Spring 2020 was supposed to be my year of adventure. I had meticulously planned three and a half months of travel, taking me all the way to New Zealand and then around Asia, through Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore. When the pandemic took a sharp turn for the worst, I was one of up to a million Brits around the world called home, forced to wait around in airports for days on end with the fear of being stranded. It was gutting to be returning back from Bangkok, not even half-way through my journey. And yet, having spent two months in lockdown, it’s not exotic lands that I’m longing for, but the British countryside.
Though I would love to be backpacking across new continents, what I miss most this spring are riverside strolls, walks through bluebell-strewn woodland, hikes up to snow-sprinkled summits. Having spent my Easter break holidaying in the UK for as long as I can remember, I’m fortunate enough to have spanned the isle – from the rugged peaks of Scotland down to the windswept Cornish coast. I’m from a family of walkers and for us, April and May are the perfect months: dewy mornings and crisp clear days. So as much as the thought of Orangutans swinging through the rainforests of Borneo taunt me daily – relieved slightly by the breath of fresh air that is the BBC’s new series, Primates – it’s the memories of rambling in the Brecon Beacons and ambling along in the Lake district that fill me with melancholy.
Having said this, there’s nothing like losing your mobility to make you appreciate what’s on your doorstep. Perhaps now that international travel is at a standstill, people might take more notice of the rolling hills of our green and pleasant land. During lockdown, people have been exploring more of the local area, immersing themselves in the natural scenery during that precious hour or exercise and watching as it blooms with the seasons. Now that restrictions are being loosened slightly, there is even the option to travel slightly further afield, meaning you can begin to explore some of the best walks in the British countryside (providing you maintain social distancing rules). Perhaps this could be that start of a new chapter for the tourism sector. Let’s hope so, as quarantine has undoubtedly had a huge impact on British holidaymakers. Indeed, we have taken such a big hit from our enforced isolation that the Government have been considering implementing an extra bank holiday in October.
It’s impossible to know when we will be granted our freedom of movement, but when the situation does become stable, you might want to consider travelling responsibly to some of the more remote locations a little closer to home. Rather than following the crowd – mass gatherings could contribute towards a second deadly wave – take an atmospheric trip out to some of the Green spaces around London and when it’s safe, venture down to the expansive Dartmoor or up to the wide-open spaces of the Yorkshire Dales. You may just find that you can satisfy your wanderlust without using your passport at all.