Top 5 unique UK destinations to visit this spring
Spring equals blooming flowers, leaping lambs and the freshest of fresh country air… With this in mind, Backpax has put together a list of fabulous ‘fresh air’ destinations which will put a spring in your step and take you off the typical backpacker trail.
1. Bonny Scotland: Braemar
With Braemar Castle now open for the 2016 season, what better time than spring to visit this Highland village, nestled in the Cairngorms National Park. Mountains soar high above Braemar whilst magical glens – home to ancient pine forests – await discovery. The snow has melted and wildlife is awakening from their winter slumber and nature is blossoming right now. All that was hiding below the earth, is pushing its way into the world, beckoning those of you with an adventurous spirit – step into the wilderness if you dare! Bonny Scotland awaits… Backpax’s top tip is a stay at Braemar Bunkhouse found in the beautiful grounds of Braemar Lodge Hotel. You’re gonna LOVE it!
2. The North: Kielder Water & Forest Park
Kielder Water & Forest Park, found in the heart of Northumberland’s National Park, is highly unlikely to be on your backpacking radar, but Backpax is giving you a ‘heads up’! Home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe and, at over 250 square miles, Keilder is proud to be the largest working forest in England. This is your chance to visit somewhere off the backpacker tourist trail and receive a unique experience to share with your fellow countrymen (or women!). The star-studded skies here are the darkest in England and so expect some breathtaking late nights around a fire. The Kielder Observatory calls itself ‘a star gazing and astronomy heaven’ and promises to expand your perspective. Trails weave you around the Kielder Water & Forest Park which you can enjoy by foot, bicycle or horse. Whatever your mode of transport, keep an ‘eagle eye’ out for the Kielder Ospreys which recognised naturally here after a 200 year absence. And Backpax is happy to introduce you to Tarset Tor Bunkhouse… the perfect resting abode which offers eco-friendly self-catering accommodation as well as self-contained Bothy holiday homes. Head ‘Up North’ and add Kielder Forest to your ‘favourite adventure’ list.
3. Wondrous Wales: Llanwrtyd Wells
Snuggly sitting within mid Wales is one of Britain’s smallest towns, Llanwrtyd Wells! With a population of 601 people it initially sprung up as a spa town, when hundreds flocked to take the ‘waters’ for their ‘medicinal effects’. Now the region is popular for pony trekking, mountain biking, walking and bird watching and as the gateway to the Cambrian Mountains, Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. Escape the city fumes and breath in some fresh mountain air this spring. Stonecroft Lodge offers you a warm bed for the night and what better place to mingle with your fellow travellers as well as the locals than their on-site bar? They serve beer from local brewers and boast a friendly atmosphere and tasty food if you don’t feel like rustling up anything for yourself. So, try the heady heights of Llanwrtyd Wells this season, somewhere you’re guaranteed to receive a warm Welsh welcome!
4. Spectacular South West: Dartmoor
Dartmoor’s dramatic landscape has a magnetic pull on those seeking tranquility as well as action… with 450 miles (730km) of paths, tracks and open moorland there’s enough space for both! Activities include walking, cycling, horse riding, climbing, canoeing and a couple of more obscure options are letterboxing & geogcaching. But if you’re craving to slow things down, there’s plenty of tors (hills topped with rounded boulder-like formations) to sit atop and ponder the meaning of existence. What better place than somewhere which contains such a rich history with the largest concentration of Bronze Age remains in the country. Dartmoor also has many a myth and legend to tell with reports of pixies, a headless horseman and a huge black dog to name but a few. The granite filled vistas offer an almost bleak outlook but it’s a grandiose vastness which creates such a melancholy beauty. Spring is the perfect time to visit due a spectacle of wild flowers and possible sightings of foals if you stumble across a group of Dartmoor ponies. Sparrowhawk Backpackers is a bunkhouse tucked away in Moretonhampstead, a medieval hillside village boasting quaint tea rooms and traditional pubs, as well as a tourist information centre and food stores.
5. Sunny South East: South Downs Way
A springtime stroll along the South Downs Way will have you reaching for your camera and singing the praises of British countryside. Backpax is keen to get you backpackers well off the beaten track by stepping you into a world of no cars… and even no fridge! Gumber Bothy is a converted Sussex flint barn, on a working sheep farm which provides simple overnight accommodation just off the South Downs Way. If you’ve been dreaming of stepping off the treadmill, Gumber has a car free policy which ensures backpacking is the name of the game… real backpacking! And as mentioned, although the kitchen and Bothy are super equipped, if you start to search for a fridge or plug points, you’ll come away empty handed! It’s time to go back to the basics and get creative guys. Toilets, showers, sleeping dorms, kitchen, BBQ, bike racks, pay phone, camping field and drying room available… and TRUE peace and quiet. With over 25 miles of public rights of way, there are plenty of walks to suit everyone. Enjoy the early spring sunshine, and witness frolicking lambs in the fields around the village. Visit Gatson Farm’s open lambing event to get a closer look, plus there’s a tractor driven guided tour. Backpax is most excited about Gumber Bothy’s suggestion to take an evening stroll in the woods around the area with an aim to catch a glimpse of a badger searching for a meal. You may even be lucky enough to see one of this year’s cubs. Yes pleassse!