The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Staycation

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

It’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors.

She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.

“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all.

“One hundred and twenty minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is reopening some of its properties but with many restrictions still in place. Visitors can now walk in some of its open spaces locally – White Horse Hill at Uffington; Buscot and Coleshill Estate in Wiltshire; the Chilterns countryside; Ashdown, Lambourn; Bibury, Gloucestershire and Stonehenge landscape. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some with limited space on a first come first served basis.

Some sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open. Those you can now visit locally include: Cliveden and Basildon Park in Berkshire; Stowe, Waddesdon and Hughendon, all in Buckinghamshire; Buscot Park and Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Visit the National Trust website for details
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has also reopened its formal gardens and walks for visitors to enjoy. Again booking for dates and times is essential as numbers are limited. The Palace has introduced a number of safety measures such as installing hand washing facilities and sanitisers, operating a cashless system and screens at kiosks. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com/ for all you need to know.

Walk around the beautiful gardens of Stonor Park near Henley which has welcomed visitors again and enjoy the offerings from street food vendors too. Pre-booked tickets are a must with timed entry only. The street food will also need to be booked in advance. For more information and to book visit www.stonor.com

You can also enjoy a walk around Windsor Great Park, observing the now customary restrictions and Savill Garden has reopened to friends and members as well with a further phased opening planned to welcome more people to appreciate the splendour of the gardens.

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

• Share with us where you like to go. Which places are you longing to get back to? Get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures

The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Staycation

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

t’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors. She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.
“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all. 120 minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is another taking its first tentative steps to reopening some of its properties and the sheer joy of being able to set foot somewhere other than your doorstep or local park is overwhelming.

With many restrictions still in place, the Trust has welcomed visitors to walk in some of its open spaces locally – Runnymede; Witley and Milford Commons; Frensham Little Pond; Hindhead Commons; Swan Barn Farm, Black Down and Marley Common in Haslemere; Petworth; Lavington Common at Woolbeding; Selborne Common and Hydon’s Ball and Heath, Godalming. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some
with limited space on a first come first served basis.

As from the beginning of June, some of its sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open.

Those you can now visit locally are: Hinton Ampner, Mottisfont and The Vyne in Hampshire; Polesden Lacey, Hatchlands Park, Claremont and Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey and Standen House and Garden and Nymans, West Sussex.

Visit the National Trust website for details, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Painshill is welcoming visitors again with appropriate social distancing measures in place. The grotto, upper floors of the Gothic Tower and gift shop are closed but the tearoom is open for takeaways and picnics can be enjoyed in the grounds. Bookings must be made in advance and entry numbers are restricted, visit www.painshill.co.uk/visiting-painshill-covid-19-pandemic/
RHS Wisley has also partially reopened to the public, again with limitations on numbers and with areas such as glasshouses, alpine houses, bird hides and play areas staying closed.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We are delighted the government has said it is safe to reopen our RHS Gardens because it is proven that spending time outside in green open spaces surrounded by plants has an immensely positive effect on our health.

“We look forward to welcoming our members and visitors safely back and to bringing the joy of plants, flowers, trees and nature back into people’s lives, which for so many will be a much-needed tonic.”

There is limited capacity to comply with government guidelines and booking is essential. Visit https://tinyurl.com/y9l7b4gs

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

Get away!

Round & About

Staycation

Fancy a night away? Refresh yourself (and perhaps your plus one) with an overnight break right here in the UK, writes Liz Nicholls.

What with all the political hokey cokey over the past couple of years (Brexit), we thought we’d turn our sights to staycation options close to home.

After all, amid all the frustrating / upsetting (delete as appropriate) wranglings over backstops and borders, surely now is a good time to celebrate the best quirky, wonderful resources Blighty has to offer?

Well, our eccentric island nation of “Marmite, village fetes and country lanes” (to quote Bill Bryson) certainly has plenty to offer so you’re sure of a great break to suit any budget, without having to get your passport out.

Two Hoots Glamping near Alresford has some beautifully British shepherd’s huts and camping pods where you’re sure of cosy, comforting TLC right in the heart of gorgeous Hampshire countryside. The eco-friendly pods and huts feature king-size beds are perfectly located for visiting Jane Austen territory and you can travel there by steam train, thanks to the idyllic Watercress Line. For full details visit www.twohootscampsite.co.uk or call 01962 772242.

Are you a lady of a certain age who’d relish time away from the male of the species? If so, I hear you! Slipper Camps in Tenterden, Kent, specialise in ladies-only uplifting getaways, full-board, in a boutique country hotel, featuring creative workshops so you can share new experiences and laughter with other like-minded ladies. Visit www.slippercamps.co.uk or contact 07774 294309.

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The Chilterns View in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside is the ideal choice for a romantic rendezvous. Book into one of the south-facing lodges, which each boasts a floor-to-ceiling glass front and raised veranda, elevated to give you unrivalled views across the Chiltern Hills. Two of the five lodges are open-plan and each comes with its own private side balcony and a 24-hour heated hot tub for two. Visit www.thechilternsview.co.uk or call 01491 836 353. 

If you’re looking for a gorgeous group or family staycation you’re sure of lovely accommodation with character, stunning light and scenery to die for with Coronet Cottages. The family business has a holiday home on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and another in Cotswold Water Park each offering a breath of fresh air. www.coronetcottages.co.uk

Just to prove how much the UK does offer, there is even a super safari option – courtesy of Port Lympne in Kent. As featured on ITV’s This Morning, this 600-acre reserve and luxury hotel is run by the award-winning Aspinall Foundation and is home to more than 760 animals and 90 species. Book a rhino or tiger lodge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while helping conservation. Visit
www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne

If camping is more your jam, Wigwam Holidays has loads of comfy glamping options which can incorporate your passion too, be it hiking, photography, surfing, climbing, archery, fishing or water sports; visit www.wigwamholidays.com

And Henry’s Campsite, right on the tip of the The Lizard in Cornwall, offers pitches with sea views, sunsets to die for and a location boasting coastal and inland paths (careful if you’ve partaken of a few rosies!). Visit www.henryscampsite.co.uk or call 01326 290596.

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Also in Cornwall, Carbis Bay Holidays offer a five-star collection of cottages in St Ives, from penthouse apartments overlooking the white-sand beaches to designer country homes a pebble’s throw from the coast; call 01736 630015 or visit www.carbisbayholidays.co.uk

Luxury Lodges offer stunning stays in Cornwall, the Lake District & Wales; www.luxurylodges.com.

For a healthy break, you’d be hard-pushed to beat the pampering packages at Grayshott Health Spa near Hindhead, 2018 winner of the World Spa Awards, no less; visit www.grayshottspa.com or call 01428 602020. Or top up your sunshine levels by booking in for a stay at Donnington Valley Hotel in Newbury where the new Aqua Sun package will massage your cares away, bathing you in low-level UV canopy light. The privately owned hotel and golf club is set in stunning parkland. Visit www.donningtonvalley.co.uk or call 01635 551199.

Spectacular splendour is the name of the game at Great Fosters in Egham, voted AA Hotel Of the Year England. It’s a wedding venue to die for & Michelin-starred foodie mecca; visit www.greatfosters.co.uk or call 01784 433822.

Whether you favour the voluptuous Yorkshire Dales or cute Cotswolds, Together Travel have superb luxe glass-fronted eco-lodges. Visit www.togethertravel.co.uk or call 01386 897179. And Cool Stays has incredible treehouse, cabin and “boatel” break ideas for groups and couples at www.coolstays.com

For bucolic country cottages in some of the UK’s most heart-stoppingly beautiful landscapes check out Home Away (there are also cute continental options if you do want to travel beyond the white cliffs…). Visit www.homeaway.co.uk

De Vere Cotswold Water Park, GL7 5FP, is a tranquil spa haven sure to rejuvenate you; www.devere.co.uk. Top up on sunshine with a stay at Donnington Valley Hotel in Newbury where the new Aqua Sun package will massage cares away, bathing you in low-level UV light. The privately owned hotel and golf club is set in stunning parkland. Visit www.donningtonvalley.co.uk or call 01635 551199.

I just had a houseful of Canadian friends to stay… It’s amazing how playing tour guide in your home city (mine’s Oxford) opens your eyes. For the perfect Dreaming Spires stay try The Porterhouse, OX2 0AL, just a hop from the station, for the best steak in Christendom and hip, comfy rooms; 01865 248546 or www.theporterhouse-oxford.com. Another quirky choice is Malmaison’s reincarnation of the old prison in the castle quarter; www.malmaison.com. And if, like me, you’re a fan of that 1950s American vibe, you’ll love Mollie’s Motel & Diner near Faringdon, SN7 8PY. I can’t wait to try this celeb honeypot (brainchild of Soho House founder Nick Jones) for a milkshake and adult sleepover! www.molliesmotel.com

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One thing we do best in the whole world is a great pub! The Fat Fox Inn in pretty Watlington, OX49 5BU, is a foodie’s dream with gorgeous rooms too; www.thefatfoxinn.co.uk or 01491 613 040. The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, OX2 9QH, is an original Tudor beauty lavished in TLC serving award-winning food; 01865 862329 or www.bearandraggedstaff.com. Also find cosy charm at The Fleece in Witney, OX28 4AZ; 01993 892270 or www.fleecewitney.co.uk and I had one of the best dinner dates/stays ever at The Lion at Wendlebury, OX25 2PW; www.thelionwendlebury.co.uk or 01869 388228. Oh, and just up the road in Bicester, OX26 1UE, The Chesterton Hotel offers truly fabulous cream teas and dinners, with rooms to match; 01869 326 550 or www.thechestertonhotel.com

There’s even a safari option on this sceptred isle! Port Lympne in Kent, featured on ITV’s This Morning, a 600-acre reserve and luxury hotel, run by the Aspinall Foundation, is home to 760 animals; www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne

For bucolic country cottages in heart-stoppingly beautiful British landscapes check out Home Away (there are also sweet continental options if you do want to travel beyond those white cliffs…). Visit www.homeaway.co.uk

Enjoy your stay!

Wherever in the UK you choose to stay, we hope you have a lovely time and please share your experiences with us on social media @randamag