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UK Winter Escapes

Ok, those who plumped for a staycation this summer might have had a bit of a bumpy ride, what with the anti-summer weather and all. But that shouldn't put you off a winter staycation - afterall, rain, wind and snow come with the territory and there are tonnes of cosy, Chrismasty bolt holes across the country just begging to keep you warm.

KENT: Home to royal castles, hop farms, beaches, the country's oldest cathedral (Canterbury) and an awful lot of rollicking countryside, Kent is the natural getaway for Londoners. A high speed rail link will get you there in record time allowing you to enjoy windswept walks on the beach, an exploration of Dover Castle perched on the famous white cliffs or a trip to Dickens World in Chatham. Where to stay: The medieval town of Sandwich in The Bell Hotel - a Tudor hotel that's traditional with a contemporary twist.

Bell HotelCombe House

DEVON: Devon loves Christmas! Expect fairs, grottos and fairylights galore. Highlights include Babbacombe Model Village's famous Winter Wonderland that sees the park covered in snow ready for a visit from Santa ( Dec 5 to Jan 3); and The Big Sheep Market - a traditional farmer's market and craft fair that has festive specials on Dec 5, 12 and 19. Where to stay: The picturesque vilalge of Gittersham in Combe House - an Elizabethean country house witha beautiful, grand estate.

LAKE DISTRICT: Hope for a sprinkling of snow as you head to the Lake District, one of the most beautiful places in the country to spend a mini winter break. Walking, cycling and hiking trails are in abundance, with lots of warming B&Bs and pubs to return to after a day of bracing activity. Where to stay: A hop, skip and a jump from the stunning Lake Windemere in Gilpin Lodge - a family run, award-winning retreat with organic fare and spa treatments.

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