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7 of the Best UK Road Trips: A Driving Itinerary of Great Britain

Although we may be a small country here in Great Britain, what we lack in size we more than make up for in charm, history and beauty. Across our four nations we showcase miles of rugged coastline, rolling green fields as far as the eye can see and fabulous beaches with reams of golden sand. Although not quite as famous as America’s Route 66 or Australia’s Great Ocean Road, the UK is still home to some of the best road trips in the world. From the incredible scenery of Scotland’s North Coast 500 to the gorgeous coastal views of England’s Atlantic Highway, there are road trips for all ages to enjoy. Whether you have three days or three weeks, or you’re driving a car, campervan or motorcycle, you can pack in tonnes of beauty spots and must-see landmarks during your driving itinerary of Great Britain. In need of some UK travel inspo? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s my pick of 7 of the best UK road trips from all corners of the country so you can start planning now that lockdown is easing…

North Coast 500, Scotland

 

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Known as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 is an epic driving adventure that’ll take you across 516 miles of stunning Scottish highlands. Starting and ending at Inverness Castle, the route was officially launched at 2015 and runs through counties including Inverness-shire, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty. Along the way you’ll discover the likes of Ullapool, Wick and John O’Groats giving you plenty of sights to tick off your Scottish bucket-list. The route typically takes 5-7 days to complete and this is a good amount of time to set aside so you can break up the long driving with lots of scenic stopovers in between. Make sure you do your research before you set off for your trip; the roads are winding, the bends are sharp and there are plenty of wildlife that could jump out at you along the way! You’ll also need to plan ahead and book your accommodation in advance as local hotels and b&b’s have seen a huge surge in popularity since the route was launched. Driving the NC500 is something that is definitely on my UK wishlist and I would love to plan this incredible road trip for myself one day!

 

 

Cotswold Way, England

 

As I’m a local girl I couldn’t write my list of 7 of the best UK road trips without including this beautiful part of the country! The Cotswolds are home to some of the prettiest towns and villages in the UK and are visited by thousands of tourists each year. The Cotswold Way is officially a walking/hiking route and stretches for 102 miles, but you can drive between some of the key locations to pack as much sightseeing in to your road trip as you are able to. If you’re following the official Cotswold Way walking route you’ll need to start in the market town of Chipping Campden and end up in the Roman city of Bath. You’ll pass the likes of Broadway, Cheltenham and Painswick along the way and can take in some stunning Cotswolds sights during your journey. The towns and villages are easy to get around by car or motorcycle although you may struggle with a campervan or motorhome as many of the roads are very narrow and windy! Planning a longer stay in the Cotswolds? Check out my full Cotswolds weekend itinerary here!

 

 

Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland

 

 

Up next on my list of 7 of the best UK road trips is the Causeway Coastal Route, a designated 130 mile road trip along the windswept and rugged Atlantic coastline of Northern Ireland. The route starts in Derry and ends in Belfast, passing famous landmarks such as the Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge, Portrush golf course, endless Game of Thrones filming locations, and of course the incredible Giants Causeway. In order to fit in as much of Ireland’s spectacular scenery as you can, 3-5 days is the recommended length of time for this road trip. As it is a relatively short distance it can be done much quicker than that, or even in a day if you really have to, but if you allow more time you can certainly relax and enjoy the Irish way of life for longer rather than racing from stop to stop. You could easily do this route by motorcycle, car or campervan and I’d recommend a night or two in a hotel along the way to make your trip last a little longer!

 

 

Black Mountain Pass, Wales

 

 

Another excellent route to add to your driving itinerary of Great Britain, the Black Mountain Pass in Wales celebrated its 200th anniversary back in 2019 and its popularity was heightened after an appearence on hit BBC show Top Gear in 2011. When Jeremy Clarkson got behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz AMG and drove the 20 mile stretch of the A4069 in Carmarthenshire, fans of the famous Welsh road dubbed it the ‘Top Gear Road’ and tourism to the area has spiked ever since. Boasting spectacular scenery over the Brecon Beacons National Park, this short route offers far reaching views of enormous mountains, rolling hills and endless fields. Climbing up to 1600ft above sea level in parts, this route is best going from north to south and is better suited to experienced drivers but cyclists can also tackle it too – if you’re up for a tough workout!

 

 

Atlantic Highway, England

 

Up next on my list of 7 of the best UK road trips we’re heading all the way down to Cornwall, one of my favourite parts of Britain and the first place I ever went to on holiday as a 6 month old baby! This 275km long route takes up to seven days to complete and starts in Somerset on the edge of the Exmoor National Park, where it stretches across Devon and Cornwall by running along the A39. Showcasing stunning countryside on one side and epic coastal views on the other, the Atlantic Highway Route follows the line of (yep, you guessed it) the Atlantic Ocean from mid-Cornwall to North Devon. Passing through towns such as Wadebridge, Bude, Tintagel and Camelford, as well as the pretty Quantock Hills, Clovelly Village and Port Isaac there are some excellent places to stay to help break up your drive along the Atlantic Highway Route. Your final day will take you to surfers paradise Newquay, where you’ll want to rest and refuel for a couple of nights before heading back home again.

 

 

Argyll Coastal Route, Scotland

 

Back to Scotland now for another route on your driving itinerary of Great Britain, but this time it’s a coastal route instead of the mountainous Scottish Highlands. Much shorter than the North Coast 500, this route is a tame 129 miles in length, starting in Tarbet and ending up at Fort William. Set off from the iconic Loch Lomond, exploring the west coast, where highlights and must sees include the Loch Fyne restaurant and oyster bar for an incredible foodie experience and a visit to the 19th century Inveraray Jail. You’ll also want to visit McCaig’s Tower for excellent views of the Inner Hebrides, and see the Castle Stalker view on Loch Linnhe. If you have time (an extra day), try and climb Ben Nevis whilst you’re at Fort William. It’s a difficult climb with treacherous parts and unpredictable weather, but if you get to the top you’ll be rewarded with incredible views and  it’s certainly an experience to tick off your British bucket list!

 

Jurassic Coast Path, England

 

Last but not least on my list of 7 of the best UK road trips is Dorset’s stunning Jurassic Coast Path. Typically a walking route which covers 95 miles of land on foot (as part of the South West Coast Path) you can also drive between many of the places along the way which is why I’ve included it as part of a driving itinerary of Great Britain. Starting at Old Harry Rocks in Dorset and ending up at Exmouth in Devon, you’ll pass places such as Weymouth, Portland Bill, Chesil Beach and Lyme Regis, as well as miles of coastal views along the way. Part of a World Heritage Site, some of the sights along the Jurassic Coast Path are amongst the best in Britain. I have visited Dorset on numerous occasions and always love walking or driving between sections of this beautiful route, so it’s definitely one to add to your list of places to visit in the UK.

 

I hope this list of 7 of the best UK road trips has given you some travel inspo and you can now get planning some epic adventures this summer! No matter whether you’re driving a car, caravan or motorcycle, you can still enjoy a fabulous UK road trip and tick plenty off your Great British bucket-list. Don’t forget to prepare well in advance for your UK road trip though; make sure you’ve got adequate travel insurance/vehicle insurance and your mode of transport is thoroughly serviced/ in excellent working order before you set off. I imagine that most of these UK road trips will be done by campervan or car, but travelling by motorcycle is an exhilarating way of getting around so why not compare the best motorcycle insurance quotes on the market before you start planning your epic driving itinerary of Great Britain. Have you got any UK road trips planned this summer? I’d love to know where you’re heading to!

 

NB. This post was sponsored by The Bike Insurer but all thoughts and words are of course my own.

 

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Hiking the Four Falls Trail in Wales: Exploring the Brecon Beacons

Back in September, I went on my first post-lockdown stay right here in the UK, where I visited the Brecon Beacons for the very first time. I have wanted to visit the Beacons for ages, and even included them on my recent UK staycation wishlist, so I’m really glad I got to experience a weekend there whilst the weather was good this summer. I was in Wales to take part in my 5th fundraising challenge for The Pituitary Foundation, a charity extremely close to my heart who I am proud to be an ambassador for. After all their fundraising challenges got cancelled due to Covid this year, I was determined to help them raise some vital funds and was excited to take part in this group event, which was to hike the Four Falls Trail in Wales. I have previously climbed Mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis with the Foundation, both of which left me totally exhausted, so when they were hosting a walking challenge instead of a climbing one I was desperate to sign up as I am so much better at hiking than I am at climbing! Here’s how our day went…

 

 

I travelled up to Wales from home with my mum and dad and we stayed in the pretty Nant Ddu Lodge Hotel & Spa, which is perfectly positioned right on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Located just a 10 minute drive from Pen Y Fan, the hotel enjoys a spectacular location from which to explore the surrounding Welsh countryside. I was gutted that we only had 1 night as I really wanted to climb Pen Y Fan whilst we were there, but we didn’t want to tire ourselves out ahead of the Four Falls Trail the next day so opted for a relaxing stroll around the grounds and a hearty lunch and dinner at the hotel instead.

The next morning we drove 20 minutes to one of the start points of the Four Falls Trail, The Angel Inn in  Pontneddfechan, just west of Merthyr Tydfil. We didn’t park in the pub as this is not encouraged but there is plenty of on-road parking directly opposite on the main road. The other starting point, should you wish to go from there instead, is the Four Falls car park Gwaun Hepste, which is about halfway from the Angel Inn start point.

 

 

After our safety introduction and Covid-19 briefing about social distancing during the walk we met with our guides and Jay, the fundraising manager for the Foundation, as well as all the other walkers who had decided to join the event. We set off at around 9am and were immediately greeted by small waterfalls and pretty streams as we meandered our way through the first leg of the Four Falls Trail in Wales. I couldn’t believe how beautiful some of the scenery was already; they don’t call this place Waterfall Country for nothing! We were taking this route as pictured below, which is approximately 15km in total:

 

 

Comprising of, yep you guessed it, a series of four waterfalls, this trail is located within the Fforest Fawr, right at the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Passing four rivers along the way (the Mellte, Hepste, Pyrddin and Neath Fechan), the rivers meander downwards towards the waterfalls which can be seen from the pathways, although they of course look much more impressive the closer you get to them.

After a couple of hours we had a toilet stop and enjoyed our packed lunches next to the pretty green countryside. I hadn’t realised just how many hills we would pass during our walk, I knew the Brecon Beacons were mountainous, but I thought we would just be following the waterfalls and that the scenery between them wouldn’t be that special – how wrong I was! I loved every minute of the Four Falls Trail, from seeking out the waterfalls and following the rivers to being immersed in the surrounding countryside and seeing beautiful trees and hills at every turn.

 

 

The four waterfalls that we passed on the Four Falls Trail in Wales were called Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gqyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and the mighty Sgwd-yr-Eira which was by far the most powerful and certainly the most impressive. Although it was super busy with other walkers at Sgwd-yr-Eira, we waited our turn and were able to step behind the cascading waterfall to take some fantastic photos with the water tumbling in front of us. It was truly magical and I have never seen a waterfall as beautiful as this one.

The walk usually takes around  3-4 hours to complete, but we took just over 6 hours mainly because we were in a group of about 15-20 with people of all ages and abilities so we had to make sure everyone could keep up and no one got left behind. It was also stupidly hot for late September with the sun beaming down on us, so it took a little longer as it’s seriously hard work lugging your backpack around in the heat whilst trying not to slip by the waterfalls! By the end of the walk we were relieved to make it back to the car park in one piece, despite having huge blisters, and I really wanted to stop for a pub meal at the end but unfortunately we had to jump in the car and drive straight home as it was nearly 5pm by the time we had finished.

 

 

I would highly recommend the Four Falls Trail to anyone looking for a low impact hike in the stunning Welsh countryside. Despite the paths around the waterfalls being a little rocky and slippy, this route is not particularly challenging and is suitable for all ages and abilities. The 15km length can be a little strenuous at times, but if you take it at your own pace and enjoy plenty of stops and food breaks along the way, the walk is easily achievable within a few hours. In terms of kit to take, I would make sure you wear waterproof walking boots with good ankle support, a waterproof jacket as you will definitely get wet at the Sgwd-yr-Eira waterfall, and take a rucksack which can hold plenty of snacks and at least 2litres of water.

I thoroughly enjoyed hiking the Four Falls Trail in Wales and I hope these photos and handy insights give you an idea of what the walk is like. Have you ever hiked it before? I’d love to hear how your experience was! I’m proud to say that our team raised over £5000 for The Pituitary Foundation which is absolutely AMAZING and will really help to boost funds that were lost this year due to every other event being cancelled during lockdown. To find out more about why I am a proud ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, please read one of my previous pituitary related blog posts.

 

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How to Spend a Weekend in the Cotswolds: A Cotswolds Road Trip Itinerary

Having lived in Oxfordshire my entire life, and having blogged for over six years, I have no idea how it has taken me this long to write up my suggestions for a Cotswolds road trip itinerary. I think that, because I have grown up here, I have taken it totally for granted, and I have always prioritised writing about my overseas trips in comparison to favouring UK content. However, with UK staycations becoming increasingly popular post-lockdown, I figured now was the perfect time to help you plan a spectacular Cotswolds road trip itinerary. I have also written a separate post which is all about the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds so be sure to check that out too. All the places that feature in my Cotswolds guides are hand-picked and I have visited them all over the past 27 years. Here’s how to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds, including everything to see and do in the various towns and villages, as well as plenty of recommendations of where to eat and drink too!

 

 

Day 1 (Friday)

I have based this Cotswolds road trip itinerary on having 3 nights from Friday-Sunday so that you can really make the most of your time in the Cotswolds and see as much as possible. If you don’t have the time, it can of course be cut down to 1 or 2 nights depending on which places you want to see, so you can remove the areas you might have visited already or aren’t too bothered about, but this itinerary is a great place to start if you’re totally new to this neck of the woods. It is also worth pointing out that this itinerary only really works if you have a car. If you don’t have one and are arriving by train or plane into London (1hr by train from Oxford or 2hrs by car) I would really recommend that you hire one as public transport isn’t one of our strong points down here!

 

Burford, Oxfordshire

 

 

Assuming you’re travelling to the Cotswolds on the Friday, either morning or afternoon, I would 100% recommend starting in Burford and basing yourself here for the duration of your stay. Perched on a medieval hill and also known as the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’, Burford is conveniently located just off the A40, allowing easy access to the likes of Oxford, Cirencester, Cheltenham and more. I went to school and sixth form in Burford for seven years so I am totally biased, but I just love it so much and it is definitely not to be missed off your Cotswolds road trip itinerary! Highlights include Huffkins tea rooms (they do the best cakes), the stunning St John the Baptist church at the bottom of the hill, and the upmarket Burford Garden Centre, frequented by many a local celeb. Cotswold Wildlife Park, just a few minutes outside of Burford, is also well worth a visit if you have time and are looking for a family day out.

 

Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire

 

 

After having lunch and wandering around Burford, head over to nearby Bourton on the Water (15 min drive) for a lovely stroll around one of the best loved villages in the Cotswolds. Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton is brimming with boutique shops, classic tea rooms and cosy pubs. Bourton is home to many different bridges that stretch across the river Windrush and the water is at the heart of this village. Travelling with kids? You won’t want to miss Birdland, an enormous wildlife park with penguins, pelicans and parrots, home to over 500 bird species. In the height of summer Bourton is very busy with tourists, so get away from the crowds and take a countryside hike out to Upper and Lower Slaughter instead – these picturesque villages are a must on any Cotswolds road trip itinerary.

 

 

Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire

 

 

On your way back from Bourton, make a stop at the historic market town of Stow on the Wold. Brimming with cafe’s, shops and restaurants, this place is classic Cotswolds in a nutshell and is worth a visit, although there isn’t a huge amount to do. St Edward’s Church, with its heavy oak doors, is said to inspire JRR Tolkien’s Doors of Durin in the Lord of the Rings, and makes a perfect photo opportunity. I’d also recommend a stroll down the high street so you can dip in and out of the many antique shops, as well as an evening meal at either The Old Butchers or The Queen’s Head, serving delicious dinners until late.

 

Day 2 (Saturday)

After a busy first day of your weekend in the Cotswolds, today is no different as you explore a whole host of famous chocolate box villages. Continue exploring more of pretty Gloucestershire as you tick more Cotswolds landmarks off your bucket-list. This itinerary still works well if you’re staying in Burford, as I have previously mentioned, but stays at either Cheltenham or Gloucester would work fine too. Don’t forget that you’ll still need a car to get around as transport links between these places are pretty non-existent!

Broadway, Worcestershire

 

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Beautiful day out at Broadway Tower… how have I lived in the Cotswolds my entire life but never been here before?! 😍 Exploring new places close to home is how I've been spending my lockdown and I'm going to continue it over the coming weeks and months too! I just love discovering more of our beautiful country 🇬🇧 . . . #broadway #broadwayuk #broadwaytower #broadwaycotswolds #worcestershire #igersbroadway #cotswolds #thecotswolds #igerscotswolds #discovercotswolds #cotswoldslife #cotswoldway #cotswoldsuk #cotswoldvillages #visitcotswolds #visitengland #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain #weloveengland #england #england_insta #englandmylove #englandtravel #britishsnaps #englandtourism #bbcbritain #capturingbritain #scenicbritain #beautifulbritain

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Somewhere I have only visited recently is beautiful Broadway and it’s famous tower. Broadway is a stunning market town lined with honey coloured cottages, antique shops and cutesy cafe’s and is one of the most visited spots in the Cotswolds. It can get super touristy and really quite busy on weekends, so I would recommend going first thing in the morning or later on in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. No visit to Broadway is complete without a stop off at Broadway Tower, a few minutes drive (or approx an hour’s walk) away. Completed in 1798, this Saxon designed tower is a museum/viewpoint housing historic exhibitions and boasting stunning views. Climb to the top and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views reaching as far as 16 counties, as well as an aerial view of the resident red deer in the park below. There are many circular walks you can take at Broadway Tower, along with a shop, cafe and interesting nuclear bunker onsite too.

 

Cotswold Lavender Farm, Gloucestershire

 

 

Located just a 4 minute drive from Broadway Tower, close to the teeny tiny village of Snowshill, Cotswold Lavender is one of the most instagrammable places in Gloucestershire. A must visit for any Cotswold road trip itinerary during, a stop off at Cotswold Lavender makes a great addition to a day out in Broadway. For just £4 you can access the beautiful lavender farm and walk along the many rows of gorgeous lilac flowers that stretch as far as the eye can see, but please bear in mind that the farm is only open from mid June – early August. There’s also a vibrant yellow field right next to the lavender too, which is perfect for even more photos. Dogs are welcome if they are kept on leads, and there’s also a small shop and distillery on site if you want to purchase some pretty lavender infused goods! If you have time, drive 3 mins down the road to nearby Snowshill and enjoy a drink or a pub lunch at the Snowshill Arms.

 

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

 

 

Famed for its annual race days, Cheltenham is a great place to while away a few hours on your weekend in the Cotswolds. On your way back from Cotswold Lavender/Broadway, stop off in Cheltenham for an afternoon of shopping or fine dining. Regent Arcade and the Promenade are great for high street and designer shops, whilst the Brewery Quarter and Montpellier are the best places to find all your favourite restaurants – The Ivy is a particular favourite of mine! Enjoy an ice cream at Imperial Gardens if the weather is good, and look out for the Neptune Fountain just around the corner. If you have time, head to nearby Bishops Cleeve to walk up Cleeve Hill which boasts impressive panoramic views over the valley below.

 

Bibury, Gloucestershire

 

 

Make beautiful Bibury your last stop of the day before you head back to your accommodation for the evening. Perched on the river Coln, Bibury is a very small village but is hugely popular with tourists. Lined with iconic Cotswold stone cottages, Arlington Row attracts coachloads of visitors at the height of summer, so avoid going in the middle of the day and head out late afternoon/early evening instead. Walk around the village over the bridge and past the trout farm, where you can spot plenty of rainbow trout splashing in the stream below. Round off your day with an evening meal at either The Swan or The Catherine Wheel, both perfectly located in the centre of Bibury and both offering delicious lunches and dinners.

 

Day 3 (Sunday) 

 

It’s the third and final day of your Cotswolds road trip itinerary, and I’ve only added two morning stops so that you can spend the majority of the day exploring beautiful Oxford! Head out on an early morning walk to Minster Lovell before stopping for brunch in Woodstock where you’ll then wander around Blenheim Palace. From there head into Oxford to marvel at its university buildings and dreaming spires. You could easily spend 2 whole days in Oxford, but I’ve listed the highlights below for you and these can easily be done in a day if you’ve got your walking shoes on!

 

Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire

 

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I hope you've had a lovely Easter weekend staying at home 🏡 Every time I walk past this gorgeous cottage I want to live there! Haven't been to this little village in #Oxfordshire since we went into lockdown 3 weeks ago, and I can't wait for the day when we are able to drive 10 mins to the next village/town to enjoy a long walk or a pub lunch rather than being confined to our back gardens for the foreseeable future ✨ This easter has been a little different – last year I had just got back from being in Australia – but when all of this is over, I'll look back and be so grateful that I have my family, my health, a lovely home & 2 pretty gardens to enjoy in the sunshine ☀️ Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we must continue to #stayhome ❤️ The world will be waiting for you to visit when we are able to, and the #Cotswolds certainly isn't going anywhere 🌎 . . . #happyeaster #uklockdown #minsterlovell #littleminster #lovethecotswolds #cotswoldstyle #thecotswolds #loveoxfordshire #weloveengland #visitbritain #instatravel #lovegreatbritain #capturingbritain #photosofbritain #loveengland #photosofengland #visitengland #thisisengland #igersengland #igersuk #igersoxfordshire #cotswoldslife #oxford #experienceoxfordshire #oxfordshire #countryside #oxfordshirelife #travelblogger

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The first stop on the last day of your weekend in the Cotswolds is Old Minster Lovell, a tiny Oxfordshire village located near the market town of Witney (also worth a visit if you have time). Park at the Wash Meadow and walk across the fields to Minster Lovell Hall & Dovecote, the ruins of a 15th century Oxfordshire manor house. Complete with crumbling hall, tower and nearby dovecote, the ruins date back to the 1430s when they were built by William Lovell, one of the richest men in England at that time. Occupying a peaceful setting beside the River Windrush, you can take a walk in the nearby woods before circling back to the car park via St Kenelm’s Church and passing the gorgeous cottages that line the main road.

 

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

 

 

Before you head into Oxford, I’d really recommend spending an hour or so at beautiful Blenheim Palace, one of the most famous palaces in the country, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Book in advance if you want to check out the state rooms inside the palace itself, otherwise you can turn up on the day to explore the grounds and gardens. With history spanning 300 years, there’s plenty to see and do during your visit to Blenheim. Check out the ‘finest view in England’ (according to Churchill) as you stroll around the grounds past the enormous lake, or let the kids run riot in the maze and pleasure gardens.

 

Oxford, Oxfordshire 

 

 

In my humble opinion, no visit to the Cotswolds is complete without a day trip to the dreaming spires of Oxford! Famed for its historic university, its enviable location on the river Thames and its secret Harry Potter filming locations, Oxford makes a fantastic place to end your weekend in the Cotswolds. As well as visiting the iconic college buildings, be sure to tick the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, Sheldonian Theatre and Bridge of Sighs off your Oxford bucket list. All that walking will have you working up a thirst, so I’d highly recommend stopping at rooftop bar The Varsity Club to enjoy a drink with a view of the spires in the distance. The Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums (both free entry) are worth a visit if you have time, and don’t forget to head to the newly opened Westgate Centre to get your shopping fix (there are lots of rooftop bars/restaurants there too). You can read more about things to do in Oxford in my other blog post, but you can definitely see most of the sights in a day! Finish up with a hearty meal at The Chequers, just off the high street, and indulge in yummy pub grub at the heart of the city centre.

 

So there we have it, a bumper guide on how to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds. I really hope this helps you to start planning your Cotswolds road trip itinerary and gives you plenty of travel inspo. I’m well aware that this itinerary is completely jam packed and I have probably included way too many stops for a short three night break in the Cotswolds, but I really want to share all my favourite places with you as there are SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM!! This itinerary therefore is of course totally adaptable, so feel free to remove or add any places that you do or don’t want to see depending on how much time you have. A weekend in the Cotswolds is a lovely idea for a UK staycation, and there’s so much to see that you’ll struggle to fit it all in, but that just gives you all the more reason to come back again another time!

Have you been to the Cotswolds before? I’d love to know which parts you’ve visited!

 

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🌼

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How to Spend 24 Hours in Manchester

 

Last weekend I stayed overnight in Manchester for a fab travel blogger conference, Blog at the Beach, hosted by Ice Lolly Holiday and Visit Barbados. I had an amazing time catching up with all my fave blogger friends and meeting loads of new ones, and was excited to explore Manchester properly for the first time in YEARS. In the past I’ve usually just headed straight to the Trafford Centre from Liverpool as I spend a lot of time with my family up there, but this time I was determined to see all that Manchester had to offer, so when Hotels.com asked me to create a guide on how to do a budget break to the city, I was more than up for the challenge! They offer some fantastic accommodation options including luxury hotels, budget B&B’s and the serviced apartments Manchester are a great choice too. Here’s what I got up to during my 24 hours in Manchester, and what I recommend you do there during your northern getaway…

 

Check out Exchange Square & the Northern Quarter

 

exchange square manchester

The Exchange Square

 

Located slap bang in the middle of the city, Exchange Square is home to the shopping district and is right behind the popular Arndale Centre. You’ll find street performers and live music in the square, with the Corn Exchange building as the impressive backdrop. There’s also the Printworks, which has now been converted to a food court with the likes of Five Guys & the Hard Rock Cafe dominating the skyline. The Northern Quarter is another quirky area of the city which is home to an abundance of bars, cafes, shops and restaurants as well as some fantastic street art too. Situated between the Ancoats and Piccadilly, the Northern Quarter is the retro part of Manchester and has plenty of character, with record shops, vintage stores and places where bands gather to play live music.

 

Shop til you drop on the high street  

 

the arndale centre

The Arndale Centre

 

Manchester has got some fantastic shopping, and the high street is one of the best places to go for this. You’ll find every kind of high street, designer and department store you can think of, and the enormous Primark is also home to the newly opened Central Perk Friends Cafe which is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. Located five miles west of Manchester city centre, The Trafford Centre is of course another obvious choice for shopping, and boasts a fantastic range of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. There’s also plenty of leisure options for those that don’t fancy shopping or eating, with an Odeon cinema, laser quest, mini golf course, escape room and even a Sealife aquarium offering a fantastic day out for all the family.

 

Visit one of the many museums

 

The National Football Museum

The National Football Museum

 

Manchester has some great museums, many of which are free to enter and are suitable for people of all ages. From football and music to art and fashion, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The National Football Museum, just a stones throw from Victoria station, is one of the city’s most popular attractions, detailing the successful history of the beautiful game. The Science and Industry Museum and the Manchester Art Gallery are well worth a visit, as is the Imperial War Museum located right on the waterfront at The Quays. For those of you who are soap lovers, Coronation Street The Tour at MediaCityUK in Salford is a great day out for all the family. You can explore the historic cobbles, wander through Weatherfield and even see where the pints are pulled in the Rovers Return.

 

Have a night out in Deansgate

 

 

One of the liveliest parts of Manchester, the Deansgate area is a great night out and is brimming with bars, clubs and restaurants. We had cocktails in the All Star Lanes bar, which is complete with a full bowling alley at the back, and then headed to Rudy’s for pizza. We passed the Peaky Blinders bar, a popular new hangout right in the centre of Deansgate, and also passed tonnes of other clubs and bars too. This area of the city is the place to be for a great northern night out, with the mile long road home to trendy eateries such as The Living Room, MOJO and The Botanist.

 

Getting around

a Manchester tram

The trams in Manchester

 

Manchester is quite a big city, so you may need to use public transport or taxis to get around, but the central area is best discovered on foot. You can walk from the high street up to Exchange Square in around 10 minutes, and head to the Victoria or Piccadilly train stations which are either a 5 or 15 minute walk away too. For a proper Mancunian experience, hop on a tram to get around like a local and explore everything much more quickly.

 

Where to stay

 

quad room at the macdonald manchester hotel

Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa

 

We stayed at the 4* Manchester Macdonald Hotel & Spa which was located a little out of the city centre, but was just a 3 minute walk from Picadilly train station. The hotel was in a perfect location for our Ice Lolly event as the office building was right around the corner, but we did have to get Uber’s/ taxis in and out of the city centre as the 25 min walk was a little too much for some of us who were wearing heels in the evening! The hotel had plenty of facilities including a tecnho-gym, swimming pool and spa with infra-red sauna, sensation shower, eucalyptus steam room and even an ice igloo. Please note that the spa was only accessible by paying a £10 supplement per person. I was in a room of 4 and we had 2 double beds between us which were super comfy and the bathroom was amazing. I’d definitely stay here again on my next visit as it was the perfect place from which to base ourselves during our 24 hours in Manchester.

 

Where to eat 

 

yard and coop manchester

Yard & Coop Manchester

 

Manchester has a great foodie scene, and we spent most of our time having lunch or eating dinner around the Deansgate area where we were going out on the Saturday night. There are some brilliant restaurants to choose from, with popular chains including Bella Italia, Nandos and Wagamama, but we opted to eat at Rudy’s which has been voted as one of the UK’s best pizza restaurants. For lunch the next day we headed to the Northern Quarter and ate at Yard & Coop, a speciality chicken restaurant serving every kind of chicken dish you could think of! Other great foodie areas include Peter Street and the Ancoats.

I had a great 24 hours in Manchester exploring all that the city had to offer, but I know there’s lots more that I didn’t see during my short time there. If I had longer I definitely would have spent more time seeing some of the museums and exploring the older buildings, as well as venturing out to the Trafford Centre too, but I definitely got a good feel for the city during my 24 hours in Manchester. Have you been to Manchester before? I’d love to know your top tips!

NB. My spending money during my time in Manchester was gifted by Hotels.com but all views, words and photos are of course my own.

Hotel Review: The Francis Hotel, Bath – 4* Luxury in the heart of Bath Spa

 

 

Last week on my press visit to Bath Spa with Visit Bath I was invited to stay at the gorgeous Francis Hotel, a luxurious 4* hotel located in the heart of Bath. Formerly a row of Georgian terraced houses, the hotel has been glamorously restored and fitted with the newest mod-cons, whilst retaining the same 18th century charm that was once present on site. With fluffy pillows, retro in room telephones and cosy tea rooms, The Francis Hotel offered a luxurious and comfortable stay during my visit to Bath. Here’s my full review of this stunning hotel…

 

The Location

 

The exterior of this #hotel is so beautiful 😍 #bath #visitbath #Igersbath #tbt #getaway #UK #GB

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:30am PDT

 

Set in the popular Queens Square area, The Francis Hotel is in a perfect location from which to enjoy the best that Bath has to offer. Both the city centre and all the major landmarks are within walking distance, and there are an abundance of shops, cafes and restaurants within easy reach. The hotel offers onsite car parking on a first come, first serve basis, and is easy to find. If, like I did, you’re arriving by train, the station is just a 10 minute walk or 5 minute taxi ride away.

 

The Room

 

 

This hotel isn’t just 4* for it’s fab location, the rooms are gloriously spacious and comfortable with little luxurious touches. We stayed in a superior twin room that was complete with en-suite shower room, large wardrobe with slippers and dressing gowns and an LCD TV and desk area. The room was so lovely and a really welcome place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing! We were left a little note and a sweet treat by the hotel staff which was a really lovely touch, and I just LOVED the retro in-room telephone!

 

The Facilities

 

The lounge area at The Francis Hotel- I'm still in love! 😍🇬🇧 #bath #visitbath #hotel #getaway #UK #GB #igersbath

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:47am PDT

 

 

This isn’t a spa hotel so there isn’t a spa, sauna or swimming pool, but the hotel does boast a range of other facilities making it worthy of its 4 stars. There are really beautiful lounge areas in which to relax and indulge in some quintessentially English afternoon tea, and there are bar areas too. There’s also a lovely little secret garden at the rear of the hotel offering guests the chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

 

The Staff

 

 

We found the staff at the hotel to be really friendly and helpful during our stay. Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, but the concierge and reception staff were on-hand to make sure our bags were kept safe and were subsequently delivered to our room whilst we were out exploring. They opened the doors and lifts for us and we were greeted with friendly smiles whenever we walked in and out of the hotel. A big thank you to the lovely staff for making our stay so special!

 

The Verdict

 

Overall we had a really wonderful stay at this stunning hotel right in the heart of the city. I would highly recommend staying here on a mid-week or weekend visit to Bath for a truly luxurious stay. We didn’t have breakfast so I can’t comment on that, but if you wish to opt for breakfast you can do so at a cost of £19.50pp. The Francis Hotel is genuinely one of the best UK hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and I already can’t wait to plan a return visit in the not too distant future!

 

So there we have it, my full review of the wonderful Francis Hotel. I cannot recommend the hotel highly enough for anyone looking for a comfortable and luxurious stay in the heart of Bath – thank you for making our stay in the city such a pleasant one! For more information or to book a room please visit their website directly.

NB. I was a guest of The Francis Hotel for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are of course my own.

 

Wishing I was back at this beautiful hotel on this sunny Thursday! #tbt #bath #visitbath #hotel #getaway #igersbath

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:27am PDT