10 Reasons Why You Should Venture Down South
July 10, 2012
By: Kate Houghton
Now, unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you will be fully aware of the London summer hype. Having already hosted the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and Wimbledon and, of course, the excitedly awaited Olympics, it appears that London is hogging the limelight, stealing the focus away from the plethora of other diverse, entertaining and affordable experiences that are on offer to you around the country. We’ve already published an article outlining alternative ways you can spend your summer up north, but if you’re looking to stay down south, where the sun supposedly shines a little brighter, then read on to discover 10 of the top places to visit. In no particular order…
Well of course London. But just because the Olympics are descending upon this glorious city, does not mean that is the only reason to make a visit. A large majority of attractions, restaurants, bars and shops have special deals on; like Selfridges, for example. For just £6 you can take a lift to the rooftop to try your hand at some crazy golf and share a pot of tea or a jug of Pimms whilst gazing out over London’s landscape.
If you do like to be beside the seaside, if you do like to be beside the sea, then Cornwall is ideal. Offering a grand selection of beautiful beaches for topping up the tan, riding the waves, or exploring the rock pools you really are spoilt for choice. It may not be Barbados, but Porthminster Beach is not far off; award winning for its golden sand and clear turquoise water, it’s definitely a cheaper alternative. But, if you fancy having a dabble at some beach watersports then Polkerris Beach, located in Par, is perfect. With their award winning sportscentre you can try your hand at sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boards, all great for toning and getting your body bikini ready!
Just a 50 minute train journey from London, Brighton is more accessible than you might think, and taking a little venture won’t disappoint. There’s the obvious must-sees; the Royal Pavilion and the Palace Pier, but if you’re feeling less mainstream then head to North Laine. Home to an assortment of quirky vintage shops, stalls and markets you are sure to find a gem any day of the week. It is also worth noting that on Brighton’s doorstep is the South Downs National Park. Covering a whopping 1600 sq. km of beautiful landscape, you can have a crack at paragliding, hang-gliding, zorbing or mountain-boarding. But if you’re not that adventurous simply take a leisurely stroll with a picnic.
4) Isle of Wight
If you feel like going further afield and over an ocean, then the Isle of Wight has a lot to offer. Don’t be too downhearted about just missing their famous headbanging festival, as the Cowes Festival is fast approaching – arriving on the island on the 11 August for one week. For those of you that don’t know, it’s the longest running regatta in the world, and even if you’re not a sailing fan, watching all the boats colourfully pattern the water is a sight not to be missed. As well as having ample opportunities to get out on the water yourself, throughout the week there are also plenty of on-shore happenings, ranging from live music to cocktail parties, culminating with an epic fire-work display.
Arriving in this attractive city will open your eyes to the array of unique possibilities it has on offer. For all the fashionistas out there, the Fashion Museum should be right up your street, with a prestigious collection of the changing styles from the 16th century to the present day. Also featured is a ‘Corsets and Crinolines’ display, where you’ll be able to try on some replication garments. Especially for the summer months is the chance to see The Roman Baths by Torchlight; a truly atmospheric experience where, by candlelight, you can explore the archaic ruins and supposedly sense the spirits of its ancient predecessors.
For further cultural enlightenment, and an alternative to your everyday festival, a trip to Latitude will not disappoint. Not only does it showcase a selection of some of the best talent the music industry has to offer – including performances from Elbow, Laura Marling, and Bon Iver – there is also a collection of unique acts, as well as comedy, cabaret, theatre, film, poetry, literature, dance, DJ’s, art and fashion, so you’ll be spoilt for choice! But, as it begins on the 12 July, if you want to go, you’d better hurry!
Yes, there are ample photo opportunities to capture the sunset at one of its many bays, or have fish and chips and take a stroll along the beach, but for a more culturally enriching experience, a visit to the Turner Art Gallery is a must and with free admission there’s no excuse not to take a trip there. Paying a little more, but only a very little bit at £3, will allow you entrance into the mysteriously beguiling Shell Grotto. Nobody knows who created it, or why, but the elegantly exquisite shell mosaic underground passageway and rooms really are a thing of beauty.
So going to Cardiff will mean venturing to another country; Wales, where they love their sheep, their Tom Jones, and their partying. Cardiff’s nightlife has rapidly expanded and whether you go for a weekend or during the week there will be something to suit you. There’s Cardiff West End, East End and Castle Quarter, all with numerous bars, clubs and restaurants aimed at students and open till the early hours. Get your friends together, get on a train and get jiggy with it, in Wales’ capital.
For something more tame, but equally enjoyable, give Oxford a go – especially if we’re eventually lucky enough to get some sun. It’s a gorgeously picturesque city where you can treat yourself to some shopping, a delicious lunch and a potter around. For the historians amongst us, there’s also Oxford Castle Unlocked; revealing the cities hidden history. The castle itself, as well as costume characters, help tell the tales from the past, and climbing its tower will reward you with spectacular views over Oxford.
The last place on this list is Norfolk, which basically has everything; beaches, museums, castles, festivals… You name it, Norfolk has it. Particularly interesting and appealing is the Sainsbury’s Centre for Visual Arts, which – until the 12 August – is displaying the celebrated Japanese phenomenon of manga and anime, including childhood favourites Pikachu and Hello Kitty. If that doesn’t take your fancy, then perhaps the Wells Carnival will; an exciting and entertaining week involving all the traditional seaside favourites, such as a sandcastle competition and a full scale procession around the town.
Polkerris Beach, Cornwall: http://www.countrycottagesonline.com/selfcatering-cottage-holidays-fowey-cornwall.htm
North Laine, Brighton: http://www.theargus.co.uk/magazine/nostalgia/9584470.Down_memory_Laine/
Fashion Museum, Bath: http://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/attractions/fashion-museum-p25381
Shell Grotto, Margate: http://shellgrotto.co.uk/gallery/
Oxford Castle Unlocked, Oxford: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/leisure/eatingout/omrestaurantreviews/9329702.Ghoul_Lash/