With a bank holiday weekend about to start, I’ve been thinking about holiday destinations for this summer. I’ve been to Devon and Cornwall over and over again, and in the past couple of years I’ve twice travelled up to the Peak District. I think it’s about time I tried somewhere new, preferably with some great roads to tow on and spectacular scenery to enjoy. If there’s a good local brewery or two, so much the better.
I doubt I’ll get to all of these this year, but here are five places I’ve never been caravanning that I’d really like to visit in 2016.
The Lake District
Everyone goes to The Lakes. Everyone says it is beautiful. Yet somehow I’ve never been. The closest I’ve been to a holiday in the Lake District was an overnight stop at Tebay Services caravan site on the way up to Scotland in 2006. I thought at the time that I’d soon book a longer stay in The Lakes, with time to explore beyond a motorway service station. But 10 years on I still haven’t, and that’s something I really should fix.
My work as Tow Car Editor involves more new car launches than trips away in a caravan, and one frequent destination for presenting new models to the press is Northumberland. Manufacturers choose the area because there are some spectacular roads in Northumberland and the nearby Scottish Borders. For someone who lives just outside of London it’s refreshing to drive on remote roads with so little traffic.
Perhaps it’s very different at the height of the tourist season, but the roads have been very quiet whenever I’ve had the chance to visit Northumberland. I’d need a powerful tow car to cope with the steep hills within the Northumberland National Park. As well as enjoying the rugged scenery in the park, I’d like to spend more time on the coast, too, visiting Lindisfarne Castle. Durham and Newcastle are both places I’ve spent time, but I’ve never been to either and stayed in a caravan. Maybe 2016 will be the year.
Another obvious gap in the places I’ve been caravanning is North Wales. Like Northumberland, it’s a popular spot for road testing cars. Many car magazines head out this way for group tests, and relish both the driving and the spectacular scenery, the perfect back-drop for photography. I was in North Wales in 2006 (I seemed to get around a lot that year!), looking over a site which was shortlisted as the overall winner of our Top 100 Sites Guide. It was a flying visit, and I still regret not having had time to stay longer.
On visits to North Wales I’ve been sailing and power boating, and I enjoyed my one and only flight in a glider. When I go back – hopefully with a tourer in tow – I’d love to enjoy some more outdoor adventures. There’s a 100mph zip wire in Bethesda which I’m really keen to try, especially if I can persuade my daughter to give it a go, too. A trip up Snowdon on the railway is more likely to get the green light, though.
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook what’s on your doorstep. I live in Surrey, so Sussex is just a short drive away. But because it’s so close I tend to head to Brighton, Eastbourne or the Sussex Weald for day trips rather than longer visits. That same proximity makes Sussex an ideal place for a weekend away in a caravan. Friday night traffic can only be so bad if I’m towing just 30 or 40 miles. In the space of a couple of days we could cram in a trip on the Bluebell Railway, head to the beach at Brighton, and walk along the top of the Seven Sisters cliffs, and be home in time for school and work on Monday morning.
I always enjoy trips to the coast, and the faded grandeur of old seaside resorts. It’s always interesting to see how Victorian resort towns have strived to adapt and modernise without losing their character. So, the Norfolk coast, in particular resorts like Cromer, are on my list of places to explore. Friends and colleagues tell me there are some beautiful beaches, too, like Hunstanton, Sea Palling and Sheringham.
I doubt I’ll get to all five destinations this summer, but I’ll give it a try. Where would you like to go on your caravan holidays that you’ve never been before?
There's a 100mph zip wire in Bethesda which I'm really keen to try, especially if I can persuade my daughter to give it a go, too