With a spectacular riverside location, friendly locals and plenty to do, Newcastle upon Tyne is a great place to spend a day – and night. Check out the Quayside and its major attractions, including the BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art and Tyne Bridge, and for shopping, go to Eldon Square centre. Full of historic charm, Grey Street and Grainger Town are worth a visit, and you’ll find great quality food at Grainger Market. For some culture, visit the Great North Museum (Greatnorthmuseum.org.uk) or Stephenson Railway Museum (Stephensonrailwaymuseum.org.uk), or lose yourself in the gorgeous settings of Jesmond Dene Park or Longsands Beach near Tynemouth.
• Stay at the new INNSiDE Newcastle from £69 per night. Book at Melia.com
Heaven in Devon
Salcombe, a pretty waterfront town, and its nearby villages have a host of exciting experiences this year. For intrepid explorers, try one of the new e-bike routes, including the Salcombe Estuary circular trail, which shows off the area’s beaches, watering holes and stunning scenery. Prices start at £50 per day through e-Xplore (E-xploredevon.co.uk). For foodies, the self-guided Salcombe Food and Drink Trail takes in 20 sampling and dining experiences – including the Salcombe Gin school and Salcombe Dairy Ice Cream – and is sure to whet your appetite. Go to Salcombeinformation.co.uk for more details.
Elsewhere, watersports are key. North Sands Water Sports SUPs can be hired for the day for £40, with bodyboards and kayaks also available (Northsands.co.uk). Or, much-loved South Devon surfing institution, Discovery Surf School, provides lessons and equipment for all ages and all skill levels (Discoverysurf.com). It’s also right next to the Venus Café beach bar, which is renowned for its legendary, burgers.
• Stay at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel from £230 per night on a bed and breakfast basis. Book at Harbourhotels.co.uk
Castles and critters
For a dose of ancient history, head to Chester, which was once an important Roman base. A walk around its city walls is an excellent way to see the major sights. The 11th century cathedral is impressive, but the views from the top of the tower are even more so, while the Roman amphitheatre is the UK’s largest, and Chester Castle, which can only be viewed from the outside, is worth seeing, too.
The museums bring the city’s history to life, including The Grosvenor Museum, which tells the stories of gladiators and other Romans, and the child-friendly Dewa Roman Experience (Dewaromanexperience.co.uk). Storyhouse, the city’s arts hub, is set in the old Art Deco cinema and is home to a theatre, library and lovely café-restaurant The Kitchen. For shopping, head to The Rows – the city’s double-decker medieval galleries house a mix of high-street names and independent boutiques. Chester Zoo, star of TV programmes Our Zoo and Secret Life Of The Zoo, shouldn’t be missed either.
• Stay at the independent boutique hotel Oddfellows Chester, with rooms from £129 per night. Book at Oddfellowschester.com
Off-grid in the Dales
Nestled at the foot of the Howgill Fells in the Yorkshire Dales, just five miles off the M6, is the small market town of Sedbergh – the perfect place to escape to. With plenty of laid-back country charm, here you can enjoy everything from riverside walks to adrenaline-fuelled wild swimming, sailing, kayaking, rock climbing or mountain biking. If you’d prefer some quiet contemplation, Sedbergh has that covered, too. As England’s “Book Town”, it boasts plenty of bookshops to explore, while Farfield Mill serves up arts and crafts with regular exhibitions and workshops. There are also plenty of restaurants to try, including one of the UK’s top 50 gastropubs, The Black Bull.
• Stay at The Black Bull from £125 per night on a bed and breakfast basis, based on two sharing. Book at Theblackbullsedbergh.co.uk
Get more with a tour
Bath is always a chic getaway – whether you want to soak up the Roman history, stroll the Royal Crescent, or shop the boutiques, there are plenty of options. Now, you can really tailor your trip with The Bath Tour Guide. In association with The Gainsborough Bath Spa, take a bespoke tour with keen historian and former police officer Adge Secker BEM. From two-hour walks taking in the top highlights, to all-day adventures or specialist Jane Austen tours, there’s something for everyone. There’s also the unconventional Laugh at Bath tour, which takes a fun and comedic walk through Bath’s history.
After a day of walking, you can return to the Gainsborough’s Bath House spa village. Enjoy the city’s natural thermal waters, which are revered for their healing qualities.
• Stay at the Gainsborough Bath Spa from £290 per night on a room only basis. Private walking tours start from £45 an hour for up to four guests and can be booked with the hotel concierge (Thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk).