Summer report: What Britain's holiday hotspots will be like this year

Are you planning for a Great British Summer? With domestic holidays back on in England and Wales, and little certainty provided on the resumption of foreign travel, UK tourist resorts are expecting a bumper season. Telegraph Travel marked the Great Unlock of self-catering accommodation on April 12 by sending our writers out to report on reopenings. The weather has yet to catch up with the optimism heralded by the gradual easing of lockdown. Come summer, hopefully this will have changed.

By March 3, up to 90 per cent of UK school holiday options had sold out among some providers. However, as tourism chiefs in some of the most popular holiday destinations report, there are still pockets of availability: especially if you go directly to self-catering businesses, as opposed to booking sites.

And, should we enjoy another bout of heatwaves, the camping boom could well fill the gap.Outdoor accommodation booking site has seen bookings for April to September this year up by 139 per cent on the same period in 2019; while Cool Camping is adding around 10 new sites to its portfolio each week. “Even if you are looking for peak August dates don’t worry, you haven’t left it too late, we do still have some great options for you,” says James Warner Smith, editor of

Dorset’s Jurassic coastline pulled in crowds last summer: an app was launched to help visitors find quieter beaches

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If temperatures turn balmy, then our beaches will once again pull in the crowds. And should you wish to secure a socially-distanced spot of seaside, there will be an app to assist. The National Coastal Tourism Authority (NCTA) is helping to roll out the UK Beach Check App. This traffic light system, first created by Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council last summer, helps beachgoers see which areas are busiest ahead of their visit. 

Seaside economies will need our business, according to Samantha Richardson, director of the NCTA. “Recovery is not predicted on the coast until 2023 and possibly longer,” she explains. “That said, this summer will be an exciting opportunity for many people to rediscover what’s on their shoreline. We have one of the most diverse coastlines in the world for culture, maritime history, wildlife and natural beauty.”

 In 2020, staycationers also flocked to our national parks (which are celebrating a major anniversary this year). Reports of littering, anti-social behaviour and a scarcity of parking spaces somewhat mired the growth in visitor numbers. Yet this year local authorities have ramped up facilities, issued guidance and hired volunteers to ensure summer will run more smoothly. Here we take a closer look at the plans that are under way in some of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations.


Summer 2020 saw Britons dash to the south-west, and Cornwall in particular. The county welcomed 2.5 million visitors. Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, says the organisation is looking forward to building on that success. Last year, once lockdown restrictions eased to enable domestic holidays, locals began to report overcrowding. Cornish resorts were “Benidorm on steroids” and “absolute madness,” according to some. Street marshalls were recruited to encourage social distancing. Indeed, Covid marshalls will return for this holiday season.

Yet the surge in holidaymakers led to “no direct impact on infection rates or the spread of coronavirus,” points out Mr Bell. For those who want to avoid the crowds, however, he suggests trying the south-east “often known as the forgotten corner.” Or heading to the areas around Bude and north Cornwall. The Cornish coast actually offers up some 300 beaches. 

Millook Haven, a quiet beach on the north coast of Cornwall near Bude

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He urges prospective visitors to look a little closer before assuming they won’t find anywhere to stay in Cornwall this year. “We do hear rumours that Cornwall is fully booked and this is not true. There are very popular high-quality award-winning accommodation providers that are nearly full and in some cases are full, but there are plenty of alternatives still available,” he says.

Mr Bell suggests trying the Facebook group Visit Cornwall Holidays to seek out your dream stay. Meanwhile, there are still camping pitches to be snapped up in the peak summer holiday weeks. Cornwall is the most popular destination for, for instance. However, due to its large visitor capacity it also has good availability: 44 per cent of spaces are still open for the first week of August. Approval for the installation of pop-up campsites in England (and Wales) has helped this.

For something a little different, Mr Bell suggests the Bodmin Jail Hotel, which will be opening this summer (hotels should be able to resume business from May 17 in England). “This is co-located with a new Bodmin jail attraction which tells the story of the jail and some of the prisoners’ lives and it’s well worth a visit,” he adds.

The Lake District

Government-mandated lockdown walks may have enticed the most reluctant of explorers to consider a rambling holiday – or to venture to some of the country’s most scenic areas, such as the Lake District. In 2020, the rise in less experienced visitors led to more rescue call-outs in the area last summer. Last summer, mountain rescue teams urged fell walkers to “know their limits”.

Richard Warren, from the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said last June: “Getting on to the fells for healthy exercise is really good but you must know your limits – keep within them and avoid taking risks. Make sure you have the right equipment for your trip to the hills and valleys, noting that many of our callouts are low down in the valley bottoms.” The association offers guidance for walkers on its website

“Following lockdown, even experienced mountaineers are likely to be a little rusty,” says Jim Walker, chair of Cumbria Tourism.

The Lake District attracted new walking enthusiasts in summer 2020

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The Lake District National Park authority has readied for an influx of visitors. In 2020 it launched the website, which went live again on March 26. This allows people to check which areas are quietest. Volunteers are on hand to offer advice on walks to try, and where to find facilities. And temporary car parks have been set up following a shortage of spaces in 2020. 

However, if you should head for the Lake District National Park this year, you could mark its 70th birthday, points out Mr Walker. It is also 250 years since the birth of the famous writer Dorothy Wordsworth – sister of poet William. Plus, the latest stage of England’s Coast Path, from Whitehaven to Silecroft, is due to officially open this Spring.

The Peak District

Home to another of Britain’s national parks, it was another triumph and victim of 2020’s domestic holiday rush. Some 25 per cent of visitors to the park last year said it was their first time, a positive sign that the countryside is pulling in new audiences. However, with this visitor growth came a surge in littering (it is reported that the Peak District forked out double its usual annual spend of £38,000 for picking up litter) and parking issues.

Badly parked cars left by daytrippers near the Peak District village of Cressbrook led to the 173 bus service being suspended last summer. Jo Dilley, managing director of marketing Peak District & Derbyshire explains that the Peak District is pre-empting the mass return of visitors this summer.

Visitors to the Peak District National Park have been urged to know their limits

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She says: “We’re encouraging visitors to think beyond the honeypots this year and to discover somewhere new. With acres of open space, traffic-free trails and great walking routes, the Peak District and Derbyshire have so many hidden gems waiting to be explored. To ease the pressure at beauty spots and to help manage visitor numbers, we’re encouraging people to leave the car at home and to use public transport where possible and when safe to do so.”

Some less-trodden areas Visit Peak District recommends include: one of the most peaceful Derbyshire Dales, Lathkill Dales, around three miles from Bakewell; the 171-hectare Whitewell Wood on the Derbyshire Border and the first mill of inventor Richard Arkwright, located at Cromford in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. This is celebrating its 250th anniversary, one of many for the area. It’s also the park’s 70th year: 2021 marks the anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. It is also 300 years since the Silk Mill in Derby began, which is set to reopen for summer as the Museum of Making. 

More wary post-lockdown travellers might be reassured that 900 local businesses have signed up to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry-standard mark to ensure they adhere to Government and public health guidance on Covid regulations.


Durdle Door become one of the first UK holiday pinch points to make headlines last May when beachgoers flocked to the most recognisable spot on the Jurassic Coast. Particularly memorable were the pictures of sunbathers huddled together to allow rescue helicopters to land to help so-called tombstoners who had jumped from the rocks and suffered serious injuries. This led to a temporary closure of the beaches, which was enforced by police.

However, experience of dealing with a spike in holidaymakers and day visitors – as well as a greater understanding of Covid (for example, Professor Mark Woolhouse, a government adviser, said in February that there is no evidence of virus outbreaks happening on beaches) – have allowed tourists regions across Britain to gear up for this summer. 

Robin Barker, director of Services 4 Tourism, a tourism consultancy and organiser of the Tourism Awards across Dorset and southern England, says: “On the positive side many businesses have invested in enhanced facilities, new digital payment methods and participation in leading guest reassurance accreditations such as the Quality in Tourism ‘Safe, Clean and Legal’ scheme.”

The charming seaside towns of Dorset will need your custom this summer

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He adds that the county’s tourism businesses are seeing a huge pent up demand from customers. But that: “there remain many hurdles yet to overcome – how small indoor museums and attractions can handle visitor numbers, how camp sites can remain profitable with reduced capacity, and how cafes and events can make it all work.”

Among the businesses readying for a summer rush is The Ollerod hotel in Beaminster. Silvana Bandini, co-owner of the hotel, says her team has been gearing up for the reopening (on April 14) of the terrace and garden for diners when they’ll be in business from each Wednesday to Sunday. After that, it’ll be back to a seven-day service from May 17 (roadmap permitting) and will be able to open indoors. 

“A major thing we have done in light of Covid [was to] turn our coach house into two self-catering apartments: we really feel there is a huge demand for this,” adds Ms Bandini.


Pembrokeshire was “very busy” last summer and the area’s tourism board expects it to be “exceptionally” so this year. Visit Pembrokeshire is planning ahead. It is launching a campaign in time for the May bank holiday that will ask visitors to “plan their itineraries in advance, exploring further, protecting themselves and our local communities and preserving our beautiful land”.

Head to Skomer this summer to spot puffins

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One practical way to follow these guidelines would be to head for quieter spots. Perhaps swap the Pembrokeshire coastal path for the local islands, including Skomer, Skokholm, Grassholm and Ramsey. Wildlife to look out for would include dolphin, porpoise, whales and plenty of bird species, such as puffins and gannets. You might also head for the Llys y Frân country park and reservoir, which will be reopening in late spring following a £4 million investment. Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and open water swimming will be on offer. 

In terms of securing holiday accommodation, the Welsh Government confirmed on April 9 that it would be temporarily relaxing permitted development planning laws, allowing landowners to set up temporary ‘pop-up’ campsites for up to 56 days across the year. Pembrokeshire was’s most popular Welsh camping destination last year. You might try Cedar Camping in St Twynells for a budget option (£15 per night for a four-person pitch), with views across the county’s rolling hills.