Brilliant British Breaks

Posted on: 26 February 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Record numbers of us are expected to holiday at home this summer, but that doesn't mean sticking to the same old routine. Here are some fantastic new ideas for starters.

With the UK economy in recession, many of us are turning our backs on the traditional summer holiday to Spain.

Tipi Adventure: Wye Valley

Fancy finding out what America was like before the Pilgrim Fathers landed? Well, now you can, albeit in the unlikely surroundings of the Wye Valley.

Launching yourself downriver in an open canoe, you paddle to a remote spot where your bank-side tipi awaits you. What the original inhabitants of the Americas would have made of the complimentary barbecue equipment, cool box, loos and showers is up for debate. Guessing they'd have gone for the futons though.

Booking information: Two-four days; tipi (sleeps 7) from £130 per night; canoe (for 3-4) £40 per day. Child-friendly and available in school summer holidays.

Victorian Farm: Shropshire

As seen on BBC2's Victorian Farm series, Henley Cottage on the Acton Scott Estate promises an escape into a time when to talk of wireless mobile telephony would have earned you a place in Bedlam.

Part of a larger estate of small farmsteads, stone- and timber-framed cottages and ancient woodland, it offers a taste of rural life circa 1880. Cook on a coal-fired range, bathe in a fireside hip bath, and use an outside earth closet (though you can wimp out and use the modern bathroom if you must).

The estate also runs a historic working farm for the full-on Victorian country life effect.

Booking information: From £443 per week (based on 4/5 sharing) with (ref Roo4). Child-friendly and available in school summer holidays.

Sail & Camp: Isle of Wight

For a holiday that will leave your credit feeling refreshingly uncrunched, there's little beating Red Funnel's sail-and-pitch offer: a return from Southampton to Cowes and five nights at a holiday park from just £26pp.

Just bring a tent and choose one of four parks spread across the island, including one tucked very pleasantly into the grounds of baroque Appuldurcombe House.

Booking information: From £104 for a car and four passengers. Child-friendly and available in school summer holidays. Red Funnel (0844 844 2688).

Cabin Hideaway: Cornwall

Commanding a precipitous cliff top on the Lizard peninsula, this refurbished cabin in Gunwalloe is about as dreamy a romantic hideaway as you can imagine: gaze through the tamarisk down to Halzephron Cove or luxuriate in the huge bath while looking out on to palm trees.

The South West Coast path beckons outside, there's an award-winning gastropub (the Halzephron Inn) a short stroll away and warm croissants can be delivered each morning.

Booking information: From £100 per night or £500 per week. Sleeps 2.

Hideaway Hostel: Northumberland

As its name suggests, this particular hostel - ancient outside, modern in - is hidden behind high stone walls. You'll have to delve deep into Berwick-upon-Tweed's attractive old town to find it too.

But with most rooms sleeping just two and a continental breakfast thrown in, the only giveaway signs that you're in a hostel will be the friendliness of your fellow guests and the bill.

Booking information: From £15pp. Three-bed, doubles and twin room, some en suite. Child friendly and available this summer.

Kings Of Your Castle: Devon

There's something inherently satisfying about having your own tower for a week. Of course, if you get an entire castle to go with it, so much the better.

Tawstock Castle near Barnstaple is an impressive 18th-century hilltop fortress that looks out over the sea and Saunton Burrows on one side and lush stretches of the Taw valley on the other. Inside all is sleekly modern; outside, beyond the roof garden and the bailey, lie eight acres of your own private parkland and the Tarka Trail is just down the road.

Booking information: Sleeps 8; from £1,351 per week. Child-friendly and available in school summer holidays. Rural Retreats (01386 701177).

Darwin's: Cambridge

This year, Cambridge becomes the centre of the known universe. First there's the Darwin Festival, a celebration of the bicentenary of the former Cambridge student's birth.

The programme is set to pour out into the streets, bars and cafes "with informal theatre, music, soap box talks, comedy and gigs". Meanwhile, the university will be marking its 800th birthday with a year of exhibitions, concerts, plays and - yes - lectures (though no tutorials).

Booking information: Darwin Festival: 5-10 July. A university scheme offers B&B with local people; from £18 per night (proceeds to Oxfam, 01223 840882).

Film-Making & Animation: Derbyshire

Grab your camcorder and head for Windlehill Farm where the mysteries of good film-making will be revealed as you write, shoot and digitally edit your own short. There's a Beginner's Animation course too.

Booking information: Five-day course from £477 self-catering, or £512 B&B. Suitable for over-10s, available in school summer holidays. Skylark Holidays (01283 701729).

Family Survival: The Highlands

This doesn't mean learning how to survive a family holiday (although such a course would be useful). Rather it's learning how to survive in the wild as a family - by building a shelter, making a fire, foraging for food and telling your toads from your toadstools around Loch Carron.

There'll also be Celtic tales around a bonfire with (ahem) Gordon the Viking, a check on Nessie, a nose around Eilean Donan castle, and a boat trip to watch seals.

Booking information: Four days £395pp (Under 12s £295). Child-friendly and available in school summer holidays.

Will you be going abroad for your summer holiday? Do you often holiday at home?

Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or share your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.

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