How well do you think you know our world? My colleague Vicky is keen to find out so she has put together this survey. Come back in a week for the results!
Today our staff tell us their top 5 best of British hidden gems…
“I’ve been to an open air theatre before, but The Minack Theatre is something else! Picture yourself on a clifftop in Cornwall on a Summer night, where you sit on terraced ledges cut into the rock itself, and look out as far as the eye can see to the panoramic backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Add musicians, actors, costumes; maybe a spot of drizzle, a light sea breeze, and the sound of waves rolling in, just to add to the atmosphere. What a spectacularly natural way to enjoy theatre!
Among the performances this Summer are A Midsummer Nights Dream; La Traviata and A Chorus Line; and the best bit is that all tickets are under a tenner!
Even if you can’t get to see a performance, I still recommend a visit – the views alone are stunning, and there’s a lovely beach just next door!”
Donna, Avis HQ
“The Forbidden Corner truly is a hidden gem. A place of mystery and excitement, filled with anticipation of what may be around the next corner! As you drive through the big iron gates up the drive to the castle building you will be transported to another world. A world of cheeky little imps, mazes and watery fun awaits you. A labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises in the heart of The Yorkshire Dales. Recently voted best children’s attraction in Yorkshire. Entrance by pre-booked tickets, by telephone or on-line. You will not be disappointed! I have taken my daughter many times and each time we have found something we missed the time before. Adults will become children for the afternoon, giggles and hoots will ensue. When finished you can have your lunch in the picnic area by the lake. Children will have great memories of fun times”
Georgina, Avis Leeds
“I have been visiting this wonderful town since I was a little girl and I go there as much as I can. There is always a great atmosphere especially on market days, down every cobbled street there is something to discover.
And if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can hire a rowing boat and enjoy the scenery with the family. A definite must is to have afternoon tea in the quaint tea shops with there homemade jams for sale and the smell of fresh bread as you enter the door, there is even crazy golf for the kids! There is a vast choice of accommodation from family run Bed & Breakfasts to luxury hotels on the lake. Keswick is a pleasant drive with vast rolling hills on each side, and it’s just a 2 hour drive from Manchester airport travelling straight up the m6 motorway so it couldn’t be easier to visit this little Gem of the lakes!”
Hannah, Avis Manchester
“The oldest Pub in the world is situated in Nottingham. Its called the Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. Allegedly the crusaders drank here prior to their jaunts around the world! It is built into the caves that run underneath Nottingham and is nothing like any other pub in the world. Well worth a visit if you are in the area and remember to only have one if you
“A magical place which could have come straight out of a fairytale. Walk through an enchanted wood containing a blanket of Deep Blue flowers. Recently used for filming the new Robin Hood film staring Russell Crowe. The flowers are only out for a short period around Easter. One of the most romantic places on earth”
Scott, Avis HQ
For more information on our Best Of British: Top 5 Hidden Gems, visit our website www.avis.co.uk.
The second installment in our Best Of British series promotes our top 5 festivals…
T In The Park, Belado, Kinross-shire, Scotland
10 – 12 July
“Major event held every year in Perth and Kinross. Many high profile bands attend the weekend festival. This year’s line-up is incredible: Kings Of Leon, The Killers, Blur, Bloc Party, Elbow, Snow Patrol, Lily Allen, James Morrison…”
Gordon, Avis Stirling
Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
16 – 19 July
“Forget Glastonbury and V, Latitude in Devon is the civilised festival goers choice. Listen to the best independent bands in the world, take in live readings from Britain’s best authors and soak up the atmosphere of a festival where you won’t end up thrashing around in a sea of drunk mud-covered teenagers. The perfect weekend!”
Mark, Avis Oxford
Kent County Show, Kent Showground
17 – 19 July
“Kent’s largest outdoor event with something for all the family. Show jumping, livestock, arena displays, shopping, trade stands and food and drinks”
Duncan, Avis Maidstone
Maidstone River Festival, Maidstone, Kent
24 – 25 July
“New and used boats for sale, live bands on the river front, with stalls, home-made boats and rafts, games on the river, and fun fair rides. On the last night they let off fireworks from the Fremlin walk shopping complex”
Duncan – Avis Maidstone
Gay Pride Brighton and Hove, Brighton, East Sussex
25 July – 2 August
“This attracts up to 500,000 people each year and is a celebration for the gay community but also enjoyed by many families and young children”
Jen – Avis Crawley
For more information on our Best Of British: Top 5 Festivals, visit our website www.avis.co.uk.
Below is our top 5 British seasides. Do you agree? Do you a recommendation of your own? Let us know your thoughts!
1. Northumberland Coast
“Miles of open, empty beaches, beautiful, clean sand, dunes to explore, views out to the Farne Island bird sanctuaries and nearby attraction of Bamburgh Castle. In the summer, when the sky is blue and the sun is shining you can relax on your own acre of beach with no-one to kick sand in your sandwiches or drop ice-cream on your tummy.
When it’s cloudy and the wind is blowing you can lose yourself with a spot of kite flying, take the dog for a lengthy walk or simply breathe in the clean fresh air. When you’ve had enough of the beach, head to Seahouses for some chips and a boat trip to the Farne Islands to see some of the largest sea-bird colonies in the UK”
David, Avis HQ
2. Hayling Island
“I love Hayling Island because you not only have the normal seaside fair and the beach, you also have one of the best fish and chips shops I have ever been to, you have some good pubs and restaurants and a small shopping area”
Ruth, Avis Southampton
3. Leysdown – Shellness-on-Sea
“Very traditional Londoner’s holiday, great beaches lovely scenery, arcades and cafes and good old traditional Fish ‘n’ Chips. Shellness also boasts its very own nudist beach! (For the more daring)”
Duncan, Avis Maidstone
4. Morfa Nefvyn, Lymm Peninsula, North Wales
“Beautiful golden sands and a pub that can only be reached along the beach on foot. Perfect for lazy days in the sunshine”
“The atmosphere is superb, cheap food, lots of bars, nightlife is fantastic for all ages”
Jen, Avis Crawley
“The shops in the lanes are quaint and full of history with jewellers, and little shops to tempt everyone. On summers evenings this is a great form of entertainment”
Gemma, Avis Crawley
For more information on our Best Of British: Top 5 Seasides, visit our website www.avis.co.uk.
During these times of economic difficulties, more and more people are looking to cut down the cost of their holiday by staying a little closer to home. Personally, I think this a real opportunity to rediscover just how amazing our country is. There is much heritage, so many areas of natural beauty and, quite frankly, there is much to do that you don’t really need to venture outside of Britain. Even the weather is looking good this year!
But after so many years hitting the continent on our low-cost airfares, you might be wondering just where do you venture out to in Great Britain. Well I was wondering that myself so we turned to our staff on the front-line who are scattered across every corner of this country. We asked them to list their favourites across a number of different categories e.g their favourite British castle or their British favourite walk. From these we picked our favourites to form our top 5 Best British in each category.
Today we start with our top 5 Best of British seasides. But it’s not just about what we think. We want to know what you think. Do you agree with the list? Or can you thinking of a better British seaside? Let us know your thoughts and your tips!
Last weekend, the crew at Avis took on it’s second gruelling test of endurance within a month, this time competing in the Ride24 challenge. The challenge takes place in the form of a Le Mans style race with teams of 4 taking it in turns to cycle round the Dunsfold Park Track in Surrey (aka the Top Gear test track) over a period of 24 hours. Effectively, whoever completes the most laps over that period wins. Of course people like me don’t just enter things like this for the fun of it and it was all for a good cause, raising money for Action Medical Research.
We weren’t exactly the most prepared outfit competing, most evident when team member Gavin Ross declared that he was not going to the practice run last Tuesday night because “he hadn’t done any practice so far so why start now?”. But we managed to overcome our lack of preparation by putting in some respectable scores. Of the 3 teams we entered Avis Team 3 (the team I was in) finished 19th despite Steve Liberda and Duncan Hall riding the slower hybrids and myself and my colleague, Simon Wickson, sharing a bike. Avis Nightriders (who should have been Avis Team 1 but refused to stick to the naming convention) finished 15th while Avis Team 2 finished in 2nd place, which was an unbelievable achievement.
I have to say that Action Medical Research did a great job of hosting the event. But we’ve still got a little way to go to reach our fundraising target so if you are interested in sponsoring us, please click here.
Below is a full list of the team who competed on the day:
Gavin Ross, Jack Macaree, Chris Keogh, Tim Maw
Avis Team 2
Jim Cox, Simon Carter, Gavin Spires, Thomas Sugden
Avis Team 3
Steve Liberda, Duncan Hall, Simon Wickson, Rob White
The final part of my road trip around Utah and Arizona carries on from Bryce Canyon…
Day 9 – Bryce Canyon National Park to Las Vegas
Today will mark your final leg of the road trip as you venture into Zion National Park. The drive down Highways 89 and 9 to reach Zion the provides the kind of red-rock views that have become increasingly familiar but never less interesting.
Zion itself is very different to any national park you’ve visited so far. Most have been typically vast in scale, the star features generously spaced out with fairly barren areas in between. Zion packs a lot more in a smaller area. But that does not mean that the towering red and white rock peaks are any less spectacular. It just means that you have to be ready for a constant feast for the eyes. And Zion has a colourful charm that really makes it stand out from the rest of the parks. The red rock is redder than anywhere you’ve been so far while the layers of white rock add variation to the colour. And when you drive down Zion Canyon you’ll find trees and even grass lining the Virgin river that flows through the canyon’s centre.
If you’re short on time then the drive through Zion Canyon is the way to go. Along the way there are some good short walks with plenty of interesting things to discover including the Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools. But if you’re up for taking on a bit more of a challenge then the Angels Landing trail is definitely the way to go. I met some people who said this was their favourite hike of all the parks they’ve visited. But it is not for the faint hearted. At times the trail narrows to just 5ft, 1,500ft above the canyon floor, while the final ascent to the top is an energy sapping struggle. But the view at the top is unbelievable and well worth the struggles.
Something else I wanted to mention about Zion is the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. The tunnel is an engineering feat: a 9ft wide, 5,600ft long tunnel cut through the sandstone of Zion, 225ft in the year. This follows through to 3 and a half miles worth of switchbacks and, while the queue of cars caused by the tunnel traffic lights will prevent you from tackling the switchbacks on your own, they’re still great fun to drive.
From Zion head on the freeway (15) back to Vegas.
Day 10 – Las Vegas
This is your final full day in the States and Vegas is a great place to finish off the road trip. Partly, because it provides fantastic contrast to all of the things you’ve seen so far: epic natural beauty versus excessive human indulgence. But secondly because Vegas is a great place to just unwind. Spas, bars, good food, great entertainment, it’s a great place to kick back, relax and allow your brain to recover from all of the overhwhelming things you’ve seen. So indulge. Catch a show, go shopping or even ride a roller coaster more than 1,000ft above the strip. Either way, like everywhere else you’ve been, Vegas is an unforgettable place.
Day 11 – Las Vegas
Today is the day of departure. Use the chance for a bit of last minute shopping or go hunting for souvenirs. As your flight takes off from Vegas look out for the rigid boundaries of a city famous for finding humanity at it’s most excessive and then let your eyes gaze to the vast, spectacular wilderness beyond. The contrast is extraordinary and it provides a fitting ending to an awesome trip.
I’ve just been advised by my colleague in the Avis Prestige team that they have recently introduced the Jaguar XKR to their fleet (available as a 5.0 coupe and a 5.0 cabriolet). While I have never had the chance to drive one myself, there is no doubting that it is a gorgeous car to look at. And the overwhelmingly positive reviews I’ve read about it is testament to the success the product development team at Jaguar have enjoyed over the past few years. I’ve posted some snippets of these reviews below. As always let us know what you think about the Jaguar XKR and feel free to post your ideas about what you would like to see on the Avis Prestige fleet!
“The XKR is furiously fast, fun to drive, yet still comfortable and sumptuous when you just want to cruise.”
Channel4 – 4Car
“Even from the passenger seat, it’s clear Jaguar has created a special machine. Not only is it quick in a straight line, but it handles as well as any of its rivals. In Mike Cross’s hands, the pace is truly spectacular. And while we can’t wait until our own test drive, one thing is already very clear – the XKR might be yellow, but it’s far from mellow.”
“You’ll be reading a lot about this new XKR over the next few weeks so you’d better get used to “best Jag since the E-type” headlines. This doesn’t interest me at all. What does excite me is that within 10 miles at the wheel I suspected this Jaguar was not simply more charming than its rivals from BMW and Mercedes, it was plain better, too. Now, several hundred miles down the road, I’ m convinced. And that is a story worth telling”
The Sunday Times
“…the XKR can stand toe-to-toe with the best GTs at any price. Fast, refined, beautiful, high-tech…”
Part 4 of my awesome road trip around Utah and Arizona carries on from Torrey…
Day 7 – Capitol Reef National Park/Torrey to Bryce Canyon National Park
While most days have been dominanted by the hiking, today is definitely about the driving. Kick off the day by driving the Capitol Reef National Park’s Scenic Drive (if you stayed in nearby Torrey it is only a 10 minute drive away). You won’t need to waste time on your morning coffee because this trip will definitely liven the senses. The tour will take you through more grand sandstone rock formations, finishing at the narrow Capitol Gorge.
After navigating your way through one national park, it’s time to head off to another, taking Highway 12 to Bryce Canyon. Now, while Bryce Canyon will reveal itself to be a truly amazing place, right now it’s about the journey, not the destination. Highway 12 is a stunning drive: an ever-changing landscape that will take you through snow-covered alpine forest (snow-covered if you’re there in the winter), desert, gaping canyons and dramatic rock monuments. Allow extra time for the drive because you’ll be stopping off at the many conveniently placed scenic viewpoints to capture the amazing landscapes on film.
You should reach Bryce Canyon with time to spare. Set up camp, get some dinner and perhaps use the opportunity to watch the sun set over the canyon. I didn’t get the chance to do this myself but I can assume that Sunrise Point is a good spot to watch it from!
Day 8 – Bryce Canyon National Park
Just when you think you’ve seen everything, you arrive at Bryce Canyon. I know I’m starting to say this about almost every place I recommend on this road trip but Bryce Canyon is definitely a contender for top stop in the spectacular stakes. I absolutely loved Bryce Canyon.
Again the canyon is dominated by the vibrant, orange/red sandstone which is stunning but not especially different from anything else you’ve seen so far. But then there is more to this magical national park. The dabs of greens and browns of the high apine trees and the splashes of pure white snow (you’ll find snow here for much of the year) add beautiful colour that contrast with the rock’s reds and oranges. And then there are the hoodoos: thousands of pointed sandstone spires that blanket the canyon. The first time they reveal themselves as you approach the rim of the amphitheatre is definitely a “wow” moment.
The other great thing about Bryce Canyon is that it all feels very accessible. I’d recommend driving the park rim’s Scenic Drive, stopping at every viewpoint to take in the stunning panoramic views. Many of viewpoints also provide the starting points for most the hiking trails, many of which take you right among the hoodoos within a short walk. It’s difficult to pick any one trail to recommend but I particularly enjoyed the Navajo Loop trail that takes you through Wall Street – a narrow canyon where the sandstone glows inexplicably bright despite the limited light.
Today I’ll continue from Day 5 of my awesome road trip around Utah and Arizona…
Day 5 – Bluff to Moab
The drive from Bluff is similar to the other drives you would’ve experienced so far. Pretty darn awesome. Your drive starts at the San Juan river which cuts through the red rock monuments that have become so familiar.
From here you should head to the Needles District on the southern point of the Canyonlands National Park. The Canyonlands, incidentally, is Utah’s least visited national park. But don’t let that detract from what is a truly fabulous national park. What strikes me is the variety of the landscape. You’ll find all kinds of interesting rock formations, some sharp and jutting, others are more rounded, almost mushroom-like. But it’s not just nature’s influence that makes this park interesting. Hike around the Cave Spring trail and you’ll find an abandoned cowboy camp as well as spooky, painted handprints left by Native Americans. They are more than a little haunting. And if you head there in early March, like I did, you’ll find the park practically empty – no where else will you find such solitude in such a spectacular setting.
Of course, the real star of the show are the Needles: rock spires that, from many points in the park, you’ll find dominate the distance. To get close up to the needles you’ll need to head along the 11-mile Chesler Park Loop.
From the Needles District head back out on to highway 191, driving north towards Moab. Moab is in a truly spectacular setting, not least because overlooking the town is the Arches National Park. If you happened to skip a few of the hikes you might have time to check out one of the many outdoor activities that Moab has to offer. In town you’ll the opportunity to go mountain biking, white-water rafting, hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering or horseback riding. Phew!
Day 6 – Moab to Capitol Reef National Park/Torrey
Today will be an absolutely incredible day because you’ll be touring the Arches National Park. As I’ve said so many times before in this series, you’ll be constantly challenging yourself on what park is the most spectacular and the Arches is definitely a park that throws it’s weight in this debate.
The park is very accessible by car and driving is the best option to navigate your way round. Again the landscape is largely characterised by the bright reddish/orange sandstone that rises out of the Utah desert. And, again, there are plenty of unusual rock formations that will keep you snappy-happy. Not least of these is the Balanced Rock, which literally is a 3577-ton boulder resting delicately above a very weak looking pedestal. But the Arches real selling point is, of course, the arches.
The first of these is accessible when taking the turn off just past the Balanced Rock. At the end of this road is a short trail to the North and South Windows – two very impressive and comparatively solid looking arches. There are plenty of arches around the park (unsurprisingly the park has the biggest concentration of arches found anywhere in the world) but the most famous and iconic of them is the Delicate Arch – which, incidentally, you’ll find on the licence plate of every Utah vehicle. Accessing the Delicate Arch is a 3-mile hike (round trip) and when the arch finally reveals itself, it truly is a marvellous sight. Glorious yet delicate, solitary yet dominant, you’ll feel very aware that you’re standing at the feet of a state celebrity. But it is a celebrity that is worthy of it’s status.
There are plenty of other arches to hike to and once you’ve had you’re fill, head west towards Dead Horse Point and the Island in the Sky district of the Canyonlands National Park. Both offer unbelievable views. While the Arches feels accessible and gives you very specific icons to focus on, these two parks are vast and epic, offering views that stretch down canyons for what seems forever. You might be familiar with Dead Horse Point: it provided the setting for the final scene of Thelma and Louise. If you’ve got time, you can hike some of the trails around Island in the Sky, which are generally short.
Otherwise, head off west on highway 50, turning off at 24 towards Torrey. If you’re up for a spot of camping then why not stay on a campsite in the Capitol Reef National Park? Otherwise, Torrey has plenty of accommodation options on offer.
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