From Bath Spa’s healing waters to the Hebrides’ surprisingly sunny islet, travel journalist Joanna Hunter chooses the best spots in the UK for a healthy and re-energising break
1. Best for… sporty sun-seekers
Why: Billed as Scotland’s answer to Hawaii, Tiree is a tiny island to the far west of the Inner Hebrides. Tiree is one of the sunniest spots in the UK with an average of 220+ hours of sunshine in each of the summer months, so it’s perfect for topping up on vitamin D.
Highlight: The winds make it a surfers’ paradise, and it’s also host to the small but widely acclaimed Tiree Music Festival, set on the beach.
When: July, for the festival.
Kitesurfing on the Isle of Tiree
2. Best for… relaxing and healing spa time
Where: Bath, South West England
Why: Britain’s most famous natural thermal spa has been around for centuries – a dip here was considered good for the skin even before the Romans arrived. The warm thermal waters come from the city’s three hot springs containing more than 40 ‘health-giving’ minerals.
Highlight: Revamped in 2006, Thermae Bath Spa includes two baths and a rooftop pool with amazing views across the city.
When: Year round, although the spa is quieter Tuesday to Thursday.
The rooftop bath at Thermae Bath Spa. Photo: Phillip Edwards
3. Best for… a great night’s sleep
Why: A far cry from the UK’s busiest urban areas, the protected Galloway Forest Park offers one of the darkest skies you’ll find in Europe. Thanks to its remote location and lack of light pollution, it was designated as the UK’s first Dark Sky Park where the nights really are a sleep-inducing velvety black.
Highlight: The darkness makes for fantastic star spotting – more than 7,000 stars and planets are visible with the naked eye and you can usually see the bright Milky Way arching across the sky. Try camping or staying in a holiday cottage in the forest, and you definitely won’t struggle to slumber.
When: To get the full impact of the dark sky, visit between October and March.
The starry night sky at Galloway Forest Park. Photo: James Hilder
4. Best for… farm-to-table organic produce
Why: The rolling Cotswold Hills aren’t just scenic – they also attract those with a passion for food, nature and organic farming. Most famous is Daylesford farm, near Kingham in Gloucestershire, which has been dedicated to sustainable food and organic farming for more than 35 years.
Highlight: Try out The Cookery School – it hosts a range of events for adults and children, where you can learn everything from how to eat more mindfully to foraging for food and edible flowers.
When: All year round, but there are great family events during Easter, including lambing tours and crafty workshops.
Seasonal produce on offer at Daylesford Farm
5. Best for… a breath of fresh air
Where: Cornwall, South England
Why: Cornwall isn’t just home to blue skies, sandy beaches and homemade ice cream, it’s also said to have the lowest levels of pollution in the UK, alongside the Scottish Highlands.
Highlights: Visit the Eden Project to experience flora from rainforest and Mediterranean habitats, or enjoy the invigorating salty sea air. The Lizard Peninsula in the most southerly point of Britain and has some beautiful walking trails, where you can spot seals and basking sharks.
When: Year round, although Cornwall gets particularly busy during the summer.
The impressive Eden Project
6. Best for… refreshing swims
Where: Cromer, Norfolk
Why: A picturesque seaside town famed for its historic pier and sandy beaches, Cromer regularly scores ‘excellent’ – the highest possible qualification – on the government’s bathing water quality profile.
Highlight: The lifeguarded beach is cleaned daily in summer, plus you can try your hand at surfing and canoeing, too.
When: June to September, when the water is warmer for swimming.
Beach huts at Cromer beach
7. Best for… breathtaking walking routes
Where: Snowdonia, North Wales
Why: It’s well known that walking is good for your heart and can boost your mood and there’s no better place for it than Snowdonia. Whether it’s up (and down) mountains, or along nearly 200 miles of costal paths, with such varied terrain there’s a walk for everyone.
Highlight: Try the walk to Tomen y Mur, the remains of a Roman fort, for panoramic views and the chance to explore what was once an amphitheatre and Roman bathhouse.
When: All year round. Remember to wear the right clothes: the weather can vary dramatically and change quickly.
On top of Tomen y Mur. Photo: © APCE/SNPA.
Want further inspiration? Check out 7 of the UK’s most stunning walking routes