When I think of holidays (or vacations if you’re from the other side of the pond), I think of jetting off to hot European islands, splashing around in swimming pools and strolling around towns bursting with European culture. I have fond memories of these travels, they were my happiest childhood memories and personally, I struggle to associate a getaway in the UK with a holiday. I remember being much, much younger (I’m talking like ten years ago here) and for the first time in my life, my family decided to holiday in the UK. We made the five hour trip down to Cornwall, nestled in the South West corner of England, ready to embark on a week-long adventure along the English coastline. It had the makings of a great holiday, but if you know anything about the unpredictable English weather, you’d know where this story was heading. Yes – it rained. Not just a bit, but torrential rain for an entire week. Since this, my family have vowed never to ‘holiday’ in the UK again, and ten years later, we still jump on planes every year. There have been plenty of occasions where my friends have suggested going away for a couple of days, only for me to turn my nose up and come up with an alternative abroad for the same price. I always questioned why anybody would choose to travel across the UK when a holiday in Europe is often the same price, if not cheaper.
Just last week, I was tasked with travelling four hours down South for work, and honestly eight hours of travelling in one day didn’t really appeal to me so I forced my boyfriend into a weekend away in Wiltshire, as you do. Whenever we go away places, we are usually faced with ridiculous and completely unexpected weather. We went to Majorca and it rained for an entire week, we visited Budapest late April and it snowed (the list goes on). Much to our surprise – the UK experienced a heatwave this weekend, which I guess as it reached 30 degrees, it was ridiculous and unexpected, but I’d much rather take that over rain.
Over the course of the trip, we stayed in Salisbury. Not long ago, Salisbury was voted one of the top ten cities to visit in the World, so I was quite excited to see what it had to offer. Despite the fact the city has quite an obvious traffic congestion problem (which was extremely infuriating at times) there was a lot to see, such as the famous Gothic Cathedral housing the Magna Carta, historical timbered buildings and thatched cottages, museums and local markets. Not only this, the world-famous prehistoric monument, the Stonehenge is only located ten miles down the road in Amesbury, if that’s your cup of tea. We found Salisbury to be a fantastic central location for the surrounding area. Salisbury itself if situated within Wiltshire, and offers spectacular views of rolling hills with multiple places worth visiting within an hours drive.
If, like us, you manage to get lucky with the weather, Salisbury is located around 45 minutes from the coast. The neighbouring county, Dorset, offers a coastline that gives Cornwall and Devon a run for its money and prior to embarking on this trip, I’d heard tremendous reviews about a town called Bournemouth. Despite this, we actually decided to go a little further down the coast towards Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, primarily because the traffic towards Bournemouth was ridiculous, clearly everybody in Salisbury had decided on at trip to the coast at exactly the same time as us. From what I gathered, if you enjoy seaside resorts, head to Bournemouth, however if something a little different interests you, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door could be right up your street. Once you reach the Lulworth Cove area, there is a coastal hill walk that takes you around a small cove, past Durdle Door and up onto the surrounding hills. The walk itself is described as challenging, and oh my it was certainly challenging in thirty degree heat. On a slightly cooler day, I think it could have been bearable, but at one point we were tackling 30-40 degree inclines, which is a huge no when the sun is beating down on you. In the end we didn’t complete the full walk, and instead decided to reach the highest hill just for the view and then re-walk the coastal section. Do not be phased though, if you struggle with walking, there is a large car park near Durdle Door to avoid the 500ft climb at the start. Overall, I’m thrilled I managed to do the walk, and the view from the hill of the beaches below was brilliant enough to sit there for twenty minutes gazing across the water. I also found myself saying “wow, these beaches remind me of abroad” far too often, continuing to shut down my theory of how terrible UK beaches are.
On our final day, we ventured up towards the spa town of Bath. Again Bath was around one hour away, but we chose to go here as firstly, I’d been told previously that it was a nice day out, and secondly because it was on the route home. If you’ve already been to Bath, Bristol is only a little further, which has been voted one of the nicest UK cities. Descending the hills which surround Bath makes for an interesting view as the city lies on a floodplain enclosed by the Avon Valley and the southern edge of the Cotswolds (a range of rolling hills in the South of England) – I certainly wished I had stopped to take some photos on the way down. Beside from the picturesque location, the most unusual thing about Bath itself was the buildings. These are either remains from the Roman period such as the baths themselves, or are primarily made from the local, golden-coloured Bath stone – as seen in the photos below. There are multiple areas of interest in Bath itself. The most popular of which being a site of historical interest – a well-preserved Roman bathing site. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to see this due to an excessively long queue in thirty degree heat, however when I next return to Bath, this will certainly be top of my list. You can read more about the Roman Baths here. Aside from this, Bath offers a medieval, gothic Abbey founded in the seventh century, Pulteney Bridge, the Royal Crescent and plenty of museums to sink your teeth into.
In total, our weekend was around three days long once you account for travelling times. It certainly was action-packed, and if you wanted to take things at a slower pace, you could quite easily spend four or five days undertaking similar activities. My perspective of holidaying in England has well, been “seen in a new light”, and looking into the future it may well be something I consider more often. Although I’m not sure how often.. swapping my abroad holidays for unpredictable English weather will not be happening any time soon.