When we are finally allowed to go on self-catering trips in the UK from April 12 (April 26 in Scotland), where will we travel? The answer may be: wherever is possible, as holiday-let firms report that over 90 per cent of properties are already taken.
Competition is also likely to be tough for hotels and B&Bs when they reopen on May 17. Yet there are still options to consider if you dig about. So after a year of pandemic, how do you chose which?
One consideration may be the area’s ‘bill of health’. Here is our guide to the UK’s least-affected spots, using latest Public Health England statistics.
The map above shows Covid cases for the previous seven days correct on March 31, according to Public Health England
YOU’RE OK IN ORKNEY
It is hardly surprising that Orkney, off Scotland’s north-east coast, has avoided the worst of the pandemic. With a mere 71 cases since coronavirus began, it is the least affected local authority area.
Officials hope that by April 26, Scotland’s reopening date for self-catering tourist accommodation, travel to the islands will be allowed. So trips could be possible to see its towering sandstone cliffs, vibrant birdlife, seal colonies and Neolithic sites — including the Ring of Brodgar.
DETAILS: B&B doubles at Stromness Hotel from £95 (stromnesshotel.com).
West Devon has reported few cases in recent months. And it is encouraging that other parts of the county, including Torridge, North Devon and Teignbridge, have also fared well. Visitors will enjoy walking the South West Coast Path and seeing the Jurassic Coast Cliffs on boat trips. The area is also home to Dartmoor National Park and the Tamar Valley.
DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock from £180 (bedford-hotel.co.uk).
Seaside fun: Hastings makes for a nice beach break and has charming surroundings towns that are worth exploring
East Sussex’s historic Hastings, with its traditional seaside attractions, has had a low coronavirus rate in recent months, as has the surrounding area, Rother. Visitors should not skip on a visit to the charming surrounding towns, including Rye, with its many interesting independent shops and close proximity to Camber Sands.
DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at the Hope Anchor Hotel in Rye from £175 (thehopeanchor.co.uk).
WHERE EAGLES DARE
The Outer Hebrides has been among the least affected local authorities. For those tempted by the windswept Scottish islands, perhaps a trip to the Isle of Lewis is in order. This is the largest island in the archipelago and a wildlife lover’s dream with golden eagles, red deer and seals.
Lewis is more traditional than most, with use of Gaelic, the peat industry, Sabbath observance, and myths and legends.
DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Baile-na-Cille from £150 (bailenacille.co.uk).
The Scottish Borders has had a better-than-average bill of health. This Scottish unitary council area has a dramatic stretch of coast and is not far from Edinburgh. Golfers will enjoy a trip to Peebles, where the castle is also worth a visit.
As with many parts of Scotland, abbeys and castles abound, among some great natural scenery.
DETAILS: Three nights’ self-catering at Eyemouth Holiday Park from £219 (parkdeanresorts.co.uk).
Another less-affected area has been the mid-Welsh county of Ceredigion, with its rolling hills, secluded beaches and fine coastal towns. The area’s rural market towns such as Cenarth, with its waterfall and nearby Cilgerran Castle, are full of interest too.
DETAILS: Two nights at Cenarth Falls Holiday Park from £50 (pitchup.com).
Stunning: The Cotswolds is known for its splendid views and idyllic chocolate box cottages. Pictured is Castle Combe
Cases of Covid have been low in the Cotswolds, where 80 per cent of the region is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Charming Cotswolds villages include Asthall, Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter.
Children will love Cotswold Farm Park and Water Park, while adults will enjoy a trip to The Royal Gardens at Highgrove or Kiftsgate Court Gardens.
DETAILS: Three nights’ self-catering from £209 (hoburne.com).
LOCHS AND CASTLES
Argyll & Bute covers a vast area and is another Scottish region to have been less hit by Covid than other parts of the country. Enjoy the open scenery, the placid lochs and castles.
Inveraray is the place to stay, while those keen on an island adventure (and some great seafood) should look to Oban.
DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Brambles of Inverary from £240 (inverarayhotel.com).
Throughout modern history Cumbria has inspired writers — not least Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.
Eden has had low cases in recent months and this valley, with its river of the same name, is as idyllic as it sounds.
There are some historic villages dating to Viking Times, a scenic railway line from Settle to Carlisle and great walks in the peaceful Howgill Fells.
DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Bank House Bed and Breakfast from £144 (bankhousepenrith.co.uk).
The Shetland Islands, 110 miles off the coast of Scotland, has been barely affected by coronavirus. It’s tricky to get to but those who make the effort will be rewarded. The mainland is full of scenic villages and small farms, while the outlying islands are places to explore historic sites and spot wildlife.
DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Busta House Hotel from £254 (bustahouse.com).