So who could have predicted Covid in 2020 and the huge Global impact it would have on us all. Despite the light at the end of the tunnel being the vaccine, I predict that 2021 will still run very much as a Covid year.
So let’s look at some of the predictions in the travel industry for 2021. Travelling abroad is a no no unless you would like to tempt fate so it looks like it will be another year of staycations. On the plus side Covid has forced people to look at the beauties they have right here on their doorstep and think about how much you are doing for the planet and helping support small businesses in the UK. To avoid disappointment here’s a few tips
- Book early. The best staycations will get booked up quicker in 2021 as people have gotten to know the hidden gems in 2020 when all the focus has been on UK staycations. Also keep checking as due to local lockdowns you could get lucky on last minute cancellations.
- Location. I would choose to stay in less populated areas in Rural locations like Market towns, Rural Countryside or on Farms where there is plenty of space around you to have a great outdoorsy vacation while still being safe. There is also plenty to do from walking, outdoor adventure to days out and cultural exploration. Its also great if you can get an online shop delivered to your holiday unit and if the venue does food a real bonus.
- Groups. If you are missing family or friends. A great way to be together but still keep yourselves safe is to book separate units at the same place and do socially distanced activities together. Like walking, BBQing etc
- Lockdown. Ensure that you will be allowed to re book or get a refund should there be another lock down) If you are booking with a small rural business its best to re book to help ensure their business survival.
- Re-assurance. Look up what Covid procedures are in place to ensure the place you are booking is Covid Safe. It is quite normal for cleaning regimes to take longer, for there to be no physical copies of welcome books, self checkin, removal of soft furnishings that cannot be washed on high temps eg wooden blankets and cushions etc
- Experience Holidays. What a fun way to vacation. Why not learn a new skill on your time away. Whether its helping out on a farm, yoga retreats, guided walking or cycling holidays, canoeing, foraging, basket weaving etc the possibilities are endless. Adding a bit of magic and making your holiday much more memorable.
With that in mind these are my top 3 (and 1 extra) off the Beaten path must visit places for 2021.
- Herefordshire. By far the number 1 spot. Its a rural county that lies between England and Wales and is a fiercely independent county. What’s great: It’s a hidden gem, largely undiscovered and is the epitome of real and authentic. A strong food culture that will rival the streets of Shore-ditch with plenty of the UK’s food being grown locally on the lush farms surrounding you. Field to fork is definitely on the menu and there are world renown artisanal food and drink producers such as Tyrells, Chase Vodka & Gins, British Cassis, Dunkerton’s cider to name a few. It produces over 50% of the UK’s apples and is also know for their amazing ciders. With new inventive ciderologists like Little Pomona coming in the flavours are inventive and super exciting. Visit Herefordshire recently published some epic Cider Cycling Routes best done during October the month the apple is heavily celebrated in Herefordshire. Around the 12th day of January is when Wassailing (refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year. There are wonderful walks for the amblers as well as the hard core trekkers. My favourite walk is The Cat’s Back in the Black Mountains the and the longer trails Wye Valley Trail, The Herefordshire Trail and Offas Dyke National Trail. Here are some other gentler walks The River Wye meanders through and is a wonderful spot for wild swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing. Wildlife is plentiful so if you are into birding, wildlife or nocturnal night walks you are bound to see Badgers, Deer, Hedgehogs, Hares, Bats, Owls, Kites, Buzzards etc. There are a number of food festivals throughout the year and very season brings something new and is celebrated. be sure to visit before the crowds get here. Places to stay: Farm Stay: Drovers Rest – an award winning posh farm stay offering accommodation in Safari glamping tents, Recently restored Drovers Cottages. Onsite Farm Activities including animal encounters, camp fires and rural workshops such as foraging, sky gazing, basket weaving. Hotel: The Green Dragon recently taken over by new owners its refurb makes it quite the place to be. Located smack in the middle of the Hereford, its luxurious lush interiors and snazzy cocktail bar makes it a perfect rural city break. Places to eat the hidden gems. Drovers Rest offer a pop up restaurant on their farm in the barn, You may end up eating sitting on straw-bales around a fire bowl or more formally seated in their posh barn around tables. They cook all of their food on open fires. Popular menus include Pizza night cooked in wood fired pizza ovens, Curry night sometimes served in Bunny chows (an idea started in South Africa during Apartheid) and BBQs. Beefy Boys & Rule of Tum do the best Burgers ever! and The Shack Revolution have the Bastion Street Food festival every month and if you are looking for Fine Dining theres no better than Michelin star Pensons Restaurant on the Netherwood Estate
- Pembrokeshire. I really had no idea that the UK had such incredible beaches until I visited Pembrokeshire. Barfundle Bay is my all time favourite. Its kept largely unspoilt which means you need to walk to the Bay and take everything you need with you as there are no facilities. Trust me the half a mile walk is well worth it. Take a festival trolley with you so you can chuck in all your gear. Make sure to take lunch and drinks as you won’t want to leave. Pembrokeshire is being developed so it’s a bit of a hit and miss. The only watch out is during Covid 2020 the frustrating thing was when England was allowed to go out post lock down, Wales was in lock down and vice versa so think about this when planning. Places to stay: Castle: Roch Castle, Roch This hotel, which scooped top prize in the hotel category of the first Welsh Hospitality Awards, was a 12th century Norman castle which has been restored as a luxury hotel. Hotel: The Grove at Narbeth. This hotel boasts impressive style and each room has been designed with the help of a top interior designer. But that doesn’t stop it from being a cosy place to stay, with stunning views of the Preseli Hills.
Places to eat the hidden gems I came across this amazing food cart in the car park at Fresh water West Cafe Mor. Wow what a great find. They make their own seaweed butter and their food really is special.
- Cumbria – The Lake District National Park is beautiful and is located in the heart of Cumbria, a predominantly rural county in the far north west of England. Famous for its beautiful lakes and mountainous fells, carved out long ago by glaciers, the Lake District today is great for walkers and outdoor enthusiasts. The predator experience where you can walk with the wolves sounds fun. Ofcourse with there being so many Lakes it would be rude not to either walk around them or take to some water activities. Wind Surfing is THE thing to do while in the Lake District and Lake Keswick provides a vast number of different water activities you can register for. Places to stay: Boat House Lingholme Boathouse. Perched on the edge of Derwentwater in the Lake District, The Lingholm Boathouse offers a tranquil and romantic escape for two. Hotel: The Yan. It means ‘Number One’ in local dialect, and there’s a good chance that The Yan will be number one on your agenda after spending a night or two here, or eating in the downstairs restaurant. Part of the the successful Broadrayne Farm business Places to Eat Hidden Gems: The Cottage in the Woods. Hidden in Whinlatter mountain forest near Keswick, there is a whitewashed 17th-century property with wonderful new age wines and sublime food.
- Snowdonia National Park Snowdonia is a region in northwest Wales concentrated around the mountains and glacial landforms of massive Snowdonia National Park. The park’s historic Snowdon Mountain Railway climbs to the summit of Wales’s highest mountain, Mount Snowdon, offering views across the sea to Ireland. The park is also home to an extensive network of trails, over 100 lakes and craggy peaks like Cader Idris and Tryfan. Places to stay: Cabin Ty Twt This quiet part of north Wales is perfect for a few days of restorative, relaxing outdoor time and Ty Twt has been beautifully crafted to welcome you into it Cottage: Dolydd Cottage. A stunning, romantic grade 2 listed cottage, located in the picturesque village of Maentwrog. Dolydd is a perfect retreat for those looking to visit North Wales. Places to Eat Hidden Gems: Tyddyn Llan Considered to be one of Wales’ finest restaurants, this Michelin starred eatery is located on the eastern outskirts of Snowdonia, and is a great choice for a delicious Sunday lunch. Amser Da. Next door to the ‘best deli in Wales’, Blas ar Fwyd, head to Amser Da to treat yourself to local provisions to cook at home, or stay for lunch or dinner to enjoy fantastic tapas options.