BLAENAU FFESTINIOG, SNOWDONIA, WALES
Once the ‘slate capital of the world’, the former quarries that slice into the impressive Snowdonian mountainside now form one of the UK’s most popular activity centres.
Mountain bikers will love the downhill trails, where you can set off from amid the clouds. Alternatively, for the ultimate thrill, swoop down the mountain courtesy of three zip-lines, or head below the surface to take on a unique underground course in a disused slate mine.
Where to stay: Quarry View Touring Park is a 10-minute walk from Blaenau Ffestiniog and near the Ffestiniog Railway.
RATHLIN ISLAND, NORTHERN IRELAND
The Giant’s Causeway is as curious a place to visit as any, but for something different, this amazing island five miles north of Ballycastle on the North Antrim coast is a must-see.
Seabird colonies, three lighthouses and a scattering of stone pillars combine to create a magical scene – legend has it that fairies would dance on the pillars. The coastline is surrounded by some 40 shipwrecks, everything from cargo ships laden with rum to a WW1 cruiser torpedoes by a German U-boat – which all add to its terrible beauty.
Where to stay: Ballyness Caravan Park was a Regional Winner in our 2020 Top 100 Sites awards.
This traditional fishing town has become the epicentre of cool Kent, as culture and seaside resort combine to make the perfect touring destination. Smart galleries and trendy boutiques rub shoulders with seaside pubs and painted beach huts.
Famed for its seafood, the town has an annual oyster festival that would normally take place in July. Sadly, it has been cancelled this year, but it will return in 2021.
Where to stay: Primrose Cottage Caravan Park is near the town and has great views of the sea.
THE POISON GARDEN, NORTHUMBERLAND
One for budding toxicologists out there, the gardens at Alnwick have enough interest and variety to satisfy even the most casual gardener. But those with a leaning towards the macabre will be fascinated by the Poison Garden.
If you and your family dare to enter through the ominous black gates, you’ll be treated to a collection of around 100 intoxicating and narcotix plants.
Forget ‘Don’t walk on the grass’, the instructions are clear and worth following – ‘ Don’t touch, don’t smell, don’t eat!’
Where to stay: Greensfield Moor Farm is just 1.5 miles from Alnwick, within easy reach of the gardens and Alnwick Castle.
HADRIAN’S WALL, CUMBRIA
What did the Romans ever do for us? Well, they built this wonderful wall, for a start. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the wall was originally constructed to protect the Roman Empire’s north-west frontier from the unconquered northern tribes in Scotland.
Today, much of the wall remains intact, with some excellent walking along the 73-mile stretch. Head for Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria for the longest continuous section.
Where to stay: Seldom Seen Caravan Park is well placed for both the Cumbrian and the Northumberland parts of the wall, and is just north of the North Pennines AONB.
KIELDER OBSERVATORY, NORTHUMBERLAND
The star-filled skies above Kielder Water & Forest Park are said to be the darkest in England and one of the few places in the country offering an unpolluted view of the night sky. No surprise then that Kielder Observatory was located here.
Events are run throughout the year, and you get the chance to view the stars through large-aperture telescopes in the two turrets, or smaller telescopes on the viewing deck.
Where to stay: Kielder Caravan Park is ideally situated, right on the shores of the Kielder Water reservoir.
LONGLEAT HEDGE MAZE, WILTSHIRE
With its famous safari zoo, house and gardens, it’s very easy to become absorbed by the many attractions Longleat has to offer. But if you want to get properly lost, be sure to enter the hedge maze, which is the biggest in Britain and comprises some 16,000 English yew trees. The objective is to reach the central observation tower. Surely navigating these paths should be a cinch for accomplished caravanners!
Where to stay: Longleat Caravan Club Site is within a lion’s roar of the maze and the safari park.
ISLE OF WIGHT, HAMPSHIRE
There are so many great things to do and see on this island off the south coast, but for curiosity’s sake, why not head for St Catherine’s Oratory? It’s only a mile away from the popular amusement park of Blackgang Chine.
This stone structure, known locally as the Pepperpot, has been described as a medieval lighthouse but is in fact more likely to have been a bell tower or beacon. The accompanying Salt Pot is actually the stone base of a lighthouse that was begun in 1785 but never completed.
Where to stay: Downsview CL is a small campsite only a few miles away in the hamlet of Bierley, north of Niton.
EDEN PROJECT, CORNWALL
Nobody could mistake the glorious biomes housing the Eden Project, which are synonymous with the Cornish landscape. So it’s amazing to think that only 25 years ago, the area was just a hole in the ground – the remains of a china clay pit.
In that time, it has grown into the largest rainforest in captivity, housing stunning plants and hosting live events. It’s now become one of the county’s most popular tourist attractions, with everything from a Rainforest Canopy Walkway to England’s longest zip-line.
Where to stay: Doubletrees Farm Caravan and Campsite is just a short hop from the Eden Project.
LEWES, EAST SUSSEX
The county town of Lewes is perhaps best known for its elaborate 5 November celebrations, when Bonfire Societies from across Sussex join together to turn the town red with fire. Usually, this is a far more peaceful place, with the characterful Cliffe High Street, Lewes Castle and Anne of Cleves house among the most popular attractions. Opera buffs are within easy reach of Glyndebourne, while the South Downs await walkers of all levels of ability.
Where to stay: Horam Manor Country Park features in our Top 100 Sites Guide 2020 and is about 10 miles away, in nearby Heathfield.
HOLMFIRTH, WEST YORKSHIRE
An unassuming yet exquisitely pretty town just outside the Peak District National Park, Holmfirth achieved fame as the location of the popular BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. These days, visitors flock to see the cobbled streets and quaint shops that so characterise this part of the world.
The surrounding countryside is suitably magnificent and there’s also the chance to take a peek inside Compo’s house, which is now home to an exhibition about the show.
Where to stay: Nearby Holme Valley Camping and Caravan Park sits on the edge of the Peak District and is surrounded by 16 beautiful acres of woodland and meadows.
LOCH NESS, SCOTLAND
Perhaps the quirkiest place in the whole UK – after all, it does have its own monster – Loch Ness is Britain’s largest loch by volume, containing more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful and packed with attractions and activities.
There are wonderful walks around the loch, and be sure to visit Urquhart Castle, dating from the 13th century. A boat trip us a must and, who knows, on a still morning as the mist parts, you might just spot a shadow on the water – Nessie?
Where to stay: Loch Ness Shores has direct access to the shoreline, and boats and kayaks are available for hire.
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