1. A Winter Weekend in Devon
See and do: Walk the powdery sands of Bigbury-on-Sea heading for Burgh Island. Feast on sweeping views and marvel at Agatha Christie’s haunt, The Burgh Island Hotel. Afterwards, choose Salcombe for ice-cream then take the ferry to East Portlemouth. Follow the National Trust Coast Path around the rocky terrain to Gara Rock Hotel for a glass of bubbly.
Eat here: Soar Mill Cove - loved by Audrey Hepburn.
Stay: Fuscia Cottage, Salcombe (sleeps 4).
2. A Banksy Weekend in Bristol
See and do: Zip to Bristol’s graffiti core with a Where the Wall Banksy Street Art Tour. Led by street art legend John Nation. Next, head to Bristol’s waterfront where trendy bars, shops and galleries flag the dock. The Arnolfini is an dream for modern art fans and the M-Shed for history lovers. Check out the famous Banksy The Grim Reaper on the First Floor and Banksy’s Paint Pot Angel in the Bristol Art Gallery and Museum.
Eat here: Pieminister in Stokes Croft is a worthy pie pit-stop.
Stay: At the Boutique Arthouse B&B in Fishponds.
3. An Arty Weekend in Dartmouth
See and do: Browse Dartmouth’s picturesque galleries and visit cartoonist Simon Drew’s studio. Next, turn heel and hike up to Gallants Bower for sweeping views over the River Dart Estuary. Fun comes to town this month in the form of the Dartmouth Comedy Festival, 8th – 12th. Book in for a pre-event supper at the Cru @ The Flavel Arts Centre before a gig.
Eat here: Rockfish Restaurant - a fast-paced sit-down chip joint.
Stay: Sleep aboard the Faithful (sleeps 2) – a converted fishing boat.
4. A Wild Weekend in Northumberland
See and do: The Farne Islands are a craggy outcrop of 15 – 20 islands off the Northumberland coast, teeming with wildlife. Try a Grey Seals Cruise with Billy Sheil’s. Follow with a visit to Bamburgh and its heart-thumping castle. After venturing through treasure-filled rooms, walk to the rock pools at the end of the magnificent beach. Dogs welcome.
Eat here: The Wynding Inn - traditional North Eastern food with a twist.
Stay: Ebba's Neuk a luxury apartment in Beadnell. Sleeps 1-2.
5. A Literary Weekend in Lyme Regis
See and do: Lyme was loved by Jane Austin (Persuasion was set in the town). Follow her footsteps on a 1h30m Jane Austin Tour with Literary Lyme Walking Tours (£10). Then discover Lyme’s other famous faces at the Lyme Regis Museum (£3.95), including 19th-century palaeontologist, Mary Anning, John Fowles and Beatrix Potter. Head to The Sanctuary Bookshop afterwards – one of the cosiest secondhand bookshops going.
Eat here: Order the moules frites at By the Bay overlooking Lyme beach.
Stay: In the John Fowles’s former home: Belmont. Sleeps 8.
6. A Festival Weekend in Wales
See and do: Hay on Wye is a quiet Welsh market town that plays host to The Hay on Wye Festival of Arts and Literature. Spend a day hanging out here, rubbing shoulders with the world’s literary elite. After try the town’s popular philosophy and music festival: How the Light Gets In before mooching your around Hay’s two-dozen second-hand bookshops.
Eat here: Nab a table at The Old Electric Shop for vegetarian food.
Stay: In a luxury safari tent on the Drover’s Rest glamp site. £600 for 3/4 nights.
7. An Historical Weekend in Oxford
See and do: Ease yourself in to the city with a 90-minute Oxford Universities Tour. When finished, make tracks for the Covered Market – a lexicon of independent trader stalls before visiting Christ Church College Meadows, Lewis Carroll’s stomping ground. Finish up with an Alice in Wonderland cruise along the River Thames with Salter’s Steamers.
Eat here: Slip into Pizza Express at the Golden Cross where Shakespeare once stayed.
Stay: At Malmaison – a former prison, now one of the trendiest places in the city.
8. A Surf Weekend in Brighton
See and do: Hit the waves early with Pure Spirit Surf School, run by 2 x English Masters Champion, Cliff Cox. Dry off with a stroll along Brighton Pier. Play the penny arcade then take to Brighton’s historic Lanes District and its most notable pubs: The Market Inn, The Druids Head and The Sussex.
Eat here: RikiTik Beach Bar – a laid-back rum shack on the Brighton sea front.
Stay: At Snooze - Brighton’s funkiest B&B. Retro doubles start at £75.
9. An Alternative Weekend in London
See and do: Try HintHunt’s live escape game (£22 each, min 3 players). Solve the clues to escape before your time runs out. Once free, enjoy a silent movie at the Barbican, complete with a live orchestra. For an unforgettable end, book an 02 Sunset Expedition and see London as you follow your climb guide up and over the 02 (£35pp).
Eat here: Dans Le Noir where food is served in the dark.
Stay: Sleep in a trendy cuboid at the Qbic London. Prices from £69 per night.
10. A Spooky Weekend in Co. Durham
See and do: Brave Durham Castle’s 45-minute tour and the groaning 17th-century Black Staircase, haunted by The Grey Lady. Durham’s monumental cathedral is next, with many stories trapped within its walls. Finish off with a Halloween night at Beamish – The Living Museum of the North – the North East’s most exhilarating fright fest (adults £13, children £9).
Eat here: Take tea and cake at Vennels Tea Room, loved by locals.
Stay: In Lumley Castle, one of the most haunted places in Co. Durham.
11. A Chic Weekend in Cheltenham
See and do: Stroll Montpellier Walk where caryatids (draped female figures based on those on the Acropolis in Athens) laze as structural supports. Then take a path through Montpellier Gardens to the Gardens Gallery to see work by local artists. Afterwards, walk to the Promenade, reputed to be one of England’s finest. A great photo spot is by the Neptune Fountain, built in 1893. At night, catch a play at the Everyman Theatre with its smorgasbord of ballets, operas, and dramas. Before curtain up, try an aperitif at Lily Gins cocktail joint.
Eat here: Cheltenham’s first purpose-built picture palace, The Daffodil.
Stay: No.38 The Park – a beautifully elegant boutique Georgian Townhouse.
12. A Cosy Weekend in Stow-on-the-Wold
See and do: Slip to the town’s flea market and collectors fair, held every month in the impressive St. Edwards Hall. Bag your bargains, then wander Stow’s streets, grabbing pictures by the town’s famous stocks. St. Edwards Church has to be next on your list with its ethereal north entrance flagged by two yew trees that appear to grow right out from the brick. If the weather bites, seek comfort in Lucy’s Tea Room where warm scones await.
Eat here: The Porch House claims the title as the oldest pub in England.
Stay: At The Old Stocks Inn – a luxury Scandinavian chic bothole