WITH the prospect of trips abroad still distant, you want to give yourself the best chance of sunshine and blue skies on your staycation.
So to help you book your summer break – subject to the rules, obvs – we asked the Met Office to come up with the country’s hotspots and those destinations blessed with the most sunshine last July.
LONDON – 23.54C
WITH many international tourists not able to head to the nation’s capital, there’s never been a better time to explore the thousands of years of history and culture right here at home.
Five of the hottest temperatures recorded in the UK last July were in London, including Regents Park and Kew Gardens. Both are great examples of the wonderful green spaces visitors can enjoy.
Explore the city on foot on a free walking tour with Strawberry Tours – with themes including Harry Potter, Jack the Ripper, James Bond and, of course, the major landmarks. See strawberrytours.com/london
STAY: We love the budget boutique Z Hotels. There are ten in London with prices from £50 a night. Rooms are compact but feature decent beds, wifi and HD TV. There are no fancy facilities but we love the free cheese and wine served daily from 5pm to 8pm in the hotels’ small bar-restaurants.
SOUTHEND – 23.38C
THIS classic British seaside resort features the world’s longest pleasure pier and plenty of traditional fairground fun on Adventure Island’s roller coasters and Ferris Wheel.
But there’s lots more to explore with new art galleries, festivals and hip restaurants opening in recent years to sit alongside the neon-lit amusement arcades.
Its palm-tree lined beach is the prime place to position your deckchair to enjoy the sizzling temperatures. For a quirky ride, check out the Cliff Lift, one of Britain’s few surviving funicular railways and also our shortest railway, travelling just 130ft.
For more old-world charm, take a trip to neighbouring Old Leigh with its narrow, cobbled lanes, ancient pubs and traditional cockle sheds.
STAY: The Premier Inn right on the seafront of the Eastern Esplanade offers good value rooms just four minutes from Sealife Adventure. Prices this July are from £66 for a family room sleeping four. See premierinn.com
WORCESTER – 23.08C
THIS fascinating cathedral city is perfect for a short break, famous for its delicate porcelain, piquant Worcestershire Sauce and the most picturesque cricket ground in the country.
There are centuries of history to discover. Explore The Commandery to learn about the city’s role in the English Civil War or stroll Friar Street with its distinctive half-timbered buildings, including Greyfriar’s House and Garden and the 500-year-old Tudor House.
Refresh yourself after all that exploring at The Anchor, a historic pub in the Diglis marina on the River Severn. Its large pub garden is the perfect place for a pint or a meal just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of the city.
STAY: Treat yourself to the Stanbrook Abbey Hotel, a historic former abbey just five miles from the city centre set in stunning countryside. Dating back to the 16th century, a sympathetic renovation has made the most of its past, with dramatic stone cloisters and gothic stained glass. Rooms are from £170 per night in summer. See handpickedhotels.co.uk
CAMBRIDGE – 23.07C
DRIFTING down the tranquil waters of the River Cam in one of Cambridge’s famous punts is the best way to view this historic university city. There are millennia of history to discover among the quads of its 31 colleges and culture vultures will adore roaming its many museums and galleries.
Admire classic architecture from gothic spires to neo-classical columns before settling down on The Backs with a Pimms and a picnic.The Botanic Gardens are also a haven of peace in the city.
But this is at heart a university city and the buzzing nightlife and huge array of interesting eateries make it perfect for an indulgent short break.
STAY: For a different way to explore the city or surrounding area, how about a boating holiday on the Cambridgeshire waterways? Hoseasons has a seven-night break on board the Marsh Harrier canal boat sailing from Ely from £1,135 in total for four people, arriving July 2. See hoseasons.co.uk
MALDON – 23.05C
THERE’S a lot more to this Essex coastal town than its gourmet sea salt. The ancient town on the Blackwater Estuary has plenty of history to discover.
Kids will love Promenade Park with its playgrounds, splash park and seasonal events on the banks of the river. Hire a beach hut for the day and enjoy a picnic.
There are boat trips onboard some of the original surviving Thames barges and for insight into its strategic importance in days gone by, check out the Combined Military Services Museum, featuring a history of warfare and weapons from the Middle Ages to the present day.
STAY: Enjoy a bit of glamping fun at Osea Leisure Park. There’s a variety of unusual options from glass-fronted lodges, pods and safari tents as well as camping. The onsite restaurant and bar has food, drink and entertainment for all. A two night stay in a glamping pod in early July is from £198 in total for four.
EASTBOURNE – 253.26 hours of sunshine
NOT to be outshone by its neighbour Brighton, Eastbourne steals second place on the sunshine list.
This Victorian resort town in East Sussex boasts a 150-year-old pier that’s perfect for a blue-sky stroll with an ice cream.
It’s also right next to the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park and Redoubt Fortress, built during the Napoleonic Wars, with its military museum.
If it does happen to rain then the town’s colourful art scene should brighten your day with Eastbourne boasting the region’s biggest gallery, the Towner Art Gallery.
STAY: Three nights’ self catering at dog-friendly Baker’s Cottage in Eastbourne’s Mead Village historic quarter in August is from £253.75pp based on four sharing and one dog. See caninecottages.co.uk.
SHANKLIN – 262.32 hours of sunshine
WITH a whopping 262 hours, 19 minutes and 2 seconds of sunshine last year, Shanklin on the Isle of Wight was the sunniest spot in the UK in 2020. Just as well then that it boasts one of the most stunning beaches on the entire island.
Besides its sandy strand, the popular town offers plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the sun, including Rylstone Gardens and a bandstand with regular al fresco performances.
The Old Village is all thatched cottages and history with independent shops and tea rooms for cream tea or a light lunch. While miles of cycleways and footpaths offer endless options for sunny cycles and hikes.
STAY: Three nights’ self-catering at Landguard Holiday Park, Shanklin in August is from £249 for a two bedroom Guelder caravan sleeping six. See parkdeanresorts.co.uk.
BOGNOR REGIS – 252.53 hours of sunshine
KNOWN for its Butlins holiday park, this West Sussex town offers traditional seaside fun that’s within easy reach of the whole UK thanks to direct rail links via London.
Take a dip at East Beach which has lifeguards all summer, deckchair hire and stands selling ice cream. While “Beach on the Beach” offers a sandy play area for younger kids.
Or you could take a stroll around Hotham Park, where kids can take a ride on the miniature railway.
Chug around the beautiful nine hectare green space off the High Street on Boris the train before renting a pedalo for floating fun on the boating lake.
STAY: Three nights room-only in a silver room at Butlins Bognor Regis is from £138.25pp based on four sharing in July.
FOLKESTONE – 248.77 hours of sunshine
ON one of its many fine weather days you can see all the way to France from Folkestone.
If that gets you pining for a continental holiday, you’ll find this Victorian boom town’s charming mid-19th century restaurants and cafes soothing.
A picturesque harbour sets Folkestone apart from other Kent coastal ports, while much of the formerly rundown old town, boasts art galleries, boutique shops and cafés. Folkestone is also home to the Battle of Britain Memorial park, which features a stone carving of an airman gazing out to sea.
The clifftop East Cliff and Warren Country Park is ideal for walking the dogs or kids.
STAY: Three nights at Black Horse Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Sunny Sands Beach, Folkestone is from £48.90 per pitch. See caravanclub.co.uk.
HASTINGS – 247.05 hours of sunshine
THIS up-and-coming East Sussex town boasts everything from antique shops and independent boutiques to the Norman ruins of Hastings Castle, once home to William the Conqueror.
Culture vultures should make a beeline for the fantastic Hastings Contemporary Art Gallery.
Families will enjoy the free Hastings Fisherman’s Museum – or a ride on the steepest funicular railway in England, which opened in 1902.
The beach is shingle, so no sand in your sandwiches, while the renovated pier is always worth a stroll.
STAY: Three nights’ self-catering at The Cottage in Hastings is from £178.75pp based on four sharing in August.
AND THE WINNER IS…JERSEY WITH 2207.67 HOURS
WHILE the mainland may record highs in summer, it is the Channel Island of Jersey that is claiming the UK record for the most hours of sunshine throughout the 12 months of 2020.
According to data from the UK Met Office, Shoeburyness in Essex was the sunniest place in the UK, with over 2,207.67 hours of sunlight across the year. However, Jersey clocked up a scorching 2,392 hours of sunlight, says Jersey Met Office – 185 hours more than Essex.
As campsites and beaches along the coastline of the mainland UK book up, and with international travel rules in flux, Jersey is the ideal staycation destination, with over 30 different beaches ranging from pebbled coves to sandy shores. Seymour Hotels hass three hotels on the island with great offers for the spring, once lockdown lifts. Greenhill Country House Hotel in St Peter has three nights for the price of two on spring breaks up to April 30 as well as free cancellation up to 48 hours before arrival. Rooms from £285.60 for three nights.
Merton Hotel in St Saviour has free half board out of the summer peak season and half price dinner during the school holidays. Both deals are for stays of four nights or more. Rooms are from £85 per night.
For more information on the island, see jersey.com.
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