Natalie French

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E-bike around the Isle of Wight

There’s a definite buzz about e-biking right now. Not only is it a greener way to explore, but it can also help increase fitness levels, whilst giving you a well-needed boost for any taxing inclines. E-bike adventures come into their own on the Isle of Wight Cycling Gourmand Tour. Start at The Seaview hotel (great for foodies); get your chocolate (takeaway) fix at Chocolate Apothecary; and take an English wine pit-stop at Adgestone Vineyard. 

Glamping in a country garden, Craighead 
The Summer Howf is a delightfully renovated summer house, immersed in a country garden – offering the perfect glamping experience for nature lovers. Secluded amongst the trees, alongside the resident ducks – a little wander over the bridge and you can hang with the Highland cows and miniature donkeys too.

Forest Bathing in the New Forest National Park 
The Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku, aka forest bathing, is having a moment in the UK. And what better place to partake than the New Forest in Hampshire? With over 566 square kilometres, it is easy to find a quiet spot amongst the ancient heaths and unspoilt woodland. Switch off your mobile, kick off your shoes and reconnect with nature, using all of your senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. According to Dr Qing Li, President of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine, you should spend a good few hours, undisturbed, soaking in your surroundings. Keep an eye out for free-roaming ponies, pigs and cattle who may also be enjoying the tranquillity in the shady groves. 

Butterfly Fix in Stratford-upon-Avon 
The Big Butterfly count is underway right now and according to the Butterfly Conservation charity, after our sunny UK spring weather, we could see butterfly numbers rise to their greatest abundance since the mid-1990s! 

But if you want to marvel at butterflies from all across the globe, the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm is the place to go. Located on the south bank of the river Avon, opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Butterfly Farm has reopened just in time for the summer. Watch in wonder as hundreds of brightly-coloured butterflies flutter around you in this stunning rainforest environment.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 
Blow away the cobwebs with a coastal walk to rival all others on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The stunning 186-mile stretch from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, offers some of the most varied coastal scenery in Britain. Expect high cliff tops and secret coves; to enormous sandy beaches and sweeping estuaries. The sea around this coastline is rich with wildlife too, from bottlenose dolphins to the second largest fish in the sea – the basking shark. 

The Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s world-famous Royal Botanical Gardens celebrate 350 years this year! And while some of the big plans may have been cancelled, visitors can now return to the Scottish Capital to roam the 70 acre gardens, home to 100,000 rich and diverse plants. Just one-mile north of the city centre, the Garden also offers stunning panoramic views of the city Skyline – providing a perfect place for an alfresco picnic. What’s more, entry is free! 

New Forest Wildlife Park 
Otters, owls, wolves and wallabies – just a few of the animals you can see at the New Forest Wildlife Park, just outside Southampton. Situated in the heart of the forest, you can wander through the deer enclosure, get up-close and personal during feeding times and the kids can run off some pent-up energy at the outside adventure park, complete with zip wire. 

Holkham Beach, Norfolk
This absolute beauty of a beach is one of the most unspoilt stretches of sand in the UK, backed by a verdant nature reserve. The beach featured in the closing scenes of the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ – when Gwyneth Paltrow walked across Holkham sand at low tide. But it’s not just film stars you need to look out for…being so close to Blakeney Point - where you’ll find the biggest colony of Common and Grey seals in England - it is not uncommon to spot seals hauling out on the shore. 

Rest your head at the Victoria Inn - just a stone’s throw from the beach and make sure to sample the local shellfish and samphire from the north Norfolk coast or the beef from the farms at the Holkham Estate. 

The Shepherds Retreat
It’s not often you find a shepherd hut big enough for a family of four. The Shepherds Retreat is 26ft long x 9ft wide and has a heavenly king size bed, as well as bunk beds. Expect luxury - from under-floor heating; to an outdoor enamel roll-top bath – perfect for a moonlit dip under the stars. The majestic retreat is set in 9-acres and you can look out into the neighbouring horse paddocks at SuperTed - the Irish Cob; Paddy the Irish Draft and Fairy – the cheeky Shetland Pony. 

Cliveden National Trust 
Set high above the River Thames, with far-reaching views, Cliveden’s glorious gardens and majestic woodland capture the grandeur of a bygone age. From the view from the terrace, looking out over the Parterre across the Thames Valley; to the quirky statuary and topiary in the Long Garden. The Japanese-inspired Water Garden, designed by Lord Astor, is not to be missed and the rose garden blooms until September. Just make sure you book tickets before you visit.

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