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The Sunday Times Travel - 11 March 2018

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March 11, 2018
50 cool cottages 12 London to Australia non-stop 6 Wicker Man: the rollercoaster 11
TRAVEL
SECTION OF
THE YEAR
Steppe to it
Follow the thread on an
epic Silk Road adventure 8
2 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel
NOBODY’S TOO
OLD TO BE A
COOL CRUISER
MARTIN
HEMMING
Travel Editor
I
t was meant to be the “all-new
river cruise for millennials” —
and then, last week, it wasn’t.
The first U by Uniworld cruise
sets sail from Amsterdam next
month. It will feature a silent disco,
mixology classes, yoga and, of course,
free wi-fi, so you can Snapchat the whole
thing as you wend your way to Frankfurt
along the Rhine. It also had a unique
booking condition: to sail with U by
Uniworld, you had to be aged 21-45.
This was a bold move by the company —
and it seems to have backfired.
Last week, Uniworld put out a
statement saying that while “nothing
about the product is changing”, it would
now be opening up its U cruises to all
“adult travellers” (18 and over). “We’ve
learnt that the experience is less about a
number and more about an entirely new
offering, appealing to a new generation
of river cruisers,” it said.
A cynic might suggest that it hadn’t
sold enough tickets. British people took
1.96m cruises last year; the average age of
these passengers was a sprightly 56. That’s
a large share of the market to cut out.
“We’re responding to agent feedback
and consumer demand,” said Uniworld,
BRIEFING
BA PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON
Some British Airways economy seats are
to get narrower. The airline has unveiled
a redesigned World Traveller cabin that
will squeeze 10 seats across a Boeing 777
where previously there were nine. BA
declined to give dimensions, but when
its part-owner Qatar Airlines went 10
abreast in 2015, widths fell from 18.5in
to 17in. On the upside, the new seats
will have 50% bigger screens and power
outlets. The more squidged flights will
launch next winter from Gatwick to
Cancun; Kingston, Jamaica; and
Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.
SRI LANKA CURFEWS
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has
warned travellers to Sri Lanka to “exercise
caution, avoid protests and rallies, and
comply with local security requirements”
after a nationwide state of emergency
was declared following anti-Muslim
riots. A curfew has been imposed in the
tourist town of Kandy, where at least two
people have been killed, and curfews
are possible elswhere. Social media has
been blocked in a bid to prevent further
protests being organised.
WOMEN-ONLY MIDDLE EAST TRIPS
The adventure travel company Intrepid
has announced a series of female-only
tours to Middle Eastern countries, to
learn about the lives of women in each
destination. Examples include
encounters with rug weavers in Morocco,
which could — here’s that cynic again —
be interpreted as a lot of travel agents
having had to deal with a lot of complaints
from loyal cruisers in the 45-and-up
bracket who’ve suddenly been told
they’re too past it.
Sue Bryant is The Sunday Times’s
cruise editor and a generation X-er. She
says: “As a person who fully embraces
pub crawls and ziplining on the cruises I
go on, I was gutted to learn that I was too
old to go on a river cruise when normally
I’m one of the youngest on board. Now
the age limit has been lifted, my prediction
is that people in their forties and fifties
will be U by Uniworld’s main market.
“Being over 45 doesn’t make you too
ancient for kayaking and mixology
classes. You only have to look at what’s
on offer on ocean cruises nowadays to see
that. Plus, I’m really not sure there are
that many twentysomethings who would
spend £1,000 on a week on a riverboat.”
We shall see. Travel is willing to give
Uniworld a chance. We will have a writer on
the first sailing of U by Uniworld in April.
We’ll see who parties hardest at the silent
disco, the woke snowflake millennials or
those “ancient” 45s and over.
And what if you’re a thrusting young
thing who has booked to sail, but really
doesn’t want to be doing their street-art
tour in the company of a geriatric?
“Guests with upcoming bookings are being
advised and any questions discussed on
a case-by-case basis,” Uniworld said.
You never know, granny might teach
you a thing or two.
@martin_hemming
henna art classes with Bedouin in
Jordan and meeting entrepreneurs in
Iran. The first trips depart in the
autumn; prices start at £620pp,
excluding flights (intrepidtravel.com).
SAUDIS ISSUE TOURIST VISAS
Saudi Arabia has announced that its first
tourist visas since 2010 will be issued
from April 1 as part of the kingdom’s plan
to promote a more ”moderate, open
Islam”. Women can apply, but if they
are aged under 25, they must be
accompanied by a male family member;
see scth.gov.sa. Wild Frontiers has an
eight-day tour — visiting the capital,
Riyadh, the Red Sea port of Jeddah and
the lost city of Mada’in Saleh — from
£4,895pp (wildfrontierstravel.com).
EXCLUSIVE LEVISON
WOOD EVENT
The explorer and
bestselling author
Levison Wood is to
appear at the Royal
Geographical Society,
in London, on March 28
in an exclusive event
for subscribers to
The Times and The Sunday Times.
Wood will be discussing his many
travels, including hitchhiking 10,000
miles from England to India. The Times+
event begins at 7.30pm and will be
hosted by The Sunday Times’s deputy
travel editor, Duncan Craig. For more
information and to book tickets (£20),
visit mytimesplus.co.uk/events.
BIG
SHOT
Among the best
Big Shots last
time round were:
Tony Cowburn’s
photograph of
the Elizabeth
Quay Bridge in
Perth, Western
Australia; cranes
in Hokkaido,
Japan, by Ray
Hems; and a
scene of daily life
in Trinidad, Cuba,
by Roy Morris
Big Shot is back:
win trips to China,
Colombia and Oman
C
ameras (and smartphones) at
the ready: the fifth edition of
our Big Shot competition is
now open. The standard is
always high; the fantastic shots
on this page were all good enough for
weekly honours in the last round, but not
for the final top three. And that’s what you
should be aiming for, because the prizes
— once again provided by the leading
tailor-made travel specialist Audley Travel
(01993 838000, audleytravel.com) — are
bigger and better than ever.
The overall winner will get a 13-day
trip to China for themselves and a
friend. They will visit the capital, Beijing,
stay in Xi’an, home to the Terracotta
Warriors, and take a three-night cruise
along the Yangtze River. The second
prize is a 13-day trip for two to Colombia,
staying in the vibrant capital, Bogota,
as well as the coffee region of Armenia
and the port city of Cartagena. Third?
An 11-day trip for two to Oman,
including time in the capital, Muscat,
the ancient city of Nizwa and the desert
region of Wahiba Sands.
To be in with a chance, you first need
to get yourself on the shortlist: every
Sunday we’ll choose a weekly winner,
who will receive a £250 gift voucher to
spend on new equipment from Wex.
If you think your travel photo deserves
to be published in The Sunday Times,
upload it at thesundaytimes.co.uk/
thebigshot. We also accept entries on
Instagram — tag us @sundaytimestravel
and use the hashtag #STBigShot.
If we like it, we’ll ask you to email a
high-resolution version to us.
This week’s competition closes at
11.59pm on Wednesday. The overall
winners will be announced next spring.
l Open for 52 weeks from March 11, 2018,
until March 14, 2019. Each competition
week runs from 00.01am on Thursday to
11.59pm the following Wednesday during
the competition period. UK and ROI residents
aged 18+ only, except staff of the promoter, its
affiliated companies or promotional partners
or their families. One entry per person per
competition week. Winners will be selected
in accordance with judging criteria. No cash
alternative and prize is non-transferable.
Your information will only be used to
administer this competition in accordance
with our privacy policy. Promoter is Times
Newspapers Limited. Full T&Cs apply: see
thesundaytimes.co.uk/travelphotocomp
COVER PHOTOGRAPH: AURELIY/GETTY; SIMON BUXTON/HODDER & STOUGHTON
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 3
SKI
HERE
NOW?
Scotland has had its best snow
for years, but can it compete
with the Alps? Sean Newsom
has a brief Highland fling
I
t wasn’t just the nation’s
schoolchildren who were rubbing
their hands with glee when the
Beast from the East descended.
The Scottish ski industry, already
enjoying a bumper season, reported
enough snow to tide some slopes over
until May. But, given the notoriously scant
infrastructure and chilly temperatures, is
a ski trip to Scotland really worth it? I flew
north from London last week to find out.
High winds and drifting snow had shut
my first target, Cairngorm. So I rerouted
to Glenshee, Scotland’s largest ski area.
Horizontal snow, skiddy roads and
forlorn herds of red deer picking their
way through the drifts were all part of my
slow 2½-hour drive from Edinburgh.
I assumed I’d be the only visitor when I
arrived, but when I crested the final rise of
the Cairnwell Pass — at 2,199ft, the highest
stretch of main road in the UK — there
were already 50 other cars in Glenshee’s
car park. The infrastructure appeared,
for the most part, unchanged from when
I’d last skied here 22 years ago. It has none
of the chalets, hotels and bars you get in
the Alps, just two strips of buildings either
side of the road for the ski school, rental
centre and cafe.
Above these is a network of pistes
served — for the most part — by drag lifts
and lined with fences to stop the snow
blowing away. I got changed in the car
park, grabbed a lift pass (£30 for adults,
£20 for kids — they also do ski and boot
hire for £22/£11) and hit the slopes. The
snow was exceptional: soft, squeaky and
deep. With 25 miles of pistes, dropping
through 1,500 vertical feet, Glenshee
seemed bigger than I remembered — even
if the wind limited what I could actually
ski. I completed lap after lap of the pistes
with a smile as wide as the Moray Firth
plastered across my face.
It was the spirit of the place
that struck me: raw, unprocessed,
friendly and open. Afterwards, I
warmed up with a black pudding
sandwich in the Tea@TheShee
cafe — an entire meal in a
bap for three quid.
Après-ski, Scotland style.
I got chatting to a
fellow skier. “I was in
Gstaad last weekend,” the
beaming twentysomething
lady said. “Today, the snow
here is better.”
I’d had a great day, but
it was to be topped by
what was to come. One
of the biggest changes
on the Scottish ski
scene in recent years
I skied the
open pistes
with a smile
as wide
as the
Moray Firth
plastered
across
my face
Glenmore
Lodge
Aviemore
Cairngorms
National Park
Glenshee
Glasgow
Edinburgh
20 miles
has been the rise in ski touring: hiking up
ungroomed slopes using detachable
strips of fabric on the bottom of your skis
before coming back down the easy way.
The terrain here is perfect for beginners.
My base for the night was Glenmore
Lodge, near Aviemore. Walking into its
breakfast room the next morning, I took in
the scene through the large south-facing
windows. The skies had cleared, the sun
was out, and there was the white,
muscular bulk of the Cairngorms, lapped
by an ocean of pine. It was as if God had
suddenly pulled back the curtains.
My ski-touring guide was Doug Cooper,
Glenmore’s chief instructor. We drove up
to the CairnGorm Mountain ski area and
struck out into unpisted terrain. En route,
Doug told me that the turning point for
touring was the long winter of 2009-10:
“It’s been growing in popularity ever
since.” Glenmore Lodge now runs a
continuous programme of two- and
five-day courses from January to Easter.
After 45 minutes of climbing, we
peeled the skins off our skis, adjusted
the bindings and skied down a sheltered
coire. I wasn’t expecting much: the
wind-blasted snow on the walk up had
varied from nobbly ice to thick, widely
spaced pillows of powder. But Doug
knew exactly what he was doing when
he picked the route. The descent was
smooth, consistent and soft. It was the
best snow I’d skied all winter.
So, the verdict? With roughly 150
European and North American resorts
under my belt, I’ve long since abandoned
the notion that all ski areas should be the
same — and Scotland’s have a serious,
marvellous point of difference. Anyone
who wants a conventional holiday of
endless pistes and ski-in, ski-out chalets
should stick to the Alps. But if you fancy a
rawer, less varnished experience before
the season’s out — with some ski touring
thrown in — Scotland is the place.
Sean Newsom was a guest of Visit Scotland
(visitscotland.com), Glenshee Ski &
Snowboard (ski-glenshee.co.uk), Glenmore
Lodge and easyJet, which serves Edinburgh
from several airports, including Stansted,
Gatwick and Bristol; from £38 return
(easyjet.com). Glenmore Lodge has five-day
ski-touring courses, starting on March 26
or April 2, from £700pp, full-board,
including equipment (glenmorelodge.org.uk).
Three days’ car hire from Edinburgh airport
starts at £36 (holidayautos.com)
4 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Letters
ALAN COPSON, STUART BLACK, NIVEL PAVITT, POLA DAMONTE/GETTY; WILLIE SATOR/ALAMY
YOUR BEST
BEACHES
Last week, we picked our favourite
stretches of sand. Our readers weren’t
shy in telling us where we’d missed
S
unday Times readers have
certainly been to a lot of
gorgeous beaches. We knew our
selection of the world’s best
would prompt a few responses.
In fact, what we got was an enormous
(turquoise-coloured) wave of countersuggestions, the pictures of which would
have filled an entire Travel section.
There were plenty of patriotic British
suggestions (“Frinton — the rest are just
making up the numbers,” wrote James
Stephens). We’d intentionally ignored our
home shores in anticipation of our annual
summer British beaches special. Which
just left the rest of the world. With thanks
to all those who wrote in, here’s the pick.
Yes, Boulders Beach, in South
Africa, has cute penguins,
but it’s also tiny and often
overpopulated with humans.
Instead, head for Diaz Beach at magnificent
Cape Point. It’s a mildly challenging
scramble down, but you’ll be rewarded with
largely untouched sand in a spectacular
cove, with wild waves and views to infinity.
You’ll feel like an explorer, not a tourist.
Kate Rutherford, North Yorkshire
LETTER
OF THE
WEEK
It was wonderful to see Minorca in your
selection, but the best beaches can be
found in the wilder north: the magnificent
horseshoe bay of Platja de Cavalleria,
Cala Pilar and magical Cala Pregonda.
Charles Brown, West Yorkshire
Tsougrias Beach on Skiathos, Greece, is
only accessible by boat: you can take one of
the three fishing boats that leave the harbour
in the morning. It’s a crescent, gently
lapped by jade-coloured water, with a
rickety jetty and tiny rustic taverna. Heaven.
Jan Chang, Cheshire
Northern Bay Sands in Newfoundland,
Canada, is a pristine, untouched beach
where capelin fish spawn, luring whales
close to the shore, and mammoth icebergs
drift past from spring to early summer.
Caroline Picking, Essex
I have to submit Siesta Key, a barrier
island in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida. Its
quartz sand is pure white and like caster
sugar. Nearby is Sarasota, where you’ll
find museums, art, opera and ballet.
Geoff Salt, London
rainforest alive with animals. As you lie on
the sand, you can almost imagine King
Kong crashing through the trees.
Sue Hare, Essex
Seven Mile Beach, in the Cayman
Islands, has a lovely clear sea with plenty
of fish to spot while you swim.
John Jones, Flintshire
If you have walked on the velvet sands of
Grand Anse Beach, in Grenada, you will
never forget it.
Bill Fairclough, Surrey
Isla de Providencia, off the coast of
Nicaragua, has gently swaying coconut
palms; a soft, sandy, deserted beach; and
warm, calm sea. You will relax the
moment you arrive.
Gabrielle Saunders, Middlesex
Diani Beach, south of Mombasa, Kenya,
has to be one of the finest, whitest
beaches anywhere in the world.
Akbar Dhala, Surrey
The best we’ve experienced was on
La Digue, in the Seychelles, about 30
years ago. We have since been continually
disappointed by various claims for idyllic
beaches all over the world.
Neil & Claire Kaye, via email
We’ve just had six weeks in Kerala, in
southern India, and would recommend
the beach at Mararikulam, between Fort
Cochin and Alleppey. The white sand
stretches for miles and development is
limited to low-key resorts and homestays.
Sue Graham, Nottingham
Whitehaven Beach, in the Whitsundays,
is only accessible by seaplane or boat.
We consider ourselves so fortunate to
have been able to travel there by seaplane
on a trip to Australia in 2001. There was
nobody else there. It was staggering.
Lindsey Riley, Herefordshire
How can you have missed the beaches of
the Great Beach Drive, in Queensland,
linking the Sunshine Coast with Fraser
Island? I loved driving on the sand and
spotting whales from the car windows.
Amanda Roderick, Bridgend
How can any beach compare with
Horseshoe Bay, in Bermuda? Coral sand,
a delicate shade of pink; turquoise sea
with plenty of robust breakers; beautiful
rock pools filled with gem-coloured fish.
Add to all this a homespun wooden cabin
and you’re near to paradise.
Heather Bird, Kent
My wife and I have travelled six continents
with an eye for the best beaches for
swimming. A few gems you missed:
Playa Esmeralda in Guardalavaca, Cuba;
My Khe Beach, in Vietnam, which
stretches for more than 20 miles; and the
very best we’ve experienced in 45 years
of world travel, Turquoise Bay in
Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia.
Douglas Needham, Toronto, Canada
We’ve just returned from the Andaman
resort in Langkawi, Malaysia. The bay is a
perfect crescent, with silver sand, warm
sea and a coral reef. The backdrop is a
Kate Rutherford wins a £250 voucher
towards a stay with Pride of Britain
Hotels (prideofbritainhotels.com).
Write to us at travel@sunday-times.co.uk
VOTE WINNERS Clockwise from top: Grand Anse,
Grenada; Platja de Cavalleria, Minorca; Diani Beach,
Kenya; Siesta Key, Florida; and Diaz Beach, South Africa
6 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Airlines
F
irst it was the Toblerone. Then
Jaffa Cakes. Now it’s the world. On
Saturday, March 24, it will shrink.
This time, however, less is more.
As the sun goes down over the
Indian Ocean, Captain Lisa Norman will
push the throttle forward on Qantas flight 9
and the first non-stop commercial passenger
flight between Australia and Britain, a longheld dream of many travellers, will take off.
When the Australian flag carrier began
flying the Kangaroo Route in 1947,
passengers had to stop at six or seven
cities on the way. It has always involved at
least one stop, usually in Singapore or
Dubai. Now, Qantas will fly 236 passengers
9,000 miles between Heathrow and Perth
in one go, in about 17 hours. Passengers
will board at lunchtime in London and
land in time for lunch and a cold one on
the beach the next day.
Non-stop flights between Europe and
Australia have been possible for years.
Qantas flew an empty Boeing 747-400
from London to Sydney in 1989. But no
one thought they could make any money
flying passengers that far — until Alan
Joyce, the imaginative and forthright Irish
boss of Qantas, got his hands on Boeing’s
most fuel-efficient long-haul jet: the
twin-engine 787 Dreamliner.
Last week, I climbed aboard the superlightweight plane in Qantas’s research and
training centre in Sydney and flew on a
test flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
(The jet certainly had been well tested: it
bore the scars of a recent lightning strike.)
Since few people will fancy sitting at the
back of the bus on such a long flight, the
economy section is small. The seat I take
ONE GIANT
HOP
The first non-stop flight from Britain
to Australia is ready for take-off.
Last week, John Arlidge tested
the plane in which pioneering
passengers will spend 17 hours
THE KANGAROO ROUTE THEN AND NOW
London
1947
route
2018
Rome
route
Tripoli
Cairo
Karachi
1947
Plane Lockheed Constellation
Number of stops 7
Journey time Four days
Return ticket
(adjusted for inflation) £20,000
Passengers 29
Crew 3 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 radio
operator, 2 flight engineers,
3-4 cabin crew
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 7
2018
Plane Boeing 787-9
Dreamliner
Number of stops 0
Journey time 17 hours
Calcutta
Return ticket From £793
Passengers 236
Crew 4 pilots,
10 cabin crew
Singapore
Darwin
INDIAN
OCEAN
Perth
Sydney
before take-off is one of only 166 — some
A380s have more than 550 — arranged in
a 3-3-3 formation across two sections of
the cabin, to give most people a window
or an aisle seat. There is an inch more
legroom than on British Airways, the
same as on Singapore and Etihad, but,
disappointingly, this is less than on some
Qatar Airways and Emirates flights to
Australia. The headrest has adjustable
sides, the television screen is a generous
12in and there’s a USB charging station. A
help-yourself mini larder containing
water and herbal tea is near the galley.
But the frills don’t compensate for feeling
cramped when the person in front
reclines their seat. You may occasionally
feel uncomfortable, too: there are only
four loos for the 194 economy and
premium economy passengers.
Things get much better in premium
economy. The seat — one of 28, arranged
2-3-2 — comes with a private reading light,
a 13in TV screen, a viewing shelf for your
iPad, charging sockets and lots of storage.
I’m on an aisle and can push down the
armrest to make more room and slide out
of my seat easily. When Andrew, the nice
man in front of me, reclines, I’m not
penned in. His seat slumps down and
forwards, not backwards, to create a
cradle. When I recline, I find that the
rectangular pillow stretches neatly over
the adjustable sides of the headrest,
creating a clever neck support. A slightly
fiddly mesh net drops down to support
my feet and a leg rest supports my calves.
At the pointy end, the designer David
Caon has created 42 private business
seat pods, arranged 1-2-1, which convert to
6ft 5in-long flat beds. Best feature? New inseat airbags and a three-point seatbelt mean
I can recline during take-off and landing.
To help fight the biblical jet lag, the
chef Neil Perry, of the Rockpool group of
Australian restaurants, and the nutritional
biologist Professor Stephen Simpson, of
Sydney University, have teamed up to
offer light, healthy dishes that are served
at times that will help, says Simpson,
“shift you towards destination time, so
that you don’t arrive feeling like shit.
That is a technical term”. There’s chicken,
red rice and vegetables in economy;
cumin-spiced beef salad in premium;
and tuna poke salad in business, with
There is one inch more
legroom than on BA,
but it has only four loos
for 194 passengers
plenty of semillon and pinot noir to take
the edge off things. “We don’t want to be
health Nazis,” says Simpson.
Cabin temperature and lighting change
in the Dreamliner to help me to get to
sleep a few hours after leaving Melbourne
— it gets cooler and darker — and wake me
up before Los Angeles, by getting warmer
and brighter. Compared to most jets, the
air pressure is higher and the air more
moist, which helps me to arrive feeling as
good as I can after the best part of a day in
a plastic tube at 39,000ft.
One thing the jet does not have —
maddeningly for a box-fresh plane
travelling such a long distance — is wi-fi.
Joyce insists it’s coming soon.
Qantas reckons that enough Brits will
want to travel direct to Australia without
the hassle of changing planes, and enough
Aussies will prefer to transit through
Perth’s tiny airport, rather than a vast
foreign hub — this despite a return fare
starting at nearly £800 in economy, plus
the cost of a domestic flight if you want to
push on to, say, Sydney. (Economy fares to
Oz including one stop in the Middle East
or Singapore can be had for closer to £650.)
If travellers take to Qantas’s new
service, they might not have to wait too
much longer to fly 20 hours non-stop to
Sydney or Melbourne. Joyce has
challenged Boeing and Airbus to modify
their 777 and A350 planes to make them
so light, aerodynamic and fuel efficient
that, fully laden, they can crack “aviation’s
final frontier” by 2022.
My verdict? If you’re young, small and
very flexible, or have Silver or better
frequent-flyer status on BA, One World,
Qantas or Emirates, which will give you
first dibs on the front-row seats, economy
will work — just. But if you can stretch to
it, I’d go for premium. It’s the best cabin of
its kind in the sky.
The first non-stop London to Perth flight
leaves Heathrow at 1.15pm on March 25,
with the first Perth to London flight the
day before. Return fares start at £793 in
economy, £2,047 in premium economy
and £3,054 in business (qantas.com).
John Arlidge flew as a guest of Qantas
8 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Cover story
THE BIG TRIP
THE SILK ROA
Blaze a trail through the mountains and ancient cities
of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the trade route’s most
bewitching countries. Emma Thomson is your guide
T
his isn’t just any big adventure
— it’s the original road trip, and
it all started with a caterpillar.
For more than a thousand
years, the demand for the
strands of the silkworm’s cocoon was
insatiable, and established a route that
stretched from Xi’an, in China, to
Istanbul, in Turkey. Where the merchants
stopped to rest, great cities sprang up.
Even if you ditch dromedaries in favour
of driving, you won’t be able to cover the
full 7,450-mile journey in two weeks, so
this itinerary focuses on the two countries
BELKINA NATALIA, PAUL HARRIS/GETTY; ROBERT PRESTON/ALAMY
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 9
famous caravanserai — nestled amid
boundless grassy valleys, slurp laghman
noodles with nomads on the shores of
Song-Kol Lake and practise your bartering
in ancient bazaars.
Booking with a British tour operator
will smooth out the visa-application
process, but it’s a journey entirely
possible to make independently. Tourism
is booming in both countries, so you’ll be
able to get by speaking English, but it’s
always handy to pack a Russian
phrasebook in your bag, just in case.
It took Marco Polo 24 years to unravel
the secrets of the Silk Road. We have just
16 days, so there’s not a minute to waste.
Load up your camel saddlebags (OK,
suitcase) and let’s begin.
DAY 1 BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN
Most flights from the UK get you into
mountain-framed Bishkek — a strollworthy capital of wide squares and
fountains — before the dawn chorus. Grab
a taxi from modern Manas airport (about
£5) for the 18-mile drive into town. Avoid
the drab Soviet-era hotels; we’re staying
at the Golden Tulip, a central four-star
with a lobby lounge (doubles from £96,
B&B; goldentulip.com).
Keep your eyelids propped open with a
caffeine fix at the hipster-hangout Sierra
Coffee (sierra.kg) while you wait for the
vast, bustling, naan-bread-scented Osh
Bazaar to open up at 9am. Merchants
from all over the country converge here.
Haggle for a kalpak (white felt hat), then
stroll east to Bishkek’s main square,
Ala-Too, to catch the hourly changing of
the guard. The soldiers march about in a
Ministry of Silly Walks style.
Avoid the souvenir shops along the
south side of Chuy Avenue and make for
the Saima store, which repurposes
gorgeous antique embroidered Kyrgyz
wedding clothes as pillows and table
runners (embroidery.com.kg).
For an early dinner — the six-hour time
difference might be hitting you — squeeze
into a marshrutka, one of the safe but snug
shared taxi minibuses, and head for
Shashlyk No 1, for the capital’s best lamb
kebab (from £2; shashlyk.kg).
DAYS 2-3 SONG KOL
AD
at the heart of the trail: Kyrgyzstan and
Uzbekistan. The wild, open steppe of the
former lets you glimpse nomad life
unchanged since the trading heydays;
the latter is home to some of the bestpreserved Silk Road architecture in Asia.
You’ll see fortress-like roadside inns — the
DAYS 4-5 TASH RABAT
STEPPE BACK IN TIME Left, horses
graze in the Tian Shan mountains,
Kyrgyzstan. Right, stay in a yurt
We’re going up, up, up — nearly 10,000ft
— to the sublime alpine lake of Song Kol.
There’s no public transport, so enlist the
services of CBT, the dynamic local tourism
organisation. It’ll sort you a car with a
driver/guide for the 50 miles from about
£50 (cbtkyrgyzstan.kg). Stop off at the
11th-century Burana Tower, which is
steeped in witchcraft and legend, and
Altyn Kol, a female co-operative of
felt-carpet artisans (altyn-kol.pro). Then
take in the scenery unfolding in front of
you of unfenced pastures studded with
herdsmen on horseback shepherding
sheep and goats.
You’ll have called ahead so that you can
snuggle up beside a woodburning stove at
the Nomad’s Home Baiysh camp (£11, B&B;
00 996 706 800 668). Yurt No 3 has the
best views of the lake, and for a little extra
they can rustle up lunch and dinner of
home-baked bread and lake-caught fish.
The next morning, swim in the goosepimpling lake or pony up for a guided
horse ride (£6) to visit local shepherds.
Join them for a bowl of laghman and watch
them making kumys (fermented mare’s
milk). Remember to scan the plains for
toothy marmots, lynxes and wolves.
Bishkek
KAZAKHSTAN
Urgench
UZBEKISTAN
Khiva
TURKMENISTAN Bukhara
Tashkent
Andijan
Kokand
Samarkand
Margilan
KYRGYZSTAN
Song
Kol
Lake
Osh
Tash
Rabat
TAJIKISTAN
AFGHANISTAN
100 miles
E XC L U S I V E O F F E R
The great Silk Road trip
If you’re inspired by our Big
Trip, Times Expert Traveller
has created an epic 35-day
escorted tour exclusively
for Sunday Times readers
that follows the ancient
trading route — this time, all
the way from China to Iran.
THE TRIP
On your adventure, you will
discover countless cultural
treasures, from the
Terracotta Warriors and
Samarkand to the
fascinating lost city of Merv,
in Turkmenistan, plus old
staging posts, desert oases,
extraordinary mosques and
much more.
DATES
March 27-April 30, 2019 or
September 25-October 29,
2019
WHAT’S INCLUDED
6 All accommodation
6 All transport as outlined
in the itinerary (see online
for full details)
6 34 breakfasts, 34
lunches, 28 dinners
6 All entrance fees,
sightseeing, excursions and
activities as per itinerary
6 Services of a Wild
Frontiers tour leader, local
guides and driver
6 Small group size
(maximum 18)
ABOUT OUR PARTNER
You will be travelling with
our trusted travel partner
Wild Frontiers, the
pioneering expert in this
type of adventurous trip,
whose knowledge of the
region ensures it will have
sourced the right guides,
hotels and connections to
make this the trip of a
lifetime.
35 DAYS FROM
£9,595pp
based on two sharing
Call 020 8712 0595
quoting TIMES-TGSR
thetimes.co.uk/silkroad
CBT can arrange onward travel, or contact
Tursun or Cholpon, the owners of the Tash
Rabat yurt camp, who’ll come and pick
you up for the two-hour drive (pick-up
£38; yurts £6, B&B; tashrabatyurt.com).
Tash Rabat is one of Kyrgyzstan’s most
remarkable monuments: a 15th-century
stone caravanserai set amid sweeping
grass plains. Silk Road merchants would
rest, feed their animals and trade here.
Spend the afternoon dipping into its
fascinating dark corners.
Next day, after a camp breakfast of
naan bread with apricot jam, saddle up
like a true trader for the six-hour ride to
Chatyr-Kol Lake, in the snow-dusted Tian
Shan mountains (£8), or hike to the ridge
of At-Bashy. It’s a tough four- to five-hour
climb, thanks to the 13,000ft altitude, but
the views of the valleys below are
astonishing.
DAYS 6-7 OSH
We weave towards the 3,000-year-old city
of Osh, a hefty 11-hour haul (road open
May-September; arrange in advance with
CBT; about £110). Your nose will be
pressed up against the car window for the
duration, as you take in the snowcapped
mountain vistas. Book in at the central
CBT Homestay #7. You’ll stay with a local
family and most likely be roped in to help
prepare dinner (£11; Mominova 7).
Osh is the midpoint of the Silk Road and
Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city is home to the
country’s only Unesco-listed site,
Sulaiman-Too, a hulking hill that conceals
Dom Babura (Babur’s House), the shrine
where the first Mughal emperor hid
during his teenage years while trying to
determine his destiny. Behind it is a
smooth slab of rock: copy the locals and
slide down it — it’s said to confer health.
Give the Historical Museum’s contrived
exhibitions a miss.
Fuel up at Jayma Bazaar, Central Asia’s
largest outdoor market, which sells
everything from hats to horseshoes. The
chaikhanas (traditional teahouses) lining
the western bank of the Ak-Buura River
serve bowls of noodle soup for a quid.
DAYS 8-9 KOKAND, UZBEKISTAN
Border-hopping day: Uzbekistan — the
land of vintage Ladas — calls. It’s a bit of a
fiddle to get into it, but perfectly doable.
Catch a 10-minute taxi (£3) from Osh’s
old bus station to the Dostyk border
checkpoint and, once through, take
another taxi onto Andijan (£14). From
there, the local tour operator Advantour
will take over (advantour.com). Watch the
Kyrgyz mountains flatten into the fertile
Fergana Valley — Central Asia’s food
basket — as you head for the small-scale
Yodgorlik Silk Factory in the town of
Margilan. See the clackety silk looms in
action and get your credit card ready if
you want to splurge on a £150 coat.
From there it’s a 1½-hour sprint to the
trading crossroad city of Kokand and the
wallet-friendly Hotel Kokand (doubles
from £30, B&B; booking.com).
Next day, play king and queen in the
19th-century palace of Khudayar Khan,
one-time residence of Kokand’s lustful
despot (£2). It took 16,000 slaves 12 years
to carve its opulent ceilings. It’s worth
coughing up the extra £2.50 for the
guided tour from the museum’s director.
Leave time for a visit to the Juma mosque
(70p). The 98 redwood columns that prop
up its portico were hauled all the way
from India.
Kokand is the city in which to fill your
belly with a plate of the Uzbek national
dish, plov. It’s broth-soaked rice with
Continued on page 10 →
10 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Cover story
CALLE MONTES, TUUL & BRUNO MORANDI/GETTY
→ Continued from page 9
lamb, carrots and onions, and nearly
every restaurant serves it.
DAYS 10-11 KHIVA
Get your hotel to book you a taxi to
Tashkent airport (4 hours; £11; don’t
worry, we’ll explore the Uzbek capital
properly later). Fly to Urgench with the
frills-free Uzbekistan Airways (1hr 35min;
from £40), and take a 30-minute taxi to
Khiva (£14), where you’ll spend the night
in the Orient Star, housed inside the bluetiled 19th-century Muhammad Amin Khan
madrasah (doubles from £52, B&B;
khiva.hotelorientstar.com).
Khiva is split into two parts: Ichon Qala,
the medieval walled city, and Dishon Qala,
the mostly 19th-century outer walled city.
Rise early to avoid any crowds and get lost
amid the labyrinthine streets, mosques,
madrasahs and domes of this car-free
Unesco site. Pick up a combi ticket (£9) for
entrance to both sectors from the booth at
the West Gate (Ata Darvoza). Keep an eye
out for shops selling the Tamerlane chess
set. Named after the Timurid conqueror, it
features elephants, camels and giraffes as
extra pieces.
DAYS 12-13 BUKHARA
Start the day by slurping sweet tea in the
Farrukh teahouse’s pretty courtyard,
before gearing up for some walletemptying rug-buying at the Khiva Silk
Carpet Workshop (khiva.info/khivasilk).
Rug in tow, ask the Orient Star to book
you a shared taxi for the six-hour drive
across the Kyzylkum Desert to the
museum city of Bukhara (£15). You’ll cross
tile-bejewelled madrasahs light up.
Chances are you’ll end up in an Uzbek
wedding photo. The spick-and-span
Bibikhanum hotel is just a few yards away
(doubles from £47, B&B; hotelbibikhanum.com).
You’ll wake in a city of such beauty, even
Alexander the Great fell on his knees when
he came to conquer it. Return to Registan
Square for the early morning light, and
then head for the Ulugh Beg madrasah,
where if you give the gatekeeper a wink
and a bit of cash, he’ll let you climb its
wonky minaret. It’s a squeeze, but the
views of the square are special.
Gur-i-Amir, the tomb of the bloodthirsty
Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur, and the
Bibi-Khanym mosque, named after his
wife, who was killed for kissing the
architect, are both impressive. Less visited
but still impressive are the lustrous
7th-century frescoes inside the Afrasiab
Museum, depicting merchants on camels
and servants carrying silk cocoons (£1.50).
More ghosts are to be found amid the
turquoise glazed tiles of the necropolis of
Shah-i-Zinda (£1). Visit at dusk when the
tourist buses have retreated. A final
merchant’s feast should be booked with
Antica B&B, which serves home-cooked
food and local wines (£8 a head; antica.uz).
DAY 16 TASHKENT
The necropolis of Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand. Below, time for tea in Uzbekistan
the Amu-Darya River — otherwise known
as the Oxus — which drains into the Aral
Sea, disastrously shrunken by Soviet
irrigation projects. Bed down at the
Amelia Hotel, a characterful former
Jewish merchant’s house (doubles from
£50; hotelamelia.com).
The foreboding Ark Fortress — where
the city’s residents hid when Genghis
Khan’s army ransacked the city in 1220 —
demands attention (£1.50). Ignore
everything except the audience hall, the
throne room and the Emir’s Prison (80p
extra), where the British Army officers
Stoddart and Conolly lived among rats
before being beheaded in 1842, on the
orders of the emir, having failed at the
Great Game — spying — against Russia.
A short walk west brings you to the
10th-century Ismail Samani mausoleum,
a cube of woven brickwork and the city’s
oldest Islamic monument. The best view
of it comes from the nearby modern Ferris
wheel (20p). It’s also worth ascending the
mud-brick Kalyan minaret (£2.20) for a
photo op of Poi Kalyan Square. It’s the
last view that condemned criminals
saw before they were tied into sacks
and thrown off the top by “muscle”
hired by judges in a centuries-old
practice that carried on until 1920.
DAYS 14-15 SAMARKAND
The train is quicker, but it’s best
to go by the M37 — aka the
2,400-year-old Royal Road —
to Samarkand. That way, you
can stop at Rabati Malik, the
almighty carved terracotta
portal of an 11th-century
caravanserai. The drive is
four hours in total. Pick
up a shared car from the
central bus station (£4).
Samarkand might just
be the finest Silk Road city.
Make a beeline for its
crown jewel, Registan
Square, in time for sunset.
Sit on the steps and
watch the city’s three
Hotfoot it onto the ultramodern,
high-speed Afrosiyob train (2hr 10min,
three services a day; from £4; advantour.
com) for a quick final whizz around
Tashkent, the Uzbek capital and Central
Asia’s most populous city (2.4m).
Dip into the Muyi Muborak Library (£1),
home to the world’s oldest copy of the
Koran — Kufic script on deerskin from the
7th century. Its margins are stained with
the blood of the martyred man who
penned it.
Our last stop is the 2,000-year-old
Chorsu Bazaar. Stock up on spices, then
it’s off to the airport, with saffron staining
your skin and a saddlebag of souvenirs
from your Silk Road odyssey.
SAVE FOR NEXT TIME If you’re being
completist about it, add on China,
Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey — see our
Times Expert Traveller package, which
will take you from China as far as Iran
(thetimes.co.uk/silkroad).
WHEN TO GO September is your best
bet: the traditional tented ger camps of
Kyrgyzstan still linger on the summer
pastures before relocating to their winter
bases, while the baking heat of
Uzbekistan’s plains has simmered down
and the crowds have dispersed.
FLIGHTS They’re cheap. Fly to
Bishkek via Istanbul with Pegasus
Airlines from £130 (or try Turkish
Airlines). Uzbekistan Airways has
direct flights from Tashkent to
Heathrow from £220.
VISAS Kyrgyzstan
introduced an e-visa
scheme last year. Apply
at evisa.e-gov.kg. It costs
£30. Uzbekistan visas
need to be applied
for in person at the
embassy in London or
via post. They cost £67
(uzbekembassy.org).
If you’re travelling
independently in
Uzbekistan, you must
register with a local
“Office of Entry, Exit and
Citizenship” within
three days of arriving.
Hotel staff will be able
to help you with the
paperwork.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 11
Travel Britain
MIKAEL BUCK/ALTON TOWERS
A
new ride is a big investment
for a theme park. Not only
must it offer a twist on the
established thrills, it should
be as relevant in 10 years’
time as it was on the opening day. The
rollercoaster designer, therefore, needs
to be a futurologist, so perhaps it’s no
wonder that, a year before Brexit, Alton
Towers has unveiled a ride that takes us
back to the pagan world of the Dark Ages.
It’s called Wicker Man, and it’s the
first wooden rollercoaster to be built in
Britain for 21 years. Its centrepiece is a 58ft
bonfire topped with a ram’s head that
might be Bucca, the horned god of the
ancients — and he’s hungry. If he doesn’t
get fed, the crops will fail (or something),
so the Beornen, a primitive community of
forest dwellers, have arranged a Burning
Man-style festival aimed at attracting
gullible tourists, who will sate his devilish
appetite by blasting along a rune-daubed
track to be consumed by fire in his belly,
much like Edward Woodward in the 1973
horror flick of the same name.
You read that right: Alton Towers, the
Staffordshire theme park that saw five
people seriously injured on the Smiler
ride in 2015, has built a rollercoaster that
combines wood and fire.
“We’ve had a lot of comments about
that,” sighs Bradley Wynne, the creative
genius behind the ride, “but Wicker Man
isn’t flammable. Any fire near the track is
fake, created with special effects.”
Nor is the ride anything to do with the
film. Or the Burning Man festival. And it’s
definitely not about human sacrifice:
“The story is that the Beornen want to
WHAT THE BLAZES IS THAT? The Wicker Man ride at Alton Towers ‘explores our pagan past’
WOOD & FIRE
Britain’s first new wooden rollercoaster in 21 years
has a flaming wicker-man theme. What could possibly
go wrong? Chris Haslam buckles up for the ride
present the Wicker Man with a gift, and
that gift is, er, your screams of enjoyment,”
Bradley says, eager to play down any
suggestion that a ride based on pagan
sacrificial rites should be misconstrued as
a ride based on pagan sacrificial rites.
So determined is Alton Towers’ parent
company, Merlin Entertainments, not to
offend, it invented a whole new alphabet
rather than use real runes to decorate the
ride. Better safe than sorry.
But what about the ride? In a word,
fabulous. Its dark, forbidding nature
makes it even better in foul weather, and,
as any rollercoaster aficionado knows,
a wooden ride is worth five steel ones.
It’s not especially fast — 44mph — and,
at 2 minutes 33 seconds, not that long.
The minimum height to ride it is 1.2
metres (4ft), making it accessible to
families, who’ll rattle around a track of
stomach-churning banked turns, zero-g
humps and bunny-hops, passing through
the belly of the Wicker Man three times
in a primitive blaze of fire and smoke.
I was among the first to take on Wicker
Man last Thursday, and I enjoyed it so
much, I rode it three times in a snow
shower, finally discovering that the best
seat is the one right at the back.
Alton Towers should be proud: it has
created a thrilling new ride with an
intriguing old theme. While it wouldn’t
agree with my Dark Ages interpretation,
Edward Woodward would.
Wicker Man opens on Saturday and is
included in the park entry price; from £33
for adults and £27.50 for children if booked
online (altontowers.com)
12 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel Britain
50 COOL
COTTAGES
Self-cater in style with Jeremy Lazell’s selection — all with space this summer
DESIGNER
RED KITE BARN, POWYS
SLEEPS 2
The only reason this 19th-century barn in
Builth Wells isn’t booked up to 2030 is that
it’s just changed agents. So get in now. It’s
squirrelled away in its own 80-acre wood.
It offers long valley views and comes with
cow-hide throws, mood lighting and a
woodburner — plus underfloor heating, a
pool table and a cinema room. Four extra
people can sleep in tents in the woods.
£1,154 for a week in low season, £1,689 in
the summer holidays; holidaycottages.co.uk
EL RAY, KENT
SLEEPS 4
Hip name, even hipper design, and just
20 minutes along Dungeness Beach from
lobster lunches at the Snack Shack: this
cuboid masterpiece is filled with quirky,
contemporary design, including a kitchen
built into a stripped-back Victorian
railway carriage, retro-cool moulded black
plastic dining chairs and sliding doors that
open to the big-sky shingle beach.
£890/£1,790; mulberrycottages.com
THE WINDMILL, SUFFOLK
SLEEPS 4
Take a 19th-century windmill, add a
futuristic zinc roof, throw in a marble
bathroom with a monsoon shower and
top it all off with a fourth-floor Ibiza-style
chill-out lounge with velvet sofas, a 47in
television and a cool, curved ceiling.
Opened last year, the Windmill also has
cracking views over the fens from the
top-floor balcony and access to lovely
walks to pretty Lavenham.
£1,595; thewindmillsuffolk.com
BACKWATER, NORFOLK
SLEEPS 8
The owners of Backwater are both
architects, and it shows. Featuring steep
pitched ceilings, acres of glass and
bedrooms virtually on the water, this
Riba award-winning, shingle-clad,
Scandi-chic house in Wroxham is a
modern, minimalist take on the
traditional Broads boat shed. A lagoonside terrace is made for otter-spotting
and quiet contemplation.
£1,250/£3,100; themodernhouse.com
VISTA POINT, WEST SUSSEX
SLEEPS 9
Designed by the leading modernist
architect Patrick Gwynne — hence the
cool, white lines and spiral staircase —
and sympathetically furnished with an
Eames rocker here, a glossy Bramante
dining table there, this East Preston
cottage with its huge picture windows
simply works. Steps lead down to a garden
and Hockney-esque pool, then onto the
shingle beach.
£1,700/£3,900; vista-point.co.uk
REMOTE
THE SEA ROOM, CORNWALL
FLOUR POWER
Right, the
Windmill, Suffolk.
Below, Draper
House, Somerset
SLEEPS 2
This cute converted boathouse right on
the shore at Ropehawn, near Fowey, has a
private slipway for pre-breakfast dips (or
for any lottery winners arriving by yacht).
It’s a spectacular, sea-flecked base for
windswept walks along the South West
Coast Path. Reached only on foot or from
the sea, it has views over St Austell Bay
from its squishy lounge sofas and the
mezzanine bedroom.
£1,323/£2,040; boutique-retreats.co.uk
LITTLE LODGE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
SLEEPS 4
New for 2018, this no-expense-spared
Cotswold-stone renovation at Ullenwood,
near Cheltenham, has 200-year-old
cherrywood floors, a Jotul woodburner
and the cosiest of mezzanine bedrooms.
The patio with fire bowl and reindeer-skin
armchairs offers sweeping views over the
VIVIANNA, WORCESTERSHIRE
SLEEPS 4
Hugging an ancient ash — the trunk climbs
through the open-plan kitchen/lounge —
Vivianna is a thatched treehouse in a
woodland clearing adjacent to Capability
Brown’s 29-acre garden at Kyre Park, near
Tenbury Wells. A circular balcony
overlooks a small lake, where a hot tub
beckons for nights out under the stars.
£1,539/£1,789; holidaycottages.co.uk
HOWLETT’S ZOO TREEHOUSES, KENT
SLEEPS 4
When only views over a rhino enclosure
will do, take your tiny Tarzans to these
reassuringly pricy perches at Howlett’s
Zoo in Lympne. You get open-plan
interiors, panoramic decks, use of the
zoo’s clubhouse and a golf buggy for
a (free) after-hours safari round the
600-acre park.
£3,043/£5,643; mulberrycottages.com
BARN STUDIO, SHROPSHIRE
SLEEPS 2
Built into the walls of a timber barn in
Ellesmere, Barn Studio offers rose-framed
windows, a woodburning stove, crushedvelvet sofas and a leafy garden opening
onto 55 acres of rolling parkland and a
pretty, private lake. You’ll have one
neighbour: Pipkin the miniature pony.
£678/£778; qualityunearthed.co.uk
14-acre estate and Malvern Hills. Book
now — before word gets out.
£1,170; luxurycotswoldrentals.com
GUIDE TO PRICES
The first figure
given is the lowest
price to rent the
whole property
for a week; the
second is the peak
summer price.
All cottages
had summer
availability when
we went to press
GOODWOOD, OXFORDSHIRE
SLEEPS 5
As one of a dozen stylish Cotswold-stone
stables and cottages that once belonged to
Bruern Abbey, this is essentially a holiday
village... but it’s a Chipping Norton
holiday village. Expect Nina Campbell
wallpaper, Osborne & Little fabrics,
Victorian walled garden and play parks,
a games room (Xbox, pool table, table
tennis) and indoor pool, spa and gym.
£1,578/£3,067; bruern-holidaycottages.co.uk
WHITE EDGE LODGE, DERBYSHIRE
SLEEPS 5
This former gamekeeper’s cottage
perches on a hilltop on the Duke of
Rutland’s Longshaw Estate, near
Hathersage. Its game cellar is now a
modern kitchen and upstairs the rolltop
bath offers 20-mile views. It’s just the
place for a long soak after the three-hour
circular walk to Stanage Edge, via pints at
the nearby Fox House.
£810/£1,668; nationatrust.org.uk/holidays
MILL GRANGE, DEVON
SLEEPS 6
Dipping a toe in a tributary of the Dart,
this three-bedroom watermill conversion
mixes original features (oak beams, stone
walls) with contemporary flair, including
a modern kitchen and a glass-walled
terrace overlooking the water. It’s just five
minutes from Dartmouth, 10 from
stunning Blackpool Sands.
£766/£1,603; coastandcountry.co.uk
ANGUS PIGOTT
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 13
HENFAES ISAF, DENBIGHSHIRE
SLEEPS 6
An outhouse has “1770” carved into its
wall, but this farmhouse near Corwen
actually dates back centuries earlier, as its
fabulously wonky bedroom walls attest.
The TV den in the converted hayloft will
be a hit with kids after yomps across the
fields to Cynwyd waterfall; parents will
love the original beamed ceilings,
salvaged stained-glass doors and an
inglenook fireplace with a bread oven.
£465/£1,115; qualitycottages.co.uk
WATER’S EDGE BOATHOUSE,
STAFFORDSHIRE
SLEEPS 6
Moor up for Swallows and Amazons
adventures on Rudyard Lake, near Leek.
The timber-and-glass boathouse with
vaulted ceilings has a hot tub on the
lakefront balcony and — fishermen, note —
comes with a canoe and a rowing boat.
Bring bikes for five-mile laps of the lake,
or settle for leafy trundles along the
disused railway and proper Peak yomps
around the Roaches.
£1,494/£1,924; watersidebreaks.com
TIGH A BHROC, HIGHLAND
SLEEPS 6-8
SEASIDE
MOONTIDE, CORNWALL
SLEEPS 2
As featured on Channel 4’s Amazing
Spaces, Moontide is a bijou beach house
with a wraparound deck and views from
the daybed over Whitsand Bay’s threemile sweep of sand. Reached via a steep
set of steps from the clifftop above, the
cosy cottage has a surf school below and
coastal walks galore — but good luck
leaving the woodburner and cosy sofa.
£995/£2,450; uniquehomestays.com
PUFFIN’S NEST, DEVON
SLEEPS 2
Along the cliffs from Hartland Point and
above Berry Beach, this former granary
stands in the grounds of a 500-acre farm.
It has a courtyard garden and is within
earshot of the sea. It’s super-cosy, thanks
to a mezzanine bedroom with a driftwood
bed, a freestanding rolltop bath and a
woodburner for snuggling round after
walks to the beach.
£600/£816; boutique-retreats.co.uk
THE WILLOWS, ESSEX
SLEEPS 5
Getting to this modern cottage involves
an epic journey across the Bealach na Ba,
the summit of Scotland’s steepest road —
but what a reward. It stands on the shores
of a kelpy cove near the foot of the
Applecross peninsula and has
spectacular Skye views. There are three
sea-facing upstairs bedrooms and a
firepit on the lawn.
£700/£950; oneoffplaces.co.uk
Osea Island has been dubbed Essex’s
Necker: the 380-acre island is owned by a
record producer and is a back-to-nature
haven for rehabbing stars. Accessible only
at low tide, via a Roman causeway, and
crossed by sandy tracks, the island is
home to a dozen cottages, including the
Willows, a converted estate-worker’s
shack, with access to Osea’s shared pool
and games room.
£905/£1,270; oseaisland.co.uk
DRAPER HOUSE, SOMERSET
SLEEPS 8
SEA SALT, NORFOLK
SLEEPS 5
Two hundred yards from the nearest
neighbour, this is every creeper-covered,
limestone inch the 19th-century Somerset
country cottage — with a contemporary
revamp. An open-plan kitchen/lounge
with breakfast bar has iris-blue sofas
and a woodburner, and opens to 3,000
acres of parkland on the Dillington Estate
near Ilminster. A pretty garden dining
table seats eight.
£1,925/£2,420; oliverstravels.com
This striking, clifftop art deco-style beach
house in Overstrand offers mighty views
out to sea, a footie-tastic lawn, patio
dining and suntrap sofas. The beach
below is a belter, too (much quieter than
cousin Cromer’s, two miles west), while
the nearby Cliff Top Cafe is your 1930s
cream-tea stop after a steam-train ride to
Sheringham or a walk along the cliffs.
£841/£1,311; originalcottages.co.uk
5 NORTH STREET, DORSET
MASONGILL LODGE, NORTH YORKSHIRE SLEEPS 6
SLEEPS 8
Sited in Langton Matravers, this simple
This grade II listed, 1709 longhouse is
on the fells below Ingleborough, the
second highest summit (2,372ft) on
the Yorkshire Dales. Half a mile up a
single-track road, in a hamlet of a dozen
stone houses, Masongill Lodge has a
four-oven Aga, two snug lounges — both
with woodburning stoves — plump sofas
and vast Persian rugs.
£1,269/£1,887; ruralretreats.co.uk
OAKWOOD COTTAGE, ARGYLL & BUTE
SLEEPS 10
Most cottages don’t come with a
motorboat, but this is not most cottages.
Formerly the laundry for Shuna Castle,
the cosy, tin-clad cabin lies just up from a
sheltered bay on the 1,000-acre private
Isle of Shuna, near Oban (population: 2).
It makes an old-school, Blyton-esque base
for fishing trips and coastal yomps in
search of otters, seals and golden eagles.
£650/£750; islandofshuna.co.uk
THE PUMPHOUSE, NORFOLK
SLEEPS 14
Tribeca meets the fens in a warehousechic conversion, with exposed red-brick
walls, industrial-style kitchen and vast
windows. On the edge of a wetland
reserve near Hilgay, the cottage has an
indoor hot tub and a barbecue deck —
where you might catch sight of Otis, the
resident barn owl.
£3,170/£3,870; ruralretreats.co.uk
but stylish three-storey village house is
five minutes by car from Swanage’s kissme-quick beach scene and a further 10
from Studland’s wild, dune-backed sands.
Built in the 19th century from local
Purbeck stone, there’s a pretty, walled
patio garden. Dancing Ledge cliffs are just
a short walk away.
£424/£916; homeaway.co.uk
SEABREEZES, EAST SUSSEX
SLEEPS 6
Beach cottages don’t come any beachier
than Seabreezes — step off the decking
and your feet hit Camber Sands. The
modern, boathouse-style cottage is all
clean white lines and floor-to-ceiling
double-height windows; a gallery
bedroom has mesmerising views over
the shifting sands and sea. It’s also
wonderfully quiet, with the car park a
five-minute walk away along the dunes.
£1,000/£1,775; camberbeach.co.uk
SLOOP INN COTTAGE,
PEMBROKESHIRE
SLEEPS 6
Yards from the water, Sloop Inn has been
given a chic, modern, upside-down
makeover, resulting in a galleried upstairs
open-plan living space and three snug,
low-beamed bedrooms below. Sandy
Haven Beach lies just across the tiny cove,
while the pink sands of Lindsway Bay are a
Continued on page 15 →
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 15
Travel 50 Cottages
seven-tiered Rapunzel’s tower, restored
in 2013 to the tune of £4.2m. Cheap it
unsurprisingly ain’t, but this is a
magnificent muddle of castellations and
quatrefoils, stained glass and baronial
beds, in a Domesday village only 10
minutes from Tudeley church and its
ethereal windows by Chagall.
£2,400/£4,000; thehadlowtower.co.uk
→ Continued from page 13
one-mile walk along the Pembrokeshire
Coast Path. Boat trips to puffin-covered
Skomer are a must in summer, departing
from nearby Martin’s Haven.
£540/£1,290; coastalcottages.co.uk
GULL COTTAGE, CORNWALL
SLEEPS 8
In the boot room you’ll find surfboards,
wetsuits and boogie boards — with good
reason, because this fish store turned
bohemian cottage sits on the cliffs above
Trevaunance Cove, near St Agnes, one of
the best surf beaches on the north Cornish
coast. Bright throws, rugs and a staircase
made of railway sleepers add a colourful
edge; the beach-view barbecue and village
pubs complete the picture.
£3,000/£3,500; avenueproperty.com
OLD CHAPEL HOUSE, LANCASHIRE
SLEEPS 8
This clever restoration of an 18th-century
Baptist chapel, right next door to a spa
in Barnoldswick, is a few miles from the
Forest of Bowland AONB and the Yorkshire
Dales National Park. The original arched
doorway (with adjacent gravestone) opens
onto a handsome open-plan kitchen/
lounge. Two Chesterfields and a Victorian
range complete the picture; upstairs, the
galleried landing has original timbers and
retains two of the chapel windows.
£793/£1,481; english-country-cottages.co.uk
HARBOUR LIGHTS, NORTHUMBERLAND
SLEEPS 8
This modern, three-storey end cottage
overlooking Craster’s picture-perfect
harbour has full-height kitchen/lounge
windows leading onto a timber patio,
where a pair of deckchairs and a wooden
bench cry out for sundowners. A
magnificent walk via Dunstanburgh Castle
and Embleton Sands brings you to Low
Newton-by-the-Sea for crab sandwiches
at the beachfront Ship Inn.
£1,100/£2,195; crabtreeandcrabtree.com
ROMANTIC
MIDDLE COTTAGE, CORNWALL
SLEEPS 2
This pint-sized Cornish fisherman’s
cottage, with a sundrenched, south-facing
terrace just above the waves at Portloe, is
not cheap, but then it is owned by the
boutique Lugger hotel, a 17th-century
smugglers’ inn with a two AA Rosette
restaurant. The cottage comes with
breakfast in the hotel and access to its spa
— for post-coastal-walk pampering.
£1,960/£2,100; luggerhotel.co.uk
LITTLE COTTAGE, CORNWALL
SLEEPS 11
This Praa Sands property is actually
booked up throughout July and August,
but we had to include it for anyone
plotting a stunning beach break next
summer — for which availability is good.
Contact them now, because “stunning” is
an understatement: the sleek modernist
house is all sea-view glass, muted grey
palettes and designer pieces, plus one of
Cornwall’s best beaches just outside.
£1,967/£4,648; beachspoke.com
THE TEMPLE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
SLEEPS 2
Step back in time at this grade I listed
Doric folly, in Stancombe, built in the
1860s as a lakeside love nest. Beautifully
decorated with Persian rugs, Victorian
antiques and burgundy drapes, the
Temple comes with a free bar, a rowing
boat and exclusive access to the
surrounding three acres of Chinese,
Greek and Egyptian-style gardens.
£1,500; thetemple.info
HISTORIC
WIRELESS COTTAGE, CORNWALL
SLEEPS 2
OK, it’s a shed, but what a shed — and what
a setting and history, too. Built by Marconi
for radio experiments in the early 1900s,
this clifftop timber cabin is less than 20
yards from the South West Coast Path,
from where it’s a 30-minute windswept
walk to Lizard Point, with aquamarine
Kynance Cove a further two miles on.
£426/£1,149; nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays
REFECTORY COTTAGE,
NORTH YORKSHIRE
SLEEPS 4
You step out of this two-bedroomer onto
the lawn of 12th-century Rievaulx Abbey,
in Helmsley (the cottage is built with
reclaimed stones). Bring walking boots, as
you’re deep inside the North York Moors
National Park, with the River Rye footpath
just beyond the back door and a threemile stroll taking you to Helmsley Castle.
£665/£1,770; english-heritage.co.uk
COED Y BLEIDDIAU, GWYNEDD
SLEEPS 4
Trainspotters, hermits and history geeks:
on your marks. The first Landmark
Trust property to open in 18 months,
this snug 1860s slate and granite station
house in Blaenau Ffestiniog is reached
by a 20-minute walk from the car park —
or by steam train. A request stop on the
Ffestiniog Railway (inspiration for Ivor
the Engine), it will sell out quick.
£597/£2,187; landmarktrust.org.uk
HADLOW TOWER, KENT
SLEEPS 6
Looming 170ft over the Weald of Kent,
this grade I listed property is a fantastical,
TED’S HUT, SOMERSET
SLEEPS 2
LET YOUR HAIR DOWN The Rapunzel-worthy Hadlow Tower, Kent
‘THAT WASN’T US!’: HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR DEPOSIT BACK
That Formula One-style
champagne shower may have
seemed like a good idea at 2am
on Wednesday. But now it’s
Saturday, you have to return the
keys in 28 minutes, and the sofa’s
coated in gunk. Have fun while
you’re away, but, as in the special
forces, always have one eye on
your exit strategy...
1 KIDS If at all possible,
leave them at home.
2 THE FIRST-DAY SWEEP
Not with a brush. That’s the
last day — and someone
else’s job (see point 7). No,
this is the visual sweep you
need to do ASAP,
metaphorically kicking
the cottage’s tyres,
checking for stains
or breakages that
definitely weren’t
your fault. Anything
obvious, CSI snap it
and send to the letting
agent with the subject
line “Urgent”.
3 BREAKABLES Lladro ballerina
figurine not to your liking? You’ll
like it even less when you nudge
it and lose £400. So move it out
of sight, along with any other
potential deposit-swallowers.
Not dropping them as you do so.
4 CLEAN UP AS YOU GO A few
dirty dishes left by the sink
overnight is fine
(you’re on holiday). But
don’t go all first-year
student on us. You’ll only
regret it.
5 SORT THE BIG STUFF
You’re going to lose
several hundred pounds if
you leave it to the letting
agent to get that redwine stain removed
from the Persian
rug. The company
round the corner will
charge £50. Worth a
shot.
6 LOCK UP Imbued
with the
holiday
spirit, you fling open the
windows, leave the doors
unlocked and inhale the scent of
yesteryear. Then you get cleaned
out by an opportunist thief and
it’s bye-bye £1,000.
7 DELEGATION Make sure you’re
in charge of the final morning
clean-up rota. That way you can
give yourself the easy job: being
in charge of the final morning
clean-up rota. Speak loudly and
with authority, gesture a lot, get
the rota laminated, and give
plenty of real-time updates
(“48 minutes, people”). Beats
cleaning the oven.
8 OWN UP As we’re all taught
at nursery, honesty is the best
policy. Unless it’s the priceless
ornamental coffee table you’ve
broken. Then you need to do the
following: Pritt Stick it back
together; get out of there
sharpish; hope for the best. You
can always blame the previous
tenants. Bloody stag dos.
Duncan Craig
Lording it over the Mendip Hills at one
of the highest points in Somerset, Ted’s
Hut is a solar-powered shepherd’s hut
with a raised double bed and a
woodburning stove. Wonderfully remote
(luggage is transferred by wheelbarrow),
the hayfield hut has a Wild West-style
outdoor bath — perfect for candlelit
soaking while gazing over the 30-acre
farm to Glastonbury Tor.
£700/£945; torviewshepherdshuts.co.uk
THE FLOUR MILL, LINCOLNSHIRE
SLEEPS 2
You’re only a short walk along the canal
from Boston town centre, but this thickwalled one-bedroom granary conversion
promises a wonderfully quiet sleep in its
huge brass bed. Attached to a working
19th-century windmill — the sails still
creak and turn during milling time — it’s
full of quirky, historical touches, including
a curved bedroom wall.
£554; holidaycottages.co.uk
SHEPHERD’S COTTAGE, ARGYLL & BUTE
SLEEPS 2
Opening in April after a stylish refurb, this
is the ultimate love nest, reached by a
20-minute crossing by boat to car-free
Eilean Shona and then on foot for a
further 45 minutes. There is no electricity
— cooking is by gas, lighting is by oil lamp
— just oodles of coal-fired cosiness, a
Victorian rolltop bath and breathtaking
views of Eigg and Rum.
£900; eileanshona.com
Continued on page 17 →
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018 17
Travel 50 Cottages
VILLAGE
JACK’S COTTAGE, DERBYSHIRE
SLEEPS 2
Six miles from Buxton, Longnor village
has two great pubs, a five-star chippy,
Peak District walks and cycle routes along
the Manifold Valley — and Jack’s Cottage,
a simple, solid stone-flagged sanctuary
with a large fireplace, a working range and
exposed beams.
£375/£425; jacks-cottage.co.uk
THE SALT HOUSE, CORNWALL
SLEEPS 4
Drop anchor at this luxury three-storey
fisherman’s cottage right on the seaside
in Mousehole, with views of St Clement’s
Isle’s seals from the sea-wall terrace.
The chic whitewashed stone walls and
flagstone floors are warmed by colourful
throws and a woodburner.
£1,295/£2,950; uniquehomestays.com
COACHMAN’S HOUSE, CUMBRIA
SLEEPS 4
Follow the lane out of Coniston and the
last house you see is this 19th-century
cottage with a 21st-century feel:
underfloor heating, stripped-back sitting
room. Tap the bookcase to reveal a hidden
second lounge and library snug.
£745/£1,445; coachmanshouse.co.uk
ROSE LAWN, DORSET
SLEEPS 6
Pub five minutes down the lane, pretty
garden, oak and stone floors — this is your
classic olde-worlde, low-beamed,
thatched Dorset cottage given a modern
twist. Stylishly refurbished — and more a
home than a holiday rental — Rose Lawn,
in Winfrith Newburgh, has slate-coloured
sofas and Moroccan rugs, sheepskin
throws and cool cushions, plus a
trampoline and a table-tennis table.
£576/£1,155; dorsetcoastalcottages.co.uk
ANDY SCOTT
→ Continued from page 15
OLD FIRE STATION, OXFORDSHIRE
SLEEPS 6
Kilim-covered sofas, an upcycled pew in
the kitchen and Neisha Crosland drapes
are just some of the designer touches in
this former fire station in Charlbury,
within the Cotswold Golden Triangle
formed by Chipping Norton, Stow-on-theWold and Burford. New to the rental
market after a brilliant facelift, this will
sell out quickly once comfort-loving
festivalgoers notice it’s only a short stroll
from Wilderness. Beat them to it.
£1,750/£2,944;
theoldfirestationcharlbury.com
PARTY
PADS
MAYFIELD HOUSE, EAST SUSSEX
SLEEPS 14
This mini-Downton is an unashamedly
ornate Palladian-style manor — crystal
chandeliers, statues by the indoor pool —
which oozes elegance and comfort across
its four spacious floors. A grand terrace is
perfect for boozy lunches looking out over
impeccable lawns; a steam room, cinema,
full-sized snooker table, gym and pints at
the Middle House in nearby medieval
Mayfield seal the deal.
£5,995/£7,995; wowhousecompany.com
described in Alfred Wainwright’s 1950s
hiking bible) — making it ideal for
outdoorsy groups. Built in the 1830s on
land once owned by Wordsworth, the
solid seven-bedroom Lakeland house
has a dining table for 16, a pub five
minutes down the lane in pretty
Patterdale and a roaring fire for post-walk
snoozing while the young ’uns play pool
in the cellar den.
£1,650/£3,250; broad-how.com
THE HERMITAGE, ISLE OF WIGHT
SLEEPS 20
Mayfield House,
East Sussex
COTTAGE TALES
Any self-catering
horror stories or
highlights you’d
like to share?
Tell us at
travel@sundaytimes.co.uk
NORTHRIDGE HALL, WEST YORKSHIRE
SLEEPS 16
Two hot tubs await in the converted stable
at this sandstone vicarage in Ledsham, plus
table tennis, table football and a pool table.
Grade II listed, with Georgian interiors
complimented by abstract art, it also has a
large garden (cricket, football and croquet
kit available). The Chequers Inn’s beer
garden is a five-minute stroll away.
£3,850/£6,950; kateandtoms.com
BROAD HOW, CUMBRIA
SLEEPS 16
Broad How, near Ullswater, stands within
five miles of 50 Wainwrights (the 214 fells
This grand Victorian mansion in
Whitwell (11 bedrooms, all ensuite)
packs modern toys aplenty alongside
the Chesterfields and chandeliers,
including a gym, a pool table, a tabletennis table, a 60in television and a
Bluetooth sound system. Brilliant for
children, it sits in 11 acres of mature
grounds (with a jungle-gym), and is close
to the gently sloping beach at Ventnor.
£1,903/£5,478; bluechipholidays.co.uk
THE OLD NEPTUNE, SUFFOLK
SLEEPS 26
Originally a 15th-century merchant’s
house, then a salty seadog pub, the Old
Neptune still creaks with its Tudor past —
an ancient oak door here, a crooked beam
there — but is now a fully modernised
party pad just round the corner from
Ipswich’s revamped waterfront bars.
The 13-bedroom house has a DJ booth
with decks, courtyard benches begging
for cocktail hour, 10 bathrooms and teak
four-posters.
£4,950/£5,250; theoldneptune.co.uk
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22 March 11, 2018 The Sunday Times
Travel
KEN MCKAY/REX; MARK BOURDILLON
MY HOLS
KIM WILDE
THE
KIT LIST
She went incognito in Australia by taking
off her make-up. Next up, she’s going back
to the 1980s and singing on a cruise ship
I rarely went abroad when I
was growing up. My father,
Marty Wilde, was a rock’n’
roll star and he was so busy
travelling that when he had time off, he
wanted to stay at home. So, my summers
were spent whizzing around the beautiful
Hertfordshire countryside on bikes with
my mates, which was fine by me.
Dad often took me and my brother
Ricky with him to gigs in the UK, but we
also joined him abroad a few times.
The most glamorous was Sydney,
for three weeks, when I was 14.
It was such an adventure. I
remember the size of the clear
blue skies, meeting a koala and
a kangaroo, going to Bondi
Beach and trying lobster
for the first time.
When you visit
somewhere so different
at that age, it stays with
you, so part of my
heart has been
Australia-shaped ever
since. I went back for
a promo tour in the
1980s, but it was only
when visiting in 1994,
for a greatest-hits tour,
that I really got to
explore. I waved
goodbye to the band at
the airport and then a mate and I headed
off with our rucksacks. The feeling of
freedom was immense. We stayed in
hostels and no one recognised me
because I wasn’t wearing make-up.
We drank wine at the Leeuwin Estate, in
Western Australia, hiked through
tropical rainforest near Cairns, snorkelled
on the Great Barrier Reef, went
whitewater-rafting on the Tully River and
spent endless nights gazing up at the stars
on Magnetic Island, off Townsville.
My first British hit, Kids in
America, didn’t break me in the
States, so it was only later — when
You Keep Me Hangin’ On went to
No 1 over there — that I covered the
country on a radio tour.
I loved it, and not just New
York and LA, but cities such as
Minneapolis, Seattle and
Reno. Everywhere, I
spotted stuff I’d seen
in movies as a child.
Kids in America made
more sense to sing once
I’d actually been there.
I spent the 1980s living
out of a suitcase — I could
open it in Japan one day and in
Austria the next. I fell in love
with Paris and adored the history
in Hamburg and Munich. When
the Berlin Wall came down, I
Travel gadgets
T
ttried and tested.
By Martin Hemming
B
No 7
HIPSTER
WATERPROOF
WE’RE THE KIDS IN...
AUSTRALIA Kim with
her brother Ricky on
Bondi Beach in 1974
Kim Wilde, 57, had her first hit
in 1981, with Kids in America,
and has sold more than
30m records. She will be
touring the UK from March 30
and performing on the Back
to the 80s Cruise in May,
alongside Tony Hadley and
ABC. Her new album, Here
Come the Aliens, is released
on Friday. She lives in
Hertfordshire with her
husband, Hal, and children,
Harry, 20, and Rose, 18
found I was popular in East Germany,
Poland and the Baltics. I couldn’t get over
the fact that audiences knew my songs,
but it was terrible to see how people there
had been living.
I’m still surprised to find fans in
countries I’ve never visited. In Portugal —
a place I’d only ever associated with my
parents, who go to the Algarve to play golf
— I was gobsmacked by the huge crowd
that greeted me at a gig in Lisbon.
In May, I’ll be back there, as a tourist.
I’m performing on an 1980s cruise and
Lisbon is one of the stop-offs. I can’t wait.
I may dine with the captain or I might get
a better offer from Nik Kershaw. I’ve not
been on a cruise before. I’m expecting it
to be madness.
Unlike Dad, I’ve never taken my kids on
tour. In the past, it was because of school;
now it’s because they have things they’d
much rather do than hang
out with their mum. And
that’s how it should be.
Interview by Lisa Verrico
COMPETITION WIN A FIVE-NIGHT HOLIDAY FOR TWO IN ABU DHABI
WITH THE YAS VICEROY ABU
DHABI AND ETIHAD HOLIDAYS
WHERE WAS I?
This is a dramatic valley. On
either side lies the route of a
dismantled railway, truncated
where once stood a viaduct.
The only clues that it existed
are abutments, the cast-iron
structure having been ripped
out long ago. Opened in 1861
for the SD&LUR, it was, at
196ft, one of Britain’s highest,
with 16 spans straddling the
valley. It was the work of an
engineer (born 1822), who
gained notoriety in 1879 as
the consequence of a
disaster. ”They’d never get
away with it now,” I mutter,
reflecting on a once prevalent
desire to consign our
industrial heritage to oblivion.
Three miles south is the
boundary of a national park
established in 1954. I, however,
return north and rejoin the
main, cross-country road
near a 2nd-century Roman
fortlet. The Romans were busy
here: there’s a signal station
one mile to its south-southeast
at a height of more than
1,500ft. The terrain here isn’t
made for north-south travel,
a nuisance because my next
stop is only nine crow miles
from the fortlet. In jalopy
terms, it’s a 17-mile drive
across a bleak landscape that
takes me through the town
where, in 1941, an artist died.
He painted a future king in
1924, and a three-time prime
minister in 1933.
Finally, four miles to its
west-northwest, I reach
one of the country’s three
highest waterfalls. Set
within a 766 sq mile Area
of Outstanding Natural
Beauty, it has a drop of some
70ft. Pretty as a picture,
I muse. But not by the
aforementioned artist.
Portraits were more his style.
Chris Fautley
booked before March 31. For
details, call 0345 600 8118 or
visit etihadholidays.co.uk.
The prize includes return
flights from London or
Manchester and transfers in
Abu Dhabi. It must be taken
before November 20, 2018,
subject to availability and
excluding school holidays.
Extra terms and conditions
apply — see thesundaytimes.
co.uk/wherewasi for details.
For information on Abu
Dhabi, go to visitabudhabi.ae.
THE QUESTIONS
1 What is the name of the
viaduct?
2 What is the name of the
town?
THE PRIZE
The winner and a guest will
stay for five nights, B&B, at
the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, a
spectacular five-star hotel
that straddles the Yas Marina
Formula One circuit. The
HOW TO ENTER
ultramodern hotel consists
of two towers linked by a
steel and glass bridge, and is
home to an Espa spa, a
rooftop infinity pool and 11
restaurants and lounge areas.
This is one of many
state-of-the-art resorts and
hotels featured by Etihad
Holidays, which specialises
in tailor-made and holiday
packages to Abu Dhabi.
Five-night breaks for two at
the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi
start at £629pp, half-board, if
Only one entry per person,
at thesundaytimes.co.uk/
wherewasi by Wednesday.
Normal Times Newspapers
rules apply. No correspondence
will be entered into.
LAST WEEK’S PRIZE
The answers are Caerlaverock
Castle and Dumfries. Helen
Fowler of Tewkesbury wins a
break in Mallorca, as a guest
of the five-star Hilton Sa Torre
and Prestige Holidays.
What is it? At last, a waterproof
coat that doesn’t make you look
like you’re set for a busy day of
trainspotting. The 3L Duck
Jacket — available in fisherman
yellow as well as moody black
— is made by Poler, a retro-cool
camping shop based in the
very epicentre of hipsterdom,
Portland, Oregon.
How was it? There’s
substance behind the style. It’s
a serious waterproof, rated to
20,000mm, meaning it’s built
for high-pressure rain and wet
snow. It got me through our
“Snowmageddon” earlier this
month without fuss. The
seams are taped and the tips of
the drawstrings are dipped in
rubber, so they’re easy to grip
when you’re wearing gloves.
But, obviously, I was mainly
taken by the cool rectangles of
blue and silver on the (zipped)
pockets and (well-fitting) hood.
It is relatively heavyweight,
with three layers of technical
stuff between you and the
elements, so it isn’t the most
breathable coat on the market.
Pack it? It takes up a fair
chunk of space in a rucksack,
but I’m going to wear it even if
it isn’t raining. They’re not
going to know what’s hit them
down on the platform at
Clapham Junction.
Buy it For £200, from
polerstuff.co.uk.
@martin_hemming
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