Wednesday the 29th of March 2017 seems like a relatively innocent date. You probably had a normal day at work, maybe you had a nice lunch out or even watched a bit of telly.
But of course, the 29th March wasn’t an innocent date at all. It was the day Theresa May triggered Article 50 and started the two year countdown to Britain’s divorce with Europe. And whatever your Brexit vote or political views are, one of the many questions is “What does it mean for European travel?”
The immediate effects of the Brexit vote are already being felt by our currency. On the announcement of the referendum result the pound fell to its lowest level in 30 years. Despite a slight recovery, Brits will still get less for their money abroad in the short term. Further effects may be seen in the prices of budget airline flights, especially the British airline Easyjet as the EU’s “open skies” policy will no longer apply. Along with more expensive flights and the plummeting pound there is also uncertainty with travel insurance, mobile phone roaming charges, duty free and the potential for costly visas. And amongst all this speculation, the only answer is that nobody really knows what will happen.
Consumer research by Columbus Direct has shown that with the weaker pound 41% of people will change their travel plans. Instead, eight million Brits are planning to have a “staycation” by spending more time in the UK. The positive is that we will see a boom in domestic tourism. And with that in mind, here are my top 7 alternative British travel destinations for 2017. These gems are a great alternative to Bath, Brighton or Edinburgh.
Hastings has a bit of a reputation for being a worn-out seaside resort with 2p machines and a peeling, rickety pier. And to be honest in parts, it is. But along with this well-meaning nostalgia is the half-timbered Old Town, characterful pubs and a cluster of tarred, lanky wooden sheds called “Net Shops”. For me, the highlight of the Hastings has to be the Jack In The Green Festival. A traditional May Day celebration that parades an effigy of “Jack” (a man-like bundle of foliage) through the streets of the Old Town along with a bevy of drummers and dancers before Jack is “slain” atop West Hill to release the spirit of summer.
We stumbled upon this springtime sensation of Morris Dancers, Harley Davidsons and outdoor drinking and can’t wait to go back. After you have pulled the twigs from your hair I recommend also visiting Battle. Just a 15 minute drive up the hill and the sight of in 1066, the battle of Hastings and the moated 14th Century Bodiam Castle.
More than a city of football and 60’s music nostalgia, Liverpool had a lot to offer the post Article 50 crowds. There is the impressive Albert Docks. A cultural hub of museums, galleries, bars, restaurants and shops. Then there are the authentic pubs and hip bistros of the Georgian Quarter along with the cities abundance of live music venues. If the Scouser hum has caught your interest then check out my Liverpool Mini Guide.
The rippling clear water and rocky coves feel like you have washed up somewhere in the Med. But instead you will find yourself in the South Hams district of Devon. Salcombe is a lovely seaside village that clings to the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary, it is a great place for beach time, barbecues and coastal walks. There is an annual Crab Festival in April and the town boasts the Salcombe Gin Distillery which was enough to lure me.
This rather grey yet handsome city is overlooked by those speeding pasts on the M6. But Lancaster is a vibrant student town with a welcoming tourism moto “small city big story”. A big part of that story is the Grade I Listed Castle. Dating back 1000 years, the Castle was used as a prison until it opened to tourists in 2013. The city is also home to a hip Coffee Quarter and the Lancaster Brewery. We stayed on a homely canal boat called “Bojangles” of the Lancaster Canal and although she is no longer for hire there are plenty of other canal boats to call your temporary home during your stay.
While you are up north you can’t miss beautiful Elterwater, a small Cumbrian village in the heart of the Langdale Valley. It is the perfect base for a weekend of fresh air, scenic Lakeland walks and cosy pubs. Watch this space for my Elterwater Mini Guide (coming soon).
Not on every mini-breakers itinerary, Winchester is a great post-Brexit escape. Just over an hour by train from the capital, this historic little city is home to Winchester Cathedral, King Arthurs Roundtable and the Gurka Museum. It is here that Jane Austen spent her last 8 years and today it is a welcoming place with pubs, cafes and tearooms as well as some cute Otters who call the old Winchester City Mill their home.
Glasgow has thrown off its industrial shackles and has been reborn into a vibrant metropolis. Home to 20 museums and art galleries the city is a hub for art, culture and architecture. It is also a UNESCO city of music and serves up some mean curries. My favourite is the Wee Curry House on Aston Lane. I have only spent 24hours in Glasgow so far but the city has left its mark on me and I am desperate to get back.
There are so many more wonderful places to visit in the UK that are often overlooked. Brexit is potentially a massive blow to the British economy but at least it provides an excuse to carry on exploring this beautiful county. Like many, I will watch this 2-year divorce unfold with a heavy heart. The foundations of the EU are based on policies of economics and politics, and although the union has its faults it stands as symbol of unity and peace. Who knows what the future holds?