My 2016 UK Travel Goals

by Brenna Holeman

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 5

In the Lake District

Back in October I wrote a post called My 2016 Travel Goals. In that post I talked about wanted to visit Greece, Moldova, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, France… basically, a whole lot of countries around Europe, most of which I’d already been to. At the very end of that post, I said I also wanted to see a lot more of the UK, though I didn’t really go into specifics.

I am not shy about my love for London – in all the places I’ve been around the world, it’s my favourite city, and I feel so incredibly happy and lucky to live here. The problem is, I have no idea if I will live here permanently. I’ve talked about this dilemma before; as a single Canadian freelancer with no other passport who also happens to be over 30 (typing that out made me feel like I was going to have to break out a bottle of sauvignon blanc and star in my own romantic comedy… but pity me not, I’m more than OK with my current situation), my visa options for staying in the country are very limited. To put it simply, even if I wanted to stay long-term, I might not be able to. While I’m currently fine (and a totally legal resident), I’m always aware of the fact that my time in the UK might be cut shorter than I’d like it to be.

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 1

In Central London

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 6

Hej café in Bermondsey, London

Last week I met up with my friend Emma from the travel blog Gotta Keep Movin’. Emma and I met in 2012 in Argentina, then hung out again in Toronto, saw each other in Athens, and bump into each other every so often in the UK. She has just finished a gorgeous print magazine called A Year in the UK & Ireland, which will be available for purchase soon. As we chatted over coffees in a café in Bermondsey, she told me about her amazing journey across the UK last year. Travelling all over the place, she ended up with loads of stories, photographs, and memories. After saying goodbye, I jumped on a train to Manchester where I met up with Helen from Helen in Wonderlust to start a weekend road trip around the beautiful Lake District. I also recently worked on a project that really focused on UK travel and highlighting all of the fantastic things to do around England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

All of this got me thinking. I have spent the last two and a half years – nearly three, actually – living in England, and yet I haven’t seen much of the country at all. And, although I lived in Scotland in 2008 for eight months and have also travelled through Wales and Northern Ireland, I haven’t returned to those countries for years and years. My time here hasn’t been a total write-off, of course; I’ve been to Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Windsor, and Newcastle, took a day-trip to Margate last year, and have been around a lot of Kent and East Sussex, not to mention all of the cool things I’ve done in London.

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 2

London’s British Museum

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 3

Tea and scones in Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 7

The Lake District

And yet – I want to do more. I want to see more. I want to eat more (seriously, English food is delicious, I don’t know why that rumour still stands). While I’ve slowly been curating a list of fun things to do in London, I’ve also decided that I want to travel outside of the city at least once a month. I might not always be visiting new-to-me places, but I feel an urge to really explore this wonderful backyard of mine.

So far, the plan is vague, and the list is rough. In January I went to Kent to visit a friend, and I just returned from a road trip around the famous Lake District (a post on that coming soon). I might be heading to Cardiff to attend a blogging conference in April, a trip to Northern Ireland to visit the Causeway Coast is also on the cards, and I’m definitely going to Norfolk to stay with friends this spring. I’ve never been to Brighton, nor to Oxford (I know!), nor to the white cliffs of Dover or the Shetland Islands or Suffolk or Devon or the Cotswolds and the last time I was in Cornwall was when I was 13. Yeah, you get the idea. I have a lot of ground to cover. Travelling around the UK isn’t exactly cheap, of course, but I plan on dedicating as many weekends to discovering it as possible. No matter what, I don’t want to leave the UK knowing I left so much of it unexplored.

My 2016 UK Travel Goals 4

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Cumbria

So this is where I turn it over to you… what do you think I should do in the UK? Which places do you recommend, or which places do you really want to visit? 

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Katie MacLeod February 8, 2016 - 7:08 pm

Although I lived in the UK for most of my life I feel that there’s so much I still haven’t seen – and now that I live in the US, it makes visiting all the places I’d like to (like Oxford and Wales and the Lake District) that little bit harder. You might not be able to do it in a weekend, but I recommend seeing the Outer Hebrides. (I’m biased, as that’s where I grew up, but I honestly think it’s the most beautiful place in the UK!)

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 3:51 pm

I don’t think we ever see everything we really want to… but I find the idea that our options are limitless very exciting! I definitely need to see more of the islands of Scotland, thank you for the recommendation 🙂

Kylie February 8, 2016 - 7:15 pm

Ahh, I love this post and I’m super excited to see you linking to Emma’s publication because my boyfriend is working with her on the design. It’s so exciting to see something I’ve been watching come together on your blog as I’ve been following and enjoying for a while.

I’ve got vague plans to explore some more of the UK this year so I’ll be coming back to this again for some inspiration. 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 3:52 pm

Aw, that’s so awesome! I can’t wait for the publication! I hope we both do a lot of UK exploring this year…

Emma // Gotta Keep Movin' February 12, 2016 - 1:44 pm

Kylie! I was skimming the comments and saw my name. Love that you’ve read this post and picked out the AYTUI mention! Ryan is doing a stupidly great job.

It’s funny, you’ve probably seen more of the journal than my own family have. I’m excited that you’re excited. We’re all excited!

Hope you’re settling into Dundee well! 🙂

Kylie February 13, 2016 - 11:43 am

Hello Emma! ERRYBODYYY excited! Yeh it’s been great to see it coming together. I haven’t read any of the articles (partly because Ryan won’t leave me unsupervised at his Mac) but also because I want to enjoy the printed publication the way you intended it. Looking forward to having a hard copy in my hands!

Thanks, Dundee is good so far although it feels strange that we’re no longer in Edinburgh 🙁 xx

Emma // Gotta Keep Movin' February 19, 2016 - 6:21 pm

YOU’RE exciting to have a hard copy in your hands, Kylie?! Tell me about it…

Haha so cool that you’re holding off, I really hope you’ll love it! 🙂

Sarah February 8, 2016 - 7:50 pm

Have you been to the Peak District yet? I’d recommend it for places like Chatsworth House and small towns like Bakewell … and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as well. Maybe wait until the spring though, I live in Sheffield and the weather is truly horrible at the moment!

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 3:52 pm

I haven’t been, I would definitely love to go! I’m hoping to do a lot of exploring when the weather is nicer, good call 🙂

Danny February 8, 2016 - 9:40 pm

I can’t really say I’m an expert in UK travel (the last time I was there was 2003). However, I lived in Cambridge for two summers as a kid and absolutely fell in love with it. In fact, out of all the places we visited in England, Cambridge is probably my favorite… although I might just be a bit biased. 🙂

If you have the chance, though, I certainly recommend a visit. From what I recall, Cambridge is only a short, one-hour train ride away from London. 😉

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 3:53 pm

I really need to go to Cambridge! I can’t believe I’ve never been… thanks for the tip!

Julie February 9, 2016 - 1:22 pm

I am in exactly the same position as you, except that I know that my time in London has an expiration date and it’s later this year. I also have a UK bucket list. At the very tippy top is finally visiting the Lake District (planned, over Easter) and heading to Snowdownia in North Wales. I was thinking about going there over the late May bank holiday weekend…

Basically, yay that there are so many fantastic places to visit in the UK, but jeez, it’s difficult to fit it all in!

(other highlights that I already visited were Eastbourne to see the chalk cliffs, Dorset, and much of Oxfordshire which is so stinking pretty…)

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 3:54 pm

I went to Eastbourne in 2014 and yes, the cliffs were so lovely! And I agree that it’s very difficult to fit it all in… but I also find that idea quite exciting, that there’s just so much I want to see and do. I hope you get to do a lot more UK exploring!

Jill February 9, 2016 - 3:27 pm

You are so lucky to live in England!! I know you know that….lol. I finally made it to London last October and loved it so much I’m coming back in April. I’m doing a day trip to Windsor and would love to do more but need to get my fill of London. I want to go all over Europe but my love for England is pretty strong. I can’t wait to read all about your adventures!

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 4:01 pm

Yes, I definitely know how lucky I am… I love it here!! I’m so glad you love London as much as I do, it’s such an amazing place. Good luck with all of your adventures!

RunawayBrit February 9, 2016 - 3:47 pm

The places that I would recommend are: Porthcurno, Bodmin Moor/Exmoor, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Corfe Castle, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire,Tenby, Snowdonia, Bourton-on-the-Water (and most of the Cotswolds really), Peak District, York, Yorkshire Moors, Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Whitby.

Wow! Now I really want to go and travel around my homeland!!

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 4:01 pm

Whoa, what an amazing list! Thank you so much for all of this…

Alex February 9, 2016 - 4:06 pm

Great idea! I am British and hadn’t travelled around my country too much until the past year or so (lack of funds stopped my international travel!) I never realised how much there is to do here! I recommend Oxford – I’ve been living here for a year, and it’s beautiful! – Bath, the New Forest, Peak District and – where I grew up – the North Wales coast! 🙂 Enjoy

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 4:04 pm

Thanks for the recommendations, Alex! I want to go back to Bath (I haven’t been in years and years) and definitely need to see more of Wales 🙂

Laura Bronner February 9, 2016 - 4:25 pm

The peak district is stunning, Derbyshire Dales and all the little towns like Bakewell and Matlock are so freaking cute (plus Bakewell puddings are SO good). I love the Yorkshire Dales and Liverpool; Sheffield is a really cool city worth a weekend to learn all about the industrial history of Yorkshire. York is amazing – so much history. Harrogate is a really cute town I just visited and it’s really lovely. SO many places to see in this small country 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 4:04 pm

Yes, I agree – SO many cool places! I’ve actually been to Harrogate before and it was indeed very lovely. Thanks for your comment, Laura!

Ella February 10, 2016 - 1:07 pm

It’s been around 8 years since I was in the UK and I’m definitely interested to see how it’s changed since then and how it’s different from my memories. I think I would personally love to see Brighton because I’ve heard so many great things about it and have never been. And probably go back to Blackpool because I remember having so much fun there 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 4:03 pm

Yes, I really want to visit Brighton! I’ve heard Blackpool is quite the night out, so perhaps I should add that to the list, too 😀

Daniela @ Grumpy Camel February 10, 2016 - 3:14 pm

I really recommend visiting the Isle of Skye in Scotland, but there are plenty of other amazing places on the mainland as well (I have recently written a blog post about this). I’ve been to Scotland three times in the last three years, and if all goes well I should be moving to Edinburgh next year. I hope that I’ll get the chance to explore more of the UK while I’m living there, especially Northern Ireland, the Orkney Islands and the Lake District.

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 4:02 pm

I was on Skye in 2008, but I’d love to return! I lived in Edinburgh for about eight months so I got to see a bit of Scotland, but not nearly enough. There’s just so much to see!

Rebecca February 10, 2016 - 5:43 pm

I also did a UK travel list for 2016 🙂 I’m from the Lake District so I don’t think I need to put that on my list, though I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

Brenna Holeman February 10, 2016 - 6:55 pm

The UK has so many amazing places to visit! And Cumbria is gorgeous, what a beautiful place to be from. 🙂

Emma // Gotta Keep Movin' February 12, 2016 - 1:40 pm

Oh look at you! How did I only just see this…

Thanks for the mention love, and it was so great to see you!! Looks like you had a lovely time in the Lakes (still seething with jealously a little) and I’m so excited for you and the upcoming UK travels. You’ll have the best time. I could do it all over again. And again. And again.

Fun times head! xx

Brenna Holeman February 12, 2016 - 3:00 pm

I can’t wait for your publication to come out, especially now that I have this goal in mind! xx

Dev February 12, 2016 - 4:51 pm

I lived in UK for two years, it indeed is a great country to explore. Though a little tiny, especially when you belong to a country like India (no pun intended) but yea UK is one of my All Time Faves. And its people — man, I love each one of them 😀 <3

Brenna Holeman February 12, 2016 - 6:15 pm

The UK may be small… but there’s so much to do! 🙂

Ashley February 12, 2016 - 11:23 pm

I feel exactly the same – I’m also living in the UK for a limited amount of time, and have a seemingly never-ending list of UK destinations I want to visit – not to mention the constant temptation from cheap flights to various other countries in Europe! The places I want to visit most are the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, the Cotswolds, Cornwall, and Giant’s Causeway. The places I’d recommend are Glencoe and the Isle of Mull 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 13, 2016 - 12:16 am

Giant’s Causeway is beautiful… I am definitely hoping to get back there soon! I also need to spend more time in Cornwall. Thanks for the suggestions, Ashley – and I totally agree that it’s so tempting to book cheap flights to continental Europe!

Nina Lee February 13, 2016 - 8:13 pm

I don’t know the UK very well, but I understand wanting to travel and experience as much of it as possible considering you don’t know how much longer you have there. I lived in Spain for two years and while I saw a good portion of it, there’s still so much more that I wish I had seen! Still, I wouldn’t change the experience at all.

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2016 - 12:26 am

I don’t think we can ever see everything we want to, even if we spend our entire lives in one country!

Linda February 14, 2016 - 3:12 pm

What amazing photos!! And it’s clear you’ve already seen more of the UK than many ever experience. I can’t wait to do a bit of exploring outside of London with you in early June…!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2016 - 9:03 pm

Yes, I can’t wait!! Oxford and Cambridge here we come. 🙂

Irene Corchado February 14, 2016 - 7:25 pm

While living in the UK it’s just easier (and cheaper) to fly abroad than exploring this country.
I moved from London to Oxford 18 months ago and I absolutely love this city. I totally recommend it for a day or two.
I also love Scotland. Three isles I fell in love with: Mull, Iona and Ulva.
And finally, for a day out from London I recommend Saint Albans. I lived there for two years and it’s a beautiful little city with lots of bars and restaurants and some amazing buildings.
I hope this helps!

Brenna Holeman February 14, 2016 - 9:04 pm

Thank you very much, Irene! I definitely need to explore Saint Albans. I also want to see more of Scotland!

Micamyx|Senyorita February 19, 2016 - 7:50 pm

I was able to visit the UK for the second time in 2013 and stayed for 5 months. Apart from London, I was able to visit the quick ‘other places in England to visit apart from London’ like Oxford, Birmingham, Stratford-upon-avon, Walsingham and Bath Spa. I was planning to also visit Cambrdge, Cornwall, Exeter ad Lake District but didn’t have much money lol. I’m planning to go back again this year so I’ll be following your posts 😀

This reminds me i have to update my blog with my UK trips before I go back haha

georgiana February 23, 2016 - 7:22 am

I want to go UK…’s my one of favorites…..Nice Tips for me….

Georgia Brent February 24, 2016 - 1:15 pm


I’m from the UK & I grew up in the South West, in a tiny sleepy Devon town. I would highly recommend heading back down South of you can. I would look up Dartmoor as it’s just gorgeous and so vast! Another place to check out would be Lulworth Cove in Dorset as that’s magical! There’s so many beautiful beaches in Cornwall and Devon to visit. The city of Bath in Avon is also lovely, they have old Roman Baths there and it’s so very cute and English.

As you also mentioned food, if you haven’t had one already down South is the best place to have a Cream Tea! And you’ll need to get your hands on some local cider!

Enjoy your time in the UK 🙂

Vixy February 26, 2016 - 12:23 pm

I’m completely biased but Cornwall is lovely, there’s so much to do for anyone. Beautiful beaches in Cornwall. Try and go when there’s a cultural festival like St Piran day. There’s also a sea shanty festival in Falmouth which is also a nice place to visit.

Brenna Holeman February 27, 2016 - 6:35 pm

That sounds lovely – thank you for the recommendations!

Vixy March 1, 2016 - 11:57 am

Got a lot more as well.

I’m also a bit biased with the shanty festival as I’m apart of the performers in it.

Falmouth is also nice place for boat trips, water sports and there’s some good food there too. Two castles St Mawes and Pendennis which Henry the 8th built that guarded the river from invaders.

There’s Eden Project in St Austell area. Flambards our themepark. Lanhydrock which is a very Downton Abbey feel to it, a country estate opened up as a musuem by National Trust. Tintagel castle. There’s also Bodmin Moor which has Jamaica Inn there.

Zalie February 27, 2016 - 3:23 am

Your UK pictures are stunning. You have lots of exploring to do 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 27, 2016 - 6:34 pm

Come explore with me, sister!!

Cindy February 27, 2016 - 5:29 pm

Skomer Island in the spring when it’s full of Puffins, North Devon both the moors and coastline , and the Isles of Sciily which when the weather is good must be the most beautiful place in the world (not so good when it’s blowing a gale and pouring with rain!) oh and another from my bucket list which I’m hoping to do this summer The Minack Theatre which is open air and on the side of a cliff.

Brenna Holeman February 27, 2016 - 6:33 pm

Thank you for all of the great suggestions, Cindy!

Robin February 28, 2016 - 10:34 am

If you’re looking for a convenient weekend trip out from London then Norwich is a wonderful city to explore. It has the largest and oldest all year round market, and has a wonderful independent food, drink and shopping feel to it with a hidden gem down every side street.

And that’s just the city – the Norfolk Broads and coastline are beautiful!

Liverpool Street to Norwich on the train is just 2 hours 🙂

Brenna Holeman February 28, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Wow, that sounds amazing! Thanks for the tip, Robin, I’ll definitely have to check Norwich out.

Exploring the Lake District: Taking the Scenic Route - Helen in Wonderlust March 23, 2016 - 1:34 am

[…] of the year, my friend Brenna and I decided to go on a weekend away. Brenna is on a mission see more of the UK this year, and I don’t really need any persuading get in the car and go adventuring! The brief was […]


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