UK and Ireland: Four domestic break ideas

UK and Ireland: Four domestic break ideas

Buying British is increasingly popular this year. After the pound's dramatic drop against the Euro, more people are looking at affordable UK-based holidays.

The increasing number of domestic products on offer provide a wide variety of options from a luxury cruise or a week of adventure, the time is right to discover Britain's hidden secrets. Here are four options worth suggesting.

Activity holiday

Britain has a beautiful coastline and some spectacular mountains that are perfect for biking or trekking trips - and although many clients may have experienced them on weekend breaks, a whole week on home soil can offer a much greater opportunity to get in among the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.

Snowdonia, the Peak District and the Scottish Highlands are all stand-out locations but perhaps the most tourist-friendly natural destination in Britain is the Lake District, the UK's largest National Park. Twelve lakes and endless mountains, including England's largest, Scafell Pike, are accessible from the buzzing town hubs of Keswick, in the north, and Ambleside, on Lake Windermere.

Sample product: Activities Abroad offers a Lake District activity holiday at the three-star Keswick Country House Hotel, with activities including trekking, rock climbing, gorge scrambling and watersports. Prices start at £460 per person for six nights' bed and breakfast with one activity and £40 per person for each additional activity. (01670 789991)

Rural self-catering gastronomy break

There are plenty of gastronomy treats in Britain and a self-catering trip to one of the UK's 'foodie favourites' can prove a revelation.

The Cotswolds is a popular destination for food lovers who are also looking for an easily accessible UK holiday that offers picturesque scenery and a mix of traditional fare. Visitors can roam the rolling hillsides and drop in on local farm shops, fairs and farmers' markets to pick up locally produced sheep and goats' milk cheeses, speciality pork and foods with English, Welsh and southwest influences. Not to mention the British asparagus festival that runs there from April to June!

Sample product: Hoseasons offers a range of cottages in the Cotswolds. Prices for a one-week stay in a one-bed cottage in Ampney Crucis, Gloucester lead in at £248. A larger cottage near Lechlade, which sleeps six, starts at £360. (01502 516900; Hoseasons agent site)

Cty break

Overseas visitors can't get enough of the UK's culture-filled cities - yet many Brits neglect what is on their own doorstep.

London's Thameside Embankment is now a great attraction-filled location while Edinburgh's famous castle, Dublin's vibrant city life, the canal district of Manchester, the historic centre of Nottingham and the music and marine heritage of Liverpool all make interesting visits.

One more up-and-coming location is NewcastleGateshead, as it now calls itself, which has non-stop nightlife and plenty of attractions in town and on the quaysides of the Tyne, which is spanned by the famous old and new bridges.

The Sage and BALTIC are great for art, the Centre of Life is interesting for science and Grey Street was once voted the most attractive street in Britain, while a football match at St James' Park, home of Newcastle United, is an unforgettable experience.

There is a year-round cultural programme and it is also a great base to visit the Angel of the North, Hadrian's Wall, Holy Island and Alnwick Castle, home of the Harry Potter films.

Sample product: Superbreak offers three-star bed and breakfast accommodation at the Swallow Imperial Hotel, Newcastle from £40 per person on any day of the week in June and July. (0871 222 3055)

Luxury cruise

The UK does not immediately spring to mind as a cruise destination, but around-Britain trips offer a relaxed way to see the country's best sights.

Companies including Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Noble Caledonia offer cruises that include mainland Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands. They dock at small ports for diverse day trips, offer the same onboard cruise experience as longer cruises and there aren't any overseas flight costs either.

But perhaps the most picturesque cruising region in the UK are the beautiful Scottish islands, which are served by large cruise companies and smaller locally-based concerns. These trips generally travel between Oban and Edinburgh, passing spectacular scenery and visiting normally inaccessible destinations.

Sample product: Noble Caledonia offer a 12-day tour of the Scottish islands on the 120-passenger Expedition from £2,245. (020 7752 0000)

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