A Year of UK Mini-breaks

Thanks to Covid, 2021 has been a year of constantly changing rules for international travel. The different requirements for travellers to and from different countries created uncertainty - including the possibility that the rules could change during an overseas trip, resulting in unexpected quarantine periods and significant additional cost.

Beaumaris, overlooking the Menai Strait
Despite a few false dawns, we decided throughout the year that 2021 would not be a good year for foreign travel for us. So, as soon as we were able, we decided to explore the UK a bit more than we normally do. Although we didn't plan it, most of our mini-breaks were in either Wales or Scotland. Perhaps we were subconsciously trying to have a more 'foreign' experience?

Wales

Ruthin Castle Hotel
Mini-breaks were virtually impossible for the first four and a half months of the year because hotels and restaurants were closed. This changed on 17 May and we booked our first min-break for the following week. A couple of nights in The Bull at Beaumaris on Anglesey were our first nights away from home for over a year and didn't disappoint. There were definitely some teething problems as the hotel had only been open for a week or so, but this didn't matter to us. Neither did the wet weather. We just enjoyed the sense of freedom.


A few weeks later we spent a couple of nights at Ruthin Castle Hotel, using it as a base to explore local ruined castles and abbeys (and bookshops). Again, the hotel was still trying to get back to normal with limited success - but it really didn't matter: we had our freedom!

Gladstone's Library

At the end of August we spent a night at one of our favourite little towns: Montgomery in mid-Wales. By now things were running smoothly in the hospitality sector and we spent a lovely time in the hotel and exploring the local area.

Finally, and only just inside Wales, we stayed at Gladstone's Library a couple of times, in late September and early November. We love 'sleeping with books' (as the website describes it) and it's a great place to meet up with friends in North Wales.

Wigtown and Wigtown Bay

Scotland

We live only an hour from the Scottish border and in a normal year we pop over the border several times. This year we enjoyed three mini-breaks in southern Scotland. We stayed at Dryburgh Abbey Hotel twice and in Wigtown once.

We went to Wigtown in late June to look around the bookshops and have a relaxing day or two in a very quiet place. The beautiful drive was as much the star of the show with fantastic views across the Solway Firth.

Dryburgh Abbey and Hotel on the River Tweed
Dryburgh is one of our favourite places, with a lovely country house hotel in the grounds of the ancient ruined abbey. Our August visit was a bit creaky but by the time we returned in November everything was very much back to normal.

We also had a day trip to Glasgow in early July but that doesn't really count!

England

Much Wenlock's medieval guildhall
Our only English mini-break this year was in July to Much Wenlock in Shropshire. A pretty, medieval town, it is home to a ruined priory as well as interesting little shops and caf├ęs. We explored the local area which is rich in history and yet more ruins.

So that was our travel for 2021. Certainly an improvement on 2020, and all very enjoyable - but at the same time very un-normal. Let's see what 2022 brings.