Ask any key worker how you can help during this Coronavirus outbreak and their response is almost always the same: ‘please, stay home’. That’s exactly why we’re all doing what we’re doing. We’re staying home and we’re doing it with a huge sense of appreciation, privilege and gratitude for all those that have to leave their homes in order to keep others safe and the country running. But we still miss the old days when travelling was spontaneous and the destination was anywhere.
We will get to explore every pocket of the planet again someday soon, but we may not want to stray so far from home at first. And for those of us in the UK, you won't have to venture far to still enjoy azure waters, golden sand and mountain ridges. In that spirit, here are some of the UK places that feel like they're abroad:
Quiraing, Isle of Skye
Instead of Iceland
Close your eyes, picture a trip around Iceland with your Adventure Bag and your mind will flash images of dramatic landscapes and seriously spectacular waterfalls. But Scotland’s Isle of Skye has a few tricks of its own -- and The Quiraing is the jewel in that crown. We’re talking about a 7km loop amongst the rocky ridges of Scotland’s most impressive cliffs; a hidden kingdom of jagged rockfaces and surreptitious plateaus that were created by a massive landslip. The Quiraing is like stepping into the deepest depths of your imagination, and that’s why it should be a mandatory requirement for any adventurer’s bucket list.
Isles of Scilly, Cornwall
Instead of the Caribbean
Floating just 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall is a tropical archipelago of over 100 islands surrounded by turquoise seas and full of exotic fauna, from wild moorlands to gardens of palm trees -- and they officially offer the balmiest weather in the UK. You could travel every square mile of Britain and you won't find a more exotic spot than the Isles of Scilly, trust us. Just one visit to Tresco’s Abbey Garden followed by a stroll along the white beaches and you’ll think you like you're in the Caribbean, complete with Scilly's turquoise waters that are perfect for everything from kayaking to wreck diving some of the archipelago's must-dos.
Crib Goch, Gwynedd
Instead of the Alps
Hiding in the wilds of the Snowdonia National Park is Crib Goch, Welsh for ‘Red Ridge’ and one heck of an awesome knife-edged aréte, it’s summit scratching the sky at over 3,000ft above sea level. It may not be as iconic as the climbing routes of the Alps but Crib Goch has just as many thrills. Ask any experienced hill climber and they’ll tell you this is a classic scramble with some of the wildest, most exciting stickleback ridges anywhere in the world. Finding routes to the top isn’t straight and the exposure is serious, but looking out across the labyrinth of valleys below make it worth every skipped heartbeat. Welcome to your new summer adventure.
Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey
Instead of Bordeaux
The big skies and open countryside Bordeaux has always dominated the chateau-owning race for vintage wines no matter what sort of palate you have, but you would be forgiven for mistaking Denbies Wine Estate for the vineyards of western France. Not only was this beautiful vineyard planted in 1986 and won barrels of awards for its sparkling wine and rosé since then, but it remains one of Surrey’s best-kept secrets. Whether you are an experienced wine lover, a total newbie in the art of wine or simply looking for an escape that feels far-far-away, take a wander down these south-facing slopes of the North Downs, enjoy a sip or two and then continue on your way to the Stepping Stones and Box Hill.
Little Venice, London
Instead of Amsterdam
No one can deny the beauty of Amsterdam’s Herengracht or the Canal du Midi in southern France, but London has its very own oasis of calm and tranquillity and it’s tucked just behind Paddington’s main station. Little Venice is a slice of canal heaven in the capital, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent's Canal, with some of the most incredible mansions acting as your backdrop. These serene waterways offer an unexpected escape from the busy roads nearby, so throw on your commuter backpack and take a boat ride as far as the bustling Camden Market, stopping at the different waterside cafes and eateries along the way.
Elegug Stacks, Pembrokeshire
Instead of Norway
To surround yourself with a similar drama to Norway’s landscape, you can end your road trip at the Pembrokeshire coast, home to the majestic Elegug Stacks. Impressive in the extreme, these two isolated pillars of rock burst out of the sea, their bases worn away by the ebb and flow of crashing waves, their summits an important nesting site for guillemots and kittiwakes, which you can see en masse throughout the summer. But it’s not just this moment of Scandinavian scenery that makes this adventure worthwhile, it’s the nearby Green Bridge of Wales -- the biggest natural arch anywhere in the country.
St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
Instead of Normandy
Pack your weekend bag, set your SatNav to Cornwall and go discover St. Michael’s Mount with your own eyes. You feel like you’ve been transported to northern France from the moment you catch sight of this fascinating tidal island; an island that’s only accessible by foot when the tide is out, or boat when it’s in; an island full of cobbled-streets, a historic castle, incredible gardens and a village dating back as far as 495AD. There is so much you can compare to Normandy's Mont Saint-Michel, but while that remains one of the most popular attractions in all of France, St Michael's Mount is still shrouded in secrecy despite its breathtaking beauty.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Instead of southern Italy
This could be our favourite stretch of coastline, and not just in England. Stretching out across 95 miles the Jurassic Coast boasts some of the most staggering scenery on earth, with rock formations and ocean hues that are normally exclusive to Italy and the Greek isles. But even they don’t have a patch on this sequence of beaches, coastal villages and natural rock formations dating back more than 185 million years. Picnic beneath the awesome limestone arch of Durdle Door, watch the sun shimmer on the clear waters of Man O’War beach, explore Lulworth Cove and go rock pooling at Kimmeridge Bay. Wherever you stop, you’ll find an adventure.