Swapping an overseas trip for a relaxing break closer to home is one simple way to make your summer holiday more sustainable. Avoid the crowds with these off the beaten track destinations.
Staycations are rising in popularity – and that can only be a good thing for the sustainably-minded holidaymaker. By cutting down on travel emissions and investing in the UK economy by supporting local tourism, a staycation is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your much-needed summer escape.
The first hurdle when planning any holiday is settling on a destination. Ideally, you are after somewhere that will provide the perfect blend of rest and relaxation with a varied selection of attractions nearby – and factoring in your destination’s Instagram-ability doesn’t hurt either…
Here are just a few staycation destinations that may have slipped under your radar.
Upper Derwent Valley, Derbyshire
The Peak District is always popular with tourists, particularly in the warmer months – but away from the typically crowded chocolate box towns of Bakewell and Buxton, you’ll find fantastic walking routes and lesser-known villages connected by cycling trails, buses and railway lines.
As an alternative to Kinder Scout, trace a route up to Owler Tor – the breath-taking views are a great reward for keen walkers after a steep climb. Base yourself in the quieter villages of nearby Hathersage, Grindleford or Hope. If the weather turns, take a day trip to Sheffield for further entertainment options.
Edinburgh is inundated with visitors in August and Glasgow’s reputation as a thriving creative hub is drawing crowds to the city. For an alternative that offers cultural thrills and beautiful surroundings, consider Pitlochry in Perthshire.
See what’s on at the Festival Theatre and take a tour of the Blair Athol or Edradour distilleries for a true taste of Scotland. There’s white-water rafting and bungee jumping opportunities nearby for the thrill seekers too. If you are visiting between May and September, be sure to attend a Highland Night, an unmissable evening of traditional music and entertainment.
Just a short bus ride from St Austell, Pentewan is a small village on the southern Cornish coast which provides a perfect staycation destination with a range of nearby attractions. Hire bikes in the village or walk the coastal path round to Mevagissey and Gorran Haven.
Avoid the queues at the Eden Project and head for The Lost Gardens of Heligan – since the 1990s, this somewhat secret garden has undergone extensive restoration work and now offers woodland walks, one of Britain’s longest Burmese rope bridges and populated farmland. Stop by the insect hotel and the hide, an interactive wildlife project, to inspire future climate activists.
Waxham, East Norfolk
Between the popular North Norfolk beach towns of Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea and the Suffolk hotspot Southwold lies a lesser-explored stretch of the East Anglian coastline. Dotted with campsites, barn conversions and holiday cottages, the stretch of sand between Waxham and Winterton-on-Sea is part of the Norfolk Broads National Park and is a favourite spot with locals.
Hire kayaks and explore the broads or pack a picnic and hit the beach. Walkers can take the coast path North towards Happisburgh, or bring your bikes and cycle further afield – after all, Norfolk is known for its relatively hill-free landscape.
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex
Brighton and Hove are just up the road, but Shoreham-by-Sea is a great staycation option for those looking for a bit more peace and quiet. The beach is popular with paddlers and sailors and you’ll have easy access to the walking and cycling trails of the South Downs. Visit the nearby Highdown gardens and check what’s on at the Ropetackle, a lively arts venue with a varied programme of music, comedy and theatre.
Glastonbury may be best known for its world-renowned music festival but when the crowds of wellie-booted, (biodegrable) glitter-covered crowds have cleared, the unique town comes into its own as a year-round tourist destination.
Visit the legendary Glastonbury Tor, stop by one of the dedicated vegetarian/vegan-only eateries, and book in for a yoga or meditation session to help you unwind. Be sure to check The Oracle before you arrive to find out about holistic events and classes taking place during your stay.
Llŷn Peninsula, Wales
Concerns were raised earlier this year about the number of tourists visiting the Brecon Beacons and peaks of Snowdon – so stray from these well-trodden paths and cast your eyes to a different Welsh region. The Llŷn Peninsula has plenty of charming seaside villages to explore such as Nefyn and Llanbedrog. We recommend pitching up a tent or booking a scenic cottage for your stay.
The region has a rich cultural history and artistic tradition too. Visit the beautiful Bardsey Island just a short boat ride away, and pop in to Plas Glyn-y-Weddw to visit the latest exhibitions.
Read Venetia Falconer‘s guide to planning the perfect staycation.
For more sustainable travel guides, take a look at our With Love From… series.
Planning a once in a lifetime trip? Take a look at the best eco resorts on the planet.