As the summer holidays rapidly approach, ever-changing travel restrictions has caused more and more Britons to give up on international vacation plans in favour of something closer to home. However, this surge camping, caravan and UK staycation demand means numerous accommodation providers across the nation are already booked up during the peak season.
Luckily, according to Ed Bassett, UK Country Manager for Camptoo, this doesn’t mean a holiday is completely off the cards.
In fact, Mr Bassett revealed to Express.co.uk that there are still a number of ways to embark on a unique UK adventure.
The key, he says, is to “think outside the box”.
“While staycation bookings are at a record high, there is still availability across the summer months for those wishing to rent a campervan or motorhome with Camptoo,” Mr Bassett told Express.co.uk.
According to data from Cornwall’s tourism board Visit Cornwall, the May half term alone saw an estimated 390,630 trips within bookings up 70 percent on the previous year before lockdown restrictions had even eased.
Searches for holidays in Scotland during the same period, meanwhile, were reportedly up 255 percent compared to 2019 according to data from holiday rentals search engine HomeToGo.
“Think outside the box when it comes to locations to visit,” continued Mr Bassett.
“We suggest expanding your search to other destinations such as Norfolk, Dorset, Somerset, or the North Yorkshire coast, where you’ll likely find more space and campsite availability.”
However, Britons who are still toying with their summer holiday plans need to act fast.
“Campsites across the country are booking up fast, however, so we advise booking sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment,” Mr Bassett explained.
Britons are also spending more time on their camping and caravan breaks than in previous years, according to Camptoo’s data.
“On average, our customers are booking trips for around five days, which shows that people are seeking longer trips instead of short weekend breaks,” he said.
And while there may still be space available in some campsites, for now, the Camptoo boss says last-minute bookings have become something of a trend this year.
“We expect that July and August are going to be very busy this year, particularly August half-term,” he said.
“We’re seeing a lot of short-lead bookings made just a few weeks in advance of travelling, which is likely due to the very small ‘Green List’ for international destinations Brits can visit.
“Bookings over the past 30 days have been consistently higher compared to the same time period last year, so we expect an even busier staycation market this summer than last.”
However, it is possible to escape the crowds by heading off the beaten track and to help inspire you, a list of the UK’s hidden gems has been compiled by holiday rental company HomeToGo. They’ve sifted through the data and ranked the 24 most picturesque but lesser-known destinations in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across the country.
All of the villages are situated in beautiful locations, but none appear on the list of the top 500 most-searched destinations for summer 2021, so you can enjoy your staycation without swarms of tourists.
1. Hathersage, Peak District
(credit: Loop Images/Getty)
This Hope Valley village boasts a heated outdoor pool with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, perfect for relaxing after a day on the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail or climbing at Stanage Edge. For dinner, enjoy hearty grub and local ale at the Plough Inn, recommended by The Good Pub Guide.
Fun fact: Hathersage was the inspiration for the village of Morton in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
2. Dunster, Exmoor
(credit: Tim Graham/Getty)
A medieval village with plenty to keep history buffs happy, from the Yarn Market and Gallox Bridge to Dunster Castle and the Conygar Tower. It’s also home to a handful of highly rated tea rooms, so you can treat yourself to homemade cake after an afternoon on the nearby beach.
Fun fact: England’s tallest tree, a Douglas Fir reaching 67 yards high, is just over a mile from Dunster in Nutcombe Bottom.
3. Mullion, Cornwall
With a little sandy beach, a cave to explore and a picturesque working harbour, a day at the National Trust-owned Mullion Cove is a day well spent. Poldhu Cove, Gunwalloe Church Cove and Polurrian Cove are also nearby, around which trace some top coastal footpaths.
Fun fact: Visitors can take in views of the Cornish coast on horseback thanks to the Newton Equestrian Centre’s countryside rides.
4. Porlock, Exmoor
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Take a picnic to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor, and enjoy views that stretch as far as Devon. Spotting ponies, red deer and Highland cattle while hiking or biking in the National Park is a delight, and you can get even closer to the wildlife at the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Sanctuary.
Fun fact: The Porlock Bay Oysters harvest site was the first in England to receive the top ‘A’ classification, so make sure to enjoy some fresh shellfish.
5. Boscastle, Cornwall
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Thomas Hardy marvelled at the “chasmal beauty” of the Pentargon Waterfall in his poetry, and the rugged coastline views from vantage points such as Willapark Lookout are equally as inspiring. Nearby sits Buckator, home to the largest grey-seal colony in North Cornwall.
Fun fact: Boscastle has a spooky side. It’s home to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and, pandemic permitting, hosts a “Dark Gathering” around October.
6. Hawes, Yorkshire Dales
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The name of this market town means ‘pass between mountains’ and is located between Buttertubs and Fleet Moss. Sights include the 18th century Gayle Mill, and the Dales Countryside Museum. Don’t leave without trying some of the town’s famous Wensleydale Cheese, the fromage favoured by animated duo Wallace and Gromit.
Fun fact: It’s England’s highest market town at 850 feet above sea level, and continues to host a market every Tuesday, as it has since the 14th.
7. Kingswear, Devon
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This riverside village, home to thePaignton and Dartmouth Steam Railwayterminus, boasts stunning panoramic views, and makes a wonderful location to tour the south Devon countryside. Must-sees include the 15th century Kingswear Castle and Coleton Fishacre country house with its coastal gardens. Quench your thirst at the atmosphericSteam Packet Inn,which also serves up gorgeous grub.
Fun fact: Kingswear was used as a filming location for the 1981 movie adaptation of John Fowles’s novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman starring Meryl Streep.
8. Castleton, Derbyshire
(credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
This village in the Peak District’s Hope Valley is a haven for hikers as it is surrounded by striking hills, including Winnats Pass, which looks like something out of Lord Of The Rings. Adrenalin junkies should take advantage of the paragliding opportunities, or keep things low-key with an amble up to Peveril Castle and a meal at one of the bars that line the street, such asYe Olde Nags Head.
Fun fact: There are a few caves open to the public in these parts, including Peak’s Cavern, which also goes by the moniker Devil’s A***.
9. Beddgelert, Snowdonia
(credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
This charming Welsh village near the base of Snowdon is strewn with stone houses that make it an idyllic place to amble around. As small as it is, there’s plenty to offer visitors, including walks, bike trails (you can hire bikes in the village), the Sygun copper mine and the National Trust 17th century farmhouse Ty Isaf. There’s also the Welsh Highland Railway that winds its way through the stunning countryside.
Fun fact: Alfred Bestall, the illustrator of Rupert Bear, lived in Beddgelert, and the location was a huge inspiration for him.
10. Reeth, Yorkshire Dales
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This village in the heart of the Dales is situated above the River Swale, and makes a fantastic base for the many walking and cycling routes in the area. The village itself is dominated by an open green where there’s a weekly market. Discover Reeth’s heritage at the Swaledale Museum, and find out about the region at the National Park Centre. No holiday’s complete without a little indulgence, so be sure to treat yourself to local bakes at Overton House Café or the Copper Kettle.
Fun fact: Reeth’s historic Black Bull Inn has been welcoming customers since the 1600s, so you can soak up the past while sipping your pint.
Russia’s leading gem miner is to sell the largest colorless diamond ever produced in the country. The unique precious stone, weighing 100.94 carats, is predicted to fetch more than $ 19 million at Christie’s auction in Geneva.
The gem, aptly named the Spectacle, and part of a namesake collection, will be put on sale by the auction house on May 12, Alrosa announced earlier this week. It is described as a Type IIA, D Color internally flawless diamond. That means it is extremely rare – among only 1 to 2% of all earth-grown diamonds – and the purest diamond by color scale.
Christie’s expects the stone to fetch between $ 14 million and $ 19 million. An ultra-rare oval 14.83-carat pink diamond from the same collection was sold last year at Sotheby’s for $ 26.6 million, becoming the most expensive diamond in its color grade. Another item from the Spectacle collection, a 20.69-carat Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond named the Firebird, was acquired by luxury jewelry and gem brand Graff at the end of 2019, but the price of the deal was not revealed.
The Spectacle was polished from a 207.29-carat rough stone unearthed in 2016 in the Yakutia Republic in northeast Russia. It was one of the biggest discovered this century, according to Alrosa and took more than a year and a half to cut.
The auction comes as the demand for jewelry begins to recover from the coronavirus crisis. According to Alrosa’s first quarter results, diamond sales have risen 65% year-on-year, with seasonally high sales to the US and China coinciding with pent-up demand for engagement rings as a result of the pandemic. Alrosa said polished-diamond prices had already exceeded their pre-crisis levels, and expected demand for rough gems to remain sustainably high in all the key markets.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time recently made its debut on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles, complete with some flashy new visuals and gameplay tweaks.
Nintendo Switch fans can also play Crash 4 on the go, and just in time to celebrate the iconic character’s 25th anniversary later this year.
Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s About Time PS4 review: Don’t let the cuddly exterior deceive you
Rewinding time back to the end of Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time picks up after Neo Cortex, Dr. N. Tropy and Uka Uka were last stranded in an interdimensional prison.
To celebrate the launch of the game on new platforms, YouTuber and Crash Bandicoot expert WumpaLewis has put together a handy list of top tips.
And you’re going to need help, because despite the cartoonish exterior, Crash 4 will challenge the most skilled and battle-hardened gamers on the planet.
Things get even tougher when hunting for all of the game’s bonus gems, hidden crates and Flashback Tapes.
Fortunately, that’s where WumpaLewis comes in…
How to earn the gems in each level
In Crash 4, you can earn six clear gems in each level. One gem is earned for collecting 40% of the Wumpa Fruit in each level, two gems for 60%, and another for 80%.
A fourth gem is earned by smashing every crate and you’ll earn a fifth gem when you complete the level, but only if you died three times or less. A final gem is hidden somewhere in the level.
… and the best way to do this
The easiest way to secure all the gems is to focus on collecting the crates and exploring different parts of the level for the hidden gem in your first playthrough, then play the level a second time but only focusing on getting to the end in three deaths or less.
Exploring the level for crates and gems can often result in death, and you’ll find that the three-death gem is much easier when that’s all you’re focusing on.
Finding hidden crates
There’s quite a lot of hidden crates in this game, some of them are hidden nearly off screen or blend in with the background making them easy to miss. This is where the right thumb stick comes in handy.
The camera is fixed in Crash 4, however, you can at least get a better view of your surroundings by moving the right stick in the direction you want to see more of.
It will help you tremendously when looking for crates up high or off to the side.
Unlocking skins made easy
Skins for Crash and Coco are earned by collecting a certain amount of clear gems during a level.
If there’s a level you’re struggling to earn the gems in, you can play the level in N.Verted mode and collect the last few gems you need there instead.
Each level has an N.Verted version, where it is flipped and all the crates are in the same location, but the hidden gems are located somewhere else and can be easier to find.
Be sure to collect these tapes to play the fun and challenging flashback levels. They aren’t hidden so you won’t have trouble finding them, but you can only pick them up if you get to them without dying – if you die even just once you’ll have to restart!
Gather your troops and dive into the depths of Krystara! Jump into the rich and sprawling fantasy world of Gems of War, a must-play for match 3 RPG fans.
From the Depths of the Night, Devour Your Enemies!
Great for new Gems of War players who are looking to level up but want to give a little edge to their teams! The new Shadow Dragon Legendary Starter Pack is here to help Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members kickstart their epic adventures across all Kingdoms in Krystara, just in time for the 5.4 update!
Order, Chaos, and Ever-night
Hailing from Swords Edge, this legendary troop doesn’t come alone. The starter pack includes not only the Shadow Dragon legendary troop, but a legendary weapon, legendary ingots, and a plethora of souls to aide in your battles.
Shadow Dragon Legendary Starter Pack Details:
Legendary Troop: Shadow Dragon
Legendary Weapon: Order and Chaos
10 Legendary Ingots
Exclusive Xbox Mimic Pet for Xbox Series X/S subscribers
An X-clusive Pet for Your Journey
Xbox Series X|S owners will also receive an X-clusive Pet. This little mimic is sure to keep you company on your adventures. Grab your Legendary Shadow Dragon starter pack, boost your attack power, and dominate the battlefield today!
Bright and Shiny New Features
Our 5.4 Update will also include fantastic new gem shapes and color target spell effects across the Gem Board. New live events and additional holiday pets are also coming to Krystara.
Don’t want to miss out on upcoming troops, features, and updates? Make sure to join our amazing community to find more information and add to the conversation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Gems of War
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From the creators of Puzzle Quest, play the new Puzzle/RPG/Strategy mash-up, GEMS OF WAR! Battle against epic bosses or other players. In Gems of War, you battle your foes not just with swords and sorcery, but with a puzzle board! Match gems to power your spells, and match skulls to smite your enemies! Then take the spoils of war, and forge a mighty empire. It’s highly addictive, easy to learn, and filled with crazy combos and tons of depth. · Collect and level-up over 300 different troops and their special spells · Discover over 250 Quests, each with a distinctive story · Collect all 150+ Weapons and their unique spells · Rise on the global rankings in asynchronous PvP · Team up with others in guilds and join forces in Guild Wars · Conquer all 25+ Kingdoms and rule the world!