Yaya and Lloyd of Hand Luggage Only are the UK's foremost and most successful travel bloggers and this month they’ve released a new book! Hand Luggage Only: Great Britain, is the ultimate travel guide for exploring Britain’s finest travel destinations. Read on to discover their highlights across England and see where each location is covered in the book:
Whitby Abbey (Page 132)
Whitby, North Yorkshire
Just up the road from Robin Hood’s Bay on the north-east coast is one of England’s most famous and scenic ruins – Whitby Abbey, with over 1500 years of history. Remains of the Benedictine abbey’s 13th-century church dominate the headland with eerie foreboding.
Once you catch a glimpse, you won’t be surprised to learn that the setting inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the abbey ruins and nearby St Mary’s Church even feature in the story. And it’s not hard to see why. There’s something very mysterious about meandering around the relic on a brisk autumn evening.
Ullswater (Page 176)
Ullswater, Lake District
Ullswater is one of the Lake District’s 16 tranquil bodies of water. The whole national park is epic, but if you’re hankering for a really restful and undisturbed stay, this is the spot.
It stretches from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding and nearby Patterdale, and the sights are best appreciated from aboard the Ullswater Steamer, historic vessels you can hop on and off at various points, or you could try paddleboarding for a more active outing. If you’re a walker, the hike up to Place Fell can be completed in a morning. Oh, and stop off at Aira Force Waterfall and take to the trails up to Hallin Fell.
Lacock (Page 170)
Huddled within the rolling hills of Wiltshire – a 10-minute taxi ride from Chippenham train station – Lacock has barely changed over the last 200 years. The vast majority of the village is owned by the National Trust, which has taken stewardship of its conservation and stunning stone cottages. While you’re snapping away, you might be interested to learn that Lacock was home to William Henry Fox Talbot, a polymath and pioneer of Victorian photography. His house, the 13th-century Lacock Abbey, was where the first photos on paper were created in 1839. You can take a leisurely gander around his old haunt, explore the Fox Talbot Museum and scoff some scones at the local tearoom.
Bamburgh Castle (Page 27)
Northumberland has no shortage of castles – it’s home to more than any other county in England – but even with all that choice, Bamburgh Castle stands out and absolutely has to be visited. For starters, it has a written history dating back to 420 CE, making it one of the country’s oldest. In the years since, it’s been ransacked by Vikings, been home to kings from Henry VI to James I, and was the first castle in the world to be destroyed by gunpowder in the War of the Roses. (Did you know author George R. R. Martin based his Game of Thrones book series on this ongoing struggle for the English crown?) Explore the staterooms, grand hall, grounds and beach beyond at your leisure.
City of York (Page 88)
It only took a day of exploring the best things to do in York for us to start scouring property websites, such is its lure. While it’s one of the oldest cities in Britain (there’s evidence of people living there dating back to at least 7000 BCE), it never gets old! There’s always something new to explore, see and experience. A great way to get your bearings is by following the 14th-century walls that enclose the medieval city, stopping off at the little boutiques en route.
Don’t forget to pop into the impressive York Minster, the largest Gothic building in Britain, and the National Railway Museum, where you’ll find trains from all over the world, including a few once ridden by the Royal family – it’s a trainspotter’s dream. Then take a stroll down The Shambles, a higgledy-piggledy street with serious olde England vibes. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time (or into a Harry Potter film – rumour has it that this spot was the real-life inspiration for Diagon Alley).
City of Wells (Page 68)
Wells is the smallest city in England (fine, second smallest if you include the City of London) but it packs quite a punch. Named after the city’s three wells, all dedicated to St Andrew, it’s home to one of the country’s most beautiful cathedrals, picturesque streets and quintessential English properties. Sights include the 12th-century Gothic cathedral, the medieval Bishop’s Palace and Vicars’ Close – one of the prettiest streets we’ve ever seen. Wells is a relatively easy daytrip from London. Why not incorporate a trip to England’s biggest city with a visit to its smallest – a cool humble brag to throw into conversation. Or tag it onto a wider road trip to include the many beautiful towns and villages of the Cotswolds and the gorgeous Roman city of Bath.
Watergate Bay Beach (Page 116)
Much quieter than the likes of nearby Cornish Mecca Newquay, Watergate Bay is known for its sandy shore and great surf. Why not take it in as part of a hike on the South West Coast Path.
Or you could stay the night at the nearby Watergate Bay Hotel. With a contemporary beach vibe, it’s the kind of place that encourages salty hair, sandy feet and full tummies (especially with their breakfast waffles). To test your skills on the waves, book some lessons with the gang at Extreme Academy. They’ll have you surfing like a pro in no time.
Hand Luggage Only by Yaya Onalaja-Aliu and Lloyd Griffiths (Hardie Grant Travel, £20, Photography by Yaya Onalaja-Aliu and Lloyd Griffiths) is out now, available from local bookshops, Waterstones and Amazon.