When you have the freedom of your own motorhome and have the flexibility to spend every weekend exploring, there comes a point where you think you’ve been everywhere and seen everything. The UK’s a relatively small place, after all. However, there’s also constant innovation in the visitor attraction market, with new places opening up over the time. If you’re currently planning your 2020 motorhome adventures, here are some of the best new attractions scheduled to open during the year.
Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast, has long been a popular destination with campers, caravanners and motorhome owners. The town is perhaps most famous as the inspiration for the horror novel Dracula, and the brand-new visitor centre explores the religious history of the building and the novel too. Kids will love the interactive Ammonite Quest, an interactive smartphone treasure hunt which guides you around the site and explains the history of hidden objects. Whitby Abbey is part of English Heritage, so members get in free. The ideal time to visit Whitby is in the summer months, although camping sites fill up quickly so book well in advance.
There’s already a Bewilderwood adventure park in Norfolk, and the company’s second site is scheduled to open in Spring 2020 in Whitchurch, Cheshire. This is the perfect weekend motorhome destinations for families with kids with suspended bridges, treehouses, storytelling in the forest, slides, slippery logs, tunnels and mazes. The Cheshire site is beside the historic Cholmondeley Castle, where the gardens are also open to the public. There are several campsites close to both sites, or just a few miles to the north is the Roman city of Chester, with ample accommodation for visitors and plenty of other visitor attractions and things to do.
Many visitors to Cornwall head straight to the coast, which is hardly surprising given the region’s gorgeous beaches and lovely fishing villages. It would be a shame to bypass Bodmin though, especially as the re-opening of the town’s 18th century jail promises to put visitors in the shoes of prisoners. Take the “Dark Walk” through the prison, finding out about the fate of smugglers, pirates and other criminals who faced the long arm of the law 300 years ago. Very close to Bodmin Jail is Lanhydrock, one of the most visited National Trust properties in the area. The house and gardens are simply stunning, and walkers can easily escape the crowds on one of the many forest trails. There are several campsites close to Bodmin and Lanhydrock, providing the perfect base for exploring Cornwall.
Llys-y-Frân Lake, Pembrokeshire
West Wales is one of the best “away from it all” spots in the UK, with wide open spaces and some great beaches. Llys-y-Frân Lake is currently being redeveloped and due to open later in 2020. This is the ideal weekend trip for outdoorsy types, with 14km of trails for walking or cycling, or get onto the water to try your hand at windsurfing, rowing, sailing or canoeing. There are dozens of camping options within a short drive of the redeveloped lake, and there is so much to explore in the wider Pembrokeshire area that it’s easy to make a week of it if a weekend isn’t long enough to experience everything you want to do.
Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Salford
The famous RHS has plans to open Europe’s largest garden in 2020, on the grounds of the former Worsley New Hall in Salford. RHS Bridgewater’s scheduled opening date is 30th July 2020, just in time for the summer holiday peak. The massive site contains a wide range of gardens of varying themes, from the formal kitchen garden where visitors can see fruit, vegetables and herbs growing to the more relaxed streamside garden, the perfect place to sit and relax. There’s a “learning garden”, designed to teach visitors of all ages about how plants work and grow, a play area and a community garden area for local residents to have a go at growing their own produce and flowers. The garden is within a short distance of the Salford Quays area, home to the Lowry arts centre, the Imperial War Museum and Manchester United’s home ground, Old Trafford, is nearby. The downside of the city centre location is that camping sites are a little further away, but there’s still plenty of choice both west and north of the city.
Derby Silk Mill
If you’ve already started thinking about weekends or trips away after the summer, then Derby could be top of the list. A new museum is slated to open in Derby in the autumn, exploring the 300 year history of silk making in the area. Although the museum is still under construction, the concept is for a living exhibition of craft and manufacture, with 21st century artists and textile workers resident on site and workshops or activities for visitors, along with 50,000 exhibits from Derby’s industrial past. If a visit to the Silk Mill whets your appetite for finding out more about local industry, also worth a visit is the Crown Derby ceramics factory, where you can join a tour around the production areas before some retail therapy in the shop. Another Derby bonus is that you’re close to the glorious countryside of the Peak District, and plenty of campsites to park up for the night.
Rye Harbour Discovery Centre
Rye Harbour, on the Sussex coast, is currently building a new visitor centre for the thousands of visitors who come to the area every year to watch the birdlife on the nature reserve. The Sussex coast is the ideal destination if you want to take things a bit easy, spend the days relaxing in countryside surroundings and camping at any one of a number of sites in Sussex or Kent. It’s not all about birds though; the nature reserve is also an important location for flowers, butterflies and other mammals. The small town of Rye is also worth exploring, especially the narrow streets of the medieval part of town. These narrow streets aren’t ideal for a motorhome though, so park on the edges of town and walk in. There are lots of camping options in the local area and in peak times the sites on the coast generally fill up first – you’ll have more to choose from if you’re prepared to stay inland.
A 2020 opening of a new vineyard in Hampshire means you’ll no longer have to head across the Channel to stock up on great wines. Hambledon produces some of the finest English sparking wines, and visitors can book into a two-hour tour of the facility, find out how the grapes are grown and processed before they are turned into sparkling wine. There is, of course, the chance to sample the produce at the end of the tour so it’s best to fight it out over who’s driving the motorhome back to the campsite before you arrive. There’s also a large shop where you can stock up on some fizz to take away with you and enjoy once you’re safely parked up for the night.
Gulliver’s Valley, South Yorkshire
There are already three family-friendly Gulliver’s theme parks in the UK, with the fourth scheduled to open between Sheffield and Rotherham in June 2020. Expect child-friendly rides and entertainment with dinosaurs, pirates, cowboys and many other themed attractions across the huge site. You can choose to stay on the site if you wish as there will be self-catering lodges and treehouses, but a better option is to reserve a pitch at the campsite in the nearby Rother Valley Country Park. If you get bored of the theme park rides and crowds, the park offers everything from a family farm to mountain biking or windsurfing. Alternatively, west from Rotherham and Sheffield is the Peak District, with ample camping opportunities.
Game of Thrones Tour, Belfast
If your 2020 plans involve a trip across the Irish Sea, then you won’t want to miss the opening of the much-anticipated Game of Thrones Studio tour in the Linen Mill Studios to the southwest of Belfast. Fans can expect to see costumes and props from the TV show, walk through the Great Hall of Winterfell, have a meal in a Game of Thrones themed restaurant and sets which were used in the making of the show. There’s no opening date yet given, but it’s likely to be in the last three months of 2020. While you’re in the County Down area, don’t miss the famous Ulster Folk Museum, or if you’ve still not had enough of Game of Thrones, take a trip round many of the other Northern Ireland locations which have featured on screen. It’s only a short drive from Banbridge into Belfast city centre, where the “must see” attraction is Titanic Belfast. Find out all about the construction and maiden voyage of the world’s most iconic ship, on the very spot where she slid into the water for the first time over a century ago.