Bertie: overnight coach to Cornwall
Bertie travelled by overnight coach from London Victoria to Penzance for his annual family holiday in South West Cornwall.
“We stay in the same place at the same time every year in a row of cottages. I go with my immediate family but we are now good friends with all the other people who stay there in the other cottages.”
“I had the fortune of being seeing a huge pod of dolphins. I’ve been going to the same place for 20 years and never seen them before.”
“The whole holiday was amazing. The weather was five days of solid sunshine and peaceful seas, so our activities were very sun-focused. Lots of lying on the beach, reading, listening to music and swimming with jellyfish."
"I also had the fortune of being able to go out on a small boat a couple of times and saw a huge pod of dolphins. I’ve been going to the same place for 20 years and never seen them before so that was very cool.”
“It was very refreshing to come back from a holiday completely relaxed with none of the travel stress you would get with flying.”
Bertie and the family also visited Porthleven, a port town considered by some to be the next ‘food hotspot’.
“It’s an area I know really well and our holiday is always a very special week, but this year it was extra perfect. It was very refreshing to come back from a holiday completely relaxed with none of the travel stress you would get with flying.”
Sunita: a weekend on the south coast
Sunita took a weekend out of London to explore the South Downs in Sussex, wandering along the South Downs way between the Seven Sisters and Devil’s Dyke. Travelling by train from Victoria is a quick and cheap way to get out of the city.
Together with her boyfriend Charlie, they travelled in a campervan that Charlie had renovated last summer.
“It’s pretty basic, but we’ve always slept really well in the van. It’s a comfy set up. It’s kitted out with natural sheeps' wool for the insulation and wooden panels throughout, which, if you’re looking for cute van tips, is amazing for keeping the van smelling super fresh and clean while on the road.”
They lucked out with the weather, too: “It was ideal for doing everything we wanted to do: walking up and down hills, sitting for hours staring out at views, enjoying evening walks, and sleeping in the van. The days felt bright and hopeful, and a sea breeze kept us warm and cool simultaneously. It was perfect for us.”
So often people can fall into the trap of trying to do too much in a short space of time, but Charlie and Sunita say that this time they really slowed down, especially around Devil’s Dyke.
“We lay on the grass looking at the sky for ages. With a 360 view at the top we could see all the various activities and stories going on below us. It was like watching a movie, with different scenes. It’s good to reflect sometimes on life like this.”
“There was a lot of good stuff: walking, people-watching, looking at the sea and feeling the fresh air.”
“There was a lot of good stuff: walking, people-watching, looking at the sea and feeling the fresh air, something that you really appreciate when you live in the city. We also managed to check out a castle and the Battle of Hastings Museum.”
Anna: Snowdonia to Fort William by bike
Cycling enthusiast Anna took on something a bit more strenuous than your standard holiday: completing the National Three Peaks challenge by bicycle.
The journey took her and her riding buddy James all the way from north Wales to the Highlands of Scotland through Wirral, Lancashire, the Lake District, Carlisle, Glasgow and Glencoe, hiking up the three highest peaks of Wales, England and Scotland along the way.
“We were pretty lucky with the weather,” says Anna. “The climb up Scafell Pike was a complete washout but other than that we had amazing sunshine. We even got a rare view from the top of Ben Nevis which was totally unexpected!”
“It was a fantastic trip through some of the most dramatic and impressive landscapes the UK has to offer. There is so much to explore on this island!”
“Cycling 450 miles and climbing up three mountains is not everyone’s idea of a holiday, but it was a fantastic trip through some of the most dramatic and impressive landscapes the UK has to offer. We saw some amazing waterfalls, lakes, mountains and fells. There is so much to explore on this island!”
Maggie: hybrid car to Suffolk
Maggie's summer holiday saw her driving from Bristol to Suffolk with her family in a hired plug-in hybrid car. They stayed in a 17th century cottage on the banks of the River Box.
“Suffolk is all about the villages. A typical Suffolk village has some lovely medieval and Georgian buildings, a mass of hollyhocks, a gorgeous church and at least one good pub. The fabulous church in Long Melford was built with money from a wool tycoon. All his friends who chipped in are commemorated in stained glass portraits, like a 15th century crowd funder page.”
“Suffolk is all about the villages. We walked between villages on old footpaths that take you between wheat fields, vineyards, orchards and woods.”
The weather was a bit changeable, but always seemed to turn out better than the forecast. “We walked between villages on old footpaths that take you between wheat fields, vineyards, orchards and woods. The coast is not far, and we spend an afternoon eating ice cream and watching the huge container ships unload at Felixstowe. In the other direction, the RRS Sir David Attenborough was visible in the harbour at Harwich. That’s Boaty McBoatface to his friends.”
Gemma: Cornish coast
It seems that Cornwall is the destination of choice for the Flight Free UK team, as Gemma also travelled there this summer by train. With their partner they stayed in a small independent B&B in the fishing village of Mevagissey, a short distance from St Austell.
“I booked this trip just after Christmas 2020 when we were deep in lockdown, so we would have something to look forward to when the summer came around. Not only that but my partner is from Germany and has never been to Cornwall, so I had to show him the beautiful coast we have!”
”My partner is from Germany and has never been to Cornwall so I had to show him the beautiful coast we have!”
“We didn’t do too much research into the area, so we were very lucky that most areas were easily accessible by public transport. We visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan, the Eden Project, St Ives and Charlestown to name just a few.”
Cornwall has some great transport links, with local buses going to most areas on a regular basis, meaning that you can have some great days out without worrying about driving and getting caught in traffic.
“We definitely found some locations that we would like to visit again and again, including a small secluded beach that you could only access by foot. It was such a beautiful beach, tucked away from the crowds, with gorgeous clear waters.”
”We found a beautiful secluded beach, tucked away from the crowds, with gorgeous clear waters.”
Stopping off in Plymouth on the way back was a nostalgic part of the trip, as Gemma had studied at Plymouth University and had spent four years living in the coastal city.
“We had such a great week. We managed to do enough that we felt we’d seen as much as we could in Cornwall as well as relaxing enough to feel rejuvenated. I was proud to have shown my partner around our wonderful coastline and really felt the benefit of not relying on a car to explore the area.”
Alan: survival camp in the Lake District
For something a little different, Alan booked himself onto a week-long beginners' Survival and Bushcraft course in the Lake District, run by Wild Human.
Arriving near Lake Windermere late on Sunday afternoon, the attendees pitched their tents and got to know each other.
“I was a bit worried that I might not get on with the others on the course,” said Alan, “but the group turned out to be one of the highlights. People came from a range of backgrounds, experience levels and ages. Most nights were spent chatting around the campfire for hours.”
During the course of the week, the team learned skills such as shelter-building, whittling, fire-making and cooking. There were also guided walks where they were taught about foraging or tracking. As the week went on they took it in turns to sleep in a two-person shelter made out of sticks and leaves.
“On my night in the shelter it rained really hard, but we were really warm and dry inside,” said Alan.
By the end, most of the group had managed to make fire from sticks (or come very close!). For many, the cooking skills were a highlight. One day the instructors taught the group how to prepare and cook a pigeon, which included how to turn camping pots into a makeshift oven. The day after was preparing trout and cooking it on an open fire.
“I would definitely go on another one of their courses. I would love to do one of their foraging courses in the spring or autumn, or perhaps one of the craft weekends, where you learn to make a knife or an axe.”