If you have tuned into the news over the past week or so, the chances are you’ll have seen horror stories about mass queues at Heathrow, weather warnings for Italy and Spain and poor exchange rates. As much as we all love to travel abroad and soak up culture in a foreign country, there can be downsides to holidays outside of England, particularly at this busy time of year. Furthermore, in our desire to explore exotic new locations, we often forget about the hidden treasures that lay in our very own country. Though staycations may not sound quite as exciting as a fortnight in Spain (and, of course, the weather is much more temperamental), there are plenty of bonuses about having your holiday in England: it’s cheaper, you travel less and you get to visit parts of your home country you may have never stepped foot in before. I recently had my short ‘staycation’ in Lincoln, somewhere I had never visited before, despite being relatively near to my home. Although it may have been a far cry from the likes of Ibiza, Prague or Italy, it provided a thoroughly enjoyable weekend away, which might just persuade you to take a staycation of your own…
For the uninitiated, Lincoln is a city based in the East Midlands, a stones’ throw away from the likes of Peterborough and Nottingham. It has a population of approximately 130,000 and plenty of attractions to keep you satisfied. Being towards the centre of the country, Lincoln is relatively easy to get to wherever you are in the country, with the city served by Lincoln Central rail station which offers regular services across five platforms. It is also reachable by major roads, including the A46. In terms of accommodation in the city, you’ll find plenty of hotels scattered around the city, as well as a number of bed and breakfasts and guesthouses. During my stay, we decided to rent out a small townhouse for two nights, which an agreeable price of £70 a night (excluding breakfast), with facilities including a wet-room and a picturesque view of the town.
Many people tend of have a preference of either urban locations with buzzing nightlife or historic cities full of heritage; with Lincoln, you can have the best of both. The city has been around since Roman times, with Roman architecture and ruins still on display. There are also the sights of Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral, both of which are visible from afar as you walk around the city. The great thing about both of these landmarks are that they are truly in the city, rather than miles away, meaning you can easily stumble upon them while walking to the local shop. Further, both demonstrate the beautiful architecture in the city as well as creating an impressive skyline: nothing can beat the view of the castle upon the hill as you drive towards Lincoln. The sense of heritage is present almost everywhere in the city, with cobbled lanes, 16th century bridges over the canal and vintage shop fronts. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be spoilt for choice with visits inside the cathedral and castle, as well as the Museum of Lincoln Life. During my visit, the city was also holding a ‘Knight’s Trail’, with knight figurines designed by numerous local businesses and citizens popping up all over the city to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln.
However, if history isn’t quite your thing, Lincoln has a modern side too. Having become a student city, thanks to the creation of the University of Lincoln in 1996, you can expect a suitable amount of nightlife and leisure, and Lincoln doesn’t disappoint. Along the Brayford Waterfront, England’s oldest inland waterfront, you can find a host of drink and dining destinations, including Chimichanga’s, Wagamama’s and Wetherspoons, where you can spend an evening with friends overlooking the boats sailing in and out of the waterfront. Further into the city, you will find the likes of Revolution, Walkabout, and a number of independent bars, clubs and restaurants to suit everyone’s tastes. There is also a busy shopping area in Lincoln, with many major high street chains represented, so the shopaholic inside you can suitably satisfy their spending needs.
As you walk up outside of central Lincoln and up Steep Hill (a street in Lincoln, which, as you may have guessed, goes up a very steep hill), you’ll see more and more independent shops on show, offering craft beer, souvenirs and quirky clothes. It’s here that the modern and traditional come together: old-fashioned sweet shops and crooked bookshops reflect a quirky city that reflects on its past while looking to the future. These shops are all house in beautiful, traditional buildings, and it’s truly a picturesque walk up the hill, even if you will be out of the breath by the time you reach the top. It was along this hill that I found one of my highlights of the trip, along a street known as The Strait: a dessert parlour called Go Gelato. One thing you should know about me is that I have a massive sweet tooth, and, if you’re the same, you need to visit Go Gelato. The café offers 16-oz waffle cups, 24 flavours of ice-cream, brownie stacks, American milkshakes, and, my personal favourite, freakshakes. The freakshake I had during my visit was a summer special, called the Wagon Wheel. Boasting two layers of whipped cream, a chocolate doughnut, marshmellows, chocolate buttons, a Wagon Wheel, chocolate buttercream and a raspberry milkshake, this definitely wasn’t for the faint-hearted – but I enjoyed every second of it. There are of course other flavours available, each of which looked equally impressive and social media worthy: you can take a sneak peak on Go Gelato’s Instagram account. It could be worth visiting Lincoln for this place alone – plus, it makes walking uphill worth it.
My trip to Lincoln was a particularly rainy one (thanks, British summer): I didn’t come back with a tan, I didn’t board any flights, and I didn’t experience any foreign culture. However, the trip was also an enjoyable one, showing me parts of my home country that I had never seen before as well as offering a relaxing break from everyday life without breaking the bank. Sure, if someone offered me the chance to go to Italy tomorrow, I’d still take it: but if you’re considering staying at home for your next holiday, Lincoln might just be an ideal destination to visit.