Days out within a drive

16 May 2016

Five fun destinations for caravan and motorhome owners to visit this spring.



Walk with dinosaurs in Kent

Mind that T-Rex! Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent has added more than 100 life-size dinosaurs to its collection to mark its 40th anniversary. You’ll come face to face with a tyrannosaurus rex, a diplodocus, a pterodactyl and plenty of other fearsome beasts - all, the park says, anatomically correct.

The models don’t move – but the 600-acre reserve is of course home to a fabulous collection of real animals too, including lions, tigers, gorillas, rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes, meerkats and more.

With rangers on hand to talk about what the world was like in prehistoric times, and games, craft sessions and talks planned throughout the bank holiday weekend and the following half-term week, it’s perfect if you’re going with the grandchildren – or even if you’re not.

Find out more on the Port Lympne website

While you’re there …

Nearby Hythe, Folkestone, Dover and Deal all have pleasant beaches, and Dover, Deal and Walmer all have castles – Dover’s in particular is fascinating, as you can explore the Second World War tunnels underneath the castle from which the Dunkirk evacuation was organised.

Deal won The Telegraph’s High Street of the Year award two years ago, and its colourful seafront is a delightful place for a stroll.

Slightly further away is Canterbury, where you can visit the famous cathedral, founded in the Sixth Century, where Thomas Becket was murdered and take a trip back to the 14th century at the Canterbury Tales.

Related: Five things not to miss in Canterbury

A literature lover’s delight at Hay

A fixture on the literary calendar since 1987, the Hay Festival is an 11-day celebration of the written word starting on 26 May 2016, with more than 60 talks and workshops from novelists, poets, musicians, filmmakers, comedians, scientists and more.

This year the speakers include wildlife expert Chris Packham, broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, Red or Dead founder Wayne Hemingway, journalist Joan Bakewell, comedian Marcus Brigstocke, film director Sam Mendes, novelists Tracy Chevalier and Lionel Shriver, poet Simon Armitage, and many more.

Find out more on the Hay Festival website

While you’re there …

The Brecon Beacons National Park, within which Hay lies, is a beautiful expanse of mountains, hills and valleys with endless opportunities for walking, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing, watersports and fishing.

Hay itself, which brushes the English border and has a population of just 1,500, has a ruined castle, numerous independent shops and boutiques – including, of course, plenty of bookshops – and even a river beach.

Related: The top 5 caravan sites in Wales

Related: The best festivals for the over-50s

Toss the caber in Scotland

A combination of athletics, sport, music and jollity, Scotland’s Highland Games take place at dozens of venues across the country from May to September.

The venue for the spring bank holiday games is Blair Castle in Atholl, which actually has its own campsite within the castle grounds.

The event begins on the Saturday with a talk in the morning on the history of the Atholl Highlanders, the castle’s private army, followed by the Highlanders’ Parade on the castle forecourt in the afternoon. On the Sunday are the games, which feature everything from tossing the caber and throwing the hammer to Highland dancing, a tug of war and of course piping.

Find out more on the Blair Castle website

Related: Top caravan sites in Scotland

While you’re there …

Make sure you explore the castle itself, whose long history goes back to 1269 and features Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Queen Victoria, among others. As well as more than 30 rooms, there are the expansive, peacock-filled grounds to explore.

Nearby is the adorable town of Pitlochry, little changed over the decades, and vast swathes of beautiful countryside, not to mention the salmon and trout-fishing opportunities on the River Tummel. Queen’s View, just outside Pitlochry, offers one of Scotland’s most impressive vistas.

Festival fun in Brighton

Running from May 6 until June 5, the Brighton Fringe Festival incorporates more than 900 events, from theatre, comedy, music and short films to magic, circus acts, children’s shows, talks, art and dance. Even better, many of them are free. The festival aims to encourage homegrown talent - more than half the performers come from Brighton and Hove, and anyone can put on an event, which encourages new and experimental work.

Find out more on the Brighton Fringe Festival website

While you’re there …

Where to start? The huge shingle beach, the amusement-packed pier, the promenade, the yachts on the marina, the seafront bars, restaurants and cafes … there is too much to mention in Brighton.

Shoppers must not miss the Lanes, in whose quirky boutiques you’ll find many a gem which you’ll never get on the high street. Other attractions include the Royal Pavilion, King George IV’s eastern-influenced seaside palace, and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

Related: Five things not to miss in Brighton

Go all out for cricket in County Durham

England take on Sri Lanka in the Investec Test March over the May bank holiday weekend at the Emirates Riverside Stadium - the ground where they won the Ashes series three years ago.

The stadium - which hosts regular domestic and international matches as well as concerts throughout the summer - is in the historic town of Chester-le-Street, in whose 9th-century church the Gospels were first translated into English.

Find out more on the England and Wales Cricket Board website

While you’re there …

Ten minutes away by train is the captivating city of Durham, whose incredible cathedral and graceful castle preside over one of England’s most beautiful squares. The majestic cathedral – which has a new exhibition on its history opening this year – is unmissable; the castle is now a university hall of residence, but still open for guided tours.


Another must-do is nearby Beamish, the world-famous open-air museum which recreates life in north-east England from the 1820s to the 1940s. Discover miners’ cottages, a manor house, a dentist’s surgery, a sweet shop, a fairground, a farm and much more – and ride between attractions on the trams.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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