As a coast reader, you already know what I am about to tell you. You know that time you spend at the coast is good for the soul. You know that moments with family and friends are worth more than a lifetime on the sofa.
So why not make a start by taking off on a slow road adventure? Set off on a journey to somewhere, anywhere, with your eyes and heart wide open. Take your time. Look at the sea pinks on your walk. Make time to talk, to each other or to strangers. Ask questions. Be curious. Let the wide-eyed child inside you live again. Turn off the phone. I promise that the world won’t end. Honestly, it won’t.
Two years ago, I started to write a series of books about taking slow journeys by campervan. The first, Take The Slow Road: Scotland came out in May 2018. The second, England and Wales, comes out in 2019 and I am currently researching Ireland. Along the way I found secret beaches, surfed remote seas, swam in Hebridean waters and have driven the course of our greatest river. I have followed my nose and heart, and been rewarded with riches far beyond what could ever be in my pay packet. Our country is beautiful. Call it pootling, bimbling, drifting or meandering. Call it what you like. As long as you get behind the wheel and take off to explore the UK and Ireland, it’s all right with me. Take enough to keep you fed and warm, and no more. The rest will follow.
My top five slow road adventures
1. Tynemouth to Bamburgh, Northeast England: The Northumberland coast is magnificent, deserted and wild. Expect Craster kippers, lonely beaches and the best beach and backdrop for your holiday snaps ever at Bamburgh Castle.
2. Minehead to Wadebridge, Southwest England: The A39 is a coastal road that’s not always near the coast, but offers all kinds of great side-road possibilities. Expect surf, sand, wooded combes, rocky valleys and Exmoor ponies.
3. Clifden to Westport, Ireland: This section of the Wild Atlantic Way will take you through the Connemara Mountains and to all kinds of wild and wonderful beaches. Expect seaweed baths, wild camping at Clifden, hidden strands, and a view like no other on the Sky Road Loop.
4. Cardigan to Tenby, Wales: Follow the route of the brilliantly named local bus services the Strumble Shuttle, the Coastal Explorer and the Poppit Rocket, and you’ll see the jewels of Pembrokeshire’s coast. Expect beaches, beaches and more glorious beaches.
5. Isle of Arran, Scotland (see main image above): Arran is ‘Scotland in miniature’ so if you’ve yet to go, this is the place to try your hand. There are two campsites, a decent mountain, plus a distillery and amazing beaches and views. Expect the very best of Scotland, all wrapped up in one, easy-to-navigate adventure.
Live slowly in 2019.
Photographs: Martin Dorey