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Kate Humble: It’s good to be reminded about unfamiliar places on our doorstep

Once walked by dinosaurs and used as a hideout for smugglers, Britain’s coastline is awash with exciting discoveries, says TV presenter Kate Humble.

It’s often described as a beautiful, peaceful stretch of the Suffolk coastline, but hundreds of years ago, bandits and smugglers would hide out in the cliffs and coves of Sailors’ Path, hijacking unsuspecting wealthy visitors who’d recently arrived by ship.

“Our coastline is full of wonderful history and stories,” insists TV presenter Kate Humble, an avid walker and nature lover, whose latest six-part Channel 5 series explores popular and less familiar sections of our country’s coastline.

Kate Humble’s Coastal Britain tells tales of a millennia-old tribe in Exmoor, shares the story of a remarkable oyster farm in Suffolk, and reveals how adders have colonised a rubble of 16th century factory ruins in Yorkshire.

“I really enjoyed understanding that our heritage is rooted in the sea and the coast,” says Humble, who lives inland in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Welsh Wye Valley. “We are an island nation, and often, it’s easy to forget that.”

Although she’s travelled all over the world, visiting exotic destinations on every continent, Humble insists she still made several exciting discoveries while filming the series – some only a few miles from her home.

“It’s always good to be reminded how unfamiliar we often are with places that are right on our doorstep,” she says, referring to the wild and craggy Exmoor coast, which she compares to parts of South Africa, in terms of scale and grandeur.

“It has that feeling of being in the mountains; it’s incredibly dramatic but with the majesty of being by the sea. It was a real surprise to explore somewhere that is basically two and a half hours from where I live.”

In Dorset, she visited another familiar haunt on a fossil-hunting mission, sparking several fond childhood memories.

“When I was younger, I had a great friend whose family lived inland from Lyme Regis,” she reminisces, describing a sequence following the trail of 19th century palaeontologist Mary Anning.

“I love her story. At a time when women were overlooked and left to do the laundry, there was this incredible woman who managed to find an ichthyosaur fossil.”

Returning to the area as an adult, Humble says she developed a new appreciation for the skills of fossil hunters.

“It’s easy to assume these guys and women are lucky and stumble over rocks. But they know exactly how storms and erosion can reveal extraordinary things. They have a superhuman vision to see a shape in the rock that might contain a fossil. It was fascinating to learn about what our land hides and how people’s knowledge has been built up to reveal it.”

As someone who describes walking as “a very intrinsic part of my life”, Humble says she revelled in every footstep of her journey. But one area she particularly enjoyed researching was Yorkshire, a place with several personal connections.

“My husband was born in Scarborough, and both my parents were from Yorkshire, so there is a bit of a Yorkshire tug,” she says. “My husband told me, ‘When you’re in Scarborough and you’re at the castle, will you just phone me and tell me that you’re looking at it’.”

Further along the coast in Robin Hood’s Bay, she recalls delving into a series of tunnels hewn beneath the northern fishing village and once used by smugglers.

“People snuck up to the pub amidst barrels of brandy,” she says, admitting the scenario felt more like a chapter from a Robert Louis Stevenson novel than an historical account. But in the same breath, she claims one of the biggest joys of the series was “myth being made real”.

“For me, it made the coast and those coastal communities more three dimensional than the picture postcard holiday resorts we always think about. These are living, breathing communities with a history, and that history continues today.”

Along with colourful tales from the past, the series also explores uplifting stories from the present. In the first episode, Humble walks the South West Coast Path with author Raynor Winn, whose best-selling book, The Salt Path, reveals how her husband fought a terminal illness by putting one foot in front of another and following the trail. It’s proof time spent in our wild world can have both physical and mental benefits.

“The result of the pandemic has been a renewed enthusiasm for our countryside,” Humble muses on the restorative power of nature. “We’ve tapped into an instinct that this is what we need to make us feel better.”

Along with imbuing a sense of calm, being outside is, she claims, also a means for reconnecting with a childhood sense of nostalgia and delight.

“The enduring appeal of the coast is enjoying those simple pleasures that we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy,” she says, reciting examples of playing with buckets and spades, going crabbing, and swimming in the bracing English sea.

“There is something about swimming in a wild place, whether it’s the sea, river or a lake, or a pond, that connects you with your childhood again,” she says, referring to her own chilling dip in the North Sea.

Given the challenges of the past year, she proposes a healthy dose of nostalgia could be the remedy we all need. If nothing else, we all deserve to remember what it’s like to have fun.

“When you’re a child, you do things that might seem silly as a grown up. But we all need a bit of silliness… and running into the sea on a cold Yorkshire day is one of the finest things you can do.”

Kate Humble’s Coastal Britain airs on Fridays on Channel 5

8 trend-setting campsites to book in the UK this summer

With a summer staycation looking hopeful, a camping trip is on the cards, says Sarah Marshall

As a cloud of uncertainty still hangs over foreign holidays this summer, the UK looks set for another bumper year of staycations. Once again, camping looks likely to be popular, as travellers seek to explore nature and rediscover a sense of adventure.

According to a new report by website Cool Camping, who sell a variety of campsite holidays, treehouse accommodation is set to be a big trend. By studying page views, they estimated a whopping 1,624 interested customers to every one treehouse. Unsurprisingly, given booking habits last summer, glampsites are also likely to sell out fast. The website says almost 50% of enquiries request a hot tub.

Other anticipated trends for 2021 include a rise in ‘en-pitch’ accommodations, offering private toilet facilities, plus an increase in pop-up campsites, which were also popular last year.

Keen to book but don’t know where to start? Here are some of the recommended spots likely to sell out fast.

1. Treetop adventures

Where: Melin Mabes, Pembrokeshire

The quirky Templar Treehouse has its own private hot tub, plus a slide to take you down to the ground. The property features a combination of rustic charm and first-class amenities, with underfloor heating, a modern bathroom, antique kitchen, suspended loungers and veranda with a view to the river. From £152 per night, sleeping two people.

2. Nature calling

Where: Culdees Castle Estate, Perthshire

This pretty Scottish glampsite offers five woodland cabins, each tucked away within the five-acre forest. The huts have been specially designed to be incorporated into the nature of the site, and all have hot tubs available. There are plenty of options for walking, cycling, horse riding, fishing and golf nearby. Cabins from £120, sleeping two.

3. Family nostalgia

Where: Fisherground Campsite, Cumbria

For those looking for a more traditional grass pitch option, Fisherground Campsite in Eskdale is a popular choice. It’s a great choice for families, as there is plenty for the kids to enjoy, including campfires, a paddling pond and the nearby steam railways line, which can transport you to and from the campsite. Pitches from £24 per night.

4. Glam options

Where: Redwood Valley, Powys

This family-run, eco-friendly campsite is set among 25 acres of woodland on the Welsh borders. The site features two yurts and one woodland cabin styled to give a treehouse feel. The stilted abode provides a view over the brook through floor to ceiling windows. Treetop cabin from £130 per night; yurts from £110.

5. Fantasy stay

Where: Mad Hatters, Cambridgeshire

This fun-packed campsite features all the magic of a ‘mad hatters’ tea party in camping form. Following an Alice in Wonderland theme, pitches are named after characters from the tale. The Queen of Hearts glamping cabin is straight out of a fairy-tale. Pitches from £18 per night.

6. Pitches for a pooch

Where: Howgills Hideaway, North Yorkshire

This North Yorkshire site offers pitches with incredible mountain views. The site has a relaxed atmosphere with both campfires and dogs welcome, and a mix of walkers and families taking up the pitches. The location is easily accessible for the beautiful Bolton Abbey, while the 80-mile long Dales Way is a popular walking route nearby. Pitches from £24 per night.

7. Cute for couples

Where: NightSky Glamping, Gwynedd

This romantic glamping option provides tented glamping with en-suite toilet facilities and private hot tubs. Aptly named, the campsite is in a location famed for its stunning sunsets and starry nights, while animal lovers will enjoy the on-site alpaca trekking options. There is also a choice of two beaches within walking distance. Bell tent from £70 per night; safari tent from £90 per night.

8. Desert island escape

Where: Ye Olde Swan, Oxfordshire

For something truly different, try Ye Olde Swan in Oxfordshire. The campsite is located on Thames Island, making it feel like an exotic escape. Fortunately, civilisation isn’t too far away, however. A traditional pub just over the bridge provides pizza and prosecco to the campsite.

All sites can be booked through Cool Camping. Visit coolcamping.com.

Kitchen kit: 10 ways to lift the heart of the home

After some inspiration for quick kitchen updates? Sam Wylie-Harris hits the shops.

Whether you’re a creative cook or have a soft spot for Uber Eats, no matter which way you look at it, your kitchen is probably the space serving the most purpose right now.

And with dining-in, or a quick kitchen disco, the only way to get the party started these days, you really don’t need an excuse to elevate the busiest room in the house with some lovely new kit.

Here’s 10 ways to give your kitchen a mini makeover and maximise mealtimes…

1. Russell Hobbs Structure White Kettle, £49.99; Structure White 2 Slice Toaster, £49.99 and Structure White 4 Slice Toaster, £59.99, Russell Hobbs

Chances are your kettle’s clocked more brews lately than the busiest teashop in the land. Your next mug of builder’s is going to taste that much nicer when you flick the switch of this glossy white model from Russell Hobbs. With ‘rapid boil’ zone markers and capacity to boil one cup in 45 seconds (saving energy), the matching toaster with ‘lift and look’ feature means faultless golden slices at a glance.

2. KitchenAid Steel Core Enamel Casserole, Red, from £130-£140, John Lewis

Casseroles, chilli con carne, curry… this flame-red casserole dish offers as much feelgood factor as the comfort food you’ll be lovingly spooning out of it.

3. Italian Chef Set, £21.50, Brabantia

Whether you’re serving pasta, slicing pizza or grating a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano, this trio will put the buono! into your next bolognese or margherita.

4. Bronx Kitchen Wall Unit, £75; Bronx Bread Bin, £26; Bronx 12 Piece Dinner Set, £48, and Set of 3 Bronx Storage Jars, £27 (other items from a selection), Next

A great way to gain more space, this industrial-inspired wall unit can be stacked with dinnerware and those all-important indoor herbs. We love the co-ordinating bread bin and storage jars too.

5. George Foreman 28000 Smokeless Electric Grill, 1500 W, Stainless Steel, £96.21, Amazon

It’s the cooking conundrum anyone with a small kitchen, or limited ventilation, knows only too well – how to grill delicious kebabs or chicken thighs without having to live with the lingering smoke and smells. George Foreman’s electric grill now eliminates up to 87% of smoke, accommodates a wide variety of foods in record time, with dishwasher safe removeable grill plates too. Job done.

6. Kilner Universal Storage Jars, from £8, Amazon or Kilnerjar.co.uk

Kilner’s iconic storage jars are made from 100% recyclable glass that doesn’t absorb odours or flavours, so they can be used over and over again for a myriad of items, including dry and fresh food. Plus they’re neat and tidy and you can clearly see what’s inside.

7. Mayflower Ceramic Non-Stick Frying Pan, from £28 (was £35); Mayflower Ceramic Non-Stick Milkpan with 2 Spouts, £37, Greenpan

Suitable for all hob types, these lovely ceramic pans hint at ‘cottagecore’ and foraging for home-grown veggies.

8. Bo Touch Bin 36L – Pine Green, £179, Brabantia

The Bentley of waste bins, this space efficient, non-slip model, with silent opening and closing system, will handle all your rubbish – with the added bonus of PerfectFit Bo waste bags and Brabantia Perfume Your Bin Capsules to reduce nasty smells, so it’s ‘pine’ fresh too.

9. BAKTRADITION Baking Kit 1, £18.25, IKEA

If you’re a jenny-come-lately to the great British baking trend (or running short on a few implements), Ikea’s new baking kit will have you – and the kids – whipping up sweet treats and Victoria sponges in no time, especially with Mother’s Day around the corner.

10. Mary Berry Signature Collection 16 Piece Dinner Set, £125; Set of 16 Cutlery Set, £50, and Set of 4 Red Wine Glasses, £40 (other items from a selection), Next

With her fingers in many pies, Mary Berry’s Signature Collection dinner set retains her keen eye for detail with its beaded edge. And who wouldn’t want the queen of cooking’s tableware for entertaining, tablescaping and creating memorable moments at home?

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