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St Michael's Mount
Mike Newman

Six epic road trips you can do from Birmingham

Soon, it'll be time to hit the road and discover awe-inspiring landscapes, postcard-perfect towns and delicious local delicacies

Written by
Time Out editors
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There are so many fab things to do in Birmingham, but now, more than ever, we could all do with some post-lockdown inspiration. This means one thing: it's time to start planning some summer staycations. Whether you are looking to go there and back in a day or spend a whole weekend getting your relaxation on, we're here to inspire you with swoon-worthy UK getaways that are guaranteed to expand your horizons. Before you know it you could be exploring a gorgeous rural village or soaking up the sights in a culture capital. What are you waiting for?

 

Day trips

How far? One hour 15 minutes.

Why go? The Cotswolds’ lush green hills and pretty villages, populated with cute stone cottages, are postcard-ready all year round. Get ready to get lost in the England of daydreams; think impossibly quaint streets, abundant gardens and charming shops.

Do this: Spend a day village-hopping for the full Cotswolds experience. Visit Bourton-on-the Water for pretty waterways and cafés, Broadway for its imposing stone tower, Stow-on-the-Wold for antique shops, its church door, which is said to have inspired JRR Tolkien, and Arlington Row in Bibury for possibly the prettiest row of stone cottages you’ll ever see. All that driving around taken it out of you? Pop to Bamford Haybarn spa for lush treatments in plush surroundings.

Eat this: The tiny village of Daylesford is home to a farm shop and restaurant, serving up delicious dishes from breakfast through to supper. This is real farm-to-fork eating: meat and poultry, fruit and veg, homemade bread. Even their cheese, milk and yoghurt is made onsite at the creamery. Dreamy, right?

How far? One hour 50 minutes.

Why go? Honey-coloured Bath has been drawing in visitors since Roman times, thanks to the thermal spring which bubbles up under the city. The Roman Baths aren’t for splashing about in these days but there are plenty of places to wallow in warm waters, as well as pretty parks and an indie high street.

Do this: Soak up Bath’s fascinating history. Stroll around Prior Park Landscape Garden, promenade along the architecturally impressive Royal Crescent, pop into the Jane Austen Centre and take in the ancient Roman Baths. Then, enjoy the city’s more modern pursuits with a trip to the Thermae Bath Spa, which boasts a stunning rooftop pool and super-luxe facilities.

Eat this: Head to one of the oldest houses in the city for a famous Bath bunn. Sally Lunn’s has been serving up sticky bunns for centuries. Like the vibe? Pop to the Pump Room for the kind of afternoon tea Jane Austen would have enjoyed.

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How far? One hour 45 minutes.

Why go? Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the best open-air galleries you’ll ever set eyes on. Visitors can wander across the 500 acres of rolling countryside just outside Wakefield and stumble upon more than 80 sculptures of all shapes, sizes and materials.

Do this: Yorkshire Sculpture Park is beautiful countryside dotted with awe-inspiring sculptures. The collection comprises works by the likes of Ai Weiwei, Barbara Hepworth, Andy Goldsworthy and Henry Moore – and you’ll also find world-class exhibitions in the Underground Gallery, YSP Centre, Longside Gallery and the Chapel.

Eat this: YSP is so stunning, why go anywhere else? Eat soup, sausage rolls or local Yorkshire pies in the restaurant while eyeing those lush views over the park. Or grab chunky sandwiches, slices of homemade cake and scones with cream and jam for an open-air picnic among the artworks.

Weekend getaways

How far? Three hours 30 minutes.

Why go? The seaside town of Whitstable on the Kent coast is as pretty as they come, with multicoloured beach huts, a long stretch of shingle and pastel-painted shop fronts. Plus, it’s home to seriously fresh seafood. 

Do this: Set off along the surf for a walk across Tankerton Beach, before heading back into town. Warm up with a cuppa at Whitstable Castle’s tea rooms or wander the town’s pretty streets lined with indie shops and galleries. Pop into Fishslab Gallery for regularly changing exhibitions by local artists or Chappell Contemporary for modern prints at wallet-friendly prices.

Eat this: Order butter-soaked lobster and piping hot chips from The Lobster Shack on the shingle, plates of sea-fresh oysters and locally caught fish at The Royal Native Oyster Stores, or classic fish and chips from The Forge, a simple shack on the beachfront. Feeling fancy? Head a little way out of town and see if you can nab a table at Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Seasalter.

Stay here: Rest your head beside the waves at Whitstable Fisherman’s Huts: a 150-year-old former fisherman’s store. The double-storey cabins are right on the beach, with lush sea views.

How far? Four hours ten minutes to Penzance.

Why go? There’s nowhere else quite like Cornwall, with its rugged, windswept coastline, surfers’ beaches and pretty ports. Spend a weekend here and you’ll discover quirky attractions, natural delights and creativity by the bucket (and spade) load.

Do this: Discover the art Cornwall’s seaside light has inspired at Tate St Ives. Then don your walking boots and head off along the coastal path towards Zennor, passing tiny hamlets and ancient stone monuments as you go. Or you could have a go at riding the waves with St Ives Surf School on Porthmeor Beach. Jump back in the car and drive to Land’s End for awe-inspiring isolation before visiting the Minack Theatre, an open-air auditorium perched on the cliffs with the ocean as its backdrop. It’s stunning even if there isn’t a performance on the day you visit.

Eat this: You can’t visit this county without eating a traditional Cornish pasty. Grab one from tiny SH Ferrell & Son in St Ives or feast on fresh crab sandwiches with an incredible view at the Island Café on St Michael’s Mount. And for sustainable and ethically sourced seafood, spend a dreamy evening at The Shore in Penzance, where the menu changes each day.

Stay here: Cosy up in Artists Residence Penzance, where all the rooms are decked out with eclectic furniture, plush soft furnishings and fun, original artworks. Bag The Lookout for sea views, a log burner and a lush free-standing tub.

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How far? Four hours 50 minutes.

Why go? Twinkly in the winter, raucous for Hogmanay and buzzing with creativity during the summer’s festival season, the Scottish capital is a stellar spot for a quick trip whatever time of year you visit.

Do this: Start by wandering through the city’s historic centre. Explore Edinburgh Castle and potter round the indie shops that line Grassmarket and Victoria Street before heading out of town through the wide grasslands of Holyrood Park to climb Arthur’s Seat. Once you’ve reached the top of this extinct volcano your reward is incredible views of the city, the coast and the countryside beyond. Finish your trip by seeing a play at one of Edinburgh’s best and biggest playhouses, the Festival Theatre, or dance the night away at vibrant live music venue Sneaky Pete’s.

Eat this: The Gardener’s Cottage is a leader in slow, sustainable cooking. It serves super-high-quality seasonal produce, with no printed menu to speak of. Don’t wait for a sunny day to indulge in weird and wonderful gelato flavours from Mary’s Milk Bar in the shadow of the castle. For an old-school blowout dinner in spectacularly gothic surroundings, eat at The Witchery.

Stay here: Excitable ‘Harry Potter’ fans won’t get a second of sleep in the JK Rowling suite at The Balmoral. Not because the bed isn’t comfortable or the room super plush, but because it’s the very room where the author holed up to finish ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’.

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