United Kingdom

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in the United Kingdom.

edinburgh-fringe-festival

Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Scotland

AUGUST.

THIS IS ALL WEIRD PERFORMANCE ART, ISN’T IT?

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This is the granddaddy of performance art festivals and you can bet on seeing some weird and wonderful acts over the month it’s held. But it’s not all Shakespearean plays performed by dangerously drunk actors, and grim, ironic, post-modern, pre-future fairytales. The entertainment on offer is unbelievably diverse: musicals, kids’ shows, dance, circus, cabaret…

… I THINK I REALLY JUST WANT A LAUGH. …

and comedy. The Fringe has a strong humour focus; you’ll find a laugh or two for sure. Rowan Atkinson, Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly made names for themselves here.

THAT DOESN’T SOUND FRINGEY AT ALL!

Maybe not at their current levels of fame. But here there’s some genuinely groundbreaking stuff going on. You’re likely to experience acts that might not make it into more mainstream arts festivals – at least, not until Fringe-found fame opens those kinds of doors.

new-forest-lymington

The Costal Place Where You Shoud Be – New Forest, Lymington

On the coast but also part of the New Forest, Lymington – once named the most desirable place to live by the seaside – celebrates its nautical and countryside heritage

It’s the epitome of coastal and countryside living. A quick scan of what’s on in Lymington, the port town on the New Forest’s coast, sums up everything about this attractive Georgian town – 105 forthcoming events listed on one page alone. It’s a vibrant, dynamic community with something for everyone.

Naturally for a coastal resort, much revolves around the sea and its nautical history, but the picturesque Hampshire town is so much more.

Its cobbled streets – complete with an Olympic gold postbox in honour of famous sailing son Sir Ben Ainslie – who won medals at five consecutive Olympia from 1996 – and stunning architecture are home to a healthy mix of designer boutiques, independent shops and high street brands. Indeed, (in 2008) it was once named as the most desirable place to live by the seaside by the TV programme Property List.

Every Saturday the high street plays host to a bustling market – as it has every week since 1315 – and locals and visitors alike throng to the stalls selling everything from food to furniture and most things in between.

The New Forest has long been a famous food haunt and Lymington (population 15,500) boasts a feast of options for hungry holidaymakers. From grabbing a bag of fudge or a generous scoop – or two – of delicious ice cream while strolling around the quay, to tucking into a traditional hearty Sunday roast by the log fire at the Monkey House pub, Lymington caters for all taste buds.

No waterfront town would be worth its salt if it didn’t offer fine, fresh fish. Lymington – which, historically, made much of its wealth from the sale of salt around the world – does not disappoint on this score.

The new Shipyard – Fish Market is exactly what its name suggests, offering locally-caught catch of the day to shoppers and restaurants. One step through the doors takes you into the Shipyard – Bar and Restaurant (with another clue in the title) where diners are treated to fish ‘cooked s imply with seasonal produce’.

The restaurant’s bar is made from reclaimed wood from disused boats, mileage is reduced and New Forest businesses supported by using locally-sourced supplies; coffee cups, menus and napkins are made from recycled paper and staff uniforms are made by Vivanaut which creates aprons from old boat sails.

As a celebration of all things sea and food, the town, which sits at the mouth of the Lymington River, is hosting its inaugural Seafood Fayre Festival on August 12 and 13.

lymington-river

Lymington River

Featuring local chefs working with local produce in a series of cookery demonstrations and offering visitors the chance to buy any number of delicious food items, the festival is partnering with the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) to support its Solent Oyster Restoration Project.

“I couldn’t contemplate living anywhere else now”

The UK-based marine conservation charity is aiming to raise £250,000 to restore the native oyster to the Solent, which will provide wide-ranging ecological and social benefits for the region over the long-term. These include helping to improve water quality, foster valuable habitats and re­establish a vital strand of the economy on the South Coast.

Lymington boasts a proud marine heritage dating back to 1346 when it provided war ships to Edward III and again a couple of centuries later for Henry VIII.

However it is the Solent’s oyster fishery which, dating back to Roman times, was once the largest fishery in Europe for the native oyster, until as recently as 1978. At its peak, the area would land up to 15 million oysters a year, but overfishing together with the effects of habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and disease led to a collapse in numbers and a limited fishery has operated since 2013.

But while the town has a social conscious, it also likes to live it up – in style. Step forward a rather glamorous event on the calendar – the Lymington Italia Festival where that most famous combination of classic cars and quality food will be served up.

More than 50 Ferrari owners are expected to descend on the town on July 2 for a grand procession through the streets which will be otherwise pedestrianised for the day.

Visitors will then be able to admire the cars parked in the town centre and feast on mouth-watering offerings from an Italian food market setting up stalls for the event.

Mayor of Lymington and Pennington, Cllr. Barry Dunning, said: The Lymington Italia Festival has gone from strength-to-strength since its launch in 2014, and is now a major attraction. It’s a real feast for the eyes, not to mention the taste-buds, and we’re very pleased to be staging it in aid of the Stroke Association this year.’

Keeping with the international flavour; few small English towns (or larger ones, come to think of it) can claim to have an Icelandic cafe as one of its resident businesses.

Cue Oskubox – Lymington’s very own award-winning Nordic deli which claims to be ‘the home of Viking food in the heart of the South Coast’ and serves, among a range of other tempting dishes, a breakfast Viking platter with organic volcano treacle bread. Curiosity, if nothing else, gets people through the doors initially – great tasting food keeps them coming back for more or to test the menu’s theory of providing ‘enough energy to sail to Sweden’.

Life Is A Cabaret Through The Eyes Of Europe

Live At Zedel, London – Keeping up Soho’s reputation for late-night adult entertainment, The Crazy Coqs hosts a range of nightly acts in its original Art Deco hall. Its latest, innovative programme includes jazz vocalists, illusionists and comedians, alongside showgirls and drag artists. Classic cocktails, such as gin fizz, add to the period ambience.

Live-At-Zedel

Live At Zedel, London

Au Lapin Agile, Paris – Immortalised in Toulouse-Lautrec posters and Picasso paintings, Au Lapin Agile has been the grande dame of the Paris cabaret scene for more than a century. Don’t expect can-can dancers though – a night at this Montmartre institution means traditional French songs accompanied by piano or the wistful lilt of an accordion.

Kleine Nachtrevue, Berlin – Recapturing the hedonistic atmosphere of ’20s Berlin, the Kleine Nachtrevue has been used as a location for many films. This intimate theatre specialises in burlesque shows featuring dark humour, acrobatics and liberal amounts of nudity. A bar and dancefloor lets the good times continue after the performance.

london-dishes

Dining in The Most Specific London Style

Mango Tree

mango-tree

Mango Tree, situated in the heart of Belgravia, offers exquisite Thai cuisine and world-renowned hospitality in a modern and stylish environment. Its innovative yet classic cuisine is made from the finest ingredients. Enjoy genuine Thai dishes from the four main culinary regions: rich and mild dishes from the north, spicy food from the east, mild, Chinese-style dishes from the central region, and hot and spicy food from the south.

Chi Kitchen

chi-kitchen

Contemporary pan-Asian restaurant Chi Kitchen opened last year on the ground floor of Debenhams on Oxford Street. The word ‘chi’, in Chinese, means energy, and the restaurant strives to offer good energy, as well as great food, to hungry shoppers. The open-plan restaurant lets you watch the chefs prepare Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisine. Chi Kitchen will take you on a unique culinary journey through south-east Asia.

Khans of Kensington

KHANS-OF-KENSINGTON

Visit Khans of Kensington for delicious, genuine Indian cuisine that a core of devotees have been enjoying for many years. The restaurant prides itself on its modern take on traditional North Indian cuisine, with mouthwatering dishes such as its famous fish koliwada and lamb chop in honey sauce. The expansive menu covers many dishes, but if you don’t see your personal favourite on the menu, just ask the team of expert chefs and they will be more than happy to set that right. The restaurant is just a minute’s walk from South KensingtonTube station.

Memories of India

memories-of-india

At Memories of India you can explore and experience the many varied tastes of India, with traditional and creative Indian dishes with a twist of ingenuity. Relax and let the team of award-winning chefs take your taste buds on an exotic trip and an unforgettable dining experience. The dishes here contain the finest ingredients in order to create the uncompromising flavours of India. We have a private room for parties and corporate functions.

5th-november

5th of November Will Put a Splash of Colors on London’s Sky

London will explode with colour on the fifth of November as fireworks burst across the night sky – and it’s all down to a man called Guy Fawkes. The British tradition of Bonfire Night dates back to 1605, when the Catholic conspirator attempted to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament with barrels of gunpowder.

He was caught red-handed but jumped from the scaffold, where he was to be hanged, then broke his neck and died, which meant he avoided being hanged, drawn and quartered. Oddly, his failed plot has been celebrated across the country on this day ever since.

Traditionally, children make Guy Fawkes effigies – models stuffed with newspaper like a scarecrow – then collect coins for their efforts. In the past, they could be heard requesting ‘a penny for the guy’ – although these days a fiver is more likely. The effigy is then hurled on top of a bonfire as fireworks light up the sky. Be part of history and catch a display during your visit. Wrap up warm and head to one of these outdoor shows.

guy-fawkes

Guy Fawkes

ALEXANDRA PALACE

alexandra-palace

This is more than just a fireworks display – it’s a full-on festival, set on a hill overlooking the capital, with more than 50,000 people expected to attend. Try to arrive early to make the most of the live bands and DJs from Club de Fromage, as well as David Bowie and Queen tributes at the German Beer Festival, where Bavarian waitresses will be serving craft and German beers. Another highlight is the day of the dead parade – a carnival of snakes, skeletons and fire dancers jigging to the beat of the 20-piece Drum Machine band. If that whets your appetite, there will be 40 drink and street food stalls. There is a huge bonfire and a laser show, too, as well as fireworks. On the Friday, the gates open at 4pm ready for the display at 9pm, while on the Saturday the gates open at 3pm for an 8pm start.

BATTERSEA PARK

This annual display is set to music by legendary stars and is hosted by Christian Williams, a presenter for Virgin Radio UK. The gates open for food, drink and entertainment at 6pm and close at 8pm, 10 minutes before the firework display starts. Tickets must be pre-booked from the website.

BLACKHEATH

This beautiful open space atop a hill is the perfect location for a firework display. Go early and warm up over a traditional British meal at Blackheath Fish & Chips, opposite the station, then stroll with the masses to the public viewing spots, which are south of Shooters Hill Road. Against the backdrop of the fireworks, you can see the majestic All Saints’ Church. A funfair begins at noon, a bar and food stalls open at 5pm, and the display starts at 8pm. While the event is free, donations are appreciated.

CRYSTAL PALACE PARK

Crystal Palace Park’s first firework display – a competition between British firework makers – took place on 12 July 1865, attracting 20,000 spectators. Regular shows were staged in the park until 1936. At this year’s event there will be a firework display, food and drink stalls and stalls where you can buy novelty glow sticks. Gates open at 6pm, there’s a children’s show at 7pm, last entry is at 8.15pm and the main display begins at 8.30pm. You must pre-book from the website.

MORDEN

Morden has two displays: the gates open at 5.15 pm. The first show, which is suitable for young children, starts at 6.45pm (bonfires lit at 6.30pm), while the second show starts at 8.30pm (bonfires lit at 8.15pm). A funfair and food and drink stalls are open until 10pm. The display will take place in the centre of the park, which can be accessed from entrances on London Road, Lower Morden Lane and HiIlcross Avenue. You must pre-book from the website.

PRIMROSE HILL

While this isn’t an official show, Primrose Hill is a great vantage point from which to see fireworks across the city for free. There are no facilities or food or drink stalls, so take a hot chocolate to keep you cosy. Go at 7pm.

VICTORIA PARK

If previous years are anything to go by, this firework display will have a bonfire, themed soundtrack, food and drink stalls and perhaps even a giant robot strolling around the grounds…

WANSTEAD

After last year’s firework display was cancelled due to low-lying fog, this year’s event will no doubt be a show to remember – especially as it’s choreographed to music. Gates will open at 5.30pm, while the firework display will begin at 6.30pm.

WIMBLEDON

wimbledon-park

Gates open at 5.15pm as this park has two displays. The first, themed around magic, is suitable for young children and starts at 6.45 pm. The second show, meanwhile, is themed on ‘all around the world’ and starts at 8.30pm (bonfires lit at 8.15pm). A funfair and food and drink stalls are open until 10pm.

cardiff-featured

Weekend in Cardiff – England, U.K

Caught between an ancient fort and an ultramodern waterfront, the compact Welsh capital has a new-found confidence that makes it a thoroughly fun weekend getaway.

FRIDAY

CARDIFF CASTLE

CARDIFF-CASTLE

There’s a medieval keep at its heart, but it’s the later additions to Cardiff Castle that capture the imagination. During the Victorian era, extravagant mock-Gothic features were grafted onto this relic, including a clocktower and a banqueting hall. Flanking the castle is Bute Park.

BUFFALO BAR

BUFFALO-BAR

A haven for cool kids about town, the laid-back Buffalo features retro furniture, burgers and other comfort food, life-affirming cocktails including a rhubarb and blackberry sour, plus alternative tunes. There’s a small beer garden at the rear, while upstairs a roster of cutting-edge indie bands takes to the stage. Friday clubnights often feature drum and bass.

GOAT MAJOR

GOAT-MAJOR

Hunt down this solidly traditional wooden-panelled pub with armchairs, a fireplace, sports on screens and Brains beers on tap. The Goat Major’s gastronomic contribution comes in its selection of savoury pot pies served with chips. If it’s on the menu, try the Wye Valley pie: buttered chicken, leek, asparagus and Tintern cheese.

SATURDAY

CARDIFF’S ARCADES

CARDIFF'S-ARCADES

The Royal Arcade in the Morgan Quarter in Cardiff’s city centre

Take a morning browse through Cardiff’s historical network of Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades either side of St Mary St. Start at the Royal Arcade, which connects to Morgan Arcadevia covered lanes to form a ritzy precinct selling big-name fashion brands alongside skateboards, vintage books and antiques. The most decorative is Castle Arcade.

MADAME FROMAGE

MADAME-FROMAGE

In the namesake arcade that begins just south of the castle walls is one of Cardiff’s best delicatessens, with a wide range of charcuterie and French and Welsh cheeses, and tables spilling outside. Read French newspapers and try a mixture of Breton and Welsh dishes, including rarebit, lamb cawl (a stewlike soup) and bara brith – traditional Welsh fruit loaf.

NATIONAL MUSEUM CARDIFF

NATIONAL-MUSEUM-CARDIFF

Devoted mainly to natural history and art, this grand Neoclassical building is the centrepiece of the seven institutions that form the Welsh National Museum. It’s one of Britain’s best museums; allow at least three hours to do it justice. Welsh artists and ceramicists are well represented. Look out for the 9m-long skeleton of a humpback whale that washed up near Aberthaw in 1982.

SUNDAY

RIVERSIDE MARKET

RIVERSIDE-MARKET

Fresh bread in various guises for sale at Riverside Market

What it lacks in size, this market by the River Taff makes up for in sheer yumminess, its stalls heaving with cooked meals, cakes, cheese, organic meat, charcuterie and bread. There are lots of options for vegetarians, an excellent coffee stall, and even Welsh cakes – hot off the griddle.

CARDIFF BAY

cardiff-bay

Lined with the Senedd and other important national institutions, Cardiff Bay puts the modern Welsh nation on display in an architect’s playground of intriguing buildings, open spaces and public art. The centrepiece of this area’s regeneration is the Wales Millennium Centre, an architectural masterpiece of stacked Welsh slate; wander the lobby or catch a free performance.

DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE

davros-at-doctor-who-experience

The success of reinvented classic TV series Doctor Who, produced by BBC Wales, has brought Cardiff to the attention of sci-fi fans. City locations have featured in Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood. This interactive exhibition includes a Tardis hovering outside.

Essentials

TRANSPORT

There are direct two-hour train services from London Paddington to Cardiff Central Station, on the southern edge of the city centre, with Great Western Railway. National Express runs direct buses from cities including London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Most central city streets are closed to traffic. Local buses are operated by Cardiff Bus; you can buy tickets from the driver. Capital Cabs is a reliable taxi company.

WHERE TO STAY

lincoln-house-hotel-cardiff

A room at Licoln House hotel, which features an original fireplace

Ty Rosa is a good, gay-friendly b&b with affable hosts and sumptuous breakfasts, a half hour’s walk from central Cardiff. Thoughtfully equipped rooms are split between the main house and an annexe opposite; some of them share bathrooms.

A touch of Georgian elegance in the heart of Cardiff Bay, Jolyons Boutique Hotel has seven individually designed rooms with antique furniture and modish colours. Front rooms face the Millennium Centre.

Somewhere between a large b&b and a small hotel, Lincoln House is a Victorian property with heraldic emblems in its sitting room’s stained-glass windows. For extra romance, book the four-poster room.

The know-how

CENTRAL CARDIFF BAR CRAWL

gwdihw-bar

Gwdihw Bar – Cardiff, U.K

Cardiff is a prodigiously boozy city with a lively alternative scene, swish bars and old pubs.

Gwdihw: At the charming last word in Cardiff hipsterdom, with an eclectic entertainment line-up.

Pen &Wig: Latin legal phrases are printed on walls at this traditional pub, but there’s nothing stuffy about the beer garden or entertainment roster.

Bunk House: Strewn with fairy lights, candles and bells, this hostel bar is cosy, kooky and cool. There’s even a made-up bed for lie-downs.

Porter’s: This attitude-free bar runs events most nights. Come for film screenings or ‘bandaoke’.

cotswolds

Budget Cotswolds – England, U.K

The gorgeous villages, graceful churches and rolling hills of the Cotswolds are a vision of old-world England — and there’s plenty to enjoy without a lord-of-the-manor price tag.

Food and Drink

HUFFKINS

huffkins

Since 1890, Huffkins has been baking delicious scones, cakes and pies. There are branches across the Cotswolds, but Burford’s is the original. More substantial dishes include quiches, soups, omelettes, all-day breakfasts and full-blown afternoon teas. Burford itself is a delight, with its cottages of pale golden stone.

 JAFFE & NEALE BOOKSHOP CAFÉ

JAFFE-&-NEALE-BOOKSHOP-CAFÉ

The town of Chipping Norton (`Chippy’, to locals) has handsome Georgian buildings and old coaching inns clustered around a market square, but none of the Cotswold crowds. This brilliant, busy independent bookshop serves delectable cakes and coffees to tables squeezed between the bookshelves or in the cosy upstairs reading lounge with sofas.

STROUD FARMERS’ MARKET

STROUD-FARMERS'-MARKET

Hilly Stroud once hummed with the sound of more than 150 cloth mills. Its still one of the Cotswolds’ most important market towns – best evidenced on Saturdays when dozens of stallholders converge on the town for the weekly farmers’ market. Hosting a multitude of local producers selling seasonal delights and homemade crafts, the market is undoubtedly the best of its kind in the Cotswolds.

Free attractions

GUILD CRAFT WORKSHOPS

guild-craft-workshop

This former silk mill (c 1790) in Chipping Campden was the home of Charles Robert Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft from 1902 until it went bust in 1908. Many artisans stayed on. Downstairs, there’s a café, along with a gallery showcasing the work of a cooperative of local craftspeople.

MUSEUM IN THE PARK

museum-in-the-park

Set in an 18th-century mansion, half-a-mile northwest of Stroud’s centre, this museum tells the cloth-making town’s history, and has interactive displays ranging from dinosaur bones to Iron Age relics from nearby Uley Bury (a prehistoric hill fort). A separate gallery hosts contemporary art exhibitions.

CIRENCESTER PARK

CIRENCESTER-PARK

Cirencester Park has woodland trails, a large lake and deer

Unusually fora stately home, the Earl of Bathurst’s mansion sits right on the edge of town, hidden and off-limits behind a giant yew hedge (allegedly Britain’s tallest). The extensive landscaped grounds, however, are open to the public and make a lovely spot for a stroll. Under the Romans, elegant Cirencester (then Corinium) was second only to London in size and importance.

Landmarks

BELAS KNAP LONG BARROW

Dating from 3000 BC, Belas Knap is one of England’s best-preserved Neolithic burial chambers. Views across the countryside to Sudeley Castle are beautiful. The barrow is accessed by a 21/2-mile hike from Winchcombe along the Cotswold Way; otherwise park on Corndean Lane.

 ST MARY’S CHURCH

Chipping Norton’s secluded church is a classic example of a Cotswold wool church, with a magnificent perpendicular nave and clerestory (upper row of windows), alabaster tombs and fluted pillars. While it was mostly built in 1448, two of the chancel arches date to 1200. In the hexagonal porch, carved 15th-century ceiling bosses include the Green Man.

 MINSTER LOVELL HALL

This 15th-century manor house by the River Windrush was originally home to Viscount Francis Lovell; Richard III stayed here in 1483. Abandoned in 1747, the manor is now in ruins. You can pass through the vaulted porch to peek past blackened walls into the roofless great hall, the interior courtyard and the crumbling tower, while the wind whistles through gaping windows.

Essentials

TRANSPORT

Oxford, Moreton-in- Marsh, Stroud, Gloucester and Cheltenham have direct trains to London (London Paddington—Stroud from £25 return; gwrcom). Other direct trains go to Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle (from Oxford), and Cardiff and Edinburgh (from Cheltenham). National Express coaches head from London and other UK cities to Oxford, Cirencester, Stroud and Cheltenham. For exploring the Cotswolds without your own wheels, the Cotswolds Discoverer provides unlimited travel on participating buses and trains.

WHERE TO STAY

the-volunteer-inn

Chipping Campden’s Volunteer Inn features Cotswold limestone

Attached to a busy Chipping Campden pub, the Volunteer Inn’s simple rooms are favoured by Cotswold Way walkers and cyclists.

Stow-on-the-Wold’s Number 9 is all sloping floors and exposed beams inside an 18th-century townhouse that was once a coaching inn. There’s a lounge with a crackling fire.

In Fulbrook, a mile northeast of Burford, the wonderful old Star Cottage has two brilliantly comfortable, character- filled en suite rooms, a four-person barn apartment, and fantastic homecooked breakfasts.

THE KNOW-HOW

PERFECT VILLAGES

Bibury: Once described by William Morris as England’s most beautiful village, Bibury is the Cotswolds at its most picturesque, with a cluster of riverside cottages and a tangle of narrow streets flanked by attractive stone buildings.

Stanway: Just a few thatched-roofed cottages, a church and Stanway House, a magnificent Jacobean mansion; its Baroque water gardens feature Britain’s tallest fountain.

The Slaughters: The villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter maintain their unhurried medieval charm. The Old Mill houses a museum and cafe.

Stanton: A little stunner with golden Cotswold-stone houses and not a quaint tearoom in sight. Look for Jacobean Stanton Court and St Michael & All Angels’ Church, with its fine Perpendicular tower and medieval interior.

monsal-head

Outdoors Peak District – England, U.K

Hikes

eyam-cottage

Eyam is famed for isolating itself during the 1665 bubonic plague

  • MONSALTRAIL

This scenic trail passes through a number of atmospheric old tunnels as it follows the path of a disused railway line for 81/2 miles from Coombs Road Viaduct on the outskirts of Bakewell to Topley Pike in Wye Dale. Three miles into the walk, there is a dramatic viewpoint at Monsal Head, where you can pause for refreshment at the Monsal Head Hotel.

  •  EYAM

Quaint little Eyam makes a great base for walking and cycling in the White Peak area. For an interesting short hike, follow Water Lane out of the village from the main square, then turn right and climb the hill to reach Mompesson’s Well, where supplies were left during a plague outbreak for Eyam folk by friends from other villages. To return to Eyam, retrace your steps down the lane, then take a path that leads directly to the church. The two-mile circuit takes about 11/2 hours. Eyam is famed for isolating itself during the 1665 bubonic plague.

  • LIMESTONE WAY

This 46-mile trail winds through the Derbyshire countryside from Castleton to Rocester in Staffordshire, following footpaths, tracks and quiet lanes -highlights along the way include beauty spots Millers Dale and Robin Hood’s Stride. Many people walk the 26-mile section between Castleton and Matlock in one long, tiring day, but setting aside two days will make it more comfortable. Local tourist offices have a detailed leaflet with route information.

Natural wonders

poole-s-cavern

Poole’s Cavern complex includes a number of unexplored caves

  • PEAK CAVERN

The limestone sections of the Peak District are riddled with caves and caverns, particularly around Castleton. Peak Cavern is easily reached by a pretty streamside walk from Castleton centre and has the largest natural cave entrance in England, known as the Devil’s Arse. Inside, dramatic limestone formations are lit with fibre-optic cables.

  • WINNATS PASS & SPEEDWELL CAVERN

Striking Winnats Pass is a collapsed cave system, once a coral reef canyon. Sheer-sided cliffs frame a lovely green valley, footpaths abound, and it’s here that you’ll find the entrance to Speedwell Cavern – a cave reached via an eerie boat ride through flooded tunnels, emerging by a huge subterranean lake.

  • POOLE’S CAVERN

It’s very cool down in this magnificent natural cavern, a pleasant mile stroll southwest of Buxton, reached by descending 28 steps into an underground lair. Tours lasting 50 minutes run every 20 minutes from March to October. From the car park, a 20-minute walk leads through Grin Low Wood to Solomon’s Temple – a ruined tower with fine views over the town.

Other activities

buxton-tram

Rugs are provided on the Buxton Tram in case the weather turns

  • CYCLING

High Peak Trail is an easy, traffic-free ride through beautiful hills and farmlands following the old railway line from Cromford to Dowlow. The Pennine Bridleway is another top network, with 205 miles of trails. If you don’t have your own wheels, Peak Tours runs guided tours and the National Park Authority has three bike rental centres.

  •  BUXTON TRAM

It’s actually a vintage milk float, rather than a tram, but this old contraption is still a highly entertaining way to tour the historic sights of pretty Buxton. From the Opera House, take the Wonder of the Peak tour as it trundles along at 12mph on an hour-or-so circuit of the centre. There are only eight seats, so book ahead.

  • CHATSWORTH

Known as the ‘Palace of the Peak’, Chatsworth House has been occupied by the earls and dukes of Devonshire for centuries. Inside it’s packed with priceless paintings and period furniture; outside there are miles of grounds and ornamental gardens to explore, and kids will love the farmyard adventure playground. The stately home has starred in Pride & Prejudice on more than one occasion.

Peak District essentials

  • TRANSPORT

Head to London first on British Airways from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Matlock and Bakewell are the area’s two main transport hubs, but neither town is connected directly to London by train (you need to change at Stockport). Many National Express London-Manchester buses stop at Matlock, Bakewell and Buxton. The Peak Plus is a handy pass offering all-day travel on most High Peak buses.

  • WHERE TO STAY
stonecroft-back-tor-room

Stonecroft’s Back Tor Room has views over the Edale Valley

*Handsome two-room b&b Stonecroft lies in an enchanting cluster of houses surrounded by majestic country. Host Julia is an award-winning chef; her packed lunches are available on request.

*In a Hope Valley village near Castleton, Samuel Fox is an enchanting inn owned by chef James Duckett. The gorgeous pastel-shaded guestrooms upstairs come with a sumptuous breakfast.

*Within rolling distance of the famed pudding shops, Rutland Arms is an aristocratic-looking old coaching inn with 33 rooms and lots of Victorian flourishes. Jane Austen is said to have stayed.

The know-how

  • THE BAKEWELL PUDDING

bakewell-pudding

The Peak District’s famous dessert was invented following an accidental misreading of a recipe around 1820. Rich and delicious, it makes a great post-hike treat and there are two shops in Bakewell that claim to be the creator:

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop has a quaint first-floor tearoom with exposed beams where you can sit down and try the pudding with lashings of custard, or as part of an afternoon tea.

There’s no sit-down dining in Bloomers of Bakewell, set in a 17th-century stone building. If you don’t make it here in person, it’s possible to order a Bakewell pudding online and have it posted to your door.

london-entertainment-featured

When The Lights Go Out in London

Like gin? Then you’re in the right city. Since the Middle Ages, London has been distilling vast quantities of the spirit. So much so that by the mid-18th century, the capital was in the grip of a ‘Gin Craze’, forcing Parliament to pass Gin Acts and distillation bans. Thankfully, things have relaxed, and you’ll fi nd craft distilleries and gin bars galore.

Holborn Dining Room’s Gin Bar boasts more than 400 varieties of the spirit and 30 diff erent tonics. With more than 14,000 possible gin and tonic pairings, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. So let the bartenders know what herbs, spices and flavours you like, and they’ll find the drink for you. Our favourite? East India Company gin with Ledger’s naturally sweet tonic (252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN).  For those who can’t face the journey from bar to bed, there’s The Distillery – a gin hotel in Notting Hill. This is where the world-famous Portobello Road Gin is made.

Downstairs, there’s The Resting Room, a timeless cocktail bar, and upstairs is GinTonica, a tapas and gin bar (186 Portobello Rd, W11 1LA).  You can see how some of the capital’s award-winning gin is made at the City of London Distillery (C.O.L.D) in Blackfriars. Choose a tour – try the Evolution of Gin Tour to find out how this popular spirit has developed over the centuries (22-24 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT).

TRADITIONAL PUBS

MAGPIE & STUMP

MAGPIE & STUMP

Opposite the Old Bailey courts, this historic pub dates back to the 1500s. 18 Old Bailey, EC4M 7EP. T: 020-7248 5085. www.magpieandstump.com. Station: St Paul’s. D10.

THE SPANIARDS INN

THE SPANIARDS INN

This ancient pub by Hampstead Heath was loved by writer Charles Dickens. Spaniards Rd, NW3 7JJ. T: 020-8731 8406. www.thespaniards hampstead.co.uk. Station: Hampstead. Off map.

WAXY O’CONNOR’S

WAXY O’CONNOR’S

Irish-themed pub with live music. 14-16 Rupert St, W1D 6DD. T: 020-7287 0255. www.waxy oconnors.co.uk. Station: Piccadilly Circus. E7.

YE OLDE CHESHIRE CHEESE

YE OLDE CHESHIRE CHEESE

Historic pub with 17th-century rooms and narrow passageways. 145 Fleet St, EC4A 2BU. T: 020-7353 6170. Station: Blackfriars. E9.

BARS & CLUBS

THE BACK ROOM

THE BACK ROOM

Next door to Hard Rock, the bar boasts iconic music items, including a door from the Apple Studios signed by the Beatles. Enjoy cocktails. www.hardrock.com. 148b Old Park Lane, W1K 1QZ. T: 020-7514 1700. Station: Green Park. E6.

BUDDHA-BAR

 BUDDHA-BAR

This trendy club and restaurant attracts a fashion-conscious crowd. 145 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7PA. T: 020-3667 5222. www.buddha barlondon.com. Station: Knightsbridge. F5.

GONG

GONG

Located on the 52nd floor of The Shard, Gong is the smart lounge and bar. The cocktails and views of the capital are superb. 31 St Thomas St, SE1 9QU. T: 020-7234 8208. www.shangrila.com. Station: London Bridge. E10.

GORDON’S WINE BAR

GORDON’S WINE BAR

There is a large selection of wines in this brickwalled basement, established in 1890. 47 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE. T: 020-7930 1408. www.gordons winebar.com. Station: Charing Cross. E8.

RILEYS SPORTS BAR

RILEYS SPORTS BAR

There are 34 screens, table football and American food. Daily B, L & D. £. 380 Haymarket, SW1Y 4TE. T: 020-7930 0393. www.rileyssports bars.co.uk. Station: Piccadilly Circus. E3.

eating-in-london

London: The Joint of International Cuisine

Curious to sample the latest dining craze? Then visit one of London’s many supper clubs. Introduced to the UK in the 1930s as an alternative to restaurants, these ticketed dining events in unique settings are enjoying a revival as London’s appetite for immersive and intimate food experiences grows.  Since 2010, Gingerline has led the way in secret location feasting in the capital. The latest Chambers of Flavour V2.0 invites guests to enter ‘The Machine’ for a theatrical feast. Expect five ‘parallel dining realities’ containing a tastebud-tingling course. Warning: this is not for the cautious – the menu is a secret and you are immersed in a performance (check for dates; www.chambersofflavour.co.uk).  Forget popcorn – the perfect thing to accompany a movie is a dinner inspired by the film you’re watching.

The cinema-supper club KinoVino does just that, bringing together chefs and international arthouse films. This month it celebrates Italy with I am Love followed by an Italian meal from Rome-based food writer and chef Rachel Roddy (15 May; www.kinovino.org).  Most people use the Tube to get around, but how many can say they’ve dined in a carriage? At The Underground Supper Club, you’ll sit in a stationary decommissioned 1967 train carriage for a four-course dinner made by a leading chef, such as Shiann Stuiver from Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social (18-20 & 25-27 May; www.basementgalley.com).  Good food meets art at The Gramounce, a supper club in a gallery. Set up by artists to help fund their craft, these events serve dishes inspired by the artworks on display.

AMERICAN

BUBBA GUMP SHRIMP CO.

BUBBA GUMP SHRIMP CO.

This fun seafood restaurant serves American classics inspired by the film Forrest Gump. Daily L & D. ££. Unit 75 Trocadero, 13 Coventry St, W1D 7AB. T: 020-3763 5288. www.bubbagump shrimp.co.uk. Station: Piccadilly Circus. E7.

DESEJO DO BRAZIL

DESEJO DO BRAZIL

Enjoy charruscaria (barbecued meat) and great cocktails. Daily D. £-££. 168 Sussex Gardens, W2 1TP. T: 020-7402 3456. www.desejodobrazilrestaurant.com. Station: Paddington. D4.

HAM HOLY BURGER

HAM HOLY BURGER

Cult Italian burgers in this department store. Daily L & D (Mon-Sat closes 8pm; Thur 9pm; Sun 6pm). £. John Lewis, 300 Oxford St, W1A 1EX. T: 020-7499 8296. www.hamholyburger.co.uk. Station: Oxford Circus. B5.

HARD ROCK CAFÉ

HARD ROCK CAFÉ

London’s original burger joint has lots of music memorabilia on display. Daily L & D. ££. 150 Old Park Lane, W1K 1QZ. T: 020-7514 1700. www.hard rock.com. Station: Hyde Park Corner. E8.

OBLIX

OBLIX

Rise up to the 32nd floor of The Shard for New York-style rotisserie/grill cuisine and amazing views. Daily L & D. £££. 31 St Thomas St, SE1 9RY. T: 020-7268 6700. www.oblix restaurant.com. Station: London Bridge. E10.

PATTY & BUN

PATTY & BUN

This laid-back burger joint is popular for its upbeat atmosphere and mouthwatering burgers. Daily L & D. £. 54 James St, W1U 1HE (and branches). T: 020-7487 3188. www.patty andbun.co.uk. Station: Bond Street. B4.

PLANET HOLLYWOOD

PLANET HOLLYWOOD

Enjoy burgers, pizzas and cocktails. Check out its movie memorabilia, too. Daily L & D (bar to 1am). ££. 57-60 Haymarket, SW1Y 4QX. T: 020-7287 1000. www.planethollywood london.com. Station: Piccadilly Circus. E7.

RAINFOREST CAFE

RAINFOREST CAFE

Busy all-day diner in a mock rainforest jungle with life-size animatronic animals, and a fun menu that caters to everyone. Daily L & D. ££. 20 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EU. T: 020-7434 3111. www.therainforestcafe.co.uk. Station: Piccadilly Circus. E3.

SEÑOR CEVICHE

SEÑOR CEVICHE

This bustling Peruvian restaurant offers vibrant sharing plates. Daily L & D. ££. 1st Floor, Kingly Court, W1B 5PW. T: 020-7842 8540. www.senor- ceviche.com. Station: Piccadilly Circus. C5.

BRITISH

AQUA SHARD

AQUA SHARD

Head up to level 31 of The Shard for modern British food and amazing views. Daily B, L & D. £££. 31 St Thomas St, SE1 9RY. T: 020-3011 1256. www.aquashard.co.uk. Station: London Bridge. E10.

CAFÉ IN THE CRYPT

CAFÉ IN THE CRYPT

In the basement of this Palladian church, the café serves good food at reasonable prices. Mon-Sat B, L & D; Sun L. £. St Martin-in-the-Fields, corner of Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ. T: 020-7766 1158. www.smitf.org. Station: Charing Cross. D7.

CHENESTON’S

CHENESTON’S

This intimate restaurant specialises in fine British cuisine. Daily B, L & D. £££. The Milestone Hotel, 1 Kensington Court, W8 5DL. T: 020-7917 1000. www.milestonehotel.com. Station: High Street Kensington. Off map.

GARFUNKEL’S

GARFUNKEL’S

Enjoy popular British dishes, plus pizzas and a salad bar. Daily B, L & D. ££. 19 Irving St, WC2H 7AU (and branches). T: 020-7930 8087. www.garfunkels.co.uk. Station: Leicester Square. E7.

PARK TERRACE

PARK TERRACE

Located in the Royal Garden Hotel London, this uses locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Daily B, L & D. ££. 2-24 Kensington High St, W8 4PT. T: 020-7361 1999. www.parkterracerestaurant.co.uk. Station: High Street Kensington. Off map.

ST PANCRAS GRAND

ST PANCRAS GRAND

Brasserie-style dishes in this ornate dining room. Daily B, L & D. ££. Upper Concourse, St Pancras International, N1C 4QL. T: 020-7870 9900. www. searcys.co.uk. Station: King’s Cross St Pancras. C8.

SOPHIE’S STEAKHOUSE & BAR

SOPHIE’S STEAKHOUSE & BAR

Enjoy excellent British dishes, including burgers, steaks and terrine boards. Daily L & D. ££. 29-31 Wellington St, WC2E 7DB (and Chelsea branch). T: 020-7836 8836. www.sophiessteakhouse.co.uk. Station: Covent Garden. D8.

CHINESE

CHAI WU

CHAI WU

This modern venue serves luxury ingredients, such as Wagyu beef. Daily L; Mon-Sat D to 8pm. £££. 87-135 Brompton Rd, SW1X 7XL. T: 020-3819 8888. www.chaiwu.co.uk. Station: Knightsbridge. F5.

HAKKASAN

HAKKASAN

Michelin-starred Chinese fusion food. Daily L & D. £££. 8 Hanway Place, W1T 1HD (and Mayfair branch). T: 020-7927 7000. www.hakkasan.com. Station: Tottenham Court Road. D7.

MIN JIANG

MIN JIANG

Enjoy superb food and views Hyde Park. Daily L & D. £££. Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High St, W8 4PT. T: 020-7361 1988. www.minjiang.co.uk. Station: High Street Kensington. F3.