Where Next – My Top UK Destinations for 2014:
Do you have a travel bucket list? I know I do…and this year I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to cross a few places off my list as well as finding some quite unexpected sights I’d never heard about.
The highlights of 2013 for me must be Croatia and Portugal.
The former has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. A childhood visit to Dubrovnik planted the seed and a group of friends in the UK from former Yugoslavia cultivated the idea. A rather vague set of travel plans in my head turned into a fabulous trip where I ate Fis (and more) in Slavonia, saw the lakes in Plitvice, visited the island of Trogir and Pag and discovered the world’s finest retirement home in Split.
I fell in love with Portugal in my twenties. This year I’ve returned to some of my old haunts and been lucky enough to be introduced to some wonderful new places. From the amazing rock carvings at Foz Coa to the beautiful unspoilt coastline of the Alentejo.
And most recently to the tiny sub-tropical paradise island of Madeira, just over three hours from London, where you can find bananas, sugar cane, pineapples and tamarind growing in among the cabbages and potatoes and where the weather in December is warm enough to swim in the sea or bask on the shore (the picture below was taken earlier this month!)
I haven’t completely neglected the UK though – I’ve travelled to Essex for oysters on Mersea Island and the finest strawberry jam at Tiptree. I’ve ventured west to Frome, a pretty market town with a fascinating heritage and a population dominated by creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. And of course I’ve been on my annual trip to Boscastle in Cornwall. But, like many travel writers, I’ve spent more time ‘away’ than ‘at home’.
In 2014 I want to redress the balance a little and visit some UK top destinations. We have some wonderful places and a great heritage. So, I’m working on a bucket list JUST for the UK. There are a few places I need to revisit – Edinburgh is almost at the top of the list, closely followed by the Northumberland coast, Durham and the North Norfolk coastline where I grew up. And there are a few places I’ve NEARLY been to but never quite reached. Although I am a regular visitor to Cornwall, even when I was in my twenties I went to the North Cornish Coast, then to St Endellion to take part in the Music Festival there, now to Boscastle to the food and craft festival. South Cornwall is reputedly gentler with a softer coastline, sandy beaches and the South West Coastal Path. And the walk that I want to do, a five day hike, would take me from St Ives on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall round to Penzance right on the tip of the Cornish peninsula. It’s meant to be spectacular – taking in sights like St Michaels Mount, Guarnard’s Head, the Minack theatre and fishing ports at Mousehole and Newlyn.
Best of all you can get there and back both ways with trains to Cornwall– starting at St Ives and returning from Penzance.
Now, if like me you have great aspirations to travel a bit more in the UK, here’s a chance for you to win a pair of first class train tickets to get there from Great Western Railways. You’ll need to be quick because the competition closes on 16th December 2013. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed and maybe see you on the South West Coastal Path in the spring!