Tired of the same old planes, trains and underpowered hire cars? Then why not hit the open road, rail- or waterways with one of our more unusual ways to see the UK? From classic cars to steamships and even llamas, here are 10 ideas for alternative transport.
Trike Tours, Scotland
Take in Scotland’s extraordinary scenery sitting astride a throbbing 1600cc muscle engine. These chauffeur-driven trikes growl through the Scottish countryside as you and a companion survey the lochs and glens from a lofty position at the rear. Explore the Highlands via Perthshire, Stirling and the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond, Inverness and Mull. You can even burn some rubber on Edinburgh’s stately streets in a breakneck tour of the capital.
Hire a classic VW campervan, Devon, England
The VW camper is an undisputed design classic synonymous with bohemian cool, fun and above all, freedom. Hire one from O’Connors Campers in Okehampton and explore Devon at your leisure. See Dartmoor and discover hidden pubs and secret beaches at your own pace. Choose from 15 VW campervans ranging from the iconic 1960s splitscreen to the classic 1970s baywindow.
The Royal Scotsman, Scotland
Travel straight into the heart of the Scottish Highlands on The Royal Scotsman, the Orient-Express luxury sleeper train. The Royal Scotsman takes 36 guests in 16 twin and four single cabins, all with private facilities and comfortable beds, furnished in country style. Dining on exquisite seasonal produce as the flashing lochs and heather-clad glens fly past is an experience that’s hard to better.
Canoeing and kayaking, Scotland and Northern Ireland
For a unique way of getting from A to B, why not take a canoeing break in Northern Ireland? The region has been credited as ‘one of the must-go canoeing destinations in Europe’ (Canoe and Kayak Magazine UK) and was the first in Europe to develop an official network of canoe trails. In Scotland, explore the UK’s most remote beaches and islands by sea kayak with Wilderness Scotland.
Cycle touring, UK-wide
Ditch the car and explore Britain by bike. Velodays in Scotland, who will meet you off the Caledonian Sleeper train with bikes and panniers, maps and meal stop tips, while you head off to discover the Highlands is a good option. As is Wheely Wonderful Cycling, a company which takes the load off your back so that you can discover Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire from a saddle while they deposit your bags at family-owned accommodation en route for you.
Hire a classic British car, UK-wide
For a thrilling vintage experience why not hire a classic British car? The Historic and Classic Car Hirers' Guild has comprehensive lists of vintage car providers offering everything from 1960s Minis to E-Type Jaguars and Aston Martins. Hit the open road and live out your James Bond fantasies as you roar along country lanes in a DB5 or a Bentley.
Llama trekking, Lake District, England
These cuddly creatures might be a more common sight in the Andes but they’re remarkably at home in Britain where the llama trekking scene is firmly established. They’ll happily carry your bags as you lead them along country tracks soaking up the scenery. It’s the perfect way to see the countryside and bond with a fluffy friend. As they say at Lakeland Llama Treks – get calmer with a llama!
Waverley steam ship, UK-wide
The Waverley is the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. She’s a beautiful ship, with chuffing funnels, slick varnish and gleaming brass. Take a cruise on the Waverley or her sister ship, The Balmoral, through Scotland’s lochs and islands, the Bristol Channel, the Thames or along the South Coast.
Wherry Cruises, Norfolk Broads, England
Norfolk in Eastern England is a flat landscape divided by meandering rivers known as ‘broads’. Now one of the most important wetlands in Europe and home to countless species of bird including kingfishers, warblers and grebes, the broads are best seen by boat. Hire a traditional wherry to explore the windmills, country churches and local pubs in style. The Norfolk Broads Yachting Company has the largest fleet of sailing yachts for hire on the Norfolk Broads.
Open Water Swimming, UK-wide
The joys of wild swimming or open water swimming are obvious – you can’t beat the sense of freedom or achievement you get from negotiating natural waterways under your own steam. Discover the Scilly Isles archipelago off the coast of Cornwall with expert swimming holiday company, Swimtrek, which also takes open water swimmers across the waters of the Lake District, Scottish Inner Hebrides, Norfolk Broads and even rural sections of the River Thames in The Cotswolds.