Sustainable travel

Sustainable staycation: top 5 places to visit in the UK

It’s the middle of summer, and thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are stuck at home, rather than on the summer holidays abroad that we’d hoped for. But this doesn’t have to be a complete loss. Now is a great time to try out a sustainable staycation! In the age of cheap airline travel, it’s easy to feel spoiled for choice abroad, and forget about the great destinations available at home!

Staying in the country means that you’ll be able to drive or take public transport to your destination, which is a win for the environment. Of course, it’s important to abide by any local lockdowns, and remember that the four regions of the UK have different regulations, so make sure you check before you go!

So settle in, and let us take you through just a few of the best destinations that you should be considering for your staycation this summer…

1. Sustainable staycation in Devon and Cornwall, England

Great for: Families, Pets

Devon and Cornwall are the classic choices for holidaying in the UK. There’s a good reason for that—the south-west of England gets lots of sun and has some of the most stunning, sandy beaches in the country. Fortunately for our four-legged friends, many of these beaches are dog-friendly, so your best friend can come, too!

sustainable staycation exmouth

Our puppy had a great time at Exmouth beach!

If you’re travelling with children, Devon and Cornwall are a great choice because there’s so much for kids to do! From the Eden Project to Kent’s Cavern, you can be sure they’ll not get bored. Many of the camping and holiday sites around the region are family-friendly and include play areas or children’s clubs.

But the region has more to offer than just family-friendly attractions. It’s a great destination for a sustainable staycation because an entire industry has grown around eco-friendly tourism. From unique, sustainable glamping with Canopy & Stars to eco-friendly campsites, there’s something for every budget.

You don’t have to choose just one of either Devon or Cornwall. If you visited both, you could finally settle a debate that’s been raging for decades: which is superior, Devonshire or Cornish Cream Tea?

2. Fife, Scotland

Great for: Food Lovers, Golf

Have you ever wanted to spend a holiday eating your way around some of the best food that Britain has to offer? Fife might be just what you’re looking for. The beautiful and historic town of St. Andrews, famous for being the location where Prince William met Kate Middleton, will once again begin hosting their famous farmers market on 29 August. Best described as ‘Oxford, but with a beach’, St Andrews is full of stunning scenery and cosy pubs. 

If you’re still hungry after checking out the farmer’s market, Fife is also home to several critically acclaimed fine dining establishments. If that’s a bit out of your budget (as it was mine), the Ansthruser fish bar was recently crowned best in Scotland and has excellent sustainable credentials. Janetta’s famous gelato store offers over 100 different flavours to try! Fisher and Donaldson’s famous fudge doughnuts are so famous, they’re actually in the picture used on Wikipedia.

Of course, we can’t discuss Scotland without talking about distilleries! This list, compiled by Welcome to Fife, rounds up some of the best whisky distilleries in the area. If you prefer gin, Kingsbarns Distillery also offers gin tours, and if you’re a craft beer person, the St Andrews Brewing Company offers a brewery tour. For those vital eco-friendly credentials, Eden Mill distillery, in 2021, will become Scotland’s first carbon-neutral distillery!

If you’re interested in golf, then St Andrews is a great place to visit. It’s home to both the British Golf Museum and the famous St Andrews Links, which is sure to be on any golf-lover’s bucket list.

Of course, after eating all that food, you should probably go on a little walk. The Fife countryside is also full of scenic walks for you to appreciate!

3. Pembrokeshire, Wales

Great for: Nature, Relaxing

For a sustainable staycation that really gets you back to nature, Pembrokeshire is ideal.

I’ve always described Pembrokeshire to people as being like Devon and Cornwall, but less busy. While the ‘tourist’ areas can get crowded in the summer, it’s much easier to get off the beaten path here. This can mean that campsites in the region have fewer facilities than their English counterparts. In fact, my top tip is that you make friends with local farmers, they may permit you to set up camp in their fields. Why would you do that? Because then you can wake up to views like this:

Sustainable staycation at Newgale

Who really needs a shower block, anyway?

The other bonus of smaller campsites like these is that they tend to be close to the coastal paths. When you’re ready to chill on a beach or take a dip in the sea, just walk along and take your pick from the sandy coves along the way. A particular favourite of my family is the walk from Newgale to Solva. Choosing one of these smaller, quiet beaches makes it much easier to socially distance than at busier (but still beautiful) beaches at Broadhaven or Whitesands. It’s also much more relaxing. Take a good book and some snacks, and enjoy!

4. The Lake District, England

Great for: Adventure, Heritage

If you’re after a bit of adventure, the Lake District may be just what you’re looking for. The Lake District is England’s largest national park and a recognised World Heritage Site. Home to 21 of the 25 highest mountains in England, including the number one, Scafell Pike, if you love to hike, scramble, and climb, then this is the destination for you. It goes without saying that this region is also home to some absolutely stunning scenery.

While walks and hikes are a big part of what makes the Lake District great, there’s much more to it than just getting covered in mud. The stunning setting of the Lakes has inspired many famous writers and poets. From William Wordsworth’s ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, to Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, the Lake District is full of important literary heritage. You could visit Wordsworth’s home (still inhabited by his descendants), or Beatrix Potter’s Farm.

Many of the stately homes and gardens in the Lake District are now open to the public. You can learn about their history, admire the gardens, or relax in traditional tea rooms. For those of you with a sweet tooth, Grasmere is famous for its gingerbread, and Kendal is famous for its mint cake. After all those hikes, you’ve earned it!

5. Take a sustainable staycation, at home!

Great for: Convenience, Low-Budget

Having a ‘staycation’ doesn’t just mean travelling inside the country. Why not take some time off work and really get to know your local area? You could take some time discovering local attractions, for example, visiting National Trust sites or checking out these resources from Days Out UK. You might be surprised by what’s available in your area. The big advantage of this choice is that you can sleep in your own bed—much more comfortable than camping!

That wraps up our list! If you want to know more about sustainable travel, check out our past blog posts on eco-friendly travel and sustainable travel after COVID-19. As you can see, the UK really does have something for everyone.

Have you travelled to any of these destinations? Do you feel inspired to take a sustainable staycation this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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