May bank holiday getaways in the UK

Even if you crave sunshine, it makes little sense to plan May bank holiday getaways overseas. You will end up spending half of your break at the airport. Instead use the train to speed you to a beach or idyllic country retreat in the UK. Book well in advance on sites like eastcoast.co.uk and it's possible to get substantial reductions on saver tickets.

Kids love castles, beaches and Harry Potter. Combine all three with a trip to the Northumberland coast. Take in the glorious beaches stretching south of Berwick, before heading for nearby Alnwick Castle, as featured in all the Potter movies.

Chasing the weather, it makes sense to head as far south as possible to the Devon or Cornwall coast. The beaches around Newquay get busy with rowdy public schoolboys and surfers on bank holidays, but the joy of this part of the country is that a little stroll along the coastal path can reveal secluded inlets and coves for a little privacy.

For gentle afternoons spent crabbing on the coast, head for sleepy Norfolk. Birdwatchers and beachcombers will be in their element on the north Norfolk coast. The flat country roads around here are also particularly kind for cyclists who like to pedal from pub to pub.

Leave London on the overnight sleeper for the wild Highland scenery of Scotland. Wake to morning coffee and a bacon sandwich in the desolate beauty of Rannoch Moor. Scotrail.co.uk has special one way deals ranging from £19 to £49 for a Caledonian Sleeper berth, with the best fares available to those who book earliest.

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