Are you looking to get away this winter? You don’t have to go abroad to have a break and there are stunning hidden gems where you can go to beat the crowds.
While you might not be able to relax on the beach with some winter sun, the UK has a lot to offer during the colder months. From brisk walks on wintery days to cosying up in front of a fire in the evening, you can still recharge, relax and, explore a new destination. When you want to avoid the usual tourist hotspots, here are five hidden gems that could be perfect for your next trip.
1. Vale of Belvoir
The Vale of Belvoir is located at the point where Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire meet, so it’s accessible from many other locations. Vale of Belvoir means “beautiful view” in Norman-French, and you’ll see why it earned that name as soon as you arrive.
There are several pretty, traditional villages to stay in during your visit and all offer stunning walks to take in the winter days.
The most popular attraction is the historic Belvoir Castle. A castle was first built at this location in the 11th century and it’s been rebuilt at least three times since then. The surviving structure is from the early 19th century. The castle boasts beautiful lakes and gardens to walk through, even in winter, as well as an art and antique collection inside. The Engine Yard also offers dining and artisan shopping. The location means you can take city day trips to Lincoln, Nottingham, and Leicester to enjoy the attractions they offer.
2. Loch Awe, Scotland
Escape to the stunning Scottish Highlands with a trip to Loch Awe. The loch stretches for 25 glorious and unspoilt miles. The village of Lochawe is just a few miles away and is an ideal base to explore some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. Walks from the village will take you past scenic rivers, waterfalls and moorland.
As well as taking the views, a visit to Kilchurn Castle, St Conan’s Kirk, or a hands-on birds of prey experience can make your trip memorable. Beneath the rugged mountain of Ben Cruachan is an unusual attraction – you can tour the power station buried a kilometre underground – hence why it’s dubbed the “Hollow Mountain”.
3. Dunster, Exmoor
Dunster village is known as Exmoor’s prettiest medieval village and it’s a great place to head for a short break. The cobbled high street is lined with charming shops and traditional tearooms where you can see Dunster Castle perched on a hill. The castle is now owned by the National Trust that boasts plenty of history and a tearoom in the mill house to enjoy.
For history buffs, it’s not just Dunster Castle that’s worth a visit. Bat’s Castles is an iron age hill fort that was discovered in the 1980s when schoolchildren came across some coins. Today, the spot offers stunning vistas across the county towards Wales. There are other historical buildings to walk to as well, including Conygar Tower, and a beach perfect for a bracing walk.