Garden party in Birmingham
PoliNations is a garden party, but not as you know it. This free festival in Birmingham’s Victoria Square on 2-18 September showcases cultural diversity through the lens of horticulture. In the shade of a forest of giant architectural trees, the festival will begin with a mass flower planting, continue with workshops, garden tours, poetry slams and yoga classes, and finish with the Ballistic Seed Party. This four-day finale features music, dance and drag performances.
Views of ewes in Kent
Wake to the sight of Kentish ewes cropping the clover meadows from your shepherd’s hut on a working farm in Romney Marsh. Huts have built-in kitchens and bathrooms plus outdoor firepits. The newest, launched this summer, also has an outdoor bath and sleeps a family of four. Owner Kristina Boulden partners with local artists and businesses to offer a programme of activities, including photography classes, alpaca trekking, Jeep safaris, wine tours and brewery visits.
Two-night weekday stay from £240 for two, romneymarshshepherdshuts.co.uk
Island camping in Dorset
National Trust-owned Brownsea Island, first used as a campground by Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell in 1907, is the largest in Poole harbour, a haven for wildlife including red squirrels and summer visitors such as the rare ground-nesting nightjar. These days campers can bring their own kit or choose the comfort of new four-person bell tents. There are free family trails and natural play areas, and when the day trippers go home there are bats and glow worms to spot.
Three nights on a pitch for a six-person tent is £165, or £450 in a bell tent, nationaltrust.org.uk
Snorkelling in the Firth of Forth
You don’t need to leave the country to enjoy the undersea world: the waters off Scotland are rich with marine wildlife. The Scottish Wildlife Trust has six downloadable snorkelling trails, including a new one in East Lothian, based at the Scottish Seabird Centre on the Firth of Forth. Sightings may include crabs, jellyfish, starfish, gannets, guillemots and dolphins. You’ll need a wetsuit as the water is chilly even in summer. Check tidal conditions and never snorkel alone.
Go off-grid in Northumberland
Leave crowded campsites behind and pitch up in some of Northumberland’s wildest and most beautiful corners courtesy of Wild With Consent. The company links campervanners with landowners, letting them stay legally at off-grid sites, and has launched a handpicked collection along the Northumberland 250 self-drive route. It’s great for dark skies, rolling hills, wild beaches and Hadrian’s Wall – which celebrates its 1,900-year anniversary this year.
From £25 a night with your own van, wildwithconsent.com
Forage hedgerow herbs in Suffolk
Discover the diversity of a British hedge at the Food Museum in Stowmarket. A new exhibition traces the history of hedgerows via the work of artists, chefs and farmers. View prints by Angie Lewin, test yourself on native birdsong and taste genuine hedgerow flavours at the demonstration kitchen. Food foraged from the museum site is turned into delicacies, from nettle tea to elderflower ice-cream, and served with a side of information on biodiversity and folklore.
£12 adult, £8 child, £35 family, until June 2023, foraged food demos daily 11-3pm until 30 September, foodmuseum.org.uk
Trail cycling in Staffordshire
If you were inspired by competitors thundering around on the world-class mountain bike trails in Cannock Chase Forest at the Commonwealth Games last week, why not give it a try? A £900,000 investment has upgraded existing trails and created new ones, including Perry’s Trail for intermediates and a Pedal and Play Trail suitable for children from three years and up.
Hire bikes, or pick up a trail map for £1.50, at Cannock Chase Cycle Centre, forestryengland.uk
Art deco stays on the Causeway Coast
A few miles down the coast from the Giant’s Causeway is Elephant Rock, a new family-run boutique hotel in the seaside town of Portrush. Interior decorator Adrian Bailie has brought in a slice of South Beach glamour, with jewel colours, bespoke textiles and dramatic lighting. After a day of exploring, head for the emerald- and gold-toned bar for a signature cocktail.
Rooms from £120 a night, elephantrockhotel.co.uk
Wild and free in Herefordshire
Meet wild ponies, skim stones on pebble beaches and roam ruined castles: Herefordshire has lots of free family fun. Visit Herefordshire’s On the Wild Side guide lists free or low-cost outdoor adventures for kids of all ages. Older ones will love free geocaching at Birches Farm nature reserve; younger ones can be tempted around woodland trails at Rowlestone Court farm with the promise of ice-cream in one of 50 flavours.
Sea kayaking in Pembrokeshire
Paddle among the caves and coves of the rugged St David’s peninsula on a two-night trip for first-time kayakers. A guide will show you the ropes before taking you out to explore secluded beaches, steep cliffs and kelp forests, where you can swim and spot seals. No experience is necessary, but with four to five hours spent on the water each day, you’ll need to be relatively fit.
Two-night trips cost £356; departures on 16 and 30 September and 14 October, muchbetteradventures.com
Glamping in Gwynedd
Quieter than neighbouring Snowdonia, the Llŷn peninsula is a region of deserted beaches, coastal castles and offshore islands home to colonies of seabirds. Bert’s Kitchen Garden is an eco-campsite with pitches among flower meadows and an orchard. Kids will love the treehouses and the shingle beach on the doorstep, but couples can stay in style in one of the new wooden huts with kingsize beds and marble-tiled shower rooms. The huts sit near the kitchen garden restaurant, which serves locally roasted coffee and a seasonal menu.
Camping pitches from £22pp a night, huts from £175 a night, bertskg.com
Walk amid nature on the Yorkshire Wolds Way
Stretching north from the Humber estuary along wooded slopes and through tranquil valleys to Filey Brigg on the coast, the 127km (79-mile) Yorkshire Wolds Way turns 40 this year. A new Fab at Forty guide offers advice on which section to walk, and highlights attractions along the way, from where to spot red kites or find the work of local artists to the best pubs, tea rooms and picnic spots.
Sail away in Norfolk
Find serenity even when the Norfolk coast is at its busiest on board Selkie , a 4.5-metre locally built sailing boat. The new venture is skippered by Zoe Dunford, a former wildlife TV researcher, who will show you where seals swim and terns dive, find beaches only accessible by boat and stop for wild swims – then tea and homemade cake. Moving under sail or silent electric engine, this trip leaves the summer bustle far behind.
Departing from Blakeney quay, trips last about two hours and cost £200, for up to four, sailnorthnorfolk.co.uk
Sleep on a sloop in Cornwall
Little changed since the 18th century, Charlestown harbour is home to a small fleet of historic tall ships: a visit to this corner of north Cornwall feels like stepping back in time. Visitors can enjoy a day sailing experience or even sleep on board the fishing boat Pen Glas, stargazing from the deck and waking to the sound of the sea. As well as hostel-style bunk accommodation, there are now also private two-person cabins. Proceeds will support the conversion of the ship back to its original state as sailing rig.
Bunks £25pp, cabin £60 a night, charlestownharbour.com
Hole up in the Highlands
With views over the Kyle of Sutherland, the new timber lodges at Ceol Mor make a spectacular hideaway in the north Highlands. Enjoy the peaceful location and keep an eye out for the badgers and pine martens that live nearby, go for rambles around the surrounding glens and lochs, and let your hosts arrange off-site activities from canoeing and archery to distillery tours.
One-bedroom lodges sleeping four cost from £140 a night, three-night minimum stay, ceolmor.co.uk