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The great British bucket list 2018

10 places you need to visit this year

Thanks to its glut of vibrant cities, beguiling landscapes and idyllic country villages, the UK made our list of Where to go in 2018. There’s so much here, in fact, that we decided the British Isles warranted a bucket list of its own. Here, Lucy Richards rounds up the coolest places to visit in 2018. 

The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye, Scotland © 500px/ George Turner

Liverpool

Synonymous with music, football and nightlife, Liverpool is a kaleidoscope of cultural heritage and urban regeneration.

The charismatic city, famous for its warm Scouse hospitality, boasts more listed buildings than any other British city outside of London. Some of the best are the waterfront warehouses found at the iconic Albert Dock, one of which is home to modern art heavyweight Tate Liverpool. Set to turn 30 in 2018, the gallery is marking the occasion with an exhibition of favourite artworks, all chosen by an art handler who has worked at the Tate since its opening.

This year also marks 10 years since Liverpool held the title of European Capital of Culture. The city is celebrating with its Eighteen for 18 programme, a year-long jamboree of exhibitions and events, including the return of the Tall Ships to the River Mersey and the reappearance of “The Giants” – towering marionettes that will parade through the city’s streets.

Liverpool’s iconic waterfront © Dreamstime.com/Sakhanphotography

Lake District

Named Britain’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, the Lake District offers exceptional natural beauty. This national park’s tranquil lakes, sheep-flecked farmland and craggy mountains – known locally as “fells” – provide a stunning backdrop for walking, kayaking and mountain biking.

There’s also a flurry of pretty villages dotted around this wild scenery, including charming Ambleside and Grasmere, often frequented by weary walkers searching for a reviving pint and pub lunch.

It’s not surprising that the Lake District’s romantic landscape inspired writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge and, most famously, Beatrix Potter. Set off on the Beatrix Potter trail – which starts at Brockhole’s visitor centre – in search of the wildlife and scenery that inspired her work.

Rowboats on the edge of Buttermere in the Lake District © Dreamstime.com/Bobbrooky

Glasgow

Glasgow is often overshadowed by its smaller sister Edinburgh, but the metropolis is arguably more dynamic in character.

An epicentre of urban culture, here magnificent buildings rub shoulders with first-class restaurants, and a long-standing music scene is matched by exceptional art collections. Be sure to visit the palacial Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, a treasure trove of artefacts and curiosities, and, if possible, catch a rock gig at local favourite, Barrowlands.

What’s more, Glasgow is set to stage the inaugural European Championships (alongside fellow host city Berlin) in August 2018, with aquatics, gymnastics and triathlons taking place across the city.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow © 123RF.com/jewhyte

Lewes

At first appearance, Lewes appears an affluent country town with its bustling high street lined by Georgian townhouses, atmospheric castle ruins and proximity to opera powerhouse Glyndebourne. But there’s an anarchic undercurrent to this East Sussex town...

Bonfire Night celebrations here are notoriously raucous: locals dressed in an array of colourful costumes parade through the streets with flaming torches and effigies of controversial figures – in 2017, Donald Trump, Theresa May and Kim Jong-un all featured. Alongside commemorating the foiled Gunpowder Plot of 1605, this celebration also pays tribute to 17 Protestant Lewesians burned at the stake between 1555 and 1557.

After partaking in this riotous ritual, stop for an obligatory pint of Harvey’s, the local brew, at the Lewes Arms. Showing just how seriously this town takes its beer, patrons boycotted this pub for 133 days in 2006, when this cherished tipple was removed.

Locals on a torch-lit parade at Lewes' Bonfire Night celebrations © Rex Shutterstock/Neil Hall

Yorkshire

In “God’s own country” you’ll find some of Britain’s finest scenery. Stunning coastline segues into brooding moorland, punctuated by stately homes and crumbling viaducts that hint at the county’s industrial past.

Among its most beautiful landscapes are the heather-blanketed North York Moors that famously inspired the Brontë sisters. This year marks 200 years since Emily Brontë’s birth and, conversely, 170 years since her death; a timely reason to read Wuthering Heights and roam the windswept moors yourself.

Surrounded by medieval walls, the county’s capital, York, boasts a fascinating history. At its heart is the Gothic York Minster, one of the UK’s most magnificent cathedrals, hemmed by labyrinthine streets comprising tea rooms and curiosity shops. You can also uncover the city’s Norse heritage at the fascinating Jorvik Viking Centre, or take part in Europe’s largest Viking festival, held in February, where you’ll find living history encampments and action-packed combat performances.

Dawn mist over the North York Moors, Yorkshire © iStockphoto.com/Danielrao

Pembrokeshire Coast

If walking is your cup of tea, Wales’s Pembrokeshire Coast is definitely one for the bucket list.

Here you’ll find the world-famous Pembrokeshire Coast Path, stretching 186 miles (299 kms) along the southwest coast. This undulating route is now part of the brand-new Wales Way, a family of three public walking paths that traverse some of the nation’s most spectacular landscapes.

The route’s scenery – comprising cragged cliffs, secluded coves and sandy beaches – is simply breathtaking. If you’re lucky, along the way you might spot dolphins and seals playing in the waters, and puffins sheltering in the rocky headlands.

It takes two weeks to walk the entire path, and entails a greater ascent than climbing Everest. Alternatively, try a day’s gentle stroll with a leisurely pub lunch in the likes of Amroth, Tenby or St David’s.

Flimston Bay on the Pembrokeshire Coast © Dreamstime.com/Berndbrueggemann

Lincoln

Lincoln’s rich history is tangible. Every brick and beam in its knot of medieval streets has a story to tell.

Crowning the city is the triple-towered cathedral – the third largest in Britain (after St Paul’s and York Minster) and the world’s tallest building for 238 years – while Lincoln Castle houses one of four remaining copies of the Magna Carta.

The city is also home to countless quirky festivals. Travel back in time in August, when Lincoln hosts a 1940s weekend in celebration of the RAF’s 100th anniversary. Browse vintage clothing stalls and learn to jive accompanied by a live swing band. Later in the month, the Asylum Steampunk Festival returns to the city for the 10th year, with revellers attired in eccentric Victorian dress enjoying a fringe programme of art, music and comedy.

Lincoln’s annual Asylum Steampunk Festival © iStockphoto.com/retroimages

Isle of Skye

Deserted sandy beaches, sky-scraping mountains and remote peninsulas – this Scottish island is home to some of the UK’s most bewitching landscapes, making it the perfect place to get back to nature.

Don’t miss the magnificent monolith affectionately named the Old Man of Storr, which towers over the windswept ridge of the Quairaing, or the crystal-clear Fairy Pools of Glenbrittle, whose icy depths entice only the most fearless swimmers to take a dip.

The “Misty Isle’s” wild and romantic scenery is made for kayaking, climbing and walking, but if you’d rather enjoy the view from a firelit pub, head for Portree. Skye’s largest town is a great place to sample traditional Scottish cuisine – try Cullen skink (chowder made with smoked haddock, potatoes and leeks) at bistro-style restaurant Dulse & Brose.

The Isle of Skye's magical Fairy Pools © 500px/ Loïc Lagarde

Plymouth

Heavily destroyed in the Blitz, Plymouth’s concrete centre belies its historic role as a key British naval base; from here the British first faced the Spanish Armada and the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for the New World.

Bypass the centre and make a beeline for the Barbican and Sutton Harbour. This cobbled waterfront is entirely picturesque, with 200 listed properties encompassing the city’s remaining Tudor and Jacobean buildings. There’s also a wealth of restaurants, bars and cafés; indulge in a scone the Devonshire way (cream first, jam second), or call in for a drink at Plymouth Gin, England’s oldest working gin distillery.

From the Barbican, you can catch a ferry to regenerated Royal William Yard. The Victorian victualling complex now houses design boutiques, restaurants and exhibition spaces, and hosts regular farmers markets and craft fairs. Alternatively, walk from the Barbican up onto the Hoe, where the dazzling British Fireworks Championships take place in August, and admire the view across Plymouth Sound.

Royal William Yard in Plymouth © 123RF.com/Andy Fox

The Cotswolds

Rambling villages of thatched-roof cottages and stone-walled gardens, flanked by fertile fields and peaceful meadows – this is picture-postcard Britain.

The Cotswolds are perfect for those looking to relax in quintessential England, partaking in leisurely country walks and high teas galore. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting where to stay – from Bourton-on-the-Water to Naunton and Castle Combe to Bredon.

Don’t be fooled by the sleepy Cotswolds, however; there are numerous festivals on offer here if you’re looking for entertainment. Cheltenham hosts a horse racing festival in March, as well as jazz, literature, science and music festivals throughout the year. And in August, music stages move into the pretty town of Charlbury for the boutique Wilderness Festival.

The village of Castle Combe in the Cotswolds © Dreamstime.com/Gbphoto27