Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the country they are travelling to.
All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of May 2017 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at email@example.com.
Make the most of summer and create real quality time with your loved ones while taking care of the planet. We tried out green activities for the whole family and some fantastic food treats that are helping to keep local producers thriving.
The Outer Hebrides
Best for… Scottish wild food trails
These western Scottish isles are linked by an outstanding food trail, led by chefs who take their food extremely seriously, and delicious fare served by community volunteers. The supreme cosiness of the eateries is in inverse proportion to the elemental wilds in which they’re set.
What to eat
The islands place great emphasis on local resources, and families who are camping or self-catering can collect dinner on the lochs around Keose on Lewis with Hebrides Fish ‘n’ Trips. Pull up creels of crab and lobster, catch mackerel and enjoy close-up views of sea eagles and seals. Local seafood and venison are strong points at the Cabarfeidh Hotel’s Solas restaurant in nearby Stornoway. A nice touch is that the dish of the day, and the chef’s notes, are printed out and waiting at receiption every day (mains £14-£23: children’s menus available). Forty minutes west of Stornoway are the vast sands of Uig, where children can roam for miles at low tide; in summer the adjacent machair – or sea meadows – are cloaked in wild flowers. High above the beach is the superb Uig Community Centre tearoom, serving top-notch soup, oatcakes with salmon, and homemade ice cream at roadside cafe prices. How to do it
Best for… bluebell woods and fab puds
Barely a stone’s throw from the River Avon, you’ll discover The Batman’s Summerhouse: a Scandi-chic cabin on the edge of a bluebell wood, which looks directly onto the water. With its own sunny, private garden, children will be happy to find a trampoline, rope swing and giant hammock at their disposal. Further afield, you’re just a 20-minute drive from beautiful, sandy beaches, including the atmospheric Burgh Island, with access by boat or brilliantly fun sea tractor, depending on tides.
What to eat
Miranda Gardiner, owner of the summerhouse, is a food writer and author, and guests can order seasonal sharing meals to eat in the cabin for £20 per adult and £10 per child. The menu includes local meats as well as fruit and vegetables from Miranda’s own harvest garden. If you’d rather forage your own produce, head to the river to fish for wild trout and salmon, or explore the eight acres of woodland for elderflower, wild garlic and pignuts (a wild vegetable that tastes a bit like hazelnuts). It wouldn’t be a trip to Devon without a traditional afternoon tea. Wander along the river to the garden centre Avon Mill for homemade cakes, wild flowers and local honey. Or drop by the Valley View Café on the way home from the beach and relax on the sun-soaked terrace; £5.20 will buy you two plump, homemade scones with generous pots of strawberry jam, clotted cream and tea. At the adjoining Aune Valley farm shop, you’ll find a good selection of local and organic meats, cheeses and vegetables to cook at the cabin or take home.
How to do it
Rooms from £120 per night. Accommodation sleeps up to five people, visit their site to book.
Best for… woodland retreats and eats
Stay on the edge of the North York Moors National Park with a wealth of outdoor activities to hand. Explore the woodland at Cropton and nearby Dalby Forest, and ride the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway for spectacular views of the national park.The beaches of Scarborough or Whitby are ideal for day trips. Base yourself in one of Forest Holidays’ cabins in Keldy, surrounded by signposted woodland walks and cycle trails, plus on-site archery, forest ranger adventures, and mini night vision safaris (our kids’ favourite).
What to eat
The award-winning Blacksmiths Country Inn, a 10-minute drive away on the edge of Cropton Forest, has a seasonal menu with local produce, including fresh meat and game reared within a few miles of the kitchens: Ryedale steak & Guinness pie (£11.95), and oven-roasted salmon with creamy lobster, prawn & chive sauce (£14.95). In nearby Pickering, husband-and-wife team Matthew and Gemma offer a seasonal menu using locally sourced ingredients at Willowgate Bistro. A standout starter: pan-seared scallops with black pudding, parsnip crisps & beetroot purée; the duck breast main is served pink with roasted garlic & thyme mashed potato, shallots, figs and redcurrants. Two-course evening menus, from £24.95. Foodie landmark Trenchers is well-known for its fish & chips battered with traditional Yorkshire beef dripping, along with salmon, crab and Whitby scampi. Takeaway cod & chips, £6.40.
How to do it
A silver birch cabin (sleeping four to six) comes with an open kitchen, living room and shower, and a hot tub on the outdoor deck, from £895 per week. Visit forestholidays.co.uk to book.
The Lake District
Best for… hikes and hearty meals
Lake Windermere offers families the chance to play Swallows and Amazons, but also to discover its western shores on foot or by bicycle, and enjoy fine food drawn from the very woods and glades you are exploring.What to eat
The Lakeside Hotel & Spa has a strong foodie reputation; standouts at John Ruskin’s Brasserie include Herdwick lamb, celeriac risotto and sticky toffee pudding for kids (two courses £29, Monday-Thursday, kids’ portions available). Head chef Richard Booth often forages for wild garlic and damsons to supplement the kitchen garden and the hotel’s herds of sheep and rare-breed cattle.Base a day’s excursion further north up the lake by the Claife jetty: start with a cycle ride along off-road shoreline tracks to Wray Castle, where superb National Trust cakes await (bring your own bikes or hire from Grizedale Mountain Bikes, halfway between the hotel and Claife). Return to Claife and hike uphill through beech woodlands for 1.5 miles to Beatrix Potter’s home, Hill Top at Near Sawrey. Back by the water, try the ferryman’s lunch (similar to a ploughman’s) at The Café in the Courtyard and, if you’ve got room, a scone smothered in clotted cream. Then take a fun, there-and-back ferry crossing from the jetty to Bowness as a foot passenger (a snip at 50p one way).
How to do it
Lakeside Hotel & Spa, on the south-west shore of Windermere, has family rooms from £155 per night for a family of four.
Best for… forest, coast and farm stays
Surrounded by coastal beauty and bordering a nature reserve, Fforest Farm is all about rediscovering the outdoors. Hygge your heart out in one of its cosy domes, or be in hipster heaven at its Fforest Gather event (14-27 August), where you can learn old-school crafts like cheesemaking and foraging.What to eat
In Cardigan, Fforest’s quayside pop-up, Pizzatipi, serves award-winning wood-fired pizza. Nearby, Bara Menyn sells organic sourdough, locally sourced all-day breakfasts and lunches, and modern bakes. All Fforest accommodation has fully equipped cooking facilities, and Glebelands organic fruit and vegetable roadside shack – a 10-minute drive away – sells everything from mud-caked root vegetables to lesser-spotted leaves like Russian red kale (glebelandsmarketgarden.co.uk). Secluded sandy coves and breathtaking coastal walks provide free days out. Or learn to forage with local wild food expert Jade Mellor. A short walk from camp, the River Tei is one of the most beautiful in Wales – discover parts of the otherwise unreachable river gorge on a Heritage Canoes trip.
How to do it
Fforest offers a wide range of accommodation at the farm and in the surrounding area. Self-catering, four-berth domes start at £150 for two nights (coldatnight.co.uk).
The Tarn Valley, France
Best for… French farmland food
Ditch the pricey, congested south coast and head inland to the Tarn Valley, where lake and river beaches, plus steep wooded hills and rolling farmland, provide perfect hiking, biking and kayaking terrain. The Tarn is also home to some of France’s premier farms, producing Aubrac beef, Aveyron lamb and Ségala veal, plus the milk from which Roquefort cheese is conjured.
What to eat
Hire bikes from Les Magnolias, a pretty hotel in equally pretty Plaisance, a fortified Tarn hilltown (from £8 per day), then pedal along quiet lanes, stopping for cooling river swims. Dine on the leafy terrace at La Chanterelle (mains around £10; 00 33 56355 3943), where charcuterie is so chunky that you simply have to use fingers. Hearty kids’ plates of steak haché come with decorative animals sweetly crafted out of fruit. Adults choose prime cuts of local beef, lamb and pork braised on open fires.
Work off the excess with a day’s kayaking along the Tarn – the mini rapids make for easy navigation (canoekayaktarn.com; two-person kayak, £24). An evening at Farm Peyrouse comes with hay rides, egg collecting and dinner in the barn, including such local dishes as aligot: a cheesy, stretchy mashed potato, usually topped with sausage.
How to do it
Seven nights at Résidence La Marquisié, in Trébas-les-bains, costs from £126 in a basic, one-bedroom apartment (sleeps four) with a kitchen, terraces offering cracking valley views, and use of the site’s indoor swimming pool.
London-Montpellier from £121 return (adult), £111 (child), by Eurostar and (fun!) double-decker TGV Duplex train; an easy seven-hour journey with a change in Paris. Rent a car from Montpellier station, two-and-a-half hours from Trébas.
Accommodation, transport and assistance for this feature was provided by: in Devon, canopyandstars.co.uk; in the Lakes, golakes.co.uk; in the Outer Hebrides, visitouterhebrides.co.uk; in Wales, coldatnight.co.uk; in Yorkshire, forestholidays.co.uk; and in the Tarn Valley, summerfrance.co.uk and loco2.com.
Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below…
All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 01 May 2017 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out of date information in this guide please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.