The far north of Scotland is spectacular at any time of year. Tina Irving describes how the wild landscape transforms into a winter wonderland.
Cornwall's exposed coasts and warm climate give it a unique character - here's how to make the most of your visit.
It's one of the most well-known UK holiday spots around the world; chock full of jaw-dropping landscapes and an endless array of ways to spend your days. But if all you can think of when you think of Cornwall are pasties and charming accents, just what else is there to do in in the South-West peninsula?
One of the first stops for many tourists is the small tidal island of St Michael's Mount, 366 metres off Cornwall's coast. There's a lot of history here; it's believed to have been the site of monasteries dating back to the 8th to 11th centuries, and was later ravaged by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and fortified during WWII. Needless to say there's a lot to see, and many visitors come back for a second day to catch anything they might have missed. It's easy to lose track of time and end up walking around the castle and gardens for hours.
Speaking of gardens, the Eden Project gives visitors the opportunity to stroll through the world's largest indoor rainforest and jungle. You'll travel through many different sections representing places around the world, from the Mediterranean biome to the Malaysian hut, the African totem sculpture and the South American waterfall, all in one day.
The only thing the Eden Project is missing, apart from some pretty butterflies, is some animals. Newquay Zoo has got you covered though. First opened back in 1969, the small-but-substantial enclosure houses a great variety of animals, from lions and red pandas to tapirs and the Madagascan cat-like mammal fossa (compared to a small cougar, but actually closely related to the mongoose family). You'll be able to see everything in under a day, leaving you plenty of time on your trip to get out and about and see more of the sights.
When it comes to coastal views and stunning scenery, Cornwall spoils visitors for choice. The South West Coast Path is legendary not just in the UK but worldwide, having been named one of the world's most awe-inspiring hikes in the latest 'Great Adventures' book by Lonely Planet, alongside New Zealand's Milford Track, Chile's Torres del Paine and Alaska's Chilkoot Trail.
St Ives round to Penzance is a particularly popular stretch, although it might not be as simple as presumed by looking at the map due to boggy patches and boulders which can get in the way. Keen walkers could head down to the Minack Theatre - Cornwall's famous open-air theatre, overlooking the sea - or Porthcurno Bay and watch the gannets nosedive into the water.
The descents into Porthleven are highlights with many visitors, and while you're there why not stop for a bite at The Ship Inn? It will give you the energy needed to head out of the town and along the coast to The Lizard, another popular stretch overlooking the water. We also recently recommended exploring the magnificent scenery around Boscastle, North Cornwall.
Of course, when you can constantly see water it's hard not to want to get in and have a splash. Even if it's freezing cold, it won't put off many adrenaline addicts! Surfing is very popular in Cornwall, attracting wave riders from across Europe and further afield. Experienced surfers can take their pick of locations to ply their trade; there's the beautiful Bude beaches, the gorgeous Gwithian Beach, or head out as far west as the mainland will take you and look for Sennen Cove. Although Newquay might be the location people most associate with surfing in Cornwall, beginners' lessons are available at most beaches. Check out our beginner' guide to surfing before you head off!
Whilst you're in your wetsuit you might also fancy a spot of coasteering or kayaking. If you 're looking for a combination of hiking, rock climbing, cliff jumping, swimming and white water rafting (and let's face it, who isn't?) then coasteering in Cornwall might just become your new favourite activity. Coasteering beginners should look into heading to Harlyn or Lands End, while Kayaking novices might want to consider Golant Fowey or Falmouth.
A single blog post could never do this incredible county justice. Head down to Cornwall and find out first-hand why it's so great.