by Telegraph Travel, The Telegraph, January 4, 2019
It's not just far flung destinations that deserve our attention in 2019. There's plenty to see and celebrate on our doorstep too. Telegraph Travel's experts reveal their hotspots and hidden gems for the year ahead.
The ever-popular islands of Scotland have been a “destination” since Dr Johnson and James Boswell put the Western Isles firmly on the map in 1773. But despite last year’s coverage of overcrowding in Skye, there’s plenty of room for new discoveries in these beautiful isles.
If you’re looking towards the Hebrides, adventure holiday specialist Wilderness Scotland has new trips for 2019 (from £1,045 for six nights; wildernessscotland.com), while the new Hebridean whale trail will launch in spring (hwdt.org). Whisky lovers haven’t been left out either, with a new whisky trail running through Skye to the Isle of Harris (hebrideanwhisky.com). If making it home after over-indulging is a concern, you can now also stay in the new rooms at the Isle of Raasay distillery (raasaydistillery.com).
For an entirely different but no less compelling experience, turn northwards and explore the Orkney and Shetland islands. In Orkney you will find a Neolithic archeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar, with open days on July 21 and Aug 18 where you can experience the rare sight of archaeologists at work (nessofbrodgar.co.uk).
There’s a lot going on in God’s own country in 2019. Tea lovers attempting to recover from December’s Yorkshire Tea biodegradable bag kerfuffle – the new incarnation has a habbit of tearing, to the ire of many – should head to Betty’s in Harrogate (bettys.co.uk), which will be celebrating its centenary. Those looking for an injection of art can explore the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which will be opening its brand new £3.6 million visitor centre – to be known as The Weston – on March 30 (ysp.org.uk). Something to distract from Brexit doomsday, perhaps.
For a grand day out, you can’t beat a trip to Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington. Home to the UK’s largest mainland seabird colony and friendly faced puffins, RSPB Bempton Cliffs is making 2019 the year of “Bird”lington to mark the 50th anniversary of the reserve (rspb.org.uk).
The Cleveland Way is also celebrating a 50th birthday. Stretching across the North York Moors National Park in a horseshoe loop from Helmsley to Filey Brigg via Osmotherley, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Whitby and Scarborough, events for the 109-mile (175km) way include a new film, a 50-mile (80km) ultra-marathon trail run (March 16) and a special event on the actual anniversary, May 24, that will see walkers wearing Sixties hiking gear striding out from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey (nationaltrail.co.uk). If you prefer life on two wheels, don’t miss the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, on May 2-5 (letour.yorkshire.com).
There’s also the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks Dark Skies Festival to enjoy (Feb 15-March 3) with events that include night-time cycle rides, lantern walks, an Ale and Astronomy evening at Whitby Brewery and cinema screenings (northyorkmoors.org.uk). Finally, the much-anticipated remake of the film The Secret Garden will be released in 2019, some of which was filmed in Duncombe Park.
All eyes are turned to the east in London for 2019: Waltham Forest rang in the new year as London’s first Borough of Culture (wfculture19.co.uk) and events will kick off with a free festival from Jan 11-13, based at the vast 1941 Town Hall.
Year-round pleasures in the borough, which is one of London’s greenest, include the restored William Morris Gallery and its café; full English breakfast from the Twenties bikers’ hut at High Beech in the oak, beech and hornbeam woods of Epping Forest; the charming Vestry Museum in Walthamstow village; and all things neon at God’s Own Junkyard (so successful it had a pop-up in Selfridges this Christmas). Waltham Abbey church itself, with its Norman nave, is the alleged burial place of King Harold and the king certainly stopped to pray here en route to the Battle of Hastings. His body was brought back here by his mistress Edith Swan-Neck. Lots to see, then.
There’s always a good reason to go to Cheltenham, whether you’re an aficionado of Regency architecture, horse racing or buzzing festivals (jazz, science, classical music, literature). In 2019 there will be even more here, as the town ups its cool quotient.
This is largely thanks to entrepreneur Julian Dunkerton, who co-founded the fashion label Superdry in the Cotswolds town. Dunkerton’s hip hotel group The Lucky Onion made its name with 131 The Promenade and is opening two new ventures adjoining this boutique hotel in 2019. In February, Clarence House, an eight-bedroom haven of on-trend luxury, will be launched, while later in the year, uber-stylish Kings House will be completed.
Dunkerton recently moved his family’s organic cider factory, Dunkertons Cider, to Cheltenham and has started a rustic-chic shop there along with tours (dunkertonscider.co.uk). Across town, he is also refurbishing the George Hotel. In a separate development, Regency Arcade is seeing a major revamp, culminating in a state-of-the-art cinema that is due to open at the end of the autumn.
Long overlooked as the scruffy relation of neighbouring Pembrokeshire’s well-turned-out attractions, the historic market town of Cardigan in Ceredigion has recently been given a bit of a makeover and – as so often proves the case – is rediscovering its mojo as a result.
The revamping of its castle is old news now, having won Channel 4’s Great British Buildings Restoration of the Year in 2017, but that of its quayside is ongoing. Work will also begin on the Coalyard and Albion Aberteifi. On opposite sides of the river Teifi, the first is a 23-room hotel housed in two warehouses. The second is described as a place where “craftspeople, food producers, artists, performers and makers come together to promote Cardigan as a destination and example of what contemporary rural culture and enterprise can be”.
Both will be instantly Instagram-worthy, since they come from the family who created the gorgeous Fforest Farm “outdoor hotel” 10 minutes down the road (think domes, croft, lofts, and bell tents). They have already installed Pizzatipi on the town’s quayside, where wood-fired pizzas are fed to punters under canvas and Welsh beers, ciders and spirits are served in the snug Tafarn Smwglin across a courtyard.
Then there’s the beautiful Bara Menyn sourdough bakery and the new Crwst deli, which won “best rural start up” in the 2018 Rural Business Awards. Oh, and some of Wales’ loveliest beaches (including Poppit Sands and Mwynt), are a short drive away. Take that, St David’s.
Glasgow is on the up. It’s a sociable city that knows how to party and has a burgeoning foodie scene. The events of 2019 are sure to make the most of Glasgow’s enthusiasm for music, arts and culture. The fun starts on Jan 17 with Celtic Connections, a festival of world, folk and roots music featuring more than 2,000 musicians from 50 countries over 18 days (celticconnections.com).
In March, the city’s book festival Aye Write! returns to the Mitchell Library (ayewrite.com), while the summer festivals kick off at the start of June when local and international artists stage hundreds of performances, exhibitions, talks and workshops in the streets, pubs and clubs of the West End.
This is followed by the Glasgow Mela, an outdoor celebration of the city’s ethnic diversity with music, dance, food and market stalls (glasgowmela.com). A rousing climax to the cultural calendar is set for Aug 16 and 17, when 8,000 pipers and drummers from around the world will converge on Glasgow Green for the World Pipe Band Championships (theworlds.co.uk). William Wallace would love it.
If you’ve been hooked by Andrew Davies’s lavish adaptation of Les Miserables for the BBC, then you might want to consider planning a trip in 2019 to the island where Victor Hugo penned the novel.
Hauteville House, one of the island’s most popular attractions, is due to reopen in April after a £2.7 million renovation (museums.gov.gg). A visit will give you an insight into the creative genius of France’s literary legend. His son Charles described it as an “autograph on three floors and a poem in several rooms”. Each is decorated in a different style and packed with bric-a-brac and objets d’art. The house also has a lookout from which Hugo could gaze out across the water to his beloved country.
New routes launching from Edinburgh and Bournemouth with Loganair will make the island even more accessible (running May 11 to Sept 14; loganair.co.uk).
Tynemouth and Whitley Bay
The salt-whipped seaside town of Tynemouth, North Shields, is my hotspot for 2019. It has everything you could possibly want from a British beach resort: the atmospheric ruins of an old castle and priory, wide sandy beaches and a popular, albeit chilly, surf scene, plus top-shelf music festivals and some cracking places to eat and drink. Riley’s Fish Shack, a rustic beachfront diner on King Edward’s Bay serves up turbot, monkfish and kippers fresh from the boat, while prohibition-era cocktails are on offer at Lola Jeans speakeasy on Front Street.
Three miles north is Whitley Bay, a cool little enclave with a largely independent high street and the teeny-tiny Jam Jar Cinema. It’s also home to Spanish City (spanishcity.co.uk), a newly revamped music hall with a Renaissance-style frontage, which first opened on the prom in 1910, and now has several restaurants, a champagne bar and a tea room hidden under its huge white dome.
“Overtourism” was a bit of a buzz word in 2018, but losing the Lake District crowds – and they’re big; more than 19 million visitors a year – is easier than you think. Ennerdale is only six miles from the A66 and 20 minutes from bustling Keswick, but a world away in terms of busyness. Road access to its lake, Ennerdale Water, is limited to the western end, which means you can walk the eight-mile (13km) circuit with little chance of meeting more than a handful of people.
Many visitors don’t realise that the Lake District has a coastline. Make your way to the west coast and you’ll find quiet walking in Eskdale and the Duddon valley – the former accessed by the charming narrow-gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale railway (ravenglassrailway.co.uk) – magnificent gardens at Muncaster Castle (muncaster.co.uk) and empty beaches at Silecroft.
For shopping, swap the tourist-hustle of Ambleside or Grasmere for Cockermouth with its handsome Georgian houses (one of them the birthplace of poet William Wordsworth, nationaltrust.org.uk), weekly market and independent shops and galleries.
This is also a big year for a big peak, as it marks 100 years since Lake District landowner Charles Henry Wyndham, the 3rd Baron Leconfield, gifted Scafell Pike to the National Trust. He gave the mountain, “in perpetual memory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom, peace and right in the Great War”.
Established in 1919 as a response to timber shortages caused by the First World War, the Forestry Commission planted its very first trees at Eggesford in mid-Devon. Today, the FC is England’s largest landowner and looks after more than 1,500 forests. To mark the centenary, a year-long, nationwide programme of events is planned. These include a public wildlife survey called “The Big Forest Find”, the Forestry Run 100 series and Writers in the Forest (forestryengland.uk/100).
2019 will also see the county gear up to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, which carried pilgrims from Plymouth to New England in 1620. Celebrations start as early as May 2019 in Plymouth, with a history festival. The Rolex Fastnet Race will be held in August, while a series of film screenings will run for a whole year from November 2019 to November 2020. Dartmouth will join the festivities with a new heritage trail and light festival slated to open in November this year (mayflower400uk.com).