As the coronavirus lockdown slowly lifted a few months ago, jetting off to our usual holiday destinations abroad often meant quarantining on return and many Brits came to realise the beauty of a UK staycation.
Pictures of trips to Cornwall, Devon and the Scottish highlands have filled our Instagram feeds and quenched our wanderlust.
So, if you’re looking for a break as a second wave of restrictions comes into place in the UK, why not use the chance to explore the country’s stunning national parks.
Think fresh air and rolling green landscapes for walks, fishing and cycling, topped off with cosy places to curl up and stay in the evening.
Nowhere stirs the imagination quite like Dartmoor with its purple moorland, windswept hills and spectral tracks vanishing into the bracken.
Adding to the mix are Whitehorse Hill’s burial chamber — its bear-pelt-wrapped young woman is reckoned to have died around 3,500 years ago — and the many stone circles.
Rambling routes link all of those and many a terrific pub, with the chance of spotting grouse and deer en route.
Or go bouldering, fish the River Dart for salmon or take a guided tour of locations that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles.
On Dartmoor’s outskirts stands Moonbeam, a bright, stylish yurt and cedarwood outdoor hot tub.
From £85pn, Independent Cottages.
Broads National Park
The Venice of the East? That’ll be The Broads — 117sq miles of wetlands and rivers, mostly in Norfolk and replete with windmills, waterside pubs, birdlife and butterflies.
Potential outdoor jaunts include guided canoe tours and walks along the 61-mile Weavers’ Way to a high point of just 39ft above sea level at How Hill.
You might also visit treehouse adventure park BeWILDerwood and the Bure Valley Railway, while Norwich — whose Houghton Hall is exhibiting sculptor Anish Kapoor’s works this summer — is nearby.
Beside River Bure, the Norfolk Mead is a stylish country-house hotel with a spa and two-AA-Rosette restaurant.
Doubles from £135 B&B, Norfolk Mead.
Waterfalls. That’s what the Beacons are especially good for. Around the wooded gorges and cascades of Fforest Fawr massif’s southern slopes, the Four Falls Trail leads to a quartet of them headed by Sgwd yr Eira.
Visitors are also able to hire a guide and explore limestone cave systems or stride up Pen y Fan (2,907ft) and the steeper, adjacent Corn Du (2,864ft), easier accomplishments than most in Snowdonia further northwest.
The surrounding moorland contributes plenty of quieter pub walks. Just north of the park, the Felin Fach Griffin is a posh pub whose suppers — perhaps duck breasts with kitchen-garden sweet potato and beetroot — accompany cask ales and luxury bedrooms.
Doubles from £145 B&B, eatdrinksleep.ltd.uk
The Cairngorms, Britain’s largest national park, boasts four of the UK’s five highest summits, lots of lochs and a few heathery glens. All of which adds up to predictably stellar hiking, with trails suiting all levels.
As you stride along, scan for the area’s impressive wildlife of golden eagles, red deer, otters and, for top marks, the rare Scottish wildcat. Lazier types can ride the Cairngorm Mountain Railway funicular or tootle along the 90-mile, view-tastic Snow Roads driving route.
Castles and whisky distilleries are also easy to find, especially if you set up base at The Cross at Kingussie, a restaurant with rooms and, in its garden, red squirrels.
Doubles from £110 B&B, The Cross.
Hadrian’s Wall is rightly Northumberland National Park’s headline act but there’s much more to see here than the ancient Roman boundary.
You could pick up the Pennine Way, or stride the Border Ridge along England and Scotland’s divide. You could cycle the Black Grouse circular, along country lanes and empty valleys, or trails in neighbouring Kielder Forest.
Or you could stargaze in Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.
In Otterburn, a twee riverside village, the quirky William de Percy Inn & Crêperie promises pork bellies with hoisin gravy and a plant-filled bar.
Doubles from £120 B&B, William de Percy.
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