Scottish Daily Mail
BRITAIN’S BRILLIANT BOLTHOLES
NOW that self-isolation and social distancing have (so quickly) become buzzwords, a ‘getaway’ in the UK has taken on new meaning.
Yes, as ever, you get away from home — but now we are being advised to get away from other people, too.
Luckily, the UK has plenty of remote spots to do just that. Here we have highlighted just a few of the best places in which to revel in splendid isolation.
Lonely Lancashire hills
THIS bucolic corner of Lancashire is a patchwork of rolling landscape and tiny villages such as Slaidburn. The sole pub here, the Hark To Bounty, is a creaking, wood-beamed affair dating from the 1300s, complete with the old village courtroom upstairs. Superior slumbers await at Northcote, a quiet manor house in Langho, Blackburn, with Michelinstarred food and huge rooms with balconies.
IF YOU’RE BORED: Visit D. Byrne & Co wine merchants (dbyrne-finewines.co.uk) in Clitheroe, a treasure trove of rare and interesting wines which first opened in the 1890s. WHERE TO STAY: B&B doubles from £230 (northcote.com).
Lighthouse at Beachy Head
MOST lighthouses you can stay in have their beds in a separate lighthouse keeper’s cottage. At the Belle Tout you can stay in the tower itself. You need to be nimble to stay in the cosy Keeper’s Loft, scaling a ladder to reach the bed. Expect dramatic views over the South Downs and English Channel.
IF YOU’RE BORED: Take the five-mile cliff walk along the Seven Sisters from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap.
WHERE TO STAY: The Keeper’s Loft from £160 B&B, minimum two nights. (belletout.co.uk).
Hide in Hebrides
JUST after World War II, George Orwell fled London to the remote Isle of Jura in the Hebrides to write his final novel, dystopian masterpiece 1984.
The island, with a population of 200, is scarcely easier to reach now than it was in the 1940s (take a ferry from Kennacraig on the mainland to Islay, then another five-minute ferry from there to Jura).
It’s worth it to see the treeless expanses, dominated by three large hills known as the Paps. Bed in at Barnhill, the cottage where Orwell lived. The bathtub is said to be the same he bathed in between bouts of writing about Big Brother. IF YOU’RE BORED: The distillery
(jurawhisky.com) is famed for its potently peaty single malts.
WHERE TO STAY: Barnhill sleeps up to eight. It costs from £1,000 a week (escapetojura.com).
AT 1,732 ft above sea level in the Yorkshire Dales, the Tan Hill Inn is the pub at the summit of them all. There’s no drinking spot higher in the UK.
The surrounding moorland is ideal hiking territory. Try the nine-and-a-half-mile circular walk from the pub along the Pennine Way. Afterwards, settle in front of the open fire with a pint of Tan Hill 1732 pale ale.
IF YOU’RE BORED: Go stargazing to see the Milky Way and — sometimes — Northern Lights.
WHERE TO STAY: B&B doubles from £70 (tanhillinn.com).
FRINTON-ON-SEA in Essex is best reached by a tiny, antiquated branch line train from Colchester which British Railways chairman Dr Beeching overlooked during his cutbacks in the 1960s.
There’s only one pub and almost no crowds on the beachfront. The family-run Rock Hotel has seven rooms and a menu rich in local seafood.
IF YOU’RE BORED: Get cracking on that novel as you relax at your beach hut, from £110 a week (beachhutsfrinton.co.uk).
WHERE TO STAY: The Rock Hotel (rockhotel.co) offers doubles from £115 B&B.
Remote log cabin
THE MOST northerly of the Shetland Islands, Unst, is a long way from almost anywhere (quickest bet is to fly to Sumburgh then drive for three hours, which includes two car ferries).
The white sands of Skaw beach make for fabulous walking
terrain. Gaze out at Muckle Flugga lighthouse and the islet of Out Stack and you’re looking at the most northerly geographical point in the entire UK.
Five miles south is the Baltasound Hotel, which has comfortable rooms inside the main building and in log cabins. IF YOU’RE BORED: Take your binoculars to the Hermaness National Nature Reserve where you can spot fulmars, gannets, puffins and kittiwakes.
WHERE TO STAY: B&B doubles from £130 (baltasoundhotel.co.uk).
HUGGING the border between Norfolk and Suffolk, Waveney
Valley is a haven of lonely windmills, grassy waterways and ochrecoloured hills.
The Georgian Somerleyton Meadows B&B has a wonderfully romantic shepherd’s hut set in nearly an acre of meadow and has a hot tub and barbecue fire-pit.
Order in advance and you will arrive to find a picnic hamper. Choose from one filled with a dozen oysters or the Suffolk hamper, which is stuffed with local salami, chocolate and salmon.
IF YOU’RE BORED: Take to the River Waveney with a Canadianstyle canoe (waveneyrivercentre. co.uk).
WHERE TO STAY: Shepherd’s Hut from £160 B&B (somerleyton meadows.co.uk).
HUDDLED in the mid-Devon countryside and with the remains of a medieval castle at its centre, Heywood Woods are superb walking territory. The River Taw snakes through these parts too, alongside immense Douglas fir trees.
For solitude come nightfall, head to the garden of the Fox & Hounds pub where what’s claimed to be the UK’s biggest treehouse is available for hire, sleeping four with a kitchen and an outdoor bath. IF YOU’RE BORED: If you are staying in the treehouse, there is a fishing lake at your disposal to try to catch rainbow trout. WHERE TO STAY: Treetops Treehouse sleeps two adults and two children from £200 (foxandhounds hotel.co.uk).
Train to nowhere
THE rush-hour commute will feel light years away in stationary carriages at the fabulously remote Brockford Railway Siding. Hidden away in a far-flung corner of midSuffolk surrounded by farmland and country lanes, these old carriages were once part of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway rolling stock. Three have been converted into cosy accommodation with kitchens and double beds. IF YOU’RE BORED: Bury St Edmunds, 15 miles away, is full of medieval and Georgian buildings. WHERE TO STAY: Carriages from £269 a night (cottages.com).
DEEP in the heart of the Brecon Beacons you can feel a long way from all talk of coronavirus. Stay in a traditional Welsh farmhouse known as The Wilds, set within 60 acres of land.
It has a pizza oven, Aga stove and outdoor hot tub. It’s a wonderfully secluded spot and perfect for hiking. The highest point in Wales, Pen y Fan, is nearby. IF YOU’RE BORED: Walk to the summit of Buckland Hill; the view here is said to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Hobbit. WHERE TO STAY: The Wilds sleeps up to 12 and is from £2,250 a week (uniquehomestays.com).
NORTHERN Ireland’s only inhabited isle, Rathlin Island, just off the Causeway Coast between County Antrim and the Mull of Kintyre, is easily reached via a 15-minute ferry from Ballycastle.
The island’s limestone cliffs, minuscule villages, secluded bays and bijou size (it’s five-and-a-half square miles) make for a deliciously bucolic retreat.
Stay at the Manor House, a rambling Georgian pile by Church Bay with wonderful sea views and white interiors.
IF YOU’RE BORED: Take time to watch up to 135,000 guillemots and 21,000 razorbills, the biggest colony in Europe.
WHERE TO STAY: Doubles from £125