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The Best of Britain
Edinburgh, Scotland - known for its kilts, its weather and everyone’s favourite Highland monster, this is a country which should be on the travel bucket list of any self-respecting UK citizen. You do live in the same sovereign state, after all. And what better way to experience a flavour of this high-altitude country, than to visit the capital city? Edinburgh remains the only place we have seen sell a haggis, curry and sushi in the same shop, a worthy feat for a city beginning to compete against London for diversity. It has a castle to rival Hogwarts (to appease your inner twelve year old), several flashy museums, and a striking landscape which really does have to be seen to be believed.
One thing the out of pocket student needs to consider when planning a trip to Edinburgh is the offensive price tag many hotels adopt come August. The reason? August in Edinburgh is engulfed by its notorious Fringe Festival, which if you didn’t already know, is the largest arts festival in the world and a showcase for up-and-coming dance, drama and comedy. Although undoubtedly the city will be overrun with melodramatic thespians of all varieties, this is the time to go for any student in search of culture and a giggle.
Hostels are your best bet to avoid a distressing credit card bill come September, and are ideal if you plan to travel with a group to. Edinburgh Smart City Hostel boasts itself as ‘redefining’ the traditional hostel experience with its modern atmosphere and cheap, cheap prices. It offers a combination of private or shared dorms, every room possessing an en suite, allowing you to avoid those awkward corridor trips to the shower that hostels are usually so lousy with. The 24 hour reception and no curfew policy grants the tourist more time to explore the ins and outs of the capital, with the knowledge help is at hand if required. As expected, private rooms are considerably pricier than shared dorms, with pric- es ranging from £26 to £36 per night for a dorm room in August, and private rooms ranging from £132 to £204. Equipped with a fully licensed bar, restaurant, and Wii console, Smart City has a young, fresh vibe which makes it the ultimate urban retreat.
The Lake District
There’s a lot to love about the Lake District. Where else would you find the world’s first usable pencil, the Batmobile and the highest mountain in England (Scafell Pike) all within driving distance? Suck on THAT, mainland Europe. Cumbria has a variety of attractions to satisfy a wide range of people, including, sur- prisingly enough, one or two lakes. Of the twenty ‘major lakes’, Lake Wastwater and Lake Windermere are probably the most well-known, being the longest and deepest in England respectively. Wet, wild and windy, the Lakes are really worth seeing at least once in your life, and they boast a wide array of great walks and mountain bike trails along which to enjoy them.
Be prepared to bring your waterproofs though - the Lake District is officially the dampest place in England, and to be honest if you’re not prepared for a little wind and rain it may not be for you. Still, if the outside gets too much you can partake of the wide range of indoor ac-tivities that Cumbria has to offer. The Lakeland Motor Museum can be surprisingly fun thanks to the large collection of iconic Film and TV vehicles, and you can’t really go wrong with the Keswick Pencil Museum. For those with a more literary bent, it’s just a hop, skip and jump to ‘The World of Beatrix Potter’, based in the writer’s old home and offering an array of stories and autobiographical tidbits. Alternatively, the Lake District offers a unique opportunity to ponce around pretending to be Wordsworth and company, inspired by the natural beauty of your surroundings.
No, it’s not the most exciting holiday destination in the world, and if you’re more for beaches than tea rooms then you might not have a huge amount of fun; but if you love the great outdoors and fancy sampling a little English character then there’s nowhere better.
St David’s, Wales
Croeso i Gymru: the road sign capable of generating such a deep feeling of patriotism. Sadly, when the television advert comes to an end, the short-lived concept of going to Wales on your summer holiday instead of jetting off to Antigua, is just that; short-lived. However, with 2012 being the year of ‘Jubilymic’ celebrations, it’s unsurprising that the new Rupert Grint, Judy Dench and Steven Fry campaign is doing wonders for the revival of the Great British holiday.
Having spent many a childhood summer vacation in the beautiful city of St David’s, on the south-west coast of Wales, it perhaps wouldn’t be top of my list for Magaluf substitutes. In spite of this, the Welsh city is an idyllic holiday location for anyone with an appreciation for art, beautiful landscapes and wildlife, looking for a budget getaway.
As part of the Pembrokshire Coast National Park, St David’s is renowned for its stunning coastal views and abundance of wildlife, including seals, dolphins and even puffins at certain times of the year. To make the most of this, there are numerous coastal boat ride tours, one of which is very fittingly named ‘Aquaphobia” (NB: not advisable for those who dislike high speeds/windswept hair). The stunning ‘whitesands’ beach also provides low-cost entertainment from rampant rock-pooling (yes, I was the kid who wouldn’t leave the beach until every rockpool had been excavated for crabs) to superb surfing for those looking to channel their inner hippy.
The City is also famous for its artwork and ceramics, and therefore one cannot possibly miss the opportunity to craft a vase (or caricature of your best mate’s face) with one’s bare hands, using a traditional potter’s wheel. Another popular excursion is the local cheese manufacturing farm, Caerfei Farm, where an educational journey through the cheese making process is nicely rounded off with a cheese tasting session. And, in keeping with the Welsh stereotype, it’s probably worth mentioning that the sheep-milk cheese is a best seller.
Camping, it’s a marmite thing. For some, driving off into the sticks and setting up base camp just isn’t their cup of tea, but for others this is the closest they can get to living the Indiana Jones dream. Love it or hate it though, you can’t fault the affordability of such a holiday, a holiday where the main expense is paying for a plot of land to pitch your (borrowed) tent upon. Booking a campsite as a student can be a fiddly proposition, many campsite managers putting their feet firmly down when they realise there’s more than two of you to terrorise the neighbours. Luckily for you then, we have found the perfect campsite which accepts large bookings of ungrads, and is set against the backdrop of idyllic Devon too, bonus.
Roadford Lake in Lifton, Devon isn’t just any campsite. No, Roadford Lake in Lifton, Devon is the M&S of campsites everywhere, boosting panoramic views, a thriving activity centre and, as the name so helpfully suggests, a 740 acre lake which makes Worcester’s look like a mere puddle. With a standard pitch costing just £15 per day for two people, and extra adults at a steal of £5.50, a group of skint students could easily set up camp here without feeling guilty about their bank balance.
A holiday perfect for the deadbeat student, Roadford offers an oasis of calm to unwind in away from the scare of collections or the several vac essays you’ve still got to do. You could easily spend a week here doing absolutely nothing, but if you’re the kind of person who must be doing something at all times, the Outdoor and Active Centre will keep your hands busy. Offering quite the impressive range of traditional water activities, in- cluding: angling, sailing, windsurfing, rowing, canoeing and kayaking, the centre caters for all abilities, whether water novice or seasoned sailor. And if you can handle more, why not try ‘WOWBALLS,’ where you too can experience the Jesus inspired feeling of walking on water. Just be sure to book soon, potential voyager, what with its location close to the coastline, pitches are filling up fast.