The UK is in Brexit turmoil at the moment, but that doesn't mean you should ditch it from your travel plans. These hotspots and hidden gems are worth the long-haul journey this year.

Scotland's islands

The ever-popular islands of Scotland have been a tourist destination since Dr Johnson and James Boswell put the Western Isles firmly on the map in 1773. But despite claims the Isle of Skye has become overcrowded, there's plenty of room for new discoveries in these beautiful isles.

Shetland Islands, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images
Shetland Islands, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images

There's a new Hebridean whale trail, and a whisky trail running through Skye to the Isle of Harris. If making it home after over-indulging is a concern, you can now also stay in the new rooms at the Isle of Raasay distillery.


For an entirely different but no less compelling experience, turn northwards and explore the Orkney and Shetland islands. In Orkney you will find a Neolithic archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar on July 21 and August 18 where you can experience the rare sight of archaeologists at work.

Alternatively, head to Shetland for wildlife photographer Neil McIntyre's week-long tours dedicated to perfecting your camera skills in seriously photogenic locations.
— Linda MacDonald

There's a lot going on in God's own country in 2019. Tea lovers should head to Betty's in Harrogate, which this year celebrates its centenary while those looking for an injection of art can explore the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which will be opening its brand new $6.87 million visitor centre — to be known as The Weston — on March 30. Something to distract from Brexit doomsday, perhaps.

For a grand day out, you can't beat a trip to Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington. Home to the UK's largest mainland seabird colony and friendly-faced puffins, RSPB Bempton Cliffs is making 2019 the year of "Bird"lington to mark the 50th anniversary of the reserve.

Puffin at Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington, Yorkshire. Photo / Getty Images
Puffin at Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington, Yorkshire. Photo / Getty Images

The Cleveland Way

is also celebrating a 50th birthday. It stretches across the North York Moors National Park in a horseshoe loop from Helmsley to Filey Brigg via Osmotherley, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Whitby and Scarborough and events for the 175km Way include a new film, and a special event on the actual anniversary, May 24, that will see walkers wearing 60s hiking gear striding out from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey. If you prefer life on two wheels, don't miss the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire on May 2-5.

— Penny Walker

Waltham Forest
All eyes are turned to the east in London for 2019: Waltham Forest rang in the new year as London's first Borough of Culture.


Year-round pleasures in the borough, which is one of London's greenest, include the restored William Morris Gallery and its cafe; full English breakfast from the 20s bikers' hut at High Beech in the oak, beech and hornbeam woods of Epping Forest; the charming Vestry Museum in Walthamstow village; and all things neon at Gods Own Junkyard (so successful it had a pop-up at Selfridges last Christmas).

Make sure you visit the extraordinary three-storey, white-painted Tudor structure known (apparently erroneously) as Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, right next to the excellent visitor centre, The View, high above Chingford Plain.
— Sophie Campbell

Long overlooked as the scruffy relation of neighbouring Pembrokeshire's well-turned-out attractions, the historic market town of Cardigan in Ceredigion has recently been given a bit of a makeover and — as so often proves the case — is rediscovering its mojo as a result.

Work is due to begin on the Coalyard and Albion Aberteifi hotels, which sit on opposite sides of the river Teifi. The first is a 23-room hotel housed in two warehouses. The second is described as a place where "craftspeople, food producers, artists, performers and makers come together to promote Cardigan as a destination and example of what contemporary rural culture and enterprise can be".

Both will be instantly Instagram-worthy, since they come from the family who created the gorgeous Fforest Farm "outdoor hotel" 10 minutes down the road (think domes, croft, lofts, and bell tents). They have already installed Pizzatipi on the town's quayside, where wood-fired pizzas are fed to punters under canvas and Welsh beers, ciders and spirits are served in the snug Tafarn Smwglin across a courtyard.

Then there's the beautiful Bara Menyn sourdough bakery and the new Crwst deli, which won "best rural start-up" in the 2018 Rural Business Awards. Oh, and some of Wales' loveliest beaches (including Poppit Sands and Mwynt) are a short drive away.
— Hattie Garlick

Glasgow is on the up. It's a sociable city that knows how to party and has a burgeoning foodie scene.

Glasgow, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images
Glasgow, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images

The events of 2019 are sure to make the most of Glasgow's enthusiasm for music, arts and culture.

The summer festivals kick off at the start of June when local and international artists stage hundreds of performances, exhibitions, talks and workshops in the streets, pubs and clubs of the West End.

This is followed by the Glasgow Mela, an outdoor celebration of the city's ethnic diversity, with music, dance, food and market stalls. A rousing climax to the cultural calendar will be on August 16 and 17, when 8000 pipers and drummers will come from around the world to meet on Glasgow Green for the World Pipe Band Championships. William Wallace would love it.
— Gavin Bell

Lesser-known Lakes
"Overtourism" was a bit of a buzz word in 2018, but losing the Lake District crowds — and they're big; more than 19 million visitors a year — is easier than you think. Ennerdale is only 25km from bustling Keswick, but a world away in terms of busyness. Road access to its lake, Ennerdale Water, is limited to the western end, which means you can walk the 13km circuit with little chance of meeting more than a handful of people.

Many visitors don't realise that the Lake District has a coastline. Make your way to the west coast and you'll find quiet walking in Eskdale and the Duddon valley — the former accessed by the narrow-gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale railway — plus magnificent gardens at Muncaster Castle and empty beaches at Silecroft.

For shopping, swap the tourist hustle of Ambleside or Grasmere for Cockermouth with its handsome Georgian houses (one of them the birthplace of poet William Wordsworth;, weekly market and independent shops and galleries.

This is also a big year for a big peak, as it marks 100 years since Lake District landowner Charles Henry Wyndham, the 3rd Baron Leconfield, gave Scafell Pike to the National Trust. He gave the mountain, "in perpetual memory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom, peace and right in the Great War".
— Helen Pickles

It's an important anniversary for Cornwall's biggest rival, as Devon celebrates 100 glorious years of the Forestry Commission.

Established in 1919 as a response to timber shortages caused by World War I, the Forestry Commission planted its very first trees at Eggesford in mid-Devon. Today, the FC is England's largest landowner and looks after more than 1500 forests. To mark the centenary, a year-long, nationwide programme of events is planned. These include a public wildlife survey called The Big Forest Find, the Forestry Run 100 series and Writers in the Forest.

Plymouth, Devon. Photo / Getty Images
Plymouth, Devon. Photo / Getty Images

This year will also see the county gear up to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, which carried Pilgrims from Plymouth to New England in 1620. Celebrations start in May in Plymouth, with a history festival. The Rolex Fastnet Race will be held in August, and a series of film screenings will run for a whole year from November. Dartmouth will join the festivities with a new heritage trail and light festival, set to open in November this year.
— Suzy Bennett

Tynemouth and Whitley Bay
The salt-whipped seaside town of Tynemouth, North Shields, is my hotspot for 2019. It has everything you could possibly want from a British beach resort: the atmospheric ruins of an old castle and priory, wide sandy beaches and a popular, albeit chilly, surf scene, plus top-shelf music festivals and some cracking places to eat and drink. Riley's Fish Shack, a rustic beachfront diner on King Edward's Bay serves up turbot and monkfish fresh from the boat, while Prohibition-era cocktails are on offer at Lola Jeans speakeasy on Front St

Five kilometres north is Whitley Bay, a cool enclave with a largely independent high street and the teeny-tiny Jam Jar Cinema. It's also home to Spanish City, a newly revamped music hall with a Renaissance-style frontage, which first opened on the prom in 1910, and now has several restaurants, a champagne bar and a tearoom hidden under its huge white dome.
— Tracey Davies