Our travel review of 2021 looks back on the Chimptrips’ year of family travel and adventures. It’s a round-up of the destinations we’ve visited, the best places we’ve seen and some of our favourite days out.
However, as you’d imagine, we started 2021 with no travel plans, apart from an optimistic wish to ski in France. After the disappointment of so many cancelled overseas trips in 2020, we didn’t have great expectations for travel in 2021. However, as the lockdown eased, I booked some provisional UK trips with the hope that some might come to fruition.
Our focus was on self-catering accommodation in UK destinations that were family-friendly, but remote. As you read our travel review of 2021, you’ll see that luck was on our side and 2021 was another fantastic year of travel for the Chimptrips. Maybe, some of our best travel moments will inspire you for trips in 2022?
So, 2021 started in lockdown, with no chance of any travel within the UK or further afield.
On reflection, we’d been incredibly lucky to fit in our annual ski trip in Arc 1800, France the year before in February 2020. Little did we know at the time it would be our last overseas trip for over a year. Although we had provisionally booked for 2021, we weren’t at all surprised when we had to cancel.
However, once again we learnt to appreciate the local area and made the most of local walks and outdoor places in Surrey. We even undertook our first microadventure, a sunrise hike to Barossa Common.
As Spring arrived, we enjoyed some of the UK’s gardens at their finest. Hampton court Palace put on an excellent debut Tulip Festival and the Valley Gardens at Windsor Park looked spectacular.
We explored the Surrey Hills, climbing St Martha’s Hill and Box Hill, and discovered Norbury Park. Plus, we did some great waterside walks by the River Thames at Shepperton and a Treasure Trail at the historic village of Odiham.
After waiting with fingers crossed, Boris finally announced that we could go away at Easter. Hoorah!
In hopeful anticipation we had already booked a 5-night stay in the Cotswolds. Based at the beautiful, market town of Chipping Campden, we were in the ideal spot to visit some gorgeous Cotswold villages and family attractions. We all loved it, as there are always so many things to do in the Cotswolds with kids.
With Birdworld, a car museum and its own model village, there’s always somewhere to entertain kids in Bourton-on-the-Water. Plus, we took a walk up to Broadway Tower for the first time and explored Batsford Arboretum and the gardens at Hidcote. The Slaughters are always a family favourite, but I also fell in love with the pretty villages of Snowshill and Bibury.
May is the month for kids’ birthdays in our house, so we celebrated with a trip to Nets Adventure in Black Park. The kids also had their first junior driving experience since they passed their test at Legoland when they were five!
After their success driving a 4×4, just a few weeks later, the kids were learning to drive a boat!
Without doubt, one of the highlights of our travel review of 2021 was our first boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads. In truth, we were not previously big boat fans, and only went to join our friends. However, we couldn’t have asked for a more exciting trip. Of course, helped by the sun which joined us for the whole week.
We travelled in a convoy of 5 boats from Norfolk down across Breydon Water into Suffolk. The journey was fun. And so were the stops. We had regular meet ups at Roman forts, windmills, nature reserves, and plenty of pubs!
July and August were busy months for travel with Chimptrips. It started in July with a family weekend in London. And what a weekend it was.
Although we live fairly close to London, we hadn’t been for ages. Plus, we usually just go on a day trip, so it was a real treat to stay overnight at the Ibis Styles Hotel in Southwark.
Starting at London Dungeons, we walked and walked trying to see as many iconic sights as possible. Staying so centrally, we were up early for a visit to St Dunstan’s in the East, the Monument, and a tour inside London Bridge.
In August we made our first visit to Dartmoor National Park. We stayed in a cottage near Buckfastleigh, which was perfect for getting to the heart of Dartmoor.
A circular walk from Haytor Vale to Hound Tor was the perfect introduction to hiking in this stunning national park. On our first encounter we had a taster of everything Dartmoor: ponies, tors, clapper bridges, and a magnificent natural landscape.
We discovered the gorgeous village of Widecombe in the Moor and tried some family walks near Princetown, including a visit to the mysterious Wistman’s Wood.
Furthermore, being on the southern border of Dartmoor, we could venture to the Devon coast and enjoy day trips to Burgh Island, Totnes, and Shaldon.
Although we’re familiar with Pembrokeshire and Gower, in 2021 we went to discover the best things to do in Cardiganshire, West Wales.
It wasn’t super sunny, but we still had a lovely time exploring new beaches, looking for dolphins and finding waterfalls and castles. We visited the stunning Mwnt Beach, the pretty town of Aberaeron, and the Welsh Wildlife Centre.
At the end of the month, we returned to Norfolk with friends. Most of the time was spent outside, with some great walks at Sheringham Park, Holt, West Runton and Cromer. We also saw the seals on the beach at Horsey Gap, which was amazing.
For something different, we headed to the water show at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth. If you’re in the area, this is a spectacular you shouldn’t miss.
As we headed back to school our travel returned to weekends away and days out. One of our favourites was a visit to Hurst Castle, with a stop for crabbing at New Haven, Hampshire.
However, at the end of September, I enjoyed an unexpected girls minibreak at lovely Perranporth in Cornwall. We had a Famous Five adventure on the train, with 5 girls and a dog.
The beach at Perranporth is stunning, come rain or shine and popular with dog walkers. There’s a great bar on the beach and an spectacular cliff-top walk to St Agnes. We found so many things to do in Perranporth that I really need a return visit!
After such a busy summer, we hadn’t planned to go away at October half-term. However, I had wanderlust and a yearning to visit Whitstable in Kent. So, with a last-minute booking, we headed to the medieval town of Sandwich. From here we made day trips to Deal, Whitstable, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate.
The family loved Leeds Castle, especially the kids who proved you’re never too old for a good playground. On our return from Kent, we stopped to explore the historic city of Canterbury. We returned home in time to choose the perfect pumpkin for our Halloween celebrations.
As the year draws to a close, it is yet again unwelcome news on the Covid front, with cases rising and restrictions looking imminent.
Luckily, we have still been able to enjoy a few of the magical Christmas events in Surrey, Hampshire, and Berkshire. Our favourites were the new Illuminated light trail at Windsor Park, the ice rink at Hampton Court and of course, the panto at Woking.
Travel review of 2021 - Conclusion
As I write our travel review of 2021, I realise how fortunate we were to visit so many new destinations in such unpredictable times. Despite the lack of planning, it has been another fantastic year of UK travel for the Chimptrips family.
I am really not sure what 2022 has in store for us. With so much uncertainty, I am reluctant to raise our expectations too high for any big trips. However, we still have so much more to see and explore in the UK. Hopefully, we can discover some new places. I know that whatever we choose we’ll have fun.
What were your favourite travel moments in 2021?
We’d love to hear your comments below.
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