Best eco-lodges to stay at to celebrate World Earth Day

World Earth Day (22 April) is celebrated by more than one billion people around the globe, with an emphasis on tackling climate change, ending plastic pollution and protecting endangered species. Embracing nature is a fundamental part of the world’s largest environmental movement, and Britain has no shortage of incredible eco-friendly locations where the occasion can be marked in style.

Tom’s Eco Lodge, Isle of Wight

Experience UK glamping all year round at Tom’s Eco Lodge on the Isle of Wight, a set of delightful Wood Cabins, Eco Pods and Modulogs that all aim to have the least environmental impact possible. Relax in a spa hot tub on the outside decking of one of the Wood Cabins at Tapnell Farm, or get cosy in one of the specially-built Modulogs – peaceful pods with all the must-have essentials. For a romantic couple’s getaway, try the open-plan Eco Pods, delivering stunning views of the west of the island, or pick a Safari Tent, complete with a rustic kitchen and log burning range cookers, for the ultimate glamping experience.

Asheston Eco Barns, Pembrokeshire

Bursting with character, Asheston Eco Barns in the heart of Pembrokeshire retain many of the original features from their time as stone farm buildings. Alongside underfloor heating and swish bathrooms, expect exposed stonework and buildings packed with the latest renewable technologies, providing luxurious living but without the environmental hit. Visitors receive a welcome hamper on arrival, packed with seasonal produce from across the region.

Rosehill Lodges, Cornwall

With their grass roofs and bubbling hot tubs, Rosehill Lodges deliver a luxury eco experience from a picturesque spot on north Cornwall’s coastline. Porthtowan’s surf-friendly Blue Flag beach is just minutes away, Newquay, St Ives, Land’s End and Falmouth are all easily reachable by car, and there are miles of coastal paths to explore in both directions. Each lodge has been hand-built in the region using environmentally-friendly materials, as part of an award-winning and sustainable approach to tourism.

Waterhouse, Scotland

Unwind at the Waterhouse retreat in south west Scotland, a set of 3 self-catering luxury lodges set in 1.5 acres of beautiful gardens. A short distance from the fishing port of Kirkcudbright, the picturesque setting is perfect for exploring what the region has to offer. Alongside the Waterhouse Lodge, complete with an outdoor hot tub, is The Boathouse, which provides additional sleeping berths if required. Alternatively, Westwater Lodge includes a spacious sun room and a log burner, making it ideal for winter or summer.

Wheatland Farm, Devon

A peaceful haven of 21 acres with 5 places to stay, Wheatland Farm can house up to 26 guests at a time. The wooden holiday lodges run on 100% renewable energy, powered by solar panels and an on-site wind turbine, while the Balebarn eco lodge uses straw bales from the surrounding fields – which explains why the site has scooped Visit England’s top award for sustainable tourism twice.

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House, Snowdonia

Nestled at the base of the Moelwyn mountains in a curve of the spectacular Ffestiniog Steam Railway, the Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House is powered solely by renewable energy. Explore the magical landscapes of Snowdonia and north Wales from the quaint guesthouse, which is perfectly located for adventure activities including Zip World Bounce Below and Zip World Titan, as well as the Llechwedd Slate Caverns and Go Below at Cwmorthin Slate Mine.

Wrostler’s Barn, Cumbria

Hidden away in secluded woodlands near Coniston Water, on the lake’s eastern side, is Wrostler’s Barn, a 3-level converted structure that sleeps up to 12 people. Serving as a back-to-basics rental, the site has no electricity and two compost toilets situated outside. As a rare surviving example of the Lakeland practice of using intersecting slates – known locally as ‘wrostler’ – the off-grid location is surrounded by farmland, protected wildlife areas and a Site of Special Scientific Interest woodland.

Crai Valley Eco Lodges, Brecon Beacons

Found on a busy working farm in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, the Crai Valley Eco Lodges provide spacious accommodation, panoramic views, and ample opportunities for stargazing. Gaze upon the Milky Way from the Dark Sky Discovery Site at Glwydcaenewydd Farm and take in the spectacular views of Llyn-yr-Fan Lake from the large French windows of the lodges.

Cotna Eco Retreat, Cornwall

From eco glamping to boutique style yurts, the Cotna Eco Retreat provides a wonderful insight into organic and sustainable living. Surrounded by picturesque Cornish countryside and a short distance from Gorran Haven; The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the fishing village of Mevagissey are also not far away. The 3 Yurts – Gilliflower, Tregonna King and Fern Pippin – sit in orchards surrounded by Cornish stone walls and ancient woodland, and are named after the 3 apple varieties growing nearby.

Ten of the best ghostly tours and haunted houses in Britain

Get ready to be spooked this Halloween with these spine-chilling experiences and haunted houses.

 

5 chilling experiences

 

For The Love Of Horror – Manchester, north-west England

Your nerves will be stretched to their very limit as you explore a new creepy experience from Monopoly Events, who will transfer the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester into a chilling immersive attraction that will make you quake in your boots! Dare you enter the Nightmare Zone, where you’ll be greeted by horror movies’ most frightening characters, before you attempt to battle your way through a zombie outbreak? Meet those real-life creatures that always crop up in horror films, the tarantulas and cockroaches to snakes, before you heroically move on to a ‘mad monster after party’ and experiencing all the other horror attractions. Prove to friends and family you survived it all with a snap in the interactive ‘exorcist’ photo booth.

 

Wicked Nights at Blackgang Chine – Isle of Wight, south England

Walk through a ‘land of twisted imagination’ at amusement park Blackgang Chine’s new horror event, Wicked Nights at the Cursed Mill. Pluck up all your courage as you approach hair-raising live action experiences and scream like you’ve never screamed before on the Cliffhanger roller-caster. Still feeling brave? Hop on board the sinister ghost train before keeping your wits about you as you compete in games and activities at the Freaky Fair.

 

Muncaster Castle – Cumbria, north-west England

Muncaster Castle celebrates the spookiest time of the year in a truly ghostly fashion, as befits a castle known to be one of the most haunted in Britain. Don your finest Halloween fancy dress before making your way bravely through the dark and eerie Meadowvole Maze, be prepared to jump out of your skin as you listen to scary tales of fear and terror, and who knows what you might find lurking in the Ghostly Grotto! In between being spooked you’ll be entertained by the Muncaster Monster Cabaret – a mix of conjurors, fire-eating and aerial acts. 

 

Journey to the Underworld – London, England

Are you brave enough to embark on a Journey to the Underworld? This is a journey where you’ll discover the ‘Greatest Love Story Never Told’ at Pedley Street Station in Shoreditch, east London, as Funicular Productions brings a new enigmatic theatre experience to life. Get ready to encounter a thrilling combination that takes you through a story of fantasy, danger, fear, hope and love, as well as feast on a ‘last meal in paradise’ before your journey to the underworld. It’s here you’ll try to outsmart ‘the seductive Gatekeeper, the hunched Harbinger, and the damnable Dark One’.

 

Ghoulies Haunted House – Liverpool, north-west England

After bringing a live-action scare attraction and horror-themed bar to the residents of, and visitors to, Liverpool on a year-round basis it’s unsurprising that Ghoulies Haunted House is upping the scare factor come Halloween. This year, a character that may be innocuously called Kavity the Clown will be roaming the Haunted House, but you can guarantee it will be as scary as clowns get…and with a lot of laughs thrown in. If you enjoy this, come back any time of year to experience the venue’s horror-themed cocktails and events such as Scaryoke Karaoke, the Brain Dead Quiz and Boogeyman Bingo.

 

5 of Britain’s most haunted houses

 

Chillingham Castle, Chillingham, Northumberland, north-east England

Chilling by name and chilling by nature, this 13th-century castle in Northumberland was the scene of bloody battles and eerie intrigue for centuries. Its rooms and gardens are lovely places to explore but to properly experience one of the most haunted castles in Britain, head into its Torture Chamber and join an evening Ghost Tour for a more unnerving encounter.

The Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, west England

For nearly 900 years the Ancient Ram Inn has stood in the Gloucestershire village of Wotton-under-Edge and brings with it stories of a gruesome and bloodthirsty history. Not only that, there have been numerous reports of supernatural events taking place here, making it a frontrunner for spookiest house in Britain. If that doesn’t petrify you, stay overnight here – although whether you’ll get a good night’s sleep is another matter…

Newton House, Dinefwr, Pembrokeshire, west Wales

The gorgeous Dinefwr Estate is a beautiful 18th-century park landscaped by Capability Brown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tales of ghosts and ghouls roaming the grounds. Newton House, in the centre of the park, has a ghostly visitor each night in the form of Lady Elinor Cavendish. The tale goes that she was betrothed to a man she didn’t love and, when she ran away from him and escaped back to Dinefwr to her family, her suitor strangled her. Visitors should listen out for muffled voices and watch out paranormal activity from the servants’ basement…

St Briavel’s Castle, Gloucestershire, west England

Looked after by English Heritage, this castle is now a youth hostel and if you enjoy the thought of hearing all the creepy tales about this 800-year-old castle, this is the place for you. Maybe you’ll sense the spine-chilling atmosphere as you explore the castle and feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as you read pleading notes carved into the walls by prisoners held here centuries ago.

Glamis Castle, Scotland

Known as one of the most haunted castles in Scotland, Glamis Castle – 20 minutes’ drive from Dundee and, incidentally, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – is said to be home to many spirits…which makes sense when you learn it’s been standing since 1372 and was said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There’s many a spooky tale of historic dark deeds to be heard, especially around Halloween on one of its ghostly tours…

 

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.

Eccentric Britain

Summer in Britain is more than picnics in the park, strawberries at Wimbledon, and drinking Pimms at a barbecue. One thing it does better than anyone else is good old-fashioned eccentricity! Adults dancing on hobby horses, faces stretched into hilarious contortions, and a festival of fools make Great Britain THE place to be this summer for tourists seeking adventure off the beaten path. From the sublime to the ridiculous, there’s an unusual activity to satiate every traveller’s metaphorical palate.

 

The Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss Festival

Padstow, Cornwall, 1st May

Head down to the Cornish port town of Padstow on May Day and you’ll find one of the most unusual British traditions where each year, thousands flock to watch two ‘Obby Osses’ (hobby horses) dancing to the beat of drums and accordions. 

 

Belfast Festival of Fools

Belfast, Northern Ireland, 4th – 8th May

Held over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, Belfast gets together to laugh itself silly as a whole host of offbeat and alternative comedy acts, circus performers and street theatre combines to make the silliest summer entertainment. A free festival, those coming to Belfast for the event can expect to get their walking shoes on and pound the historic streets, enjoying events like cabaret and comedy as they go.

 

Blackawton International Festival of Worm Charming

Blackawton, Devon, 27th May

Starting back in 1983, ‘Worm Master’ Nat Lowson and his team of worm-charming officials preside over the annual event each May, where people compete for the dubious accolade of who can charm the worms out of the ground the fastest.

 

Cheese Rolling at Cooper’s Hill

Brockworth, Gloucestershire, 28th May

An event harking back to the 1800s, cheese-rolling is as bonkers as it sounds. Contestants chase after a speeding wheel of Double Gloucester cheese as big as a newborn baby, and the first to reach the cheese (which can go as fast as 70 miles an hour) is the victor.

 

The Highland Games

Various venues, Scotland, May – September

Quintessentially Scottish, the Highland Games have been an important annual event for centuries. Taking place across several cities, towns and islands across the country, they attract thousands of excited spectators from around the world. 

‘Expect the unexpected’ is an unofficial mantra, as sports such as Caber Toss and Tug ‘O’ War stand alongside best-dressed pet competitions and, of course, Highland dancing.

 

World Bog Snorkelling Championships

Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, 26th August

Over a weekend at the end of August, plucky snorkellers race against each other in the murky Waen Rhydd peat bog – they can wear wetsuits, snorkels and flippers but can’t use any recognisable swimming stroke.

Hundreds of participants compete each year in the event which Lonely Planet described as one of the Top 50 “Must Do” activities in 2014.

 

Egremont Crab Fair and World Gurning Championships

Egremont, West Cumbria, 14th – 15th September

Held every September in beautiful Cumbria, the historic Crab Fair has been running since 1267 to celebrate the season of crab apples of September.

Alongside street-racing and ‘The Cuddy’, aka horse racing, the fair plays host to the famous World Gurning Championships where folk compete for the title by contorting their faces through a horse collar. A truly strange tradition, it’s thought to have started as a way to “mock the village idiot”, but is now simply a fun competition to see who can pull the most grotesque or silliest face.

Great British cycle routes

Great Britain excels in cycling, hosting celebrated challenge rides like the Peak District’s Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire, Scotland’s TweedLove Bike Festival and the UK National Track Championships in Manchester. But one of the best things about UK cycling is simply taking off spontaneously on a trail. Here are some ideas for exploring the UK on two wheels…   

 

Long-distance

Hebridean Way

This new long-distance ride spans the length of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides island chain. The 185-mile route crosses 10 islands in the archipelago – and it’s packed with paradise beaches visitors might not expect in the UK.

Surprise trailside treats: Calanais Standing Stones which pre-date Stonehenge, the historic Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

 

Bay Cycle Way  

Starting at the nature reserves of Walney Island, this flattish route follows a spectacular yet often underrated coastline. Pedalling 81 miles through the Cumbrian and Lancashire countryside, cyclists can enjoy bird-watching in RSPB reserves and eating in the many gourmet restaurants in the village of Cartmel.

Surprise trailside treats: Coniston Priory Buddhist Centre, the art deco Midland Hotel.

 

Celtic Trail West

The Celtic Trail runs across Wales at its widest point with the west section connecting Swansea and Fishguard via the spectacular Swansea and Pembrokeshire coastlines. The seaside resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot are also worth a visit.

Surprise trailside treats: The sand dune forests of Millennium Coastal Park, the Brunel Trail.

 

See also:

South Coast Way

This 360-mile coastal route from Dover, Kent to Dawlish in Devon stops at the seaside towns of Brighton and Hastings.

 

Fun and family

Two Palaces Ride, London

This two-mile loop takes in more than just the two palaces of the title. The relaxed start from Buckingham Palace leads to a laidback ride through the Duke of Wellington Arch and into Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens on its way to Kensington Palace – best ridden on a Sunday.

Surprise trailside treats: Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery and Apsley House.

 

Monsal Trail, Peak District

In Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park, the traffic-free Monsal trail offers flat, easy cycling along the old Midland railway line with great views of the limestone dales. The eight-and-a-half mile trail, from Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale to Coombs Road at Bakewell, blasts through six moodily lit tunnels, up to 400 metres long.

Surprise trailside treats: The Secret Tea Garden at Miller’s Dale. 

 

Lagan and Lough Cycle Way, Northern Ireland

The Lagan and Lough Cycle Way is a 21-mile, mostly traffic-free route from Lisburn to Jordanstown via Belfast. Cyclists can enjoy biking along the Lagan Towpath and Belfast Lough, with spectacular views inland to Belfast’s hills.

Surprise trailside treats: Kingfisher-spotting in the Lagan Valley Regional Park and Belfast’s most famous pub, The Crown Bar.

 

Cuckoo Trail, Sussex

The Cuckoo Trail gets its name from an old Sussex tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Agricultural Show. Running from Polegate near Eastbourne to Heathfield itself, it covers 11 family-friendly miles of traffic-free tarmac and gravel along a railway line.

Surprise trailside treats: See if you can spot Artist Steve Geliot’s wooden benches carved from storm damaged oaks, Hailsham village and nearby Michelham Priory, a medieval monastery-turned-country house and museum.

 

See also:

Fallowfield Loopline, Manchester

Head south from the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre and you’ll find the 16-mile traffic-free route to South Manchester.

 

Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail

Flat, well-surfaced riverside riding starting in Derby and ending at the engagingly named Cloud Quarry where cyclists are rewarded by wonderful views. 

 

Camel Trail

A popular 18-mile, predominantly traffic-free railway trail taking in Padstow, Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Wenford Bridge; a delightful mix of Cornish woodland, birdlife and wild estuary.

TASTE - July 2017

 

This edition of TASTE brings you VisitBritain's latest round-up of new restaurant openings and foodie news from across the destination over the last three months.

Verdantly vegan menus and eateries are popping up all around Britain – even plant-based taco and burger joints!  And sweet temptation has arrived in London and Glasgow in the form of dedicated dessert and chocolate parlours, Chin Chin Labs and Coro. In Cornwall, there’s exciting news for fans of BBC’s TV series Poldark, as a new nautical-themed restaurant called Loveday’s has opened in the village of Charlestown, which was one of the show’s filming locations.

 

TREND: Plants rule

With dedicated (and delicious) plant-based eateries popping up all over the place, Britain’s food scene is fully embracing the increasing popularity for varied vegan dining options.

Tacos might not be what you’d normally think of as vegan-friendly, but a new Mexican street stall residency at Pamela bar in Dalston, east London, is here to change that. Club Mexicana’s flavourful vegan bites include Carne Asada tacos, which are actually made of wheat and corn.

Moving on to burgers, The Vurger Co’s vegan ‘vurgers’ (made of vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes) have been so popular, the company has raised £300,000 through crowdfunding to open its first restaurant in London early next year.

In Birmingham, a new city centre vegan eatery and health store, Natural Healthy Foods, serves food that’s vegan, gluten free, organic, and free from refined sugar, including buffet dishes such as Sri Lankan dhal curry, and raw carrot cake for dessert. In Gateshead, north-east England, vegan and vegetarian American-style diner, Grumpy Panda, has also joined the plant-based revolution, with its tasty meat alternatives to US comfort food classics.

The trend continues in Scotland – in July, the second branch of Kind Crusts vegan bakery opened in Glasgow’s Southside, complete with its popular dairy-free doughnuts. Meanwhile, a new addition to Edinburgh’s vegan scene is GrassRoots, a plant-based coffee bar and lifestyle store on Gilmore Place selling cupcakes, pies and raw desserts alongside vegan lifestyle products.

 

TREND: Sweet, sweet temptation

Leave some room for dessert! In June, dedicated dessert shrine Chin Chin Club opened its first permanent site on Greek Street in Soho. Starting out in Camden Market as a little shop, it’s built a big reputation as one of London’s best ice cream makers. Choose from cult classics like The Brownwich, or new additions such as The Choux-wich: a choux ice cream sandwich with Persian pistachio and olive oil ice cream.

After the success of its first French-style patisserie and café in South Kensington specialising in eclairs, choux and chouquettes (empty choux pastry balls topped with pearl sugar), Maître Choux is opening a second site on Soho’s Dean Street this October. Founder Joakim Prat was formerly head pastry chef at three-Michelin-starred Can Fabes in Spain, so it’s no wonder his intricately hand-designed eclairs are almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

The sweet action isn’t all happening in London. In June, Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow welcomed Scotland’s second dedicated chocolate café, Coro. Like the hugely popular original Edinburgh outpost, Coro Glasgow is unadulterated chocoholic heaven, serving cocoa creations ranging from pretzel-covered waffles to crepes and cheesecakes.

 

TREND: Garden dining

London’s gastronomic world is enjoying a burst of greenery – not just on diners’ plates, but in their surroundings.

Petersham Nurseries, the Surrey garden centre whose café once held a Michelin star, has just launched Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden in a historical central London town house. The sprawling site has a delicatessen, a home and garden shop, a wine cellar, and a florist, all based around a verdant courtyard. Its two restaurants – The Petersham and La Goccia – will open later this year.

In June, The Ivy Collection branched out again with the opening of The Ivy City Garden at Dashwood House in the Bishopsgate Gardens. The menu features classic favourites from The Ivy, such as its legendary chocolate bombe with hot salted caramel sauce, plus a new, exclusive sharing platter of truffle beef Wellington for four. The private dining room seats up to 30 guests, overlooking the garden.

 

TREND: Regional Britain

Global perceptions of British food are on the up, and newly-opened GBR (Great British Restaurant) at Dukes Hotel in London celebrates this trend by wholeheartedly honouring classic dishes. There’s the GBR full English breakfast of course, and for lunch or dinner, duck liver parfait with Yorkshire pudding and caramelised onion. Desserts also focus around traditional favourites, such as treacle sponge with custard.

Equally celebrating its national cuisine is new Scottish restaurant and bar Ardnamurchan, in Glasgow city centre. Dedicated to Scottish food and drink, its owners source artisan products from the Scottish Highlands and islands, and the bar stocks more than 50 Scottish whiskies.

Meanwhile, award-winning Welsh chef Tom Simmons is putting produce from Wales in the spotlight with the opening of his first self-titled restaurant venture in London’s Tower Bridge. His menu focuses on using Welsh produce where possible, but is a mix of French, British and Welsh cuisine, including classic dishes from his homeland, such as lamb cawl, cockle popcorn and laverbread mayonnaise.

 

LONDON

 

The latest big name chef openings

How do aroma, colour, texture, sound and psychology affect how we each experience flavour? This is the question Chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory is exploring in his latest project: the Gastrophysics Chef’s Table. Exploring the science behind how we perceive flavour, Jozef’s 13-course multi-sensory menu is based on research collated with experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford. It’s available on the last Friday and Saturday of each month at Kitchen Theory in Barnet, north London.

One of India's highest-rated chefs, Manish Mehrotra, is bringing his acclaimed Indian Accent restaurant brand to London this autumn. His original Delhi restaurant has been named Best in India by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants three years running.

Clare Smyth, the first and only female holder of three Michelin stars in the UK while she was chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is opening her first solo restaurant in Notting Hill this August. Core by Clare Smyth will focus on modern British fine-dining, with a central tasting menu of 10-12 changing dishes and more than 400 fine wines and Champagnes to choose from.

The food world’s famous Roux family has been busy with two new ventures. First up, Spurs football club and Levy Restaurants are partnering with Albert Roux, son Michel Roux Jr and granddaughter Emily to launch a fine-dining experience, On Four, at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. They will personally oversee service and engage with guests at the H Club restaurant and lounge, where guests can also book to dine alongside former club players.

Over on Regent Street, Roux Jr – whose Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche has two Michelin stars – has just opened The Wigmore, “a modern British tavern” linked with five-star hotel, The Langham. Its traditional British pub fare with a luxury twist includes posh scotch eggs and veal and ham pie.

 

New Asian flavours

Mei Ume is now open at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, incorporating both Chinese and Japanese dishes into its menu. The restaurant has a live sushi station and serves small plates such as Shanghai braised pork ribs and dim sum, alongside larger standout dishes including whole Peking duck and Wagyu beef from Kagoshima.

Chopsticks at the ready! London is getting two new Asian food courts. In July, Bang Bang Oriental opened in North London – a sprawling venue with a pan-Asian Street Food Market vibe, celebrating Asia’s vibrant culture with 33 individual kiosks under one roof, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Malaysian cuisine. Open every day from 11am – 10pm.

Then, in September, The Japan Centre – London’s iconic Japanese food shop established in the 1970s – is opening a new flagship food hall on Panton Street by Leicester Square. Its large dining hall will be surrounded by open kitchens and specialist sake, tea and miso rooms, a demonstration kitchen and a Japanese bakery.

A new Japanese-inspired fast food joint with a cheeky name has arrived on Soho’s Wardour Street this month. Ichi Buns are unique Asian-style burgers brought to you by Alan Yau - the man behind popular restaurant chains Wagamama and Busaba. Choices include a panko meatball burger and ‘Hokkaido’: two grilled patties, red onions, shiitake mushrooms and blue cheese fondue. Or, you can opt for ramen and spring rolls – but these aren’t your average spring rolls. These are cheeseburger spring rolls.

US-based ‘Asian Table’ casual dining chain P. F. Changs is coming to Covent Garden this August, headed up by ex-Nobu chef Deepak Kotian. The affordable menu is inspired by Asian street food, and there is even a breakfast bao, filled with sliced smoked salmon and boiled egg in a honey lotus bun.

Mint Gun Club – a new tea house, bar and delicatessen from drinks expert Richard Hunt (previously of Milk & Honey, Hawksmoor and Mahiki), has just opened in Stoke Newington. It specialises in apéritifs, globally-inspired cocktails and fine teas, and food inspired by Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, such as almond hummus, tabbouleh and chargrilled aubergine. Its High Tea features exotic sweet and savoury treats such as ‘proper marshmallow’ and semolina cake.

 

More new foodie ventures

Jean-Georges Vongerichten has opened his new restaurant, Jean-Georges at The Connaught hotel. Overlooking fashionable Mount Street in the heart of Mayfair for informal dining throughout the day, its menus are inspired by the chef’s classic French training and signature use of Asian flavours, plus his distinctive twist on British classics. The breakfast menu features healthy morning shakes, acai bowls, and classics like truffle scrambled eggs.

Brunchers rejoice! This month The Dayrooms Café opened in Notting Hill - a Melbourne inspired brunch and coffee specialist. Its all-day menu is largely healthy – think baja prawn corn tacos with prawns, slaw, avocado, pineapple salsa, lime crème fraiche and jalapeno sauce – but there are indulgent options too, like the honeycomb hotcake with raspberry crème fraiche and miso caramel. Wash it down with fresh coffee, blended juices, smoothies and milkshakes.

Street food sandwich heroes Sub Cult – named as the makers of British Street Food Awards’ ‘Best Sandwich’ – are opening an 18-month pop-up site on White Cross Place serving its US deli-style sub rolls. Sub Cult has even collaborated with Michelin-starred chefs to create bespoke specials. Menu highlights include ‘The Rodeo’ – rare roast beef, truffle mayo, Grana Padano, shallot jam, pickled serrano chili. For vegan customers, there’s the ‘Sub-Conscious’, while the ‘Subterranean’ – griddled woodland mushroom, roast garlic, thyme, truffle mayo and Stilton – was named ‘Best Vegetarian’ at the British Street Food Awards in 2015.

In early July, one of the Camden Market’s Victorian stable blocks got a new lease of life as Gabeto – a new restaurant by former Chiltern Firehouse chef, Lee Andrews. The menu fuses British ingredients with Latin flavours – think tacos, rare-breed steaks and small plates including the likes of chorizo Scotch eggs, plus a changing line-up of street food hosted on the terrace.

 

And finally…

Recently voted the Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK, Rosewood London’s Art Afternoon Tea is inspired by London’s vibrant art scene featuring five of the most iconic modern artists including Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Alexander Calder, Banksy and Mark Rothko. 

Woof! London’s first ever dedicated dog bar (yes, you read that right) has opened for the summer outside The Pet Pavillion in Chelsea Farmers Market. The Pawsecco Bar serves Pawsecco – a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated and grape free dog-friendly drink made from elderflower, nettle, ginseng and limeflower. To eat, there’s ‘doggy gelato’ and canapes such as super bone broth, chicken and turkey. Open all day Saturday and Sunday until September.

 

SOUTHERN ENGLAND

BRIGHTON

Situated on Ship Street in The Lanes, French restaurant Petit Pois opened in June, showcasing modern twists on French classics. Run by a husband and wife team, diners can enjoy sharing plates in warm rustic interiors, with dishes such as duck rillettes, steak tartare and tart Tatin – accompanied by a varied list of French wines.

Curry Leaf Café’s new Kemptown Kitchen in the city’s vibrant Kempton Village area mixes things up with a modern, playful menu of tapas-style Indian ‘small plates’, complimented by an exciting range of spiced cocktails and craft beers. Keep an eye out for its monthly pop-ups and special events.

 

SCOTLAND

GLASGOW

Newly opened on Dumbarton Road, Down to Earth Organic uses only 100 per cent organic, fresh produce sourced from local farms. Each dish consists of natural ingredients and the menu features dishes for both veggies and meat lovers alike.

Riding Glasgow’s street food wave, one of the city’s street food sensations – Surf Dogs – has a new permanent Southside home. Owner Martin’s aim is to change perceptions of the humble hot dog, and toppings range from US-favourites like the traditional chilli dog, to a BBQ dog topped with onion rings and a Jack and Coke barbecue sauce. Some toppings have a distinctive Scottish twist and there are also veggie varieties and a vegan option, the Super-Rad Surf Dog.

One of Glasgow’s most recognisable historical  buildings, Hutchesons’ Hall in the Merchant City, has had a stunning makeover, transformed into the new Hutchesons City Grill and 158 Club Lounge, with a beefy menu focusing on steak and classy cocktails.  

 

WALES

PEMBROKESHIRE

Luxury Twr y Felin Hotel in St Davids is celebrating its fine-dining Blas Restaurant being awarded the Food, Drink and Hospitality Award at the 2017 Radio Pembrokeshire Business Awards. The restaurant’s menu champions produce sourced predominantly from Pembrokeshire and Welsh suppliers, as well as foraged ingredients from the surrounding countryside and coast.

MONMOUTHSHIRE

Launching this month, guests staying at The Whitebrook Restaurant with rooms can join foraging expeditions with Michelin star chef-patron Chris Harrod and expert forager Henry Ashby. On these unique trips out into the countryside, guests will go in search of produce which they may then find incorporated into a dish on the menu at the restaurant later in the day. The three-hour experience is booked in advance and is open to small groups of two to eight. Chris Harrod developed his love of wild food whilst training under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, using the countryside as his larder.

 

YORKSHIRE

LEEDS

In June, sleek rooftop Japanese restaurant and bar Issho arrived in the city, specialising in Asian sharing dishes that incorporate Yorkshire produce. Having previously launched London’s Sexy Fish in 2015, executive chef Ben Orpwood’s extensive travels around Japan have inspired his dishes, resulting in creations such as Wagyu pastrami and maple-glazed pork belly with fresh apple and wasabi. The restaurant features an outdoor terrace, and its bar, Kori, serves a wide range of sake alongside Japanese-inspired cocktails, such as the Matcha Sour.

In July, Manhattan-style rooftop bar and grill East 59th opened as an all-day bar and grill in the city centre, with an al fresco terrace. The menu focuses on New York dining, including dishes such as slow braised beef short rib with sweet mustard BBQ sauce and house pickle, while weekend brunch dishes include stacked pancakes with crispy smoked bacon and maple syrup. There’s also the option for late night grazing at the bar until 1am with snacks like firecracker rock shrimp and hamburger sliders. The rooftop bar has panoramic views of the city and the venue will be running regular DJ sessions and music events.

YORKSHIRE DALES NATIONAL PARK

A new festival celebrating the cheese-making heritage of the Yorkshire Dales will make its debut on 23 and 24 September this year. More than 40 different cheeses are produced in the region, many of which will feature at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Cheese Festival, held at The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. There will tastings, demonstrations, cheese-making and cheese grading, as well as guided walking and cycling tours for visitors to explore the picturesque countryside, tasting local specialities as they go.

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

MANCHESTER

Pop-up zero food waste heroes Real Junk Food Project create delicious dishes using perfectly edible produce thrown away by supermarkets, suppliers and farms. One of its directors is former Fat Duck chef Mary-Ellen McTague, who worked with Heston Blumenthal at his acclaimed fine dining restaurant. The team has been running a pop-up across the city since 2014, but will now open a permanent site (opening date to be confirmed), serving breakfast and lunch five to six days a week and three a la carte dinner evenings. There will be no set price to pay – instead, customers will be invited to give what they feel the meal is worth, and what they can afford. The team’s next goal is to offer free cookery lessons to low-income local residents.

McTague is also at the helm of Manchester Art Gallery’s new Gallery Café, with an overhauled menu that launched in June. Produce is sourced from an on-site kitchen garden, and cured meats and bread are made in-house.

CUMBRIA

A new gastropub with rooms, the Pentonbridge Inn, is being launched in Cumbria this September by a husband and wife team who were the former head chef and pastry chef respectively at Marcus Wareing’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant at The Berkley Hotel in London. Located in the hamlet of Penton, the inn will have nine rooms and a dining room offering tasting menus served personally by the chefs, incorporating locally-sourced ingredients. A separate pub area will serve classic ‘pub grub’ and small plates throughout the day.

 

WEST MIDLANDS

BIRMINGHAM

A new African-themed restaurant serving springbok steak, ostrich rump and crocodile burgers has just opened on John Bright Street. Nakira Bar and Grill is kitted out with an authentic braai (a large South African barbecue grill typically used to cook game meats), plus African art and tribal masks decorating its walls. A menu highlight is the huge Nakira Braai sharing meal, including Boerewors (a typical South African sausage), beef steak, peri peri chicken skewer, jerk chicken skewer, chicken wings, large black tiger prawns and corn on the cob. Make sure you’ve built up a big appetite for this one!

Over at Grand Central, YouTube vlogger Nisha Katona has opened a branch of her Indian street food restaurant brand, Mowgli. Menu highlights include vegan dishes, Himalayan style cheese on toast, gunpowder chicken poppers (made with ginger, garlic and garam masala, fried in a chickpea batter), and mother butter chicken – a “real street food” equivalent of chicken tikka masala.

 

SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

BATH

Get ready for a cheat day in Bath! In June, Smashburger’s handcrafted burgers arrived in the city, served with signature sides such as fried pickles and Smashfries (tossed with rosemary and garlic).  And Spanish celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy – who has previously worked at Spain’s famous elBulli under Ferran Adrià – has opened Tapas Revolution in the city. His menu of small sharing plates celebrates adventurous eating, and features Spanish classics such as tortilla, croquetas de jamon and chorizo – and indulgent churros con chocolate for dessert.

You might as well go all out and top it off with a ‘Swoondae’ at Bath’s new artisan gelateria, Swoon, which opened in May. As well as classics like chocolate, pistachio and fruity sorbets, Swoon’s chefs concoct six new seasonal flavours each month.

CORNWALL

A new nautical-themed restaurant, Loveday's, has opened in the village of Charlestown, which is famous for featuring in the BBC's popular TV series Poldark, starring Aidan Turner. Loveday’s menu celebrates local seafood and is influenced by the travels of sailors who would have set off and returned home to the Charlestown port.

BRISTOL

Two beefy new restaurants are vying for Bristol’s burger crown. In July Hubbox opened on Whiteladies Road, bringing mains like its Big Kahuna burger to the table: two 4oz beef patties, BBQ pulled pork, Swiss cheese, BBQ sauce, mayo, red onion, lettuce, tomato and onion rings. And if you have room, its signature sides include the likes of crispy chicken strips and barbecue burnt-end beans. Meanwhile, pop-up and festival favourite Burger Theory will open its first permanent restaurant in August on St Stephen's Street, and stage burger-related events throughout the year. Let the burger-off commence!

Bristol’s new harbourside shipping container development, Cargo 2, has welcomed a host of fresh independent eateries. There’s dedicated hot salt beef sandwich bar, The Pickled Brisket; authentic Mexican taco bar Cargo Cantina, inspired by its owners’ travels through South, central and North America; and Sholay Indian Kitchen, which focuses on modern, simple dishes such as chicken sliders and vegan spinach and garlic bhajis.

Also joining the Cargo 2 family is Gopal’s Curry Shack, with its aromatic vegetarian and vegan Indian street food, including parsnip and ginger pakoras and even an onion bhaji scotch egg. And for dessert, there’s Oliver’s Ice Cream - fresh gelato and sorbets made on the premises from natural ingredients, with 18 flavours to choose from at any one time, plus waffles, crepes, shakes, fresh coffee, ‘spaghetti gelato’, lollies, and cakes – all made from ice cream.