So, it’s looking unlikely that you’ll make it to Ibiza this July. Wondering what on earth you’re going to with lots of time on your hands? We’ve rounded up the very best places to head to in the UK. By the TMIK team.
WILD SWIMMING 🏊♀️
Can there be any better way to cool down from the summer heat that by breaststroking up and down thirty yards of clear, green water, eye to eye with frogs, ducks and the occasional fish? Here are 10 of the best spots for it.
1. Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall, England
If you want a gentle introduction to wild swimming, this cultivated pool – built in the 1930s – that fills up gently with the Atlantic is the spot for you.
Find it: Summerleaze Beach, Bude, EX23 8HN.
2. Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Paddle around in this 25m-deep quarry pool, which is a brilliant blue colour due to its gray slate.
Find it: Park in Abereiddy off the A487, and follow the acorn signs to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
3. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Wild swimming doesn’t get much more magical than this. A succession of pools and waterfalls await you as you trek up towards the source of the River Brittle on the Isle of Skye. Just remember to bring a wetsuit.
Find it: Get the ferry from Mallaig, or try the road bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh. On the road to Loch Brittle follow the Forestry Commision signs to “Fairy Pools.” The walk to the pools is about 2.4km.
4. Hampstead Heath, London, England
A golden oldie for Londoners. Three of the 30-odd ponds are open to swimmers and are fed by the River Fleet (there’s a mixed pool, and two single sex pools). The ponds are so beautiful they’ve inspired writers to pick up pens: try reading Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty.
Find it: Hampstead Heath, London, NW5 1QR.
5. Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Catch a wave or soak up the sun on this two-mile stretch of white sand in County Londonderry on the north coast of Northern Ireland, which also has plenty of wildlife around thanks to its status as a National Trust conservation site.
Find it: 118 Strand Road, Portstewart, County Londonderry, BT55 7PG.
FRESH AIR MONUMENTS 🍃
Museums and galleries might be a no go for a while yet (or else accompanied by weaving queues), but you can get your culture fix by visiting one of these extraordinary fresh air monuments.
1. King Alfred’s Tower, Somerset
Wander up through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower, a 160ft high folly, designed by Henry Flitcroft for Henry Hoare II in 1772. It’s thought that this is where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. The tower commemorates the accession of George III to the throne in 1760 and the end of the Seven Years War.
2. Penshaw Monument, Sunderland
Get some fresh air and take in stunning views from this 70-foot high monument, at the top of Penshaw Hill. Built in 1844, it is a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Fun fact? It even appears on the badge of Sunderland Football Club.
3. Uffington White Horse
The walk around White Horse Hill provides panoramic views and myths about kings, goddesses and fire-breathing dragons, as well as a Bronze Age white horse. What more do you need?
4. Angel of the North, Gateshead
Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North is the UK’s most famous piece of public art. The biggest angel sculpture in the world, it’s a beautiful reminder that we’ve all got our guardian angels.
5. Castle Rock, Edinburgh
Topped by the spectacular Castle itself, the Rock rises through the heart of Edinburgh, carrying the Royal Mile along its classic crag-and-tail formation right down to the Palace of Holyrood.
DRIVE-IN CINEMAS 🍿🚘
While we’ve had streaming options galore at our fingertips for entertainment through lockdown, there’s really no replacement for the big screen. It might be some time before you can snuggle up to a date under a bucket of popcorn to watch a movie inside a cinema. But you can get the next best experience by hitting one of the UK’s outdoor or drive-in cinemas, open from this week.
1. Sunset Cinema, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground, Acton
Sunset Cinema have dubbed themselves “an all American inspired vintage Drive-In movie experience.” The West London location will show its first screening on 5th July, with a great line-up of classic and cult films from Dirty Dancing to Pulp Fictions. And there are cocktails. Just make sure you have a designated driver.
Further deets here.
2. The Luna Cinema, Multiple locations: Midlands, London, Oxford, Hertfordshire
You may have been to one of Luna Cinema’s popular outdoor summer screening sessions. Now you can swap your picnic blanket for your car as they pivot to pop-up drive-in cinemas for the first time. There’s some great spots to choose from including Warwick Castle, Allianz Park, Blenheim Palace, Knebworth House with more to follow. You can order food and drink which will be delivered directly to your car by their team on roller-skates and scooters. Some dates are already selling out so move fast! Check out the listings here.
3. @TheDriveIn, Multiple locations: Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Southampton, Cardiff, Glasgow
@TheDriveIn is hosting six shows in each major city, with some great family friendly options like The Lion King and Toy Story as well as your movie classics. There’s even a Grease Sing-along… Sign us up! Head here.
4. Drive & Dine
Those behind Pub in the Park are launching a Drive & Dine Theatre at both Syon Park and Selhurst Park Stadium in London with movies, comedy and food by Tom Kerridge. Listings include family favs and 80s flicks as well as contemporary films: 1917, Aladdin, Jaws, Knives Out and Back to the Future.
See what takes your fancy here.
5. The Star and Mouse Drive-in, Suffolk Helmingham Hall, near Stowmarket
This mobile cinema is normally tucked away in Cambridgeshire but will now be hitting beauty spots around the UK. They’ll be showings on a 52ft screen in July at Helmingham Hall with classic 80s movies and live entertainment.
Find more details here.
CYCLE ROUTES 🚴♀️
During lockdown, you probably had time to dust off your bicycle or maybe you even bought a new one and during the last few months, you became an ultimate cyclist. No matter whether you’re a racer, commuter, pootler or toddler, there are some breathtaking cycle routes in the UK you could try out this summer.
1. Camel Trail – Cornwall
12 miles, easy
Ideal for family cycling, the Camel Trail runs from Padstow to Bodmin and is one of the most popular recreational routes in the country.
Largely traffic-free, the trail follows the route of an old railway line once used by the London and South West Railway. Along the way, you’ll be able to spot otters, bats, dormice, kingfishers, little egrets, marsh orchids and marsh marigolds, besides spectacular views of the estuary.
2. Bristol to Bath path
15 miles, easy
Did you know there was a traffic-free path between Bristol and Bath? Well, this a good opportunity to visit both cities while doing some exercise. Along the way, there are some must stop points: enjoy an ice cream at the Warmley café, witness an old steam engine in action at Bitton and have lunch at the pubs in Saltford.
3. Richmond park, London
4 miles, easy
There are numerous routes to take you around the tarmac paths of Richmond Park, from easy routes for families up to challenging loops with steep hills.
There’s a 20 mph speed limit within the whole park, and some paths have pot holes, so take care. If you want to avoid cycling alongside cars, stick to the paths around the ballet school and Pen Ponds. But it’s a great chance to spend some time in nature, and if you’re lucky, spot some deers.
4. Applecross peninsula, via Beachla Na Bà, Scotland
44 miles, medium
The centrepiece of this stunning ride in the Northwest Scottish Highlands is the wild, single-track mountain pass of Bealach Na Bà, a 9km climb that links the remote village of Applecross with the civilisation.
From Shieldaig, a good base, the shortest loop is 44 miles (72km), and you should head clockwise to catch the climb from its best side. It’s also a perfect route to attempt in the summer: getting caught out in the cold on this peninsula it’s not a great experience!
5. The Great Orme, Wales
5 miles, easy
The name, given by the Vikings, means ‘sea monster’ and it’s what this lumpy cycle-friendly stretch of road resembles from the Welsh seaside town of Lalandudno’s promenade.
Rising 207m out of the sea it’s a mini-mountain to the residents here, and one that is experienced best by bike, with the five-mile Marine Drive skirting its way around its tip. With such extraordinary views, be sure to keep at least one eye on the road!
If sleeping under the stars is your idea of a perfect summer night, then get your sleeping bag out of storage and dust off that pop-up tent you’ve had since your first music festival. Not only is camping eco-friendly, it’s also affordable and you get to experience some of the wildest locations around the country.
You can’t miss these campsites ➡️
1. Fidden Farm, Scotland
White sand, crystal clear water and you are in… Scotland. Nestled on the Isle of Mull, this remote campsite backs right onto the beach, so expect to be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves.
Spend your days exploring the rugged coastline and spotting wildlife like dolphins and eagles, and bring your bikes and kayaks to get off-road and discover the remote corners of this far-flung island.
Find it: Fidden Farm, Fionnphort, Isle of Mull, Scotland, PA66 6BN. Call to book and for up-to-date rates, 01681 700427.
2. Top of the Woods, Wales
At Top of the Woods in Pembrokeshire in Wales, the only decision you’ll have to make is which eco-friendly accommodation to pick to get back to nature. You can choose a boutique safari lodge, a nature dome or a “pioneer camp” with a large, tent-meets-marquee lodge and a separate kitchen under canvas? Of course, there’s always the classic: BYO tent and pitch up in the wildflower camping meadow!
Find it: Camping from £13 per adult per night. Top of the Woods, Boncath, Pembrokeshire, Wales, SA37 0EP.
3. Castle Knights, Wales
If you’re into history, Castle Knights allows you to step back in time and camp in the grounds of an actual castle. There’s a field for regular camping and a selection of glamping pods in all shapes and sizes – from barrels and yurts to tiny forts. For modern-day amenities, there’s a communal kitchen barn, two hot power showers and modern toilets, of course in a medieval-style block.
Find it: Pitch your tent from £10 a night per adult. Castle Knights, Usk Castle, Usk, Wales, NP15 1SD.
4. Plush Tents Glamping, Sussex
If you’re not that into wild camping, but you still would like to sleep outdoors, a hand-crafted Mongolian yurt in the South Downs could be just the perfect option for you! Swap the sleeping bags for hand-carved wooden beds with proper mattresses and Egyptian cotton bedding, and add a wood-burning stove to keep you cosy, no matter the weather. There are flushing toilets and hot showers too. In short, everything you need to get back to nature without sacrificing your home comforts.
Find it: Prices from £110 (low season). Plush Tents Glamping, Chichester, West Sussex, England, PO18 9AW.
5. Ten Acres Vineyard, Devon
For a more sophisticated experience, why not camping and try a little wine tasting next to a vineyard in Devon? Either bring your own tent or rent a glamping option: an unfurnished bell tent or a furnished safari tent. The campsite reception also happens to be the Devon Wine Shack, where you’ll find all the essentials: camping gear, local crafts, and, of course, a range of wines.
Camping £8 a night. Glamping from £30 a night. Ten Acres, Winkleigh, Devon.