PLANNING international travel is a little tricky right now . . . so how lucky we are to live in such a diverse and spectacular country.
No matter what the season, we have suggestions for the best places to visit right here in the UK.
From spring in Pembrokeshire to winter in Yorkshire, Robert Birkby provides inspiration for planning a trip year-round right here at home.
MOST folk visit Scotland in summer.
That is a shame as it is busy, everything is uniform green and clouds of biting bugs are after your blood.
By late October, the first sprinkling of snow often appears on the mountains, atmospheric mist hangs in the glens and the autumn colours are peaking.
First up is Pitlochry in Perthshire, an excellent base for exploring the region.
Check out the “Queen’s View” of Loch Tummel and witness the kaleidoscope of colours at Killiecrankie.
Shoppers are catered for at The House Of Bruar, a country-themed department store for all things Scottish.
Further north we enter the Highlands, where some of the world’s most spectacular scenery awaits us.
West of Inverness is Glen Affric, a mountainous area best appreciated on the Loch Affric hike, where you might have stags and golden eagles for company.
For a driving tour, head west along the “Road to the Isles”, stopping at Glenfinnan to see the viaduct used in the Harry Potter films.
YORKSHIRE is England’s largest county — with a lot to see.
For a winter trip, first head to the scenic and varied west.
Hebden Bridge should be on anyone’s bucket list, a quirky and bohemian town nestled in the Calder Valley.
There are plenty of independent shops and cafes to visit plus steep walks in the dramatic surrounding countryside.
Or enjoy a more sedate amble along the canal.
Nearby Haworth is a fascinating little town that is particularly impressive at Christmas, when the lights reflect in the cobbles of Main Street.
If it happens to snow, this is as near to a Dickensian scene as you will find.
Fuel up and warm up with a curry in Bradford, then head north to the Yorkshire Dales to see the rolling countryside of ”God’s own county”.
The narrow lanes and dry stone walls are best navigated without the summer hordes and if it happens to be wet, those waterfalls look all the more impressive.
On dark evenings, cosy pubs in towns such as Hawes and Reeth serve great hand-pulled ales.
WHEREVER you are, spring is a wonderful time of year.
But the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales takes some beating.
Visit in May when the 186-mile coastal path is ablaze with wildflowers and the huge sandy beaches are at their pristine best.
Good bases include St David’s, a tiny city with a stunning cathedral, and the colourful holiday resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot.
Smaller towns and idyllic villages are dotted along the coast such as Cwm yr Eglwys, Porthgain, Dale and Manorbier.
For more excitement, Pembrokeshire is the home of coasteering — traversing the coastline by scrambling, swimming and jumping.
It is an exhilarating way to see parts of the coast that are otherwise inaccessible.
A visit to one of Pembrokeshire’s offshore islands is an unforgettable experience:
Skomer Island is a national nature reserve which, in spring, is entirely carpeted in red campion and bluebells.
Wildlife such as seals, rabbits and owls can easily be spotted, even in the middle of the day.
The puffins steal the show, though. Arriving in the spring, they are everywhere. Visitors are guaranteed a good view.
THE Suffolk resort of Southwold avoids that tacky feel of some English coastal towns.
And Aldeburgh, to the south, is delightful for a stroll on those warm summer days, as well as home to some of the best fish and chips in the country.
Suffolk is one of the driest parts of Britain but should it rain, head for Snape Maltings, a Victorian building turned into an arts complex with help from the composer Benjamin Britten.
Concerts are held here while visitors can browse shops and art galleries.
Heading inland, we have historic wool towns such as Clare and Long Melford, where the architecture is quite amazing.
At Lavenham, there are wonderfully preserved medieval buildings, leaning impossibly at every conceivable angle.
The smaller villages in the region are among the most charming in England and thatched cottages in traditional “Suffolk pink” can still be seen.
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