Top 10 UK Day Trips

Marianne Stenger
20th July 2020

Although this year’s summer holidays are shaping up to be quite different than most of us are accustomed to, the good news is that even if you can’t plan a trip abroad at the moment, there are plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy right here in the UK.

From the renowned Peak District to the beautiful town of St Ives in Cornwall, Great Britain is packed with natural beauty and historic architecture. So if you’re wondering what to do during your staycation this summer, we’ve lined up some of the best day trips around the country for walking, hiking and, of course, photography.

1. Peak District National Park

Peak District National Park was the UK’s first national park. It covers 555 square miles, reaches into five counties, and has everything from picturesque villages to impressive mountains and hiking trails. Although it would be impossible to explore the whole park in just one day or even a whole weekend, there are plenty of beautiful spots to choose from depending on where you will be travelling from. White Peak in the southern part of the park is famous for its limestone plateau, colourful meadows and clear streams, whereas the northern part known as the Dark Peak is a bit wilder with rock outcrops, swamps and moorland shrub.

2. Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Warwick Castle, located just 40 minutes from Birmingham in Warwickshire county, is a medieval castle that was originally constructed in 1068. The Conqueror’s Fortress is the highest point of the castle and offers stunning views of Warwick and the surrounding countryside. In addition to the castle itself, visitors can enjoy over 64 acres of expertly landscaped grounds and gardens running alongside the River Avon, including a Peacock Garden with a flock of more than 20 peacocks.

3. Halnaker Windmill, Chichester

Halnaker Windmill is an 18th century tower mill located near Chichester in West Sussex. It’s not just the windmill itself that makes it worth a visit, however. The footpath leading up to the windmill is lined by trees that form a lush leafy tunnel, making it look like something straight out of The Shire in Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth. Halnaker Hill also provides spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, making it the perfect destination for photography enthusiasts.

4. Mersea Island, Essex 

Located off the coast of Essex, Mersea Island is perfect for day-trippers looking to exchange the bustle of city life for wide open spaces and wild beaches. You can enjoy bird watching and hiking in Cudmore Grove Country Park, try some paddle boarding along the beach, and sample freshly-caught fish and Mersea oysters. The island is also home to apple orchards and vineyards, which produce white, rose and sparkling wines, as well as oyster stout brewed with native Mersea oysters.

5. Bath, Somerset

The town of Bath in Somerset County is named after its thermal hot springs, which date back to Roman times. Due to its wealth of Roman history, Bath is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to no fewer than 13 museums. After taking in iconic sites such as the beautifully preserved Great Bath, Pulteney Bridge, and the Royal Crescent, you can refuel at one of the many gastro pubs scattered around town or sample some locally brewed beer at the Abbey Ales Brewery.

6. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Nestled in the heart of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle is a stunning example of medieval architecture. As the second largest inhabited castle in the country, it has been dubbed the ‘Windsor of the North’ and was featured as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films, as well as Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey.  Alnwick Gardens, adjacent to the castle, are also a must-see with 12 acres of expertly kept gardens, a cherry orchard and grand water cascade.

7. The White Cliffs of Dover

As the very first thing travellers catch a glimpse of when arriving by ferry from Calais in France, the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover are one of England’s most iconic landmarks. The white chalk cliffs look out into the English Channel and a cliff-side hike is the perfect way to take in the stunning views and rare species of butterflies, birds and wildflowers. The nearby Dover Castle with its Roman lighthouse, restored Saxon Church and network of secret wartime tunnels is also well worth a visit.

8. St Ives, Cornwall

Known for its white sandy beaches, surf culture and art scene, the idyllic seaside town of St Ives on the north coast of Cornwall is the perfect spot for weekend getaways or even a quick day trip. Even if you aren’t much of a surfer, you can enjoy some hiking and swimming, indulge in fresh seafood and visit the plethora of art galleries in the area. If you’ve got a bit more time, you might also want to take a boat trip to Seal Island, which is home to an adorable colony of grey seals and other wildlife.

9. Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands

Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of Nessie the legendary Loch Ness Monster, a trip to Scotland’s most famous freshwater loch near Inverness is bound to be memorable. The Highland region is known for its rolling hills and varied wildlife, and what better way to take it all in than with a Loch Ness boat cruise? Other nearby attractions include the ruins of Urquhart Castle, the Falls of Foyers which feed Loch Ness, and Fort Augustus set on the scenic Caledonian Canal.

10. Windermere, Lake district

Windermere, located in Cumbria’s spectacular Lake District National Park, in England’s largest lake. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy some swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking or sailing, and the surrounding area is also excellent for long hikes or cycles. Fans of the children’s author Beatrix Potter can also visit her former home Hill Top, a 17th century farmhouse, which has since been transformed into a museum and offers a glimpse into the author’s life as well as the countryside that inspired well-loved stories like The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Need more inspiration for your staycation photography? Browse the Bob Books blog for photography interviews, tips and ideas, or start combing your travel archives from previous years and turn the best images into a gorgeous photo book or piece of wall art for your home.