IF you are planning a short break don't think too far.
We choose the perfect UK locations and skip airport delays for a relaxing trip closer to home.
ACTING Lifestyle Editor Emma Ledger and boyfriend Alex hit the footpaths along the county’s coastline.
THE PAD: It doesn’t get more quintessentially English than the super-cosy one-bed Nutmeg Cottage – think Cameron Diaz’s house-swap in The Holiday. There’s a wood-burning fire, stained-glass windows and the owners even leave a welcome bottle of wine. Located in the sleepy village of Osmington, you’re just 200m from the friendly local, The Sly Fox.
EXPLORE: The stunning Jurassic Coast – 95 miles long and 185 million years old – is right on your doorstep. Walk out of Osmington and follow the footpath across cow fields for half an hour to be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Channel. Just 20 minutes by car is the famous walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch jutting out into the sea.
REFUEL: Perfectly positioned on your nearest walking route is the huge Smuggler’s Inn. Serving up Badger beers, which have been brewed in the Dorset countryside since 1777, it also does a mean Ploughman’s, £8.50 (Smugglersinnosmingtonmills.co.uk). Head west along the coast for the must-visit Beach Hive Cafe (Hivebeachcafe.co.uk). With far-reaching views across Chesil Beach, it’s the perfect kid-friendly location to enjoy local seafood or just a cuppa. Try the ultimate fish and chips, £15, (there’s also a half-portion for kids), or there’s a whole crab for £20.
DON’T MISS: The charming village of Abbotsbury sits in a secluded valley surrounded by fields. There are cute galleries and antique shops and the scones at The Old School House are worth the journey alone. Pull on your hiking boots to trek up the hilltop to St Catherine’s Chapel, free to enter, for panoramic views.
BOOK IT: Nutmeg Cottage sleeps two and costs from £89.50 per night (Dorsetcoastalcottages.com).
EDITOR In Chief Sinead McIntyre, husband Alistair, twins Riley and Harris, seven, and Daisy the dog head to the wilds of Norfolk.
THE PAD: The converted Whitehands Farm Barn on a quiet country lane has everything you need for a relaxing stay, including three en-suites, a hot tub and a large, secure garden – perfect for our crazy spaniel puppy. The twins loved the hot tub so much we had to ban them from getting in before 9am. A welcome hamper awaits, while owners Colin and Mary live nearby and are on hand if needed.
EXPLORE: Head to quaint seaside town Cromer for a walk along the pebble beach under dramatic cliffs. Browse the independent shops – Artyfax sells unique jewellery (Artyfax.com), while The Norfolk Food and Drink Co has a great selection of local gins. Join the queue for fish and chips at renowned No 1 Cromer, £7.70 or £4.50 for a child’s portion (No1cromer.com). Prefer a sandier beach? Head to stunning Holkham. Crowned Countryfile Beach Of The Year 2018, it’s accessed via a fragrant pine forest, and keep your eyes peeled for seals!
REFUEL: The charming village of Old Buckenham is a scenic 10-minute stroll from the cottage and the dog-friendly Old Gamekeeper has delicious pub grub. Try the scampi and chips, £11.50, and finish with the gorgeous home-made cheesecake, £6 (Thegamekeeperoldbuckenham.co.uk). A short drive away in New Buckenham, check out The Inn On The Green (Innonthegreenfreehouse.com). Ribeye steak served with chips and onion rings, £21, is delicious. And the two-course kids’ menu, £6.95, is great value – you can’t go wrong with sausage and chips followed by ice cream.
DON’T MISS: Explore Norwich’s Tudor history with a walk through Elm Hill and a visit to Norwich Castle, which is home to many Tudor exhibits including a stool used to duck suspected witches. Tickets cost £9.50 for adults and £8.10 for children (Museums.norfolk.gov.uk). And make sure you take a trip to 950-year-old Norwich Market – one of the oldest and largest in the country.
BOOK IT: Whitehands Farm Barn sleeps six and costs from £73 per night (Sykescottages.co.uk).
Toad Mire, The Lake District
WRITER Lucy Quick, husband Andy, daughter Nina, two, and grandparents Fiona, Henry, Sandra and Trevor lap up lakeside luxury.
THE PAD: Set on a working farm, Otter Tarn is one of six lodges at Toad Mire, all of which sleep six in three en-suite bedrooms. With woodland and lakeside views, these idyllic pads are equipped with every luxury, including monsoon showers, wood-burning stoves, and private hot tubs. Belted Galloway cows roam the nearby fields and there are over 150 bird and bat boxes dotted around, so pack your binoculars. In the summer, there is a boat available for guests to rent on nearby Lake Windermere.
EXPLORE: The 20-minute circular walk around Otter Tarn is perfect for little ones – if you’re lucky, you’ll spot swans, cormorants and otters. More adventurous explorers can hike half an hour up to nearby Lookout Point to take in the views of the Langdale Pikes range. Coniston is a 30-minute drive and there you’ll find picturesque Tarn Hows lake, offering an accessible circular 1.6-mile walk with mountain views (Nationaltrust.org.uk).
REFUEL: Just three miles away, the town of Cartmel is full of shops and pretty pubs serving delicious fare and local ales. Over in Coniston, award-winning pub The Yewdale Inn is in the town centre and serves bowls of steaming soup, £5.50, and a variety of toasties from £7 – but make sure you save room for the sticky toffee pudding, £6.50 (Yewdaleinn.com).
DON’T MISS: The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, free, is a six-minute drive from the house and the perfect spot to learn about locomotives and let kids exhaust themselves in the adventure playground. From April until November you can ride a steam train to Lakeside Station, £2.90 for children and £4.40 for adults (Lakesiderailway.co.uk).
BOOK IT: Lodges at Toad Mire sleep six and cost from £118 per night, no dogs allowed (Sykescottages.co.uk).
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