Staycations are back. And this summer they’ll be more popular than ever.
Record numbers are expected to book a break on these shores in the coming months, and although there are plenty of brilliant places to visit in the UK, we shouldn’t overlook what’s right here on our doorstep.
Of course, our region has some of the most sought-after locations for a holiday in the UK – from the picturesque coastline to the iconic lakeland and sites of historic significance – and an abundance of campsites, hotels and B&Bs to suit all budgets.
So what is there to do when on a staycation this year? We’ve picked out some of the best day trip ideas for you and your family in our region.
Explore Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall is technically the biggest tourist attraction in the country, spanning 73 miles – the full width of the country.
Many people each year tackle the mammoth footpath along the length of the wall (plus a little bit more) from Wallsend on the east coast of England to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, and is one for the bucket list if you love walking and have five or six days to spare.
But if there is one location that encapsulates the experience – and is handily-placed for a day trip – it is Housesteads, just 20 minutes from Hexham and around 40 minutes from Carlisle. Built in around AD 124, it is the best example of a Roman fort in Britain today and forms an iconic part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover Galloway Forest Park
North of the border, the Highlands and Scotland’s stunning West Coast deserve all the adulation they get and are a must-visit if you don’t mind the distances involved. One area that gets overlooked though is Galloway Forest Park – said to be the largest forest in the UK.
Not only that, it was also the first area to be designated Dark Sky Park status – arguably the best place for stargazing in the country.
A fantastic place for walking or mountain biking, with lochs and mountains in plentiful supply, and an opportunity to spot the native red deer, it is worth a visit at any time of the year. But make sure you stay long enough for it to get dark, because that’s when the sky above Galloway Forest comes into its own.
All aboard the La’al Ratty
The Lake District has postcard-worthy views to rival the best in the world, and millions will be heading there this summer as an obvious alternative to a trip abroad.
But the most westerly part of the national park is often overlooked by tourists. Muncaster Castle, its gardens, and its hawk and owl sanctuary are back open and worthy of a full day on their own, while a wander down to Ravenglass village gives you the picture-perfect coastal setting to enjoy a drink or a pub lunch.
From there, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway – or ‘the La’al Ratty’, as it’s known by the locals – will transport you by miniature steam train deep into the heart of the Lakes, and within hiking distance of Scafell Pike.
Can you really visit the Lake District without seeing Windermere? The largest lake racks up the highest number of visitors, but with good reason.
There are few better ways to take in the scenery than from the centre of the lake, on board one of the historic ‘steamers’. Windermere Lake Cruises has boats dating back to 1891, and calls at the main ports, including Lakeside at the southern tip, Wray Castle, Brockhole visitors centre, Ambleside, and, of course, Bowness. The latter is a hit with tourists, thanks in no small part to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction, telling the stories of the author’s legendary characters through puppetry, interactive exhibitions and, at certain points in the summer, a musical.
Unearth a hidden gem
Lancaster often proves to be a popular choice for a weekend away – and an ideal base for day trips outside the city.
Just half an hour away, and you’re in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The small village of Ingleton has a lot more going on than you would imagine – though it might seem sparse at first glance. Most of the action is under the ground, with two of the biggest and most spectacular show caves in the UK. Here you can follow in the footsteps of the early Victorian explorers as you journey through 450 million years of geology and history. Ingleborough cave is back open to the public, and the slightly larger White Scar Cave is set to reopen imminently.
The Ingleton waterfalls need to be on your itinerary too if you’re in the area, and the Ingleborough mountain also forms one third of the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.
Take a leisurely cruise
If a more sedate trip is your cup of tea, you can relax on the waterways of Lancashire. The Lancaster Canal celebrated its 200th anniversary last year, and currently offers 41 miles of lock-free cruising – the longest stretch in England.
One of the country’s few coastal canals, you get spectacular views of the Silverdale coast and out to sea at Glasson Dock, or you can pass through Lancaster and right into Preston city centre. Along the way, the Lune Aqueduct is one of the most impressive structures you can navigate a narrowboat over – worth mooring up for just so you can marvel at it.
You can hire a boat at either end or various points in between.
See the lights
The classic day trip, of course, has to be a visit to the seaside at Blackpool. Once the holiday destination of choice for all of England, there are still numerous reasons to spend a day in the original beach resort.
During the Illuminations is the best time to visit – and the celebration is a little different this year, having been extended by two months to provide a much-needed boost to the area’s tourism season. There will be a unique live-streamed switch-on for the first time ever on September 4th, and the incredible light show will remain in place until the new year.
While you are there, a trip up the tower needs to be done – if only to experience the thrill of walking on a glass floor, which looks down onto the promenade almost 400ft below. You can’t leave without a ride on The Big One, the tallest and steepest roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1994. Oh, and don’t forget a ride on a donkey along the beach to complete the quintessential British day trip.