used! The fast-flowing rapids of the River Tay are popular with thrill-seekers, while scheduled dam releases on the River Garry near Fort William provide highly graded waters from April to October.

Canyoning and coasteering

Whether leaping from rock ledges into natural pools or exploring shorelines without a boat, Scotland’s Coast and Waters offer plenty of exhilarating canyoning, gorge-walking and coasteering experiences. The country’s glens, forests and rivers provide a natural playground for an adventure trip that can be enjoyed by all the family. With support from qualified instructors and high-quality kit, it’s an opportunity to see the coastline from a new perspective.

St Ninian’s Isle on Shetland

Venture across a spectacular natural sand pathway to discover St Ninian’s Isle. The vast tombolo – a bar of sand and shingle – is the largest active feature of this type in Britain, and it provides a walking route to discover the historic remains of St Ninian’s Chapel, once the home of a Pictish treasure hoard that is now housed in museums across Scotland. Glance out over the rocky islets of Coar Holm and Inns Holm and see nature in all its glory.

Dolphin spotting - Banffshire Coast and Moray Firth

Known as the ‘Dolphin Coast’, the Banffshire Coast and Moray coast are renowned as being waters where visitors can see bottlenose dolphins in their natural environment. The colony of dolphins in the Moray Forth is the most northerly on earth and are among the biggest too, averaging nearly 4 metres in length. Chanonry Point near Fortrose and the imposing military fortification at Fort George are popular spots to spy on the dolphins from land, while chartered boat trips and wildlife cruises can take visitors on a memorable ride closer to the action.

Swim with basking sharks

Visitors can swim with the second largest fish on the planet during the summer months, as basking sharks are regularly spotted in waters off the west coast of Scotland. The huge species, growing up to 10 metres long, are placid, toothless creatures, meaning it’s possible to swim with them and a wide variety of other wildlife including dolphins and seals. Tours run from April to October, coinciding with the migration of the sharks to Scottish waters, and swimming, kayaking and snorkelling around the creatures is incredibly popular. Hotspots include around the coast of Oban, the Firth of Clyde and near the Isles of Coll, Canna and Tiree.

Isle of Jura

Explore the wild Isle of Jura, home to an award-winning distillery, incredible mountains, a swirling whirlpool and a thriving population of around 6000 wild deer. Tours of the Jura Distillery reveal how the island’s natural elements have influenced the production process while the Corryvreckan Whirlpool is among the largest permanent whirlpools on earth. Boat trips to the surrounding waters run regularly, allowing visitors to hear the incredible roar of the water.

Dip in the Firth of Forth

An annual custom since 1986, hundreds of people dive into the waters of the Firth of Forth in South Queensferry as part of Loony Dook. Often wearing fancy dress and all in the name of charity, the tradition to mark Hogmanay is viewed as a fresh way to start the new year. The name is an amalgamation of ‘Loony’ – short for lunatic – and ‘Dook’, a Scottish term for ‘dip’ or ‘bathe’. Visitors are welcome to take part in the custom or to cheer on the Dookers as they make their way down to the beach.

Surf the Atlantic

Scotland’s west coast features stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage and incredible surfing conditions as a result of strong prevailing south westerly winds. Thurso, on the northerly tip of the Scottish mainland, is renowned for its waves, while the Isle of Tiree provides abundant surfing conditions and is home to the Tiree Wave Classic in October, one of Britain’s premier windsurfing competitions.

Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa

Created some 60 million years ago by the same lava flows that were responsible for the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, Fingal’s Cave is home to an incredible set of volcanic basalt columns. Found on the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides, the 69-metre-high cave has astonishing acoustics and can be viewed from cruise vessels in the summer months. The island is dominated by seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, gannets and great skuas, while puffins use it as a breeding site between May and August.

Up Helly Aa

Celebrated on the last Tuesday of January every year, Up Helly Aa involves a set of marches that culminates in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. Held in the bustling seaport of Lerwick on the picturesque Shetland Isles, the celebration of the region’s Viking heritage is a superb spectacle as the fire festival lights up the night sky.

Road trip – England’s North West

As the autumn months roll round, thoughts turn to brisk walks in a countryside ablaze with colour, cosy dinners by log fires and exploring cities as they gear up for the festive season. And what’s a great way to experience all of this on one trip? Take to the road! It’s easy to travel by car around regions of Britain, as short journey times between urban and rural landscapes mean packing in a huge amount within a few days. Here we look at travelling through England’s north-west region, driving from the vibrant city of Manchester, through the spectacular landscapes of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and culminating at the historic city of Carlisle.

Journey length: 120 miles

DAY ONE

Take time to explore Manchester before you head out on the road. Love football? This is the home of two of the world’s most famous football teams; Manchester United and Manchester City. Book a tour at their stadiums and then head to the National Football Museum to learn more about the history of the beautiful game. Manchester is also a renowned cultural hotspot; head to its Northern Quarter, the city’s creative hub, to spot awesome murals and visit independent boutiques, bars and restaurants. Into museums and art galleries? Check out the city’s Whitworth Art Gallery and The Lowry as well as the Imperial War Museum North and HOME, a purpose-built centre for international contemporary art, film and theatre.

Visit before the end of 2018 for: the Manchester Literature Festival in October and the Manchester Animation Festival in November.

Drive 45 minutes from Manchester to…Samlesbury Hall

You’re now in the gorgeous Lancashire countryside, home to one of the county’s most beautiful stately homes; Samlesbury Hall, a half-timbered black and white medieval house. Discover centuries of history as you explore the Victorian kitchen and schoolroom and take time to enjoy the autumnal colours in its stunning grounds.

Visit before the end of 2018 for: Spooky tours led by characters such as Witch Janey and ghost-storytellers, throughout October and November.

Drive 30 minutes from Samlesbury Hall to the conservation village of Downham

Downham is one of the north-west’s most picturesque villages and sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its main charm is the gorgeous views from the village, unencumbered by apparent signs of modern life (satellite dishes, overhead wires, road signs). Downham has regularly featured as a filming location for period pieces.

Stay: At the Grade II-listed Assheton Arms gastro pub with rooms. Tuck into hearty meals created from local ingredients in its restaurant, complete with log fire.

DAY TWO

Drive 45 minutes from Downham to Haworth

You’ve crossed over from Lancashire into England’s largest county, Yorkshire, where you’ll be captivated by views that inspired literary classics Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Head to the attractive village of Haworth, home to the world-famous Bronte Parsonage Museum, which gives a fascinating insight into the lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte.

Visit before the end of 2018 for: a true taste of English eccentricity. In November, to mark the start of the festive season, Haworth hosts the quirky Pipes, Bows and Bells Weekend and Scroggling the Holly Weekend.

Drive an hour from Haworth to the village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

A pretty village that’s worth exploring, Malham is also a short walk from the incredible Malham Cove, once a glacier and now a gigantic rock amphitheatre with 80-metre high cliffs. Hike up the steps at this natural beauty spot and be rewarded with phenomenal views.

Stay: 30 minutes from Malham is the village of Austwick, home to The Traddock country house hotel, which dates to the 18th century and offers amazing views of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

DAY THREE

Drive 45 minutes from Austwick to the city of Lancaster.

You’re driving back into the county of Lancashire and heading to the heritage city of Lancaster. Explore the 1,000-year-old Lancaster Castle, the city’s secret alleyways, historic pubs and Georgian architecture before a spot of shopping in its quirky boutiques and independent art galleries. While you’re in town, journey across the Trail of the Pendle Witches, a driving trail of 45 miles that the  infamous Pendle Witches travelled from as they headed to Lancaster Castle to stand trial in the early 17th century.

Visit Lancaster before the end of 2018 for: Lancaster Live, a three-day music festival in October when the city comes alive with hundreds of musical performances.

Drive 45 minutes from Lancaster to Cartmel

In less than an hour’s drive from Lancaster you’re in the picturesque Lake District, where one of your first stops should be the ancient village of Cartmel. Not only is it famous for the 12th-century Cartmel Priory, but also for the delectable English sweet treat, sticky toffee pudding; pick up your own to take home at the Cartmel Village Shop.

Stay: Cartmel is also home to Michelin-star restaurant-with-rooms L’Enclume, where you’ll have an unforgettable meal created by chef Simon Rogan. Stay in one of its 16 bedrooms located in the village.

DAY FOUR

Drive 30 minutes from Cartmel to Bowness on Windermere

You’re now in the heart of the Lake District National Park at the towns of Windermere and Bowness and gorgeous lakes scenery. Catch those bright autumn colours from the water itself aboard Windermere Lake Cruises’ steamers. Children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter was one of the Lakes’ most famous residents and all ages can enjoy the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction.

Visit Bowness before the end of 2018 for: an exhibition by Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry at f Or drive 20 minutes into Kendal for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October and Kendal Mountain Festival in November.

Drive 45 minutes from Bowness-on-Windermere to Keswick

A lovely market town, Keswick is close to the lakes of Ullswater, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite; catch the beautiful autumn colours from the lake on board Ullswater Steamers. Or, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (also England’s last working slate mine). Climb the original miners’ route (the Via Ferrata Classic) an exposed adventure climbing course 1,200 feet/366 metres above the valley floor or take the bigger challenge by climbing the Via Ferrata Extreme!

Stay: Ten minutes from the centre of Keswick is Whinlatter, England’s only mountain forest and home to the Cottage in the Wood, a beautifully restored 17th-century restaurant-with-rooms.

DAY FIVE

Travel 45 minutes from Keswick to Carlisle

Known as the ‘Border City’, for its location just 15 minutes from England’s border with Scotland, Carlisle is a bustling city with a legendary history. Dating back to the Romans, who settled here to serve the forts of Hadrian’s Wall (just a 30-minute drive away), the city is home to artefacts of their occupation and influence, which can be seen at the Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery. And, for nine centuries, the medieval fortress Carlisle Castle has stood majestically overlooking the city; visit for a glimpse into medieval life and the castle’s turbulent past.

Visit before the end of 2018 for: the Carlisle Fireshow in November, one the largest of its kind in the north of England.

The Highs & Lows of London

From skyline spectaculars to subterranean secrets, London presents a raft of thrilling experiences to showcase its sights.

Up High

Sky Garden

The view across the capital from the stunning glass dome of 20 Fenchurch Church – which Londoners affectionately refer to as the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building – is jaw-droppingly awesome, delivering iconic views of the city and far beyond...and it’s all for free! Space is limited at its beautifully landscaped Sky Garden, so tickets must be booked online, but you can also soak up the views while enjoying fine dining at its Fenchurch Restaurant, Darwin Brasserie or Sky Pod Bar.  

ArcelorMittal Orbit

Soaring 114.5 metres high above the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture. Head up to its observation deck for a spectacular 60-degree view of London and the legendary sporting arenas of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (home of the London 2012 Olympics), including the impressive London Stadium, now home to West Ham United FC. That’s not all – with views of up to 20 miles across all angles of London, you’ll catch sight of famous London landmarks as well as five of London’s football grounds. And the best way to descend the Orbit? Via the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide where you’ll whizz down 178 metres.

Frank’s Café

A hidden gem in the buzzing south-east London neighbourhood of Peckham is Peckham Levels, a multi-purpose, artistic space created in a multi-storey car park that has also evolved into a foodie and nightlife destination. Head to the top-floor Frank’s Café for gorgeous panoramic views of the capital’s skyline while you enjoy a drink or two.

Greenwich Park

Head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Royal Maritime Greenwich for magnificent, sweeping views over the capital. Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park and outside the Royal Observatory you’ll find a fantastic viewpoint in front of the statue of General Wolfe that offers incredible vistas, taking in the beautiful architecture of the Royal Museums Greenwich buildings and the Old Royal Naval College, the River Thames and out across to the City of London. It’s also a perfect spot when the sun sets and the city lights illuminate the view.

Up at the O2

Yes, you’ll be climbing onto the actual roof of the iconic entertainment venue, but climb guides will be with you throughout the 90-minute climb and, as you reach the summit, 360° views over historic Greenwich, the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf await you; on a clear day you’ll be able to see 15 miles away. As well as daytime climbs, you can set off on this high-scale adventure as the sun sets or at night for extraordinary night-time views.

The Tower Viewing Gallery – Westminster Abbey

One of the newest ‘high points’ to launch in the capital, Westminster Cathedral has opened its recently refurbished Tower Viewing Gallery, standing 210 feet/64 metres above street level. Add to that an exhibition of stunning drawings illustrating the design and heritage of the Cathedral in its Viewing Gallery and ground floor lobby and you’ll gain a full sense of the tower’s perspective.

Also worth heading up for outstanding views: The View from the Shard, the London Eye, the Tower Bridge Exhibition, restaurants SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle, as well as the OXO Tower.

 

Down Below

The Mail Rail

Descend into the former engineering depot of Mail Rail – the one-hundred-year-old Post Office railway – and set off on a 15-minute underground exploration via miniature train into the original tunnel below Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office. The experience is fully immersive; you’ll discover original station platforms and secret parts of the underground railway that once transported mail through the capital.

Hidden London – London Transport Museum

Hidden London is the London Transport Museum’s exclusive programme of tours and events at disused stations and secret sites across the capital. It’s a fantastic chance to discover locations rarely seen by the public and experienced guides will divulge unique stories about the stations’ different histories along the way. Hidden London is offering tours between October and December 2018 at locations such as ‘Down Street: Churchill’s Secret Station’; ‘Euston: The Lost Tunnels’; and ‘Clapham South: Subterranean Shelter’.

The Vaults at Waterloo

Located in a maze of disused railway arches under Waterloo station, with some incredible street art right in front of you, The Vaults is a haven for immersive theatre and alternative arts. Check out its weird and wonderful programme of unique events that take place throughout the year; future events on the bill in 2018 include an immersive dining experience called Divine Proportions and a Hidden Jazz Club.

Churchill War Rooms

This underground bunker beneath the streets of Westminster was the secret location where Winston Churchill and his war cabinet planned the allied route to victory during the Second World War. Explore its intriguing maze of corridors and rooms, discovering where history was made, as well as visit its Churchill Museum to learn more about the wartime leader’s life.

Cahoots

Channelling a retro theme, Cahoots is a Soho-based bar where you’ll find delicious cocktails, sing-alongs and swing dancing, all housed in a disused Underground tube station and decorated to transport you back to post-war 1940s London. Drinks are all served in vintage milk bottles and tins, hip flasks and crockery that wouldn’t look out of place in your gran’s kitchen. Kitsch and fun, there’s also live music and entertaining experiences such as the ‘Squiffy Picnic’.

Silver Vaults Chancery Lane

Did you know that hidden on Chancery Lane between the City and the West End are London’s Silver Vaults, a subterranean labyrinth of antique silver dealers? It’s one of London’s most unusual shopping destinations; the underground location is home to 30 specialist silver retailers, selling British, international, and antique silver from every period, in every style. Whether you’re window shopping or looking to buy, it’s a lovely place to explore.

Also worth heading down to: St Paul’s Cathedral Crypt, the Greenwich & Woolwich Foot Tunnels and bars such as WC Clapham and Basement Sate.

 

 

Ten cool and unique ways to see Britain’s cities

Searching for an alternative to a walking tour of Britain’s cities? Here’s how you can turn city sightseeing into an immersive experience, whether it’s via watersports, from the sky…or even in a hot tub!

In a hot tub – London

Yes, you read that correctly – you can now step into a freshwater hot tub that sails down London’s River Thames, passing by some of the capital’s most iconic sights. The 90-minute HotTug experience sets sail from two different locations; its original site in Angel, north London, takes you through the cute and calm waterways of Regent’s Canal and, just last month, a new experience launched in the Docklands area around Canary Wharf/West India Quay. Book the VIP Experience and receive sailors’ hats, robe and towel rental and an essential ice bucket to keep drinks cool.

Kayaking by night – London

London’s landmarks are emblazoned with light come nightfall, delivering an atmospheric glow as you view them from double kayaks on the River Thames. On board the Night Kayak Tour you’ll paddle past the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge, a journey that takes you from pretty Battersea and ends in the historic maritime neighbourhood of Greenwich. Waterproof clothing, paddles, buoyancy aids – and instructors – are included.

By group cycle – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Chat face-to-face with your friends at the same time as cycling around Northern Ireland’s capital, on a specially adapted cycle with Wee Toast Tours – and enjoy a drink or two en route! An hour or two allows you to cruise around the city centre at gentle speeds, taking in such sights as City Hall and the Opera House. Wee Toast Tours also offers a Cathedral Quarter tour, through Belfast’s cultural heart, and will soon be launching a tour of the Titanic Quarter, home to the world-famous Titanic Museum, SS Nomadic and HMS Caroline.

Stand-up paddleboarding – Bristol, south-west England

Bristol is renowned for its historic harbours and waterways but why not explore its iconic waterside  via the contemporary watersport of stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Bristol? The professional team there will show you the ropes and take you out to float past Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the historic dockside and the multi-coloured houses of the leafy and elegant neighbourhood of Clifton – as the sun rises is a particularly lovely time to head out.

Singing in the back of a taxi – London

Black cab taxi driver – and professional singer – Aiden Kent had been driving customers around London for 20 years when he decided to combine his love for singing with his love for performing. The ‘Singing Cabbie’ fitted out his cab with a red carpet, Italian red leather seats and a bottle of champagne for guests, and a specially-adapted PA system to experience an extraordinary performance as you zip past London’s sights.

From a bird’s eye perspective – Cardiff, south Wales

Wales’ capital is packed with legendary landmarks – and one thrilling way to experience them is from the air! Hover Helicopters fly you to more than 1,000 ft/300 metres above Cardiff and over the Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Castle and the majestic Principality Stadium. Flights take place between March and October and the company can also take you over south Wales and its striking coastline. City skyline flights are also available over Manchester and Liverpool in north-west England.

On a ghostly tour – Edinburgh, Scotland

Enjoy the thrill of a fright? Ghost Bus Tours in Scotland’s capital takes you on a spooky theatrical experience around one of the UK’s most haunted cities, on board a classic 1960s Routemaster bus. Both entertaining and educational – it’s billed as a comedy horror show – you’ll learn all about the city’s former grisly sites where historic executions took place and hear eerie tales of supernatural occurrences.

Out on the river – Liverpool, north-west England

The legendary landmarks of Liverpool – the Liver Building, Albert Dock and the two stunning cathedrals that tower above the city skyline – can be seen from a different perspective from the River Mersey, on board the Dazzle Ferry, itself an attractive sight. The ferry was created by Sir Peter Blake, as part of the First World War centenary commemorations, with the design commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, 14–18 NOW the First World War Centenary Art Commissions, and Tate Liverpool in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool. Learn about the city as well as the history behind the ‘dazzle’ ship.

On the run – London

Don’t just walk around London – run through it! City Jogging Tours offers both specially designed tours or customised versions; all you need to do is bring your running shoes and be ready to explore. An experienced guide leads you to the city’s attractions and the tours cater for all running abilities, from newcomers to endurance runners. A great way to keep fit and fit in essential sightseeing.

Meandering through canals – Birmingham, central England

Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice and that they are lined with beautifully restored industrial heritage landmarks and intriguing contemporary buildings? See all of this on board a canal boat tour; there are several to choose from, ranging from tours of the more modern developments of Birmingham to the city’s pretty suburbs and out further into the countryside.

 

Discover North Wales’ coastal resorts

Whether you want to hit the surf, chill out on secluded beaches, savour ice-creams while strolling along Victorian piers, marvel at medieval castles, or simply soak up the sun this summer, you’ll find it all on north Wales’ gorgeous coast. It’s also the perfect location to team up with a city break in Manchester or Liverpool in north-west England, which are both around an hour’s drive from North Wales.

 

Anglesey

A unique island just off the coast of north Wales, Anglesey is surrounded by 125 miles of coastline that just begs to be explored. Bring sturdy shoes to walk the Isle of Anglesey Coast Path, or take a more laid-back approach and relax on its scores of beaches. Pack up a picnic and head to sheltered bays such as Lligwy Bay – also a popular spot for seal- and dolphin-sightings – gaze out over to the peaks of Snowdonia from Llanddwyn Island, walk for miles with your toes in the sand at Red Wharf Bay, or enjoy the crystal clear waters at Benllech. A visit here, and you’ll understand why the coastal zone of Anglesey is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which also incorporates the town of Holyhead, itself currently in the throes of exciting marina and leisure redevelopment with the Holyhead Waterfront regeneration.

The island is also home to Beaumaris, a pretty seaside town that’s home to architecture stretching from the medieval era to the Edwardian, cute cottages and a historic pier. Standing majestically within the town is the last of medieval King Edward I’s ‘iron ring of castles’; Beaumaris Castle is a World Heritage site and a must-see on a trip to Anglesey. And why not challenge yourself with learning how to say the name of the village that’s the longest in Europe –  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – it’s right here in Anglesey.

Go this summer for: Tour de Mon cycle race (19 August), Beaumaris Food Festival (1-2 September)

Where to stay:

Hotel: The French chateau-style Chateau Rhianfa combines a romantic history with stunning design, its waterside location affording awesome views over to Snowdonia’s peaks.

Historic Inn: An 18th-century inn, The Bull is found in the lovely town of Llangefni – spoil yourself and check into its Lloyd George Room with four-poster bed and roll-top bath.

B&B: Right on the promenade at Benllech Beach, Sea View House is a cute Victorian B&B with its own Pebble Bistro overlooking the beach.

 

Llandudno and Conwy

If you’re looking for a quintessential British seaside resort, you’ve found it at Llandudno, which has been a popular retreat since the Victoria era, thanks to its expansive, award-winning beaches – Llandudno North Shore Beach, a sheltered beach with a wide promenade and West Shore Beach, a smaller beach fringed by sand dunes. It’s here you’ll find heritage-style, British seaside activities (think Punch & Judy shows, donkey rides and live music at the bandstand) as well as a vibrant, contemporary town. Fans of Alice in Wonderland will be enchanted with the town’s Alice in Wonderland trails (the real Alice, Alice Liddell, spent time at her family’s holiday home in Llandudno) and you can stroll along Wales’ longest pier (built in 1876), which stretches 2,295ft/700 metres out to sea. Just one way to enjoy a magnificent view of the area is by heading to The Great Orme, a coastal landmark more than 200 metres above sea, which can be reached by the charming Great Orme Tramway.

Just 15 minutes’ drive away is the seaside town of Conwy – home to the spectacular medieval Conwy Castle, also built by English King Edward I; climb up to its battlements for incredible views across the sea and the town. And Conwy may possess a grand-scale castle but it’s also home to the smallest house in Britain on its quayside; this miniature red-painted house is just three metres high by 1.8 metres wide.

Go this summer for: Llandudno Jazz Festival (27-29 July), Conwy River Festival (14-15 & 20-22 July)

Where to stay:

Hotel: It’s enviable location on the coast means the luxurious rooms at St George’s Hotel overlook Llandudno’s glorious seascape, particularly from its new rooms with balconies on The Rooftop.

Townhouse: A classic townhouse on the promenade, Osborne House Hotel offers six luxurious suites elegantly furnished with antiques while right next door is the larger Empire Hotel, with its own spa, which guests at Osborne House can also use.

B&B: The modern-style Escape Boutique B&B offers nine double rooms each designed with their contemporary theme.

 

Abersoch and the Llyn Peninsula

Picturesque beaches, a laid-back vibe and a pleasant micro-climate mean the Llyn Peninsula has also been a popular seaside resort since the end of the 19th century. It’s a brilliant spot for surfing and sea-kayaking, thanks to the considerable swells at Hell’s Mouth (Porth Niegwl) yet it’s also the area home to family friendly beaches such as Abersoch. The waters off Abersoch are great for sailing in too – or go seal spotting on a boat trip off St Tudwal’s Island – its beaches are dotted with brightly painted beach huts, there’s a lovely harbour to stroll around and the village has a vibrant café culture.

On the other side of the peninsula are the famous Whistling Sands (Porth Oer) – where the sand squeaks as you walk on it! The sound emanates due to the stress of weight put upon the sand and this is one of only two beaches in Europe you can experience this. The beach is managed by the National Trust, as is Porth Ceiriad, a great beach for walkers, kayakers and surfers alike.

A unique coastal resort worth visiting close to the peninsula is Portmeirion; inspired by classic Italian resorts, Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed and built the resort between 1925 and 1975. With its Italianesque architecture and multi-coloured cottages, it was famously used as the location for cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner.

Go this summer for: The Abersoch Regatta (August), Festival No.6 (6-9 September)

Where to stay:

Hotel: The country house-style Porth Tocyn Hotel overlooks both Cardigan Bay and out to Snowdonia and also offers a self-catering cottage in its grounds.

Historic house: Set in more than three acres of grounds in the Llyn Peninsula, The Old Rectory offers guests a stay in a Georgian house that was home to the rectors of Boduan since the early 18th century.

B&B: Five-minutes’ walk from Abersoch Beach, the Egryn Hotel is located in an Edwardian villa with most of its rooms boasting sea or mountain views.

 

Rhyl and Prestatyn

Sail, windsurf or simply hang out on the long stretches of golden sands at the beaches of Rhyl and Prestatyn  and meet sea lions at Rhyl’s SeaQuarium, which sits on this stretch of coastline with an open seafront location. Or enjoy the coastline from a different perspective on a hike. There’s around 60 miles of sea views from the north Wales element of the Wales Coast Path and, at Prestatyn, it joins Offa’s Dyke, Britain’s longest ancient monument and a National Trail that follows the English/Welsh border for 177 miles.

In fact, this area is awash with ancient sites and historical attractions, from the well-preserved remains of the Roman Bath House outside Prestatyn, prehistoric sties such as the Gop Hill (Trelawnyd) and England’s medieval King Edward I reared his head here too by ordering the construction of the dramatic Rhuddlan Castle. And fascinating insights into what life would have been like in World War One (2018 is a poignant time to visit as this year marks the centenary of the war’s end) can be found at the 600-year old Bodelwyddan Castle and Park, which has a network of replica trenches at its World War One Trenches Experience.

Go this summer for: Mid-summer night ghost hunt at Bodelwyddan Castle (28 July)

Where to stay:

Hotel: Simple yet comfortable, Beaches Hotel’s seaside location means all of its rooms either offer views overlooking the Prestatyn Hills or Barkby Beach.

Restaurant with rooms: Located in the oldest house in Rhyl, dating back to 1672, Barratt’s at Ty’n Rhyl offers charming rooms to stay in once you’ve dined at its award-winning restaurant.

B&B: Enjoy breakfast overlooking peaceful gardens at Plas Ifan B&B, housed in a building that was built as a chapel in 1770.

Six Lake District locations to visit this autumn

Since being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2017, the popularity of the Lake District National Park in north-west England has continued to soar. While the summer is, undoubtedly, a lovely time to visit, savvy travellers will find the Lakes and their towns and villages an equally beautiful destination in the autumn. The scenery is ablaze with colour, the summer crowds have thinned out and there’s plenty to see and do, no matter the weather.

Windermere and Bowness

Right at the heart of the Lake District, the towns of Windermere and Bowness boast picturesque scenery wherever you turn. Catch those bright autumn colours from the water itself and climb aboard Windermere Lake Cruises steamers. This cruise can also take you to the neo-gothic Wray Castle; looming over the shores of Windermere, it’s not your typical castle displaying family heirlooms and portraits… There’s something here for everyone, including the little ones – they’ll love the dressing up, castle building and adventure play area available. For a different class of architecture, head to Blackwell House, a brilliant example of the Arts & Crafts movement from the early 20th century, which retains many of its original features and holds fantastic permanent and visiting exhibitions. 

Children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter was one of the Lakes’ most famous residents and all ages can enjoy the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction – you’ll feel as if you’re stepping into one of her books.

 

Kendal

A smart, handsome market town, Kendal is the Lakes’ arts and culture centre and is packed with independent cafés and pubs. Catch a play, exhibition, comedy or music event at the town’s thriving cultural hub, the Brewery Arts Centre or get your fix of art at the hidden gem that is the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, set in the Grade I-listed 18th-century building of Abbot Hall. Alternatively, you can experience a dose of history at Kendal Castle, once the family home ofKatherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. Book onto a walking tour to hear more of its dynamic history and admire the excellent views from its hilltop vantage point.

Kendal is also a festival hotspot; in November it welcomes the Kendal Mountain Festival, an award-winning adventure film and speaker festival and a must-visit gathering for outdoor enthusiasts. This September will also see the return of Lakes Alive, which will bring contemporary art, activities and performances to Kendal and the wider Lake District National Park. Also in September is the Kendal Torchlight Carnival, followed by the only comic art festival in the UK, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which takes over the whole of the town in October. Another way to experience the rich heritage and culture in the Lakes are the Lakes Culture Signature Experiences; four different routes that celebrate the region's art, music and literature in a variety of ways.

 

Keswick and Ullswater

Keswick is close to the lakes of Ullswater, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, as well as the mountains of Grizedale Pike, Skiddaw and Catbells, yet it’s not just a walkers’ paradise. Head out onto Ullswater Lake on board Ullswater Steamers for a relaxed view of the beautiful scenery or, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (and also England’s last working slate mine). Climb the original miners’ route (the Via Ferrata Classic), an exposed adventure climbing course created from cargo nets and wire bridges strung 366 metres above the valley floor. If you’re feeling particularly brave, take the bigger challenge by climbing the Via Ferrata Extreme!

Keswick is also one of the Lakes’ cultural highlights. Professional producing theatre, Theatre on the Lake, close to Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, is in one of the prettiest theatre settings imaginable and you can catch a play here throughout the year. Travel a little further out to The Lakes Distillery and join an interactive tour to see how its whisky, gin, and vodka are made, which also make an excellent gift to take home. And we mustn’t forget the most niche of museums; the Pencil Museum! It’s more than just pencils (although the collection does include gems such as secret Second World War pencils complete with hidden maps); it also runs art workshops.

 

Coniston

Coniston, nestled between Coniston Water and the Coniston Fells, has a copper mining and slate quarrying history and the village’s proximity to dramatic landscapes – lakes, mountains, waterfalls, tarns and woods – means walking, sightseeing, water sports, mountaineering and horse riding are all prevalent here.

The most notable feature of Coniston Village is The Old Man of Coniston, an 803-metre-high fell. For a slightly easier walk with incredible views, head to Tarn Hows, set more than 183 metres up in the hills above Coniston. A lovely, easy, 1.5-mile pathway shows off the best of the gorgeous Langdale Pikes.

Another lovely way to see Coniston Water and the Fells is by the steam yacht gondola; the trip takes you past Coniston Hall and then on to Brantwood, the home of celebrated Victorian art critic and artist John Ruskin. You can alight here to explore the house, which is filled with many fine paintings, beautiful furniture and Ruskin’s personal treasures. 

 

Ambleside

Ambleside is surrounded by magnificent Lakeland fells and is a town with an energetic vibe. Yet it’s also home to one of the oldest standing buildings in the Lakes, the quirky, picturesque Bridge House, which dates back to the 17th century.

A visit to Ambleside also means you’re very close to Hill Top House, the 17th-century farmhouse where Beatrix Potter lived, wrote and based many of her much-loved stories. When she left the house to the National Trust she left instructions about how it should be shown, so it stands exactly as she knew it and lived in it.

Some of Potter’s works can also be viewed at the Armitt Museum, Gallery and Library – she was one of its earliest supporters – which features the history of life, photography and the fine art of the Lake District. Or for a slice of contemporary art, head to the Old Courthouse Gallery, showcasing glassworks, jewellery, wall art and ceramics, which you can also buy. A great way to spend an evening in Ambleside is at the Jazz Bar of Zeffirellis, which hosts modern jazz and world music performances throughout the week. Want to sample local ale? Try the wares created by Ambleside’s Barngates Brewery, served in the Drunken Duck Inn and Restaurant – although the brewery isn’t open for tours, visitors to the Drunken Duck can request to see inside the adjacent brewery buildings.

 

Ravenglass

Ravenglass is the Lake District’s only coastal village and history emanates from every corner, from its Bronze Age settlements, Roman forts and Anglian crosses to its Viking remains, Norman churches and medieval mills. You can even go back to the Victorian era of steam and experience the Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway, which takes you on a stunning seven-mile journey through the National Park.

A must-visit in the area is Muncaster Castle. Still lived in by the same family after nine centuries, Muncaster is said to be haunted and, this November, will hold a Scientific Ghost Vigil. If that doesn’t sound quite your thing, the castle itself is fascinating to explore and you can enjoy bird of prey displays at its Hawk and Owl Centre throughout the year.

48 hours in… Pembrokeshire

2018 is Wales’ Year of the Sea, a year dedicated to celebrating the destination’s spectacular coastline and all that’s associated with it; a coastline that is, in fact, so great for exploring you can walk the entire way around it on the Wales Coast Path. On the west coast of Wales is the region of Pembrokeshire, Britain’s only coastal National Park, making it a memorable place to visit during this year’s celebrations. Discover beautiful, award-winning beaches that stretch for miles, majestic cliffs, pretty harbours and rugged islands, all easily reached in a couple of hours from the Welsh capital Cardiff or five hours from London. Fill a weekend here with beachside walks, adrenaline-pumping watersports, exploring the region’s art and heritage, and feasting on mouth-watering local produce.

 

Time to check in:

It’s easy to find somewhere to stay with a seaview in Pembrokeshire and the region is dotted with cosy self-catering cottages, charming B&Bs and guesthouses, and campsites galore overlooking the coast. And for something special? The Retreats Group has three unique, high-end properties in St David’s, Britain’s smallest city. The Twr y Felin Art Hotel features more than 100 pieces of specially commissioned art and the two Rosette Blas Restaurant, all just a ten-minute walk from the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. If you have a large-enough party you can book the entire 12th-century Roch Castle Hotel and enjoy its awesome views over St David’s Bay, while the elegant stone-built 19th-century Penrhiw Hotel is located just minutes away from the breathtaking St David’s Cathedral. On the other side of Pembrokeshire is the attractive town of Saundersfoot; check in to its luxurious St Brides Hotel, where you can enjoy indulgent spa treatments overlooking the gorgeous bay below.

 

Day One

09:00 DISCOVER PEMBROKESHIRE’S HERITAGE

Begin your 48 hours in the south of the county to discover a little more about Pembrokeshire’s history. Explore the pretty market town of Narberth and its colourful Georgian and Edwardian architecture and, as it was once the capital of Pembrokeshire, it’s home to the medieval fortress Narberth Castle. It’s also a great place to pick up a unique gift to take home; Narberth is packed with independent shops, boutiques and galleries.

 

11:00 DELVE INTO TENBY’S PAST

Half an hour’s drive from Narberth is the popular seaside retreat of Tenby. Grab a coffee from a coastal café and either head out to discover the town’s fantastic inventory of art galleries, which includes the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, investigate the town’s spooky past on the Tenby Ghost Tour, or imagine you are in Tenby of the Tudor era as you explore the National Trust-owned Tudor Merchants House.

 

13:00 LUNCH ON THE SEA’S HARVEST

You’re right by the sea so it’s makes perfect sense to dine on Tenby-caught seafood for lunch. Right next door to the Tudor Merchants House is Plantagenet House, a restaurant housed in the oldest building in town – some parts of it date back to the tenth century. Admiring its quirky interior décor, such as the medieval Flemish chimney, will keep you busy until your dishes of fresh seafood have arrived.

 

15:00 TAKE TO THE SKIES

There are many ways to explore Pembrokeshire, but if you want to see it all in just over an hour, book onto a scenic tour with Fly Wales. Take off from Haverfordwest Airport and swoop above the entirety of its coastline in 60 minutes.

 

17:00 WALK ALONG VAST BEACHES

Back down to earth and head 15 minutes from the airport to the seaside resort of Broadhaven in the heart of the coastal National Park. Come for a stroll along its huge expanse of sand and, at low tide, wander down to the village of Little Haven past a pretty bay called The Settlands. Stop off at The Swan Inn to relax with a beer or tipple of your choice while admiring the awesome coastal views.

 

19:30 ENJOY DINNER BY THE SEA

Head back up to Broadhaven for dinner as you watch the sun set over the horizon. Dine on local crab and mussels at the Ocean Café and Restaurant, a perfect spot to end your first day by the Pembrokeshire coast.

 

Day Two:

09:00 DISCOVER BRITAIN’S SMALLEST CITY

Small, yet perfectly formed, St Davids has the honour of being Britain’s smallest city. It’s also a conservation area in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park and can trace its roots back to the fourth century when St David – the patron saint of Wales – lived here. Despite its size there’s plenty to explore; St Davids Cathedral is a captivating sight, both its majestic exterior and painted ceilings within. Its neighbour is the medieval Bishop’s Palace; although roofless much of the structure remains intact. Or, if you’d rather be in the great outdoors, the city is fortunately located on the St Davids Peninsula so you’re just steps away from joining the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (part of the Wales Coast Path) to enjoy walks with those gorgeous views in every direction.

 

11:00 SPOT SEALIFE IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT

See whales and dolphins, seals and porpoises, puffins and razorbills on a trip out to Ramsey Island and other islands further afield. Boat tours will take you out from St Davids and around the islands, sailing through narrow rock gorges and past extraordinary caves.

 

13:00 EAT THE FRESHEST PRODUCE

Delicious local produce is always on the menu at St Davids Kitchen, a restaurant which follows the farm-to-fork initiative. Feast upon Welsh Black Beef, reared just outside the city, Ramsey Island lamb and venison as well as St Davids lobster. Make sure you leave room at the end of the meal for the locally sourced Welsh cheeses.

 

15:00 TAKE AN ADVENTUROUS TURN

Enjoy this National Coastal Park to its fullest and participate in the huge range of watersports activities on offer. You’ll find plenty of surf schools and adventure activity companies based in St Davids. Try your hand at coasteering – where you jump from rocks, then swim and scramble back up them – or how about a spot of sea kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, powerboating or fishing?

 

18:00 TIME FOR REFRESHMENTS

After all that activity you deserve something cold and refreshing; stop for a drink in The Bishops in St Davids city centre. It’s an exquisite old whitewashed stone building and the interior is charmingly rustic, perfect to relax in with a local ale.

 

20:00 CUDDLE UP FOR DINNER

There’s a lovely word in Welsh that describes a cuddle or a warm safe place; this St Davids restaurant has taken it as its name and has ensured its meaning is prevalent throughout. Cwtch is a cosy, comfortable eaterie where you’ll find divine local food on its menu; Solva crab, Welsh ribeye steak, Caerfai cheeses and Welsh lamb are all there to tempt you.

VisitBritain invites Australian travellers to Find Your GREAT Britain in 2018

Britain’s national tourism agency VisitBritain has launched a new marketing campaign in Australia to boost tourism to Britain.

The ‘I Travel For…’ marketing campaign was officially launched at a VisitBritain reception attended by more than 100 representatives from the travel industry across Australia as well as media from the travel and lifestyle sectors.

VisitBritain’s campaign, which runs from February 5 until March 31 in Australia, uses short films and story-telling to shine the spotlight on unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations in Britain, alongside its globally renowned and iconic landmarks and attractions. The short films and images align the passions that motivate Australians to travel with experiences they can only have in Britain, inspiring them to ‘Find Your Great Britain’ and book a trip right now.  

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“Tourism is one of the UK’s most valuable export industries, and is a fiercely competitive global industry. We are seizing the opportunity in 2018 to showcase that Britain is bursting with fun activities, adventure and wonderfully unexpected experiences to come and discover all year round.“

VisitBritain Director Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa Tricia Warwick said:

“Australia is an extremely important market for VisitBritain; a billion-pound market and our fourth most valuable. We want to build on the growth we have seen in visits from Australia so far in 2017 and invite more Aussies to Find Your Great Britain this year.

“From Britain’s exciting and contemporary culture and living history to the vibrancy of its cool cities, from thrill-seeking adventures in stunning countryside to its local food and drink experiences, I Travel For... wants to inspire visitors from Australia to book a trip right now.”

The campaign has been developed based on VisitBritain’s global research into people’s motivations, passions and inspiration for travel including adventure, fun, discovery, food and drink and the unexpected.

VisitBritain is working with commercial partners in Australia including Flight Centre and Etihad to amplify its global marketing reach and convert the aspiration to visit into bookings. Its partnerships with airlines and travel brands showcase how accessible Britain is for Australians via the five key gateways.

The latest official statistics show that there has been strong growth in visits from Australia to the UK. There were 876,000 visits from Australia to the UK from January to September 2017, up 11% compared to the same period the previous year. Visitors from Australia spent £956 million in the UK during this period, up 12% compared to the same period in 2016.

‘I Travel For…’ is part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign, which showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer as a place to visit, study, invest and do business.

-ENDS-

 

For more information on the I Travel For... campaign please contact Kristen Angus at VisitBritain: kristen.angus@visitbritain.org

Notes:  

Reasons to travel to Britain in 2018:

  • Bristol in England is opening a new museum, Being Brunel, in early 2018 and London’s V&A Museum is opening an outpost in Dundee in the second half of the year.
  • It will be a big year for culture in Liverpool as it celebrates its 10th anniversary of being named European Capital of Culture. The city welcomes the Terracotta Warriors to the World Museum from February to October 2018.
  • NewcastleGateshead in England will host The Great Exhibition of the North, celebrating the cities’ culture, art and design from June to September.
  • Scotland heralds 2018 as the Year of Young People, with events including the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo and Speyside Whisky Festival.
  • Wales celebrates the Year of the Sea celebrating its epic coastline, fringed with rugged cliffs, wide sandy bays, and the adventures to match through themed events and celebrations. Its annual literary and arts festival, The Laugharne Weekend, is in April, followed by the Festival of Voice in Cardiff in June. The Big Cheese Festival takes place in Caerphilly in June, with a Seafood Festival in Cardigan Bay in July.
  • The last season of Game of Thrones will be filmed in Northern Ireland, on locations including Giant's Causeway (The Iron Island) and the Dark Hedges (The King’s Road), along with the original filming locations of Winterfell.

In 2016:

  • There were 982,000 visits from Australia to Britain with total spend of £1.06 billion, placing Australia as fourth most valuable for inbound spend and 10th biggest source market for inbound visits to the UK.
  • The average Australian visitor spent £1,079, 80% more than the average visitor to the UK in 2016.
  • Australians stay for longer than average. They stayed for 13 nights in 2016, almost 80% more than the average visitor who stayed for 7 nights.
  • Australian visitors have a high propensity to travel across Britain. In 2016 61% visits from Australia included a visit to London, 52% in the English regions, 13% in Scotland, 7% in Wales – compared to 51%, 42%, 7% and 3% respectively for the average visitor to the UK.

Source: International Passenger Survey, Office of National Statistics UK

Britain tempts Australian cruise lovers this summer