Do you want to be a culture vulture on holiday but fancy a destination with less crowds this summer? You may be all too aware of the need to socially distance and prefer a place, where it is naturally easier to distance yourself from other tourists? Perhaps you’re the type of tourist who prefers to seek out your own hidden gems rather than be told about the top 10 places to go in the UK?
Read on for 4 alternative historical sites and perfect places to stay nearby…
Stonehenge vs Callanish Stones
Stonehenge in Wiltshire is a formidable prehistoric monument of unique historical importance and as a World Heritage Site, justifiably attracts just under a million new visitors each year in normal circumstances. It is a monument well worth visiting. However, an alternative prehistoric gem to try at the opposite end of the UK can be found in the Outer Hebrides. The Callanish Stones, are situated near the village of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, (Western Isles of Scotland). It is believed that the site itself was constructed between 2900 and 2600 BC, whilst the tallest stone marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains have been discovered. Set against a stunning Scottish backdrop, this makes an excellent day trip to from Uig in Skye, another beautiful Scottish island, via car ferry, courtesy of Caledonian MacBrayne. For a camping or caravan site on Skye, try Torvaig campsite near Portree which caters for motorhomes, caravans, campervans and tents with a mixture of hard standing and grass pitches with, or without electricity.
York Minster vs Sweetheart Abbey
York Minster, famous for its beautiful windows containing more Medieval stained glass than anywhere else in the country, has long been a magnet for tourists. Not only does its history stretch back as far as Roman times, but it is one of the largest cathedrals of its kind in northern Europe. However, if you want to avoid the crowds visiting this extraordinary historical site, consider another abbey or cathedral. The UK has plenty of them. A great alternative option is Sweetheart Abbey in Dumfries Scotland, where fans of a good historical yarn can discover more about the story behind the name.
In 1268, Lady Dervorguilla of Galloway, had her husband’s embalmed heart placed in an ivory casket after he died. This grieving widow is believed to have carried it with her everywhere. Lady Dervorguilla also founded the Cistercian abbey of Dulce Cor, (Latin for ‘Sweet Heart’), and when she died in 1289, she was laid to rest in front of its high altar. You can even glimpse the stone effigy of Lady Dervorguilla cradling her husband’s embalmed heart to her bosom in the south transept of the abbey. As well as the abbey itself, there is much to see and do in this beautiful and quiet region of Scotland. You are a hop and a skip away from Galloway Forest Park, Scotland’s first Dark Sky Park and the beautiful Galloway Coast. These make superb day trips from Englethwaite Hall Caravan Club Site, which as long as you have your own facilities, comes highly recommended in terms of forest walks from the site, ease of access from the M6, as well as its sheltered and tranquil location. Glentrool Camping and Caravan Site also offers a no frills site in the beautiful Galloway Forest.
Warwick Castle vs Goodrich Castle
Knights, camera, action!! Warwick Castle is well known as a hub of Medieval style re-enactments, entertainments and jousts for historical thrill seekers and offers a rich variety of family friendly opportunities to discover the world of chivalry, battles and castles. However, if you are happy to let your imagine do the work, Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire is a brilliant bet and much easier on the pocket too! It also allows dogs on leads, which is great for us. This well preserved and fascinating castle lies next to the river Wye, near the English and Welsh border. Steeped in history and dating from the 11th Century, it also played a prominent part in the English Civil War.
Herefordshire itself is a stunning county, and one of our favourites. You can find plenty of space for countryside walks, and culture seeking. From the delightful black and white village of Pembridge to the Mappa Mundi, (the largest Medieval map of the world in Hereford Cathedral), there is plenty here to attract culture seekers. You’ve also got a number of cycling cider circuit trails from Visit Herefordshire to make the most out of too! Visit, Lucksall Caravan and Camping Park, a 5-star location which we’d heartily recommend. It has a cafe onsite alongside a beautiful river location, as well as plenty of pitches for caravans, motorhomes, campers and glampers, just in case you haven’t got your own home on wheels!
Blackpool Tower vs Darwen Tower
The bright lights of Blackpool have long attracted visitors and Blackpool Tower, built in 1894, is one of the most famous landmarks in the UK. Modelled after the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, it was commissioned by the mayor of Blackpool after his attendance at the Great Paris Exhibition of 1889. This iconic Lancashire landmark, set along the seafront, has always been popular with day trippers and holiday makers keen to sample other attractions along the coast such as the Pleasure Beach and illuminations. For a less busy location with an equally fantastic view from its summit, try Darwen Tower further east of this same county. Although you won’t experience the same razzmatazz of Blackpool, you can enjoy a beautiful walk along the surrounding moorland to reach the tower which was built four years after Blackpool Tower, in 1898. Originally built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and to celebrate the victory of the local people for the right to access the moor, this 85 foot tower offers great views of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Morecambe Bay, Blackpool Tower, Cumbria, the Isle of Man, and North Wales on a good day from its summit.
Not so far away is the Forest of Bowland, an AONB, (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), with plenty of further opportunities to walk, cycle, horse ride, watch wildlife or go star gazing, whilst sampling local history and culture. J.R.R.Tolkien visited this area a lot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was schooled in nearby Stonyhurst College. Try Clitheroe Camping and Caravanning Site which is perfectly located for this area. Set alongside a river with plenty of canoeing and fishing opportunities, you can walk to Clitheroe town and castle only a mile up the road. Having stayed here before, I can vouch for its clean facilities. It offers hardstanding and grass pitches, as well as glamping tents for those who don’t own a camper, motorhome, or caravan.
Whatever summer holiday you are planning this year, I hope it’s a good one for you!
Please see the latest UK’s COVID-19 regulations in each country in the RESOURCES section for up-to-date advice on travelling this summer.
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