As our collective consciences turn to thoughts of climate change, so our holiday habits are changing. Luckily, there are plenty of Instagram accounts to inspire your next British Isles getaway.
Photos of Britain
Every image in this lovely feed is like a postcard. It’s all Robin Hood’s Bay at dusk here, Tolkien-reminiscent scenes of enchanted woodland with babbling streams (aka The Roman Bridge in north Wales) there, with plenty of punting down the River Stour and atmospheric wintry shots of Lady Stair’s House in Edinburgh thrown in for good measure. The account is run by Tim Holt, a self-professed English scone scoffer; sometime actor in the US; and sometime Cheshire resident, whose own feed is equally celebratory of This Sceptred Isle.
Holt doesn’t pretend that he is the prolific photographer behind all these exquisite images, scrupulously crediting every one; rather, his skill lies in collating a wealth of little squares to inspire his followers, both by lifting their spirits, and perhaps even by encouraging them to holiday at home rather than overseas. Plus, we love his detailed descriptions and potted history of each. Sure, the view is entirely rose-tinted – you won’t see a chain shop, a scrap of litter or any vandalism here – but don’t we all need a little cheerful soul-lifting in our lives?
English Heritage is the custodian of some 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites across the UK. Accordingly, its Instagram feed is predictably a delight, whisking its followers on a tour round some of the most historically significant buildings and landscapes in the land.
We could watch this video footage of the new footbridge crossing to Tintagel Castle all day (look away vertigo sufferers), while Virginia Courtauld’s gold-tiled Art Deco bathroom at the inimitable Eltham Palace, with its lion’s mask spout and its goddess looking on, makes us wilt. The glimpses into these resplendent homes, such as the frescoes at The ‘Little’ Castle at Bolsover, which was built by 17th-century playboy courtier and poet, Sir William Cavendish, or the library of legend at Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire, are the stuff of pure joy. Every shot is one for the bucket list.
From Britain With Love
It’s small wonder that the crop of images that fill the little squares on From Britain With Love are particularly enticing; Laura, the West Sussex-dwelling woman behind the lens, is an ex-magazine editor turned blogger and proponent of slow, seasonal living and British crafts. As well as posting about craftspeople and makers, she intersperses her feed with truly lovely images of the world around her.
She posts, for example, about how these magnolia at RHS Wisley helped her gain perspective amidst the political turmoil emanating from Westminster; about how the stunning Regency Townhouse recharges her creatively; and how uplifting she finds her daily dog walk, here reminiscent of a Japanese painting. Via the link in her bio, you can also reach her blog, which features interviews, as well as a handy directory of British makers. Dreamy.
It comes to us all: the unmistakeable sign that we have put youthful folly behind us and, officially, grown up. And for Britons, that sign is, more often than not, heralded by the new presence in our wallets of a National Trust membership card. But rather than lament lost days of eternal youth, the correct response is to rejoice, because with that small piece of plastic comes access to some of the most special places and landscapes on this rich and varied island. And to underline that fact is the Trust’s glorious Instagram feed.
We will never tire at gazing upon the autumnal hues at Stourhead, or of glimpsing through our favourite archway-framed viewpoint at the sigh-inducingly beautiful Vita Sackville-West-designed garden at Sissinghurst Castle, or indeed, dreaming of this view of the perfect Souter Lighthouse at Tyne and Wear. So submit to middle age and rejoice in views such as this treasure, the medieval cloisters at Fountains Abbey. You’ll wonder why it took you so long – and the NT’s Insta feed is the perfect place to begin explorations of the country’s rich, historic and varied architecture and landscape.
The Big Smoke is, surely, one of the most Instagramable cities in the world. Its heady historical cocktail, containing relics from the Romans, the medieval era, the Georgians, the neo-Classicists and the Victorians, spells a winning lack of uniformity that is as beautiful as it is inimitable. Then throw in additions to the built environment from last century and this new millennium, and it becomes an ever-evolving landscape that is never static and always thrilling to watch unfold.
One viewpoint from which to witness the evolution is through the eyes of Londonist_com, which rejoices in it all, from the quaint, such as Duck Island Cottage; to the inventive, like Thomas Heatherwick cooling vents; to the out-and-out fun, like this temporary Heinz Baked Bean museum; to the extraordinary, as demonstrated by this recent Will Alsop-designed addition to Queen Mary’s University. And that’s not to mention all the cool cafes and bits of graffiti and everyday examples of Londoners’ creativity and eccentricity. London, we love you.
Historic England does just what it says on the tin: it helps people to care for and celebrate the country’s unique history. But unlike other feeds dedicated to the legacy of years gone by, its little squares typically feature shots dug out from the archives.
Want to see an image of Leighton House from 1895, when Frederic Leighton actually lived within its opulent interior? How about a view of browsers at Portobello Market in the 19th-century? Or a beautiful old saddlers shop in Suffolk in 1949? Sure, a few of these sights are now anachronisms, but more of them are not, such as this view of Stamford’s High Street in 1967, when it became the country’s very first Conservation Area. A feed to while away hours and hours to, with the sensation that you’re digging through old family albums. And when you go to the actual places it features, the feed makes a wonderful resource for games of spot-the-difference.
BRITAIN is the official for the tourist board, Visit Britain, and each of its tiles are suitably pretty and picturesque. Take, for example, this snap taken at the Armchair Bookshop in Edinburgh as the Edinburgh International Book Festival gets underway.
Or the blue sky capture of Oxford’s achingly beautiful Botanic Gardens, with Magdalen College (in our humble opinion the most beautiful of them all amongst the dreaming spires). If you’re planning a trip anywhere in the country, it’s worth scrolling through these squares for inspiration and historical detail. Britain in its best light.
And speaking of the tourist board, Visit England’s Insta account hardly scrimps on knock-out images of Blighty to make you wonder why you ever bother with the faff and expense of flying. We love this swoon-inducing autumnal shot of Broadway Tower being photo-bombed by a passing stag.
And we’re absolutely head over heels about this sensational image of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in none other than Neasden, which elegantly expresses how welcoming other cultures only adds to, rather than diminishes, our cultural riches. Travel round the quaint streets of Bradford upon Avon, and onto the new and glorious Sky Garden in the capital, with its attendant resplendent views, right through to the Lake District at sunset and then voyage straight across to Winnats Pass in the Peak District, which was once, improbably, home to a tropical sea (who knew?).
Thanks to VE’s feed, you can do all this without once leaving your desk – although we’d highly recommend picking your favourite few squares and then heading there for real.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve
This place is the real deal. Owned by Paul Lister, heir to the MFI Furniture fortune, and real monarch of the glen, Alladale Wilderness Reserve is situated north of Inverness, and in its 23,000 acres, something ground breaking is happening, as documented on its exemplary Instagram feed. As the world heats up and people talk more and more of the power of trees to stem the damage wrought by man-made pollutants, Alladale Lodge is walking the walk. Over the past decade, the team has planted nearly a million trees, in its effort to reforest its small portion of the Caledonian Forest, only one per cent of which remains.
Lister has unfairly been painted as the eccentric architect of a Jurassic Park-style creation, thanks to his plans to reintroduce the indigenous wolves, wild boar, wild cats and even brown bear that once roamed here. But there’s nothing mad about the plans; they are all designed with one aim: to allow the trees to grow by reinstating natural eco-systems. Without natural predators, the proliferation of deer meant that sapling trees rarely made it past just that, their sapling days. You can stay at Alladale, either at the main lodge or in one of the cottages strewn across the stunning land. We love trawling this feed for the eyeful of Scottish majesty, as well as the animals. Wolves and bear might not have been instated yet, but who can resist this video of the new resident wild kitten? Great, both for travel and eco inspiration.
Country Life Magazine
Country Life Magazine has been celebrating the joys of rural life since 1897. And whilst its Instagram feed is not quite as old as that, its contents attest to its longevity. What Anglophile could not delight in its celebration of Georgian architecture, as per Reddish House, which once belonged to Cecil Beaton?
And when it posts vistas as perfectly idyllic as you can imagine, whether in Scotland or across The Slad Valley in Gloucestershire (the setting for Cider with Rosie), or a view of Winchester’s River Itchen in the early morning, dreams of far-flung destinations strangely and suddenly recede to nothing.
Updated October 2022
By Nancy Alsop
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