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A five-stop guided tour of Great Britain

16 July 2019

In some respects, Dorothy was right - there really is no place like home.

When getting caught up in the excitement of holiday planning, we often overlook our own island in favour of more exotic, and certainly warmer, climes. We forget that we live in a country of landscapes which people from all over the world flock to visit (the Americans talk in rhapsodies about the Scottish Highlands) and that there's so much variety to choose from, right on our doorstep.

We think the UK is a fantastic holiday destination. In fact, it's so fantastic that once you sit down to plan a holiday, it's difficult to know where to begin. What about Wales' magnificent castles? The beautiful but haunting solitude of Scotland's highlands and islands? Northumberland's coastline, home to some of the best-loved beaches in the UK?

We've picked some of our favourites places in the UK below, in case you're looking for a bit of inspiration - but we're sure you'll have your own too! Why not let us know what we've missed in the comments section below?

Featured tour:

Grand Tour of the UK

Isle of Man

1. The Isle of Man's horse-drawn trams

The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway has been serving tourists since 1876, offering rides along a two-mile stretch of the town's promenade.

It doesn't get more 'traditional Victorian seaside' than this. For maximum pleasure, board the trams at one end of the promenade with an ice cream (or a stick of rock, if you want a true 19th-century experience) and admire the views out over the sea.

The trams and the horses that pull them, known as Trammers', are held in great affection by locals. They have a working life of 15 years, after which they spend their days at their very own retirement home, the Home of Rest for Old Horses. You can also take a free guided tour of the stables to learn about the history of the tramway and meet the stars of the show themselves.

Featured tour:

Vintage Railways of the Isle of Man

 

Conway Castle

2. Conwy Castle in North Wales

If you're looking for castles, Wales should be top of your destination list.

Even among a choice of some of the best examples in the UK, Conwy Castle stands out as something special. The remarkably well-preserved walls, towers and battlements stand guard over the town below much as they did several hundred years ago, with Conwy still contained within the original medieval town walls.

King Edward I built the castle in just four years, between 1283 and 1287 and has survived remarkably well, offering visitors the best-preserved set of royal apartments in Wales. A walk around the battlements is a must for views over the town and the harbour, and of the mountains of Snowdonia which loom in the distance.

Featured tour:

Railways & Castles of Wales

 

Lindisfarne

3. The Isle of Lindisfarne in Northumberland

Often known as 'Holy Island', Lindisfarne's association with Celtic Christianity goes back to the 7th century, when the Irish monk St Aiden arrived and founded a monastery.

It became an important centre in the development of the faith in Britain, and it was here that the famous illustrated Lindisfarne Gospels were created. It was also one of the first sites to suffer Viking raiders, largely due to its remote location and the vast amount of gold and valuable artefacts on hand,

Visitors can learn all about Lindisfarne's fascinating history with visits to Lindisfarne Priory and Castle. There's also plenty to do here for nature lovers. Relaxing sandy beaches and potential to spot seals and puffins out on the sea. The mud flats around the island are a Special Protection Area for birds too, with 312 species on record. Take a trip during migration time to see as many of these as possible.

Featured tour:

Yorkshire & Northumberland

Scilly Isles

4. Tresco Abbey Gardens in the Scilly Isles

'Is this Cornwall or Italy?' is not a question you thought it was possible to ask.

Due to an unusual microclimate, the Scilly Isles can support plant species couldn't survive on the Cornish mainland. The Tresco Abbey Gardens take full advantage of this, offering 17 acres of subtropical plant species from all over the world - think Kew Gardens without the need for glass greenhouses.

The gardens also present a rare opportunity to catch sight of one of our most endangered mammals - the red squirrel. Reintroduced in 2012, the quintessentially British species now thrives in the gardens and make an unusual but pleasant contrast with the exotic, multinational display of plant life the gardens are famous for.

Featured tour:

The Isles of Scilly

Butt of Lewis

5. The Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides

If you want to experience a sense of true remoteness in the UK, the wild and lonely Butt of Lewis is the place to go.

The most northerly point of the Western Isles, the area is on record as being the windiest in the UK. Brutal waves crash into jagged 80ft cliffs, and a lighthouse provides the only obvious evidence of human involvement with the landscape.

Its remoteness means that the Butt of Lewis is a great place for spotting seabirds and there are plenty of scenic walks, which you can enjoy without bumping into a single soul. Alternatively,  just sit, and enjoy the solitude for a while.

Featured tour:

Western Highlands & Hebrides

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