We’re not knocking the thrill of theme parks, or belittling the health benefits of taking a stroll in the fresh country air. But if you’re anything like us here at Host Unusual HQ, every now and again you’ll crave a few slightly more original ways to spend your days.
With the summer holidays firmly upon us, we’ve decided to put our heads together and make a list of some of our favourite weird and wonderful days out, right here in the UK. From the exhilaration of plane-free skydiving to the fascination of unsolved magical mysteries, get ready tobe well and truly amazed!
First up is the uniquely unspoilt Mother Shipton’s Cave and Petrifying Well(doesn’t the name alone sound wonderful?), found in the Royal Forest ofKnaresborough, Yorkshire. Open since 1630, the Cave is England’s oldestvisitor attraction with many an ancient story to tell, while the Petrifying Well is the only one of its kind in the country, once believed to have magical powers! Come and experience all the charm of the cave for yourself, and perhaps take Sir Henry Slingsby’s Long Walk while you’re there – described by English Heritage as “one of the best”.
Where to stay?: Jukebox Altar | Harrogate
Collecting shells on the beach is one of those pastimes we’ve all tried at least once during a trip to the seaside! With the Shell Grotto, Margate,you’ll find over four million shells, beautifully mosaiced into strangely unexplained symbols. Feel like Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets as you wind your way through enchanting underground passages, view the truly unique work of art, and learn all about the intriguing mystery of ‘Shellhenge’, first opened to the public all the way back in 1838.
Where to stay?: Penny Rope Bed Chamber | Margate
Roll up, roll up… and enjoy all the long lost fun of the traditional fairground in Lifton, Devon – with Dingles Fairground Museum!Here you’ll find a colourful parade of stunning displays, vintage engineering and quirky memorabilia that will evoke plenty of nostalgia and fire up your imagination. Take a whirl on one of the vintage fairground rides, before enjoying a picnic or even a cream tea in the on-site cafeteria. A fun day out for all the family!
Where to stay?: Wolf Wood Treehouses | Bratton Clovelly
Are you brave enough to venture into the Forbidden Corner?Set within the heart of Tupgill Park in the refreshing Yorkshire Dales,you’ll discover a wonderfully intricate labyrinth of tunnels, chambers,follies…and plenty of surprises along the way! The perfect adventure for those who like to get their minds working as hard as their feet, at every turn you’ll find a brand new puzzle to solve. Who knows just where you might end up?
Where to stay?: Little Seed Field | Ripon
Found in Cornwall, Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft and Magicis the perfect place to learn more about British magic through the ages- a must for budding witches and wizards! Both intriguing and inspirational, you’ll find new displays, exhibitions and events to confound and enthrall even the most suspicious of minds. Pay a visit, and maybe cast some new spells of your very own!
Where to stay?: Kudhva | Tintagel
London’s Walthamstow is the setting for God’s Own Junkyard,the brainchild of Chris Bracey – aka the Neon Man. For the past 37 years, Chris has created iconic pieces for films starring a veritable roll-call of Hollywood icons including Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, and his creations have even appeared on the cover of Vogue. See what thefuss is all about at Chris’s riotously loving homage to all things bright and neon, chock-full of salvaged movie props and retro displays -before enjoying a refreshing cuppa over at the Rolling Scones Café!
Where to stay?: The Harpy Houseboat | Tower Bridge
Meanwhile, over in Essex, intrepid explorers will love uncovering the fascinating stories behind the Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon Hatch.This huge site was the imagined survival setting for up to 600 people in the event of a nuclear attack, now transformed into an attraction full of intrigue and adventure right on site. Learn all about the three lives of this fascinating bunker, live the high life with Rope Runners -an award winning high ropes course – and then enjoy a refreshing lunch in the canteen before returning to civilisation!
Where to stay?: Browning Bros Teybrook Orchard | Great Tey
The Under the Pier Show at Southwold, Suffolk is the setting for famed engineer Tim Hunkin’s fabulous self-created amusement arcade. Humorous, quirky, and seriously creative, you’ll find a whole host of lovingly home-made cabaret-style machines and simulator rides to capturethe liveliest of imaginations. Take a peep through the Quantum Tunnelling Telescope, or if you’re feeling brave enough, perhaps try a session in the Booth of Truth!
Where to stay?: Still Southwold | Southwold
For a serious adrenaline rush, you can’t beat the original Welsh Wonder that is the award-winning Zipworld!Based in scenic Gwynedd and offering the closest possible experience you can get to skydiving without throwing yourself out of a plane, you’re guaranteed the most spectacular mountain views to go with the headrush of a lifetime. If you prefer to stay on the ground (well, almost!), the underground slate cavern also houses trampolines and intriguing walkways – along with an Adventure Hub that’s perfect for kids of all ages.
Where to stay?: St Curig’s Church | Capel Curig
Lovers of art and beauty alike will find endless fascination in Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura– five floors packed with amazing optical experiences and featuring some of the very best views of the city. Originally opened in 1853, simply on entering the enchanting Victorian chamber you’ll know you’ve arrived somewhere special. Watch live moving images of Edinburgh througha giant periscope, and create your own interactive world from the scenes as a guide tells entertaining stories of the city.
Where to stay?: Westside Woodshed | nr Edinburgh
Now you’ve acquainted yourself with all these weird and wonderful attractions, why not make the most of your time away by staying in some of the very best unusual accommodation? Aside from the stays suggested above, you can also choose from our full, truly original array of unique places to stay – but be warned, you may be a while!