Embrace the moment, stay longer, and connect with the British Isles on a PoB break, covering everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to the Channel Island of Jersey.
How well do you know Britain? Perhaps you’ve ticked off the main sites, dashing off to see Stonehenge, or snatching a weekend break at Hadrian’s Wall. But have you taken in Devon’s two coastlines and brace of national parks on the same trip? Or tried a Rutland Pippin (a bit like a pork pie but shaped like an apple) after cycling or walking some of the 23-mile trail round Rutland Water in Britain’s smallest county?
You may feel that you’ve ‘done’ Cornwall, the Cotswolds and Cumbria but why not tarry a while and discover new aspects to these destinations, enjoying the local culture, food and experiences as well as the honeypot sights.
To help you delve a little further into the wonders of our nation, we’ve launched PoB Breaks, a series of immersive journeys covering everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to the Channel Island of Jersey.
An interactive map on our website lets you plan your adventure at your own pace. As well as showing our member hotels, with their great food and beautiful bedrooms, it details local activities and experiences, from coasteering in Wales to a sunset river cruise in the Dedham Vale, on the Essex/Suffolk border.
It’s easy to use – you just decide where you want to travel, then plan your route depending on how long you want to spend in each place. For some inspiration, take a look at the dozen curated breaks we’ve compiled. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, a spa lover, a culture vulture or want to get active in the big outdoors. You can follow the suggested itineraries in full or just use the segments you find most appealing, adding your own ideas to make your perfect road trip.
You might just want to potter around the South East, taking in castles through the ages – Anne Boleyn’s former home of Hever and the romantic Leeds Castle in Kent before moving on to see Arundel’s medieval pile near the South Downs and the magnificence of Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey in Hampshire.
Or perhaps you’d prefer to really get beneath the skin of Wales on a three-week odyssey, going stargazing in the Brecon Beacons, spotting puffins on Skomer Island and bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay. In between summiting Snowdon on foot or by rail and zip wiring underground through an old slate mine, visit the Italianate village of Portmeirion and the medieval town of Conwy. Be sure to make time to enjoy an ice cream during a seaside stroll in Llandudno.
Make the hotels you stay at along the way a key part of your experience. A journey through just part of Scotland will let you take in a variety of unique properties. Stay onboard the super yacht Fingal while you explore Edinburgh, play a game of tennis at Cromlix, Andy Murray’s property in the Scottish countryside near Dunblane, and admire artwork by the likes of Picasso and Lucian Freud in Braemar’s The Fife Arms. Then end up drinking in the wild beauty of the lochside setting at The Torridon on the North Coast 500 scenic route, perhaps with a glass of whisky in hand.
Wine lovers should take a look at Berkshire’s Vineyard Hotel, with its floor-to-ceiling glass vault and 30,000 bottles of wine, perhaps pairing it with Michelin-starred Gravetye Manor less than two hours away in Sussex to make the perfect epicurean treat.
For a gourmet extravaganza, stay in a series of hotels with Michelin-starred dining, including Hambleton Hall in Rutland, Northcote on the edge of the foodie paradise that is the Ribble Valley, and Gilpin in Cumbria. Fill in any empty corners by snacking on local specialities from pork pies to Stilton and wensleydale cheese. There are plenty of places to walk off those extra calories along the way.
If spas are more your thing, you can decide between the superb facilities of a number of hotels specialising in wellness in the north, including County Durham’s Seaham Hall, or something more boutique, such as the Suffolk’s the Swan at Lavenham.
On your travels, by all means tick off the key sites, but take time to enjoy other experiences too. Go fishing at Scaling Dam Reservoir in the Yorkshire Moors before exploring Castle Howard or enjoy wine tasting at Gusbourne, one of the finest winemakers in Kent, after taking in the macabre history of Canterbury Cathedral.
Connecting with the locals is part of the adventure. So in the pretty Cornish village of St Mawes, chat to the fishermen selling their catch at the quay then enjoy some of the freshest of seafood in a local restaurant. Or join a forager on the hunt for food growing in the wild in Perthshire and visit a smokehouse to find out more about the artisan craft.
Our journeys include details of the best time to visit as well, depending on whether you want to take in the Henley Regatta in June or to see the Scottish snowdrop festival from late January to early March. Wherever you go, take your time and dare to dawdle – you see so much more when you live life in the slow lane.
→ Find out more: pobhotels.com/breaks
Text by Jane Knight