VisitEngland are predicting 40 days of glorious sunshine because temperatures hit the mid-to-high 20s yesterday – on St Swithin’s Day. Let’s hope they haven’t put the mockers on that! Anyway, they’ve kindly come up with their top hotspots from hidden beaches to dazzling micro-climates so YourHols’ readers can enjoy the best of England this summer…
Micro-Climates: Whatever the weather in England, it remains a hot topic for its indecisive nature. What makes it ever the more fascinating are those little pockets that attract a warmer temperature than their surroundings. The micro-climate of West Sussex’s Nyetimber means the soil has a similar quality to that of the Champagne region of France – so it’s no wonder that the vineyard has produced the award-winning Classic Cuvée, the Queen’s favourite sparkling wine.
Cornwall has some of the warmest temperatures in England, and uncommonly high levels of sunshine can be found at Cornwall’s Lost Gardens of Heligan(above). Protected by a dell, the moist air in this area gives way to flourishing subtropical plants such as camellias and tree ferns. In similar fashion, Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and Tresco on the Isles of Scilly both cultivate and array of exotic plants, and the latter island even has tropical underwater species thanks to this weird and wonderful weather mutation.
Sand & The City: If you’re torn between a city break and coastal escape, this new trend of ‘beacities’ throughout England can offer the best of both worlds. In the capital, London’s Roundhouse is bringing the beach to unconventional Camden until August 22. Camden Beach is welcoming visitors with traditional seaside amusements and refreshments with an end-of-pier bar, a sizzling BBQ, deckchairs to lounge in and 150 tonnes of sand.
Nottingham’s famous ‘urban beach’ will once again draw crowds to Old Market Square from July 19 – August 27. The beach attracts thousands of families, visitors and tourists from across Britain and offers the chance to enjoy the seaside without having to leave friends and family at home. Now in its fifth year, the event will run for five weeks and include a giant paddling pool, sandy beach area, café, rides and lots of free activities for all the family over the summer.
And, for the first time ever, Oxford’s Castle Quarter will be filled with 23 tonnes of sand, 8 palm trees and 50 deckchairs as the Big Bang brings the beach scene to this historic town. Known for its more academic institutes, the city is softening its stiff upper lip by donning volleyball nets and encouraging beach wear.
Stay by the Sea: You’ve got the perfect setting, with balmy skies and blue seas. Hire a landmark by the sea and make your digs part of the adventure. The Windmill, in the heart of Scarborough, is an 18th century windmill that has been converted into a characterful. Down south, Watermouth Castle is a true example of a 19th-century Victorian folly. Completed in the mid-19th-century by the Bassett family, now extensively restored, its self-contained holiday apartments have been decorated and furnished in keeping with the style and ambience of the Castle.
Right on the footsteps of Camber Sands Beach, Sea Gem is a beach-hut with a difference. This contemporary take on the seaside classic is designed to make the most of its views of sand and sea. Giant floor-to-ceiling windows capture the sand dunes and panoramic pink sunsets right on your doorstep so you’ll feel like you’re never off the beach.
If you prefer the indulgent service and cuisine of a hotel, spend a few nights at The Star Castle on St Mary’s, The Isles of Scilly. Built in 1593, this eight pointed palace on St Mary’s commands tremendous views of the Celtic Sea from every direction.
Hidden Beaches: Following the recent closure of Holkam’s nudist beach, Norfolk’s more deserted beaches offer coastal clandestine cover. Miles away from the masses at Holkham, Cley–next-the-Sea is perfect for animal lovers – though the only heavy petting we’re suggesting is of the wildlife dotted around this private retreat. Let the sun warmed soft sand sink between your toes on a walk to Blackney Point for some seal spotting.
Avoid the hustle and bustle of everyday life at the gorgeous Lantic Bay. This secluded cove in the South East is a serene alternative to Cornwall’s more populated beaches. The hidden gem will only reveal itself to sunbathers in the know; you’ll be blown away as views of idyllic shingle beach open up during your descent.
But you don’t necessarily need a dramatic coastline to draw in the drama as you’ll discover on blue flag awarded, Bamburgh beach in the North East. With Holy Island and the Lindsifarne Priory bustling, get away from it all as the low-tide gives way to a walkway to Bamburgh beach. With the magnificent eponymous castle towering over, Northumberland’s ancient landscape looks ever the more glorious from the wide sandy shoreline.
Cooling Stations: We’re still English, and while we’re loving this tropical heatwave, we do like the occasional respite from the sun. For those moments, why not try out a spot of wild swimming? Durdle Door is one of England’s natural wonders and swimming through the arch out into wide open sea should help explain what the wild swimming fuss is about. Outdoorsy types will also love Lumb Falls by Hebden Bridge. Scramble up a trail and down a bank to dip in the waters of this beauty spot near Hardcastle Crags. Locals love to picnic by the bridge and cool off in the semi-circular pool overhung by ferns and ivy during the summer months.
Something a little more quirky awaits at unspoilt Anderby Creek beach. Tucked away between the small seaside towns of Chapel St. Leonard’s and Sutton-on-Sea, this quiet beautiful stretch of wide-open seascape is home to the Cloud Bar. While there’s no alcohol served, visitors will still find themselves feeling sky-high! On the viewing platform are ‘Cloud Menus’ to help you identify the different formations, mirrors that can be swivelled to reflect different parts of the sky and specially-designed cloud-viewing seats, on which visitors can recline and enjoy the view.
For some cooling in the capital, among the now-ubiquitous ice-cream parlours and frozen yogurt pop-ups there’s a sub-zero Scandanavian experience on Heddon Street. ICEBAR by ICEHOTEL is the UK’s only permanent bar made of ice. Guests can cool it for 45 minutes in the freezing cold before surfacing back up into extreme heat.
Kids will love the Ice-Scream Weekend being held at Thorpe Park on July 26-27, when visitors will be literally showered with ice-cream. Strawberry and vanilla ice cream will snow down on the park at regular intervals, providing those sweet-toothed visitors with some shade beneath giant waffle umbrellas.
Still stuck for ideas? The Met Office’s Get Ready for Summer app has a host of activity suggestions for your staycation this summer – simply select the day’s weather and wait for the recommendations to roll in.