My travel dream for 2021: top 12 readers’ tips | Travel


Winning tip: A perfect ’stan

Covid willing, we’ll be heading to Kyrgyzstan. It’s at that perfect point where the infrastructure supports a great travel experience, but it’s not become spoiled by tourists. Bishkek is modern and vibrant, and in the stunning rural areas it’s possible to stay with nomads living the traditional life. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with delicious locally sourced food. Kyrgyz community-based tourism proved an affordable way to experience the life of horse-riding nomads living in yurts, and the money goes into the community itself.
Minnie Martin

Where the map takes us, Wester Ross

Evening sunlight over Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross.
Evening sunlight over Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross.
Photograph: Lorraine Yates/Alamy Stock Photo

The west coast of Scotland is our wild goal. During the neverending house tidy of 2020, we found the Gairloch & Ullapool area OS map and pored over it – a bit of geography home learning for my son, who liked the wriggly contour lines and the consonant-heavy names of the lochs and mountains. We’ll take the high road to Gairloch to see orca and minke (Hebridean Whale Cruises, £64 adult, £35 child), stay in a wooden wigwam at Sands campsite (from £52pp), and walk to the beach humming the Skye boat song.
Nancy Gladstone


Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Canopy & Stars stay


Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Island dream, Lundy

Tourists land from MS Oldenburg on Lundy Island.
The MS Oldenburg landing on Lundy. Photograph: Backyard Production/Getty Images

My son, daughter and I have been making lists of where we want to go since the first lockdown. We’ve booked a few days on Lundy for next August in the hope that it will be safe to travel again by then. It only involves a five-hour drive to Ilfracombe, Devon, and then a couple of hours on HMS Oldenburg (which for my three-year-old boy will be the holiday made before we even get there). We’ll stay in Castle Cottage, in the keep of a castle built by Henry III in 1250. There’s nothing to do but explore cliffs, beaches and lighthouses, and look for the crashed bomber plane in the heather. And there’s no internet.
Kate Attrill

All a-Twitter for York

Curtor holding an 800-year-old figure of Christ
An 800-year-old figure of Christ returned to York last year and on display at the Yorkshire Museum. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

I’d love to go to York and visit the Yorkshire Museum as their wonderful tweets – mainly about odd or mysterious items in their collection – have kept me entertained and brought history alive this year. A pint or two in the city’s ancient pubs and a wander home to characterful lodgings would just cap a cultural visit off nicely!

Mind-Boggling Whitby, North Yorkshire

Boggle Hole YHA, Robin Hood’s Bay.
Boggle Hole YHA near Robin Hood’s Bay. Photograph: Ian Bottle/Alamy

Low cost and close to home, a stay with the YHA at Boggle Hole is always a welcome relief. A converted watermill with a reception, bar and cosy sitting room complete with a log fire and leather couches, it’s in a pebbled cove overlooking the sea, with wooded cliffs on either side. Go in spring or early autumn and the prices are as low as £29 a night. Walk across the sandy beach to Robin Hoods Bay or over the jagged cliffs to Ravenscar to see the seals.
Safiya El-Gindy

Golden Glasgow

Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Photograph: Black Jake/Getty Images

I long for the wide expansiveness of Glasgow boulevards: west-facing, bathed in the golden glow of light glancing off sandstone. I long for the cobbled alleyways, armpit-piled bookshops, curiosity shops crammed with treasure; and also the glitzy, glassy, high street emporiums filled with unafforded luxuries. I long for views of the university, the Campsie Fells, the high flats, the rivers snaking through. And the tearooms, pubs, gastropubs, curry houses, Asian street food haunts, delis and restaraunts high end and greasy spoon. It’s only two hours away but has been impossibly out of reach. I long for full immersion, to be sated by all its gritty, impossibly romantic, unabashed grandeur.

Simply sublime, Cotswolds Way

The Cotswold Way at Crickley Hill.
The Cotswold Way at Crickley Hill. Photograph: Alamy

In 2021 I want to carry on enjoying the benefits of the simple pleasures of travelling that 2020 led us to – like walking and talking. I want to walk the Cotswolds Way from Broadway to Bath, breathing in fresh air, wondering at big skies, scanning rolling hills in the distance while getting fitter without going to gyms or swimming in chlorinated pools or using mobile apps. Its 120 miles should take about a week, staying in village pubs along the way. Travel, like life, should be about connecting reality to your imagination by inspiration, which can come in the purest, most simple of forms.

Faroes football

My dream is to fulfil a Covid-delayed bucket-list trip to see the ultimate sporting underdog story, and take my football-crazy nine-year-old on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We will be travelling to see the Faroe Islands play an international match on home turf. They’re due to play Scotland on 12 October in a World Cup qualifier. Fly into the capital, Torshavn, and you can walk to the stadium. Hire a car for the full Faroes experience: it’s the bird-watching capital of Europe. Hotel Streym in Torshavn has Atlantic views and doubles from £90.
John Connolly

Harvest festival with a difference, Ukraine

Harvest time on a farm near Lviv, Ukraine
Harvest time on a farm near Lviv, Ukraine. Photograph: Martin Charlesworth

It will take the best part of a day and a half but here’s my plan: a few buses, some trains and a flight from my home in the Ribble valley to Ukraine, crossing the Polish border at Przemyśl. I’m expecting Lviv to be “bruised but not broken” as the Ray Davies song goes, with coffee, cake and varenyky (dumpling) culture still largely intact. I plan to go in August for the Saviour of the Apple feast, an Eastern Orthodox celebration of harvest. The reason for going is not necessarily the destination or the festival but the sweet joy of a long journey to a foreign land and interaction with strangers at long last.
Martin Charlesworth

Totally ore-some, Mauritania

The iron ore train, Mauritania

For 2021, I want to travel somewhere that is remote with low population density and gives me an adrenaline rush. After a bit of research, I’ve chosen to go on the iron ore train in Mauritania. The 700km journey on a cargo train from the north of the country to the west coast takes around 34 hours. This train is among the world’s longest and heaviest and riding it is totally free. From time to time, I look at the photos and videos of the journey on the internet and instantly get goosebumps. See for yourself. It’s total madness.
Venkata K C Tata

Silk Road: Samarkand to Baku

The Registan place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The Registan place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photograph: Andrey Vishin/Alamy

As we enter 2021 with unbridled hope and optimism for a better year filled with limitless freedom and a vaccinated global population, never have I wanted more to return to completing my journey of the Silk Road, started in 2019. Beginning in Xi’an and Kashgar, China, I headed west to Almaty, Kazakhstan, before crossing over into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. My trip allowed just enough time to reach dazzling Samarkand in Uzbekistan. My trip ended at the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, a breathtaking marvel from which I hope to restart my adventure in 2021. My aim is to reach Tehran, from where I will return to Baku, one of my favourite cities, for a deserved cup of coffee.
Scott Strachan

Mountain overload, Georgia

Kazbegi, Georgia.
Kazbegi, Georgia. Photograph: Franka Hummels

I want to be overwhelmed by Georgia’s Kazbegi region again. I want to get so exhausted by marvellous hikes – where I will not meet a soul – that the next day will be spent on a balcony with a book that gets little attention because the mountains take my breath away. I will only leave that balcony to eat terrific vegetarian Georgian food, with the same view. That balcony I left and want to return to is at Rooms Hotel, where doubles go for $100 – steep by Georgian standards but worth it and not as steep as those mountain slopes.
Franka Hummels


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10 inspiring hobbies taken up by readers during lockdown | Rest and relaxation


Winning tip: ‘I could be the person I am meant to be’

This is about my autistic daughter’s hobby. She’s nine, and since last March has become an avid birdspotter and photographer. It’s been great to be outside finding nature in the city, and to see her thrive and grow, walking to and exploring local parks. She’s now got an amazing mentor – wildlife artist and photographer Alfie Bowen – and has been winning competitions and had her photos published. She told me: “2020 was the best year ever … less stress because of less school, and I could be the person I am meant to be.” What more could a parent ask for?

One woman and her dog

Woman walking in the forest with a Gordon Setter
Photograph: Off Beaten Waves/Alamy

I didn’t have enough time to walk the dog and go for a run, so I thought I’d combine the two and try Canicross, the sport of cross-country running with your dog. The kit (waist belt, bungee line and harness for the dog) is relatively inexpensive and the only other thing you need is a good pair of trail shoes. It’s a wonderful way of being out in the fresh air and enjoying the countryside. My dog is a great companion and never judges me for running slowly! There are various Canicross groups across the country which you can join for company and support – Covid rules permitting. I run with One & All Dog Fitness near Helston, Cornwall.


Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Canopy & Stars stay


Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

All the world’s a virtual stage

John Gielgud as Hamlet and Judith Anderson as Gertrude in Shakespeare’s classic. The production opened at New York’s Empire Theater in Oct. 1936
Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

Every weekend, my partner and I connect with friends in the US and Canada to enact a full Shakespeare play via Zoom. Project Shakespeare has been going on since March and has evolved to include a book club, elaborate costumes, and sonnet readings. We use the chat function to boost morale and discuss the play as we perform it. I’ve lived out my dreams of playing Macbeth, Juliet, and Mark Antony.
Will Heath

Bringing Lego figures to life*

A Lego minifugure stocking up on loo rolls.
A Lego minifugure stocking up on loo rolls. Photograph: Ethan Bowden

* Entered on behalf of my son, Ethan
My lockdown hobby is taking photos of Lego minifigures in their natural habitat. I started because my mum and dad kept making me go on boring walks. While I was waiting for my little sister to catch up I took pictures, like a Lego fisherman fishing in the stream and a minifigure skiing over blossom. My mum said it made me notice the seasons. Since I started this project I have become better at taking photographs and it has earned me my Scouts’ photography badge. The high points were when I took a photo of a mask-wearing minifigure panic buying toilet rolls at Sainsbury’s (pictured), and when I started sharing my pictures on @legominifiguresinthewild on Instagram and @Lego commented: “We think it’s a great idea”.
Ethan Bowden (and mum Caroline)

A taste of my motherland, and my mother’s cooking

Algerian cuisine.
Algerian cuisine. Photograph: Alexander Mychko/Alamy

I moved to London from Algeria nearly 30 years ago and as I get older I get more and more nostalgic for my mother’s cooking – traditional Algerian dishes remind me of my frail and ageing mother. So since the first lockdown I have found that reconnecting with her food has been a blessing. I call her almost daily to ask about recipes and take notes while she digs deep into her memory, then start cooking and baking. Lockdown is tough for most of us, especially when one is far from one’s motherland, from family and childhood friends, but cooking has been the best ever hobby for me, a treat and a treatment.
Kaddour Habbari

Creating a local library

We created a Fairylit Little Free Library outside our flats in north London. It is a great way to stay in remote contact with the neighbours, circulate books to kids and make people happy. It got stolen once and vandalised twice, but we just build it back better (now with solar lights!). We love checking what books are in, doing special request deliveries (22 sci-fi novels on Christmas Eve), and seeing it thrive. It’s knowledge gardening while the real garden is dormant.

Painting on my allotment

Allotment watercolour
Jo Walters’ watercolour of her allotment

When I was granted my allotment 10 years ago I had an idea that I wanted to paint its flowers and paint the plot. Ten years of normal life later and I’d harvested hundreds of dahlias, cornflowers and wallflowers … but not managed a plot painting. Enter lockdown and furlough. Not only could I tend my plot daily but also I could PAINT MY PLOT! Painting it has made me notice the interplay between crops and soil, humans, animals and insects and the effects of light and the weather. So now I am eight allotment paintings down the line and have joined Leicester Sketch Club as a result. This will bring new paintings, new friends and new dreams.
Jo Walters

Writing in the woods

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Vanessa Wright in her local woods

Spending lockdown in isolation is lonely on your own. To help me feel like I am part of a world outside of the four walls of my flat, I venture to the local woods and sit on a fallen birch tree that has become my spot. Taking my journal out of my rucksack and “writing wild” stops my mind racing. It forces me to notice, not just look. I check my senses: what do I see, hear, smell, touch? How do I feel? Every day is different; the forest fauna and flora ebbs and flows as the weather and seasons bring new light. The web of life here makes me feel alive. Fingerless gloves are a must though!
Vanessa Wright

Inspired by nature

Rosie’s nature collection
Rosie’s nature collection

I have been collecting nature items in my local woods, everything from lichens to rosehips and leaves. Once home, I stick them in a notebook and try to find out what they are, writing their name on the page. It has helped me to notice my surroundings more when I am out, looking up, down and all around. I found so many intricate and beautiful snail shells when rummaging through the leaves which I would never have found had I not been searching. It’s so important to get out and notice the wonderful things still happening in nature around us. I have been inspired by Emma Mitchell, author of The Wild Remedy, who makes wonderful nature creations.

Time-lapse photography

When lockdown forced me to walk the same streets and paths day after day, I began to notice subtle changes as spring unfurled and grew into summer. Muddy puddles dried up and tiny flowers grew in the cracks in the pavement. Previously, I’d enjoyed travelling quickly and widely, taking photographs of each new city and landscape to remember where I’d been. Now I discovered the appeal of taking photographs and video clips of the same thing every day, then compiling them to reveal how imperceptible daily changes cumulatively transform landscapes, trees and views over the course of weeks.


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