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This is another article in United Kingdom travel series. It is vacation time again as the summer season is coming very soon. This is also the time when most of the travel and hotel agencies would be coming out with schemes and special offers to attract more tourists. In this article I will also suggest you ways to make your trip cheaper.
I have been to London many times during my educational trips. It used to be my base station from where I traveled to most of the parts of the United Kingdom. In this guide I will be covering the full length and breadth of the UK from East to West and from South to North in two separate trips. Try If you are lucky you might get some good deals to grab online that will make your trip even cheaper. I would recommend you to go through Expedia travel vouchers and browse through the coupons and vouchers that suits you well.
Starting from London I will move in the South west direction to a seaside town of Weymouth where I will explore world heritage Jurassic Coast and award winning sandy beach. From Weymouth I will make a turn to North West to another seaside resort town of Woolacombe which is famous for blue flag and premium seaside beach. Continuing the zig zag trend, I will move towards south west to Cornwall where I will have a seaside train ride as well as a ride on the steam train through beautiful landscaped countryside.
Weymouth is a beautiful seaside town with its award winning beaches and world heritage sites and picturesque traditional harbour. The place is livelier in summers when the sun is up and sky is clear, the beach sand shines and the water sparkles in the ideal sunny day. The water is crystal clear and the place was chosen for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for conducting sailing events. There are ample of sports facilities available like kite surfing, wind surfing, diving and sailing. Each area is marked with flags indicating whether it is safe to swim in that area or not.
|Weymouth Beach, photo taken by Elliott Brown|
Weymouth beach is perfect for families and couples and offers a lot of other things to do like amusement, rides and snack stands. Arriving at the beach is very easy, large number of buses and shuttle services ply on the road between various holiday resorts and the beach. You may also come by your own vehicle, but finding parking space can be difficult and time consuming.
White sand on the beach is amazingly soft, the beach is clean although you may find cigarette butts. I went to the right end of the beach near the viewing tower and amusement, the sand is even more softer and beautiful. I really enjoyed walking along the esplanade, and I was surprised later as the sun was settled we had a light show. There are variety of snacks available at various snack stands, but if you wish to save money you can bring your own lunch or snacks and have a nice homemade food at the sea shore.
|Jurassic Coast, photo taken by Rach2k|
Jurassic Coast is another special thing about this place. It is England’s first natural world heritage site. The Jurassic Coast which is an offshore bar consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning the Mesozoic Era, documenting 180 million years of geological history. The oldest rocks along the coast can be found at Exmouth and are as old as 250 million years whereas the youngest are at Studland Bay at around 65 million years old. The site shows excellent examples of landforms, among them is the natural arch at Durdle Door, the cove and limestone folding at Lulworth Cove and the Isle of Portland. Chesil Beach is a tombolo (a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar).
Moving from Weymouth to Woolacombe takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes on a 170Km long journey. Woolacombe is not one of the well known travel destinations in UK, but it has started receiving tourists recently, most of them stop by to see the Woolacombe bay. Plymouth and Bath have been more popular destinations in the region.
Woolacombe was voted the Best British Beach in the Mail On Sunday and also holds the ‘England for Excellence Gold Award’ for best family resort. Although not much popular, Woolacombe’s profile is as strong as any other popular summer destination. Woolacombe can be best reached by road. The roads are largely very rural and quite narrow which may become very congested during summer as people queue up to get into one of the two large car parks which are situated close to the beach.
|Woolacombe Beach, Photo by Gary Huston|
Its three mile long golden sand beach has won both the blue flag and Premier Seaside Beach award. It is voted one of Britain’s best beach and lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point. There are four beach within a five mile walk. And all can be very crowded in the summer making it difficult to find a parking space which is £5 for a whole day. It would be better to walk to the beach from the beautiful streets enjoying the beautiful view. Try to book a hotel near the beach so that you do not have to walk much. You may be lucky to grab few appropriate deals through travel vouchers and coupons.
I was saddened to hear the news that the beach lost the blue flag status recently in 2012 due to water quality issue. However, it still retains many other awards. You stand at the beach looking at the Atlantic Ocean waves touching your feet, behind you lies the highlands that surrounds you from the rest of the sides, creating a very beautiful scenery.
The beach is also famous for various sports activities like kite surfing, wind surfing etc. The beach also provides a designated area for dogs. I found a little kid there who was making a sand castle, it was fun to sit with her and help. When the sun had settled down and it was dark, we went up. Walking back to my room, I saw the sand castle intact, and the waves striking the coast even harder. The sound of the waves were louder which can make anyone happy specially me who loves sea and beaches.
Continuing my journey, I am heading to another seaside place Cornwall. The place not only has beautiful sand beach, but also has picturesque landscape and beautiful coastline which can be explored by train. One of the reason of coming here for me was riding in the trains here.
Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall passes through some of the most beautiful places, From mesmerizing coastal views to green countryside, clear river crossings to densely wooded valleys and the almost moon like landscape of the Cornish china clay industry.
|Cornwall Steam Railway, Photo taken by J D Mack|
I felt travelling in this train was very off the beaten tourist path, and I am glad I did, the train passes through beautiful town, small villages, historic mountains and bustling cities, it is a vital link for the locals, but the way it passes through is so stunning that it has gained popularity as a tourist train.
There are six lines of Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall mainly Maritime Line, Looe Valley Line, Tarka Line, St Ives Bay Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Tamar Valley Line.
Looe to Plymouth £5.40
Liskeard to Newquay £5.80
Truro to St Ives £6.30
St Austell to Looe £7.60
Falmouth to Plymouth £9.50
Penzance to Plymouth £9.50
These fares are applicable for adults, children between the age of five to fifteen may take ticket for half price, and children under five years can enjoy the ride for free. Also if you take GroupSave option, four people in a group would be able to travel for the price of two adults Off Peak Day Returns on First Great Western trains.
Cornwall also has steam trains running through beautiful countryside. I went to Bodmin which is the prime station and junction of Cornwall’s steam railway. The station was beautifully revamped to give a look of 1950s. The main station building is old by centuries and was constructed by Great Western Railways in 1887. Again there are a number of steam railway lines on different routes which are quite small but good enough to spend time and admire the beauty of Cornwall sitting in the vintage train, a unique experience. Various lines are Launceston Steam Railway, Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Lappa Valley Steam Railway, and World of Model Railways.
Refreshing views, clear sky, warm sun, clear water, soft and warm sand in West England is what makes it a great destination for spending your summer vacation. My trip to western region ends here, returning to London and from their I will move towards north exploring the spectacular Lake District and beaches in the extreme north UK; Durness, Scotland.
|Lake District, photo taken by Steve Pyke|
Lake Derwent is one of the most visited lake in the Lake District. It is a very picturesque lake surrounded by lots of woodlands and fells sloping down towards the water. I walked around the lake little bit which is an 8 and a half mile long walk and tried my hand at boating. There are many companies ready to provide you the boating experience. There is a pastureland overlooking the lake where the sheep and lambs play. I took some delightful photos of them grazing and at play. It is hard to tell if the lake is more beautiful from the lake level or viewing it from above when hiking in the area. Either way, it’s a treasure and worth visiting.
Once you are there you can have your packed meal, or buy a snack. You may visit the National Trust shop, take a boat trip or hire a row boat. Perhaps the ducks and geese along with the sheep and lambs catch your eye. If you wish to, you can even buy bags of bird food.
Catbells Lakeland Hike is easily reachable from Keswick and is famous for its views over Derwent water. The hike might take nearly two hours up and down and may be even three if you would stop everywhere like me to take photos. To reach up catch the Keswick Launch across to Hawes End and climb up Catbells over Skellwith Bank, there are little steep climbs and easy challenges but the view from the summit is probably one of the best in the Lakeland for so little effort. If you still feel energetic at the summit you can walk further up on to Maiden Moor and come back down different views. When you come down arrive at Hawes Gate and walk back to catch the Keswick launch, along the Lakeside.
Moving further north I will enter Scotland, another kingdom in the United Kingdom. Durness is a village and in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. Famous for its Smoo cave and unspoilt beaches backed by cliffs.
Durness is famous for Smoo cave, when I reached there I had not expect this cave to be as awesome as it was. It was really easy enough walk down to it as their is a wooden fence to hold on to and steps. There are flood lights which still makes it look great even if the weather isn’t that good. There is a huge cavern and you can imagine living there centuries ago. The second cavern leads to a tremendous waterfall full of cold sprays making it almost impossible to take a photo of it. During rainy season, the caves are wet and you may find water dripping through the roof at various points.
|Durness Beach, photo taken by Lluís Ribes Portillo|
Durness beach is fantastic sandy beach with stunning black rocks embedded in the sand, beautiful bluish green sea and rocky cliffs. The place is very photogenic and can make a day promising! I walked all the way along the length of the beach and then I moved up at the end to a lighthouse from where the view is even more spectacular. The beach accompanied by a waterfall at the edge of the bay makes it even a better place for those who loves natural photography.
Sango bay in Durness made me just take my camera out when I saw rock formations sticking out of the stand. Pristine golden sands with the projectiles of Rock on them gave the experience of being in totally another planet. Huge waves crashing on the shore and on the rocks creating splash of waters formed so many rainbows. I have not seen so many rainbows before all at once. The place is really cold in winters and you may expect the right time to go there only after May, if it is not raining.
Indeed it was such a long tour. I did not complete this journey in one single trip, but in two consecutive summers. I tried to merge my trip into one so that I could help you decide which one or two locations would you like to visit this summer. Coming back to my base location London, I finish the tour of Top 5 Summer Destinations in UK. Let me know which one of the place would you like to go this summer. Subscribe to my updates an follow me on my path.