No Christmas plans yet?
Don’t worry, I’ve been searching for some of the most underrated, quirky places to visit in the UK.
The most popular cities such as London, Manchester or Edinburgh are often chosen to visit first, but what about some of the more unusual places? I grew up in Northern England, in a county with more sheep than people, it was a great place to explore the less touristy hotspots.
I’ve been to some destinations that many tourists won’t have even heard of so I hope my guide will provide insight into some of the hidden delights of the UK.
Nestled in the northern part of the Lake District, this bustling market town is a hidden gem. The Lakes can be relatively expensive, but those in the know are aware that making this place your base and travelling around can greatly reduce your holiday costs.
The Lake District is situated in Cumbria, a mostly rural farming community which is surprisingly accessible from many parts of the UK. Penrith is home to some fascinating tourist sites including the excavated Roman road which ran from Manchester to Carlisle cutting through Penrith. If you are arriving by train you’ll immediately notice the castle, sadly in ruins but it’s definitely worth exploring this medieval site. Visiting the market is still possible, this currently takes place on Tuesday and Saturdays when you’ll be able to pick up mostly local produce.
In winter you’ll most likely encounter snow or frost at least, it turns the area into a picture perfect postcard. With panoramic views overlooking the mountains in the Lake District, is there anywhere better to spend the festive season?
You can catch a direct train to Penrith (North Lakes) from London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow to list only a few. If you are flying to the UK, your best option is to take a flight to Manchester and then take the direct train north.
Situated in Yorkshire, one of the most visited counties in England, which is no big surprise due to the sheer number of tourist sites available to visit. Whitby rarely gets mentioned outside of the county, this is such a shame as it’s a beautiful, quaint town next to the North Sea.
There’s several reasons why Whitby is famous, as a seaside town it’s no surprise that the main reason is it’s maritime history. As an important fishing port, much of the early history is surrounded by whaling and fishing fleets using the harbour to land their catch. One of it’s most famous residents however was Captain Cook who learned seamanship here.
Not content with having just one famous name, Whitby is also associated with the horror novel Dracula. Part of Bram Stoker’s novel was set in the town, so it’s no surprise that come Halloween or any other spooky time of year, Whitby comes alive with ghost hunters or gothic worshippers.
Whitby Abbey is a spectacular piece of English history, overlooking the North Sea, the abbey was first built as a Monastery but was sadly destroyed by Henry the 8th in 1540. These days it’s managed by English Heritage and is one of the best preserved pieces of British history with a horrific history.
If those weren’t enough to tempt you there’s also the North York Moors, an eery place in winter but with incredible views. It’s now officially one of the UK’s 16 National Parks
Other notable places to visit are Robin Hood’s Bay, a small fishing village with beautiful narrow cobbled streets and really nice beach. Slightly further south of here is Filey, here you can buy some of the best fish ‘n’ chips in the UK, highly recommended by me!
Whitby is a little bit awkward to get to, however it’s not impossible. You can easily drive to the seaside town or take the train from Middlesborough.
This place is probably most famous for the being branded the “Most haunted village in the UK”. With so many ghost stories it’s no wonder, from tales of the headless horseman to the Highwayman who used to ambush unsuspecting passers by.
This rural part of Kent gets absolutely bombarded around Halloween, however at all other times of year it’s a lovely little village to visit and stay in. The Black Horse pub is pretty much in the centre, this place dates back to 1470 and still houses traditional beams and serves home grown food and locally sourced beer.
Pluckley is also famously mentioned in the Doomsday book, however it appears this village may have been slightly larger at this time and would potentially have been bigger than it’s current largest town Ashford. In the late 1990’s the village was used to film the popular TV series called the Darling Buds of May, you may remember this as the first time you saw Catherine Zeta-Jones. Many places in the village still have photos from the times when filming took place, it’s also worth trying to check out Buss Farm which will soon be available to rent out as a cottage. This farm was used as the main location for the Larkin’s in the TV series and is a typical Kent property with stunning scenery surrounding the place.
Getting to Pluckley is really easy, it has it’s own train station although it’s best to take a train to Ashford International first. This station has direct services from London St Pancras and also from France and Belgium.
Newcastle upon tyne
I know many people have heard of Newcastle, but have they ever been there? Or have they simply just heard the rumours and never ventured north?
Well I’m telling you, those in the know are raving about the Geordie capital. As the largest city in the North East of England it’s certainly well connected, it’s also an important historic city.
Although I always think the Tyne Bridge looks like the Sydney Harbour bridge it’s not the only famous landmark along the Tyne River. You can now cross the Millennium bridge, usually lit up at night makes a beautiful evening walk along the Quayside. Newcastle is often considered one of the best shopping cities in the UK, with Europe’s biggest shopping mall, the Metro Centre, situated in nearby Gateshead, the area is full of life.
The local dialect, Geordie, is very strong and visitors from outside the UK may struggle to understand. However you’ll not find more friendlier people anywhere else in the UK, the locals will be more than willing to help you.
Getting to Newcastle couldn’t be easier, it’s a main rail interchange with connections to Scotland, Southern England and North East and North West England. With an excellent metro network connecting the airport this makes flying to the city straight forward, you can get direct flights from as far-flung places including New York and Dubai.
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