Holiday at home: Trips with a Brit of a difference | Short & City breaks | Travel

The coast of Pembrokeshire (Image: Getty Images)COAST ALONG

The coast of Pembrokeshire undulates from six to 570ft above sea level along the edge of southwest Wales, winding around coves and inlets crimped by the elements over millions of years.

The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path can take you 186 miles along it on foot while looking out to sea, but the best view is from the water looking back.

Paddle a kayak around the Coastal National Park and you’ll discover an alternative world of caves, waterfalls and rock arches.

Days are spent bobbing between sea stacks or riding Atlantic waves beside high cliffs surrounded by sea birds and inquisitive grey seals. And you don’t have to have kayaked before, with day trips along sheltered stretches to give you confidence.

More advanced kayakers can take things up a notch though, trying their hand at tidal rapids, booming swells and trips to islands such as Ramsey, Skomer and South Bishop.

THE DEAL: Preseli Venture (0134 883 7709/ offers a beginner’s two-day sea kayaking weekend from £295, full board.

COASTAL CHARM: Kayaking in the sheltered inlet of Porthclais in Pembrokeshire (Image: Getty Images)

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Travel: Generations game for new style getaway British Isles: Soak up the best of British on this right Royal treat Dunstanburgh Castle (Image: Getty Images)HEAVENS ABOVE

Modern light pollution means that a truly starry sky is something most of us don’t now see on a regular basis.

For a real star turn, you have to go to one of the UK’s designated dark sky reserves, where you can still look up in wonder at the Milky Way as it sweeps across the black like spilt glitter.

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky, with little to no artificial light across its 920 square miles. Instead you get a whole cosmos of wonder above your head – and you only have to look up to enjoy it.

Take things further at eco-friendly Battlesteads hotel in the village of Wark, the UK’s only hotel with an on-site observatory, which offers special stargazing breaks including astronomy for beginners, aurora hunting and astrophotography.

THE DEAL: Rooms at the Battlesteads Hotel (0143 423 0209/ start at £120, B&B. Observatory tickets: £22.50

Soak up the landscape in a tree house (Image: Getty Images)BRANCH OUT

Tree houses have moved on a bit from childhood adventures; forget hoarding your comics and a torch up in the forest canopy, this grown-up version near Bratton Clovelly in Devon is all about fluffy duvets, floor-to-ceiling windows and a spa bath on the open deck.

Soak up the landscape with a glass of wine in hand, or just sit on deck and enjoy the peace, cradled in dappled light, foliage and birdsong.

A unique window on the natural world by day, at night the tree house experience is crowned, by huge, star-filled skies.

Dartmoor is on the doorstep for long walks, spot the tors from the higher woodland slopes, or follow the footpaths and watch kingfishers by the stream at the bottom of the woods.

THE DEAL: Canopy & Stars (0117 204 7830/ offers stays in the Stargazer Treehouse from £180 per night, self-catering.

CAVE DWELLERS: The recently restored Rockhouse Retreat offers plenty of modern comforts (Image: Rockhouse Retreat)DEEP RELAXATION

Go underground at the Rockhouse Retreat, an 800-year-old cave house carved from a 250-million-year-old sandstone escarpment on the banks of Honey Brook in Worcestershire.

The cliffs are said to have inspired Tolkien when he was writing The Lord Of The Rings, and this romantic troglodyte dwelling has more than a touch of Hobbiton about it.

Inhabited up until 1962, its modern restoration in 2015 was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme.

Today, deep relaxation with your favourite caveman or woman comes with contemporary design and creature comforts that range from underfloor heating to wifi.

Venture out of your subterranean home and the riverside town of Bewdley is within walking distance, or just commune with nature along the 25 miles of walking and foraging trails in the private woodland that surrounds the cave.

THE DEAL: A night at The Rockhouse Retreat (07789 160356/ starts at £195, self catering.

Cairngorms’ hills are alive with stags and squirrels (Image: Getty Images)HIGH POINTS

Change your altitude in the Scottish Cairngorms, where spectacular peaks, many over 4,200ft, are connected by high tundra, glens and corries that fall steeply away to ancient Caledonian pine forests and glassy lochs.

At Glen Feshie a private lodge provides a cosy base from which to spend a week hiking to summits including Sgòr Gaoith, Meall a’ Bhuachaille and mighty Cairngorm itself – where the only sound is the wind in your ears as osprey circle on the thermals.

At lower altitudes, the hills are alive with the sound of red squirrels and Britain’s only wild reindeer herd. You’ll need to be reasonably fit – walks are three to eight hours a day – but a good path network and high-level trailheads make hitting the heights more accessible than you might expect.

THE DEAL: A six-night break with Wilderness Scotland (0147 989 8513/ starts at £1,525pp, full board.


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