I spent my holidays as a kid camping all over the UK with my parents and my younger brother, but I also never stopped asking my mam and dad ‘why can’t we go somewhere hot instead?’
It wasn’t until I reached my late 20s and I was fed up of battling for a spot on a beach on sunny breaks around Europe with my friends that I really started to appreciate just how good we have it on our doorstep.
And that my parents were right all along.
It is an age-old British tradition to stick on the Speedos and head to the seaside when warm weather arrives here, but is it really the best way to make the most of the sunshine?
A 99 with a flake on the beach might be the first choice for many, but with the rise of the staycation in recent years, it might be worth looking for a woodland adventure rather than being let down by an overpriced ice cream.
For years I would be questioning why I was sitting in a tent in the Lake District as it bucketed down outside, while my other school friends would be getting a tan and basking in the sun somewhere hot.
Or wondered why I was wandering up a big hill or in a pencil factory in the middle of nowhere and not just sat on a sun-lounger with an ice-cold Coca-Cola.
But now after initially feeling like that part of my life was over, I am feeling ready to go out and enjoy the beauty spots of the UK and embrace whatever the seasons throw at me.
The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, the Norfolk Broads, the Brecon Beacons are all just a few hours drive from the capital, and if you are lucky enough to live even closer then you may well already know just how wonderful they are.
And as daunting as it may sound to spend a long weekend in a tent, it would be safe to say that isn’t always the case.
There is a range of all sorts of different bougie lodges, luxury treehouses and glamping sites that give the best of both worlds. Spaces where you can enjoy the countryside and the fresh air away from the big cities, but don’t have to fear getting muddy hiking boots in your tent.
How does a day of walking in the hills in the glorious sunshine rounded off with a barbecue over a stove and a dip in the hot tub sound?
Suddenly those not-so-sandy beaches just aren’t as appealing.
After enduring lockdowns and travel restrictions over the last few years, anyone who wanted to go on holiday was forced to stop looking further afield and there was a boom in breaks in the UK.
This has led to a huge rise in the number of far more accessible spots in the UK that some savvy businesses have decided to turn into luxury camping sites.
After a childhood spent in the north, exploring the beauty spots of the south has always been something I have wanted to do. For my first venture in the south, I ended up travelling to Ewelme (Yoo + Elm as I was told every time my Geordie accent got the better of me.) It was just one train from London Paddington, and I was there in just over an hour.
The lodges there are incredibly secluded, and when you first step into them, you feel like you’re already starting to relax.
The four lodges each have their own small kitchen if you want to cook up breakfast, dinner or tea with a view, and there is one main bedroom with huge glass windows, so you can take it all in.
But the icing on the cake has to be the covered hot tub outside, which was already warm enough to go for a dip when I got there. If, in classic British holiday style, you end up going to visit during one of the UK’s cold snaps… there is a wood burner to keep you toasty.
It is the best way to just settle down and enjoy a bit of countryside bliss with a glass of wine in your hand.
The cabins have just what you need to rest your feet up after a long day gallivanting.
There are lots of great local books to help you plan your trip, but as it seems many a couple who had left a review hadn’t left the lodge for their whole stay, there is more than enough to help you enjoy some time together.
What I was most looking forward to was just getting out in the fresh air after 12 months bunged up in the capital, no longer having to wrestle for a seat on the tube, and just letting my legs go.
It was wonderful and exactly how I had hoped it would be. Even just a few nights meant that I could escape and have a bit of bliss.
I stretched my legs to adequate satisfaction, taking in the small local pubs and the charming views, but also got to just hang out in a hammock and take it all in.
Returning to the capital brought that full-frontal doom of the hot underground and my morning views of flats and skyscrapers and not just glorious rolling fields.
The best part was that when I got home I didn’t have to dry out a tent or worry about what creepy crawlies had wriggled into the bag of pegs – leaving me stress-free before going heading back to work.
So, when you are looking for a big summer holiday, you don’t have to think about going further afield, and sometimes you need a reminder of what you have on your own doorstep.
There is a huge range of quirky and unique different types of accommodation out there to make the most of the UK, from converted campers to huge bell tents or private lodges, so why not avoid the beaches and head to the hills?
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