Wendell Berry, the famous nature writer and activist, said “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” This is a beautiful quote from a collection of his works that chronicled life in rural America; but also hits upon an interesting idea. Do you truly know yourself if you don’t know the country you live in. One of the best ways to explore your country and truly get to know it, is to spend a Summer exploring the UK on a staycation.
Even before Covid and the pandemic summers where quarantine restrictions stopped holidaymakers going abroad or returning from their exotic locations; a growing number of Britons were deciding to stick to domestic holidays. Despite some saying this is due to a great rise in British pride after Brexit; it is mainly due to greater worries about the environmental impact of global travel, people having less money to spend after the 2008 recession, changing foreign exchange rates, and the current cost of living crisis.
The pandemic just exacerbated this trend. Campsites, cottages and B&Bs were booked up at record levels, with up to 14 million people booking in August 2020.
This was brilliant for the UK’s tourism and hospitality sector, which was battered by years of decline and then lockdown and social-distancing restrictions. God’s own country, Yorkshire, employs almost 225,000 people and contributes £9bn annually to the regional economy.
There are many places for you to take a break in the UK, but to help you narrow things down here are some of our suggestions.
The obvious candidates are the Lake District, the Scottish lochs and the popular delights of Devon and Cornwall. Whilst these areas are well known and popular, there is good reason why there are people who love the wonders of Woolacombe bay on the south coast and Windermere in the North.
If you want to escape those hotspots, and are looking for a bit of history, the Yorkshire Wolds has a lot to offer. Within its stunning landscapes, you can follow the route of the infamous Pilgrimage of Grace, and read about the Catholic rebellion against Henry VIII in Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light whilst you retrace their footsteps.
The Midlands is an area that is much maligned by snobby northerners and southerners alike, but just because it is overlooked doesn’t mean it lacks lots of interesting places to explore. The area is flush with natural wonders such as ancient woodlands, lakes and wildlife. It also is rich in cultural history, with hundreds of years of manufacturing heritage that you can learn about at the Wedgwood museum near Stoke-on-Trent.
If you want to learn more about the industrial age, and its links to Britain’s imperial ambitions and role in the slave trade; there is plenty of places to discover this often disturbing history in Bristol or Liverpool, the biggest port cities in the Victorian era.