The Covid-19 pandemic has simply been something we’ve not witnessed for a generation. Large parts of the world have been enforced in lockdown, and 7.5 million of the UK’s workforce had been furloughed as of May 2020. While some industries may have thrived, including sales of exercise gear, garden items, and electrical goods, others have significantly struggled. The travel industry has been heavily impacted, for example. Worldwide, the predicted employment loss in travel and tourism due to Covid-19 is to reach 100 million with loss in revenue exceeding £350 billion.
However, as we begin to peer at next year in the hope of travelling once again, where in the UK offers you the best off-grid retreat? Or more importantly, what is an off-grid retreat and where should you be looking at heading to get away from the renewed hustle and bustle of the busy towns and cities? Let’s take a look:
What is an Off-Grid Getaway?
If you’re used to the usual crowds that accompany day-to-day life in a busy city, an off-grid retreat could be the perfect escape you need. Going off-grid means to live without reliance on a utility for power. Often, off-grid living is seen as being ideal for rural and ‘cut-off’ locations where reliable grid access is at a premium – ‘off the gas grid’. This could mean you get your power and energy from sources including wind and solar panels, or fuels such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). It doesn’t, however, mean you have to go back to basics.
While it is stereotypically thought that off-grid means going into the middle of nowhere, this isn’t always the case. However, for holidays, this is often what people look for — seclusion away from their hectic everyday life. Going on an off-grid getaway can help you truly unwind, de-stress, and bask in the peace while you recharge your batteries. So, where are the best locations for these breaks?
The Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland is made up of 70 islands — 20 of which are permanently inhabited. They have been a winner of best rural location to live on many occasions. Halifax’s Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey in 2017 and 2018 found that these islands were the highest scoring location for life satisfaction, with low crime rates, and high levels of employment being recorded. But, what about for a getaway?
With around 22,000 residents of the island, it has the lowest population of the 32 council areas in Scotland. The islands are also leading the way when it comes to sustainable energy. With an abundance of wind and waves, the residents now produce more electricity than they can actually use! This makes it the perfect location for those looking to go off-grid for the energy supplies.
In 1999, Mainland Orkney — the largest of the islands — was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is packed with prehistoric treasures, perfect for spending your days!
And a look at Airbnb helps cement just how great it is for a rural getaway. The top three listings include a traditional rural cottage, a simple cottage, and a two-bed camping hut from as little as £30 per night*. In the hut, which scored 4.88 out of 5 from almost 100 users and is referred to as ‘incredibly sweet and cosy’ with ‘everything you need for a minimal trip’.
Burray Island, Orkney
The Lake District is a popular destination for anyone wanting to be at one with nature. The Lake District National Park attracts tourists from across the globe thanks to the spectacular scenery, wildlife, history, and culture on offer. Each year, over 15 million visitors head to the location for a fantastic break away. But surely so many visitors will mean this shouldn’t be revered as a go-to off-grid getaway? Wrong! There are still many secluded locations off the beaten track which can satisfy your needs.
Head to Ennerdale Valley and you’ll be met by nothing but wild beauty. While it’s not the easiest spot to get to, you’ll be escaping the crowds and shops and instead be met with an abundance of great walks and cycle tracks. Ennerdale Water is also the most westerly lake in the Lake District, so why not look at the nearby town of Whitehaven for your rural base?
While the Georgian town is continuing to grow in size, it is still one of the 51 Gem Towns in the UK. This title is given to those areas which were considered to be particularly splendid and precious by the Council for British Archaeology in 1964’s response to the ‘Traffic in Towns’ Buchanan Report.
Covid-19 was the cause for the search for ‘Lake District holidays’ to plummet, but it is beginning to rise once again. For the perfect rural retreat near the Lake District, one of Airbnb’s top choices includes a quaint camping pod. Completely off-grid, this accommodation is described as the ‘perfect alternative’.
Search ‘rural getaways’ on Google, and the Peak District is one of the most popular destinations. Known for its picturesque postcard appearance, the Peak District is home to magnificent lakes, reservoirs, and nature reserves. Founded in 1951, it was the first of Britain’s 15 national parks. Each year, over 13 million visitors descend on the Peak District, with local attractions including Hathersage — the reputed grave site of Robin Hood — and Tideswell, the 14th century ‘cathedral of the Peak’.
Like the Lake District, it is the ideal choice for being at one with nature thanks to its walkways and scenic views. But, while the likes of Buxton is popular with tourists thanks to its range of restaurants and bars, and Matlock has the River Derwent on its doorstep, and there are hidden gems that can help you get a real feel of seclusion on your next off-grid getaway.
While Eyam may be best known for a breakout of ‘the Black Death’ in 1665, nowadays it’s a beautifully peaceful village which is home to approximately 1,000 people. It’s the typical village that stood still in time and can give you the feel of what life may have been like in yesteryear. With buildings as old as the 9th century, there are many magical stories to pick up on your travels — including a visit to the grave of Little John in the local churchyard!
A search on Airbnb unearths many hidden gems of its own, with cottages, a 17th century mill, a woodcutter’s cabin, and a Mediterranean-style basement flat all gaining rave reviews in the area. All would provide the perfect destination for an off-grid getaway.
With rural areas covering 85 per cent of the UK, but less than one in five of us living there, we are inundated with amazing backdrops for your next off-grid adventure. Do your research fully and bag yourself the perfect location in which to unwind in on your next trip.
*correct as of 1st June 2020
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