With the holiday green list shrinking by the day, trips to warmer climes and cocktails on the Costa del Sol are very much off the table. Instead, we’re looking longingly forward to the great summer of the staycation. It’ll be Margate rather than the Med, and the mountains of Pembrokeshire over the Pyrenees, as we pitch our tents, park up our campervans, and pick our beachside B&Bs across the UK…
And rather than cracking open your dusty copy of an A-Z Road Map to help choose which part of the country to explore, why not take some inspiration from these must-reads set deep in the hidden corners of Britain?
From Peak District thrillers to mysteries on the Moors, we’ve got a range of page-turners to whet the appetite for summer adventure and help you settle on the perfect spot for that well-deserved trip away.
The Catch – TM Logan
Take inspiration from bestselling author TM Logan’s psychological thriller set in the rugged Peak District. A tale of a suspicious father and his daughter’s all-too-perfect fiancé, this escapist thrill-ride takes place amidst the backdrop of a beautifully-evoked Derbyshire landscape. It’ll have you scouring the Pennines for your dream wedding venue. Maybe just don’t make the trip with your future in-laws – bringing this book along for the ride might just cause some tension…
How to Belong – Sarah Franklin
Deep in the Wye Valley, much-loved author Sarah Franklin tells the tale of a farrier and a butcher brought together in the heart of the Forest of Dean. A story ‘steeped in the spirit of the place’, it is laced throughout with vivid descriptions of forest life, with the stamp of horses, woodsmoke and those eternal ancient trees tumbling from its pages. See if, like Tessa and Jo, you can make the place home – even for a long weekend. A book to read by the soft morning light streaming through the canvas of your tent.
The Wayward Girls – Amanda Mason
Not far from Whitby, the seaside town forever made famous by Dracula, comes another chilling tale. Amanda Mason’s The Wayward Girls is set on the North York Moors – a place of splendid isolation and acres of heather. The forbidding landscape is the perfect setting for a ghost story that adds new layers to the rich folklore of the region. A book to pick up when the summer sun sets and the wind starts beating against your windows. You’ll be glad you can’t find Iron Sike Farm on Airbnb…
Mrs England – Stacey Halls
Over in West Yorkshire, we have another haunting gothic tale. What’s in the air up there? Stacey Halls holed up in Hebdon Bridge to write her acclaimed third novel, and the atmospheric Hardcastle Crags provides fitting inspiration for Hardcastle House, home of the titular Mrs England. Take a trip up to the traditional mill town, ponder the dark secrets of Halls’ characters and spend your days following in their footsteps, with long muddy walks up the brooding moors and back through streets of cobbled stone.
The Bird Book –Dr. Meriel Lland, Roxy Furman, and illustrated by Nicola Howell Hawley
We’ve all picked up a new hobby or two over the last eighteen months, and many of us have been learning to love the plumage and calls of the birds at play outside our window… even if they’re usually pigeons. Why not grab a copy of the beautifully-illustrated The Bird Book and head out in search of something more exotic? Vegan wildlife presenter Roxy Furman and filmmaker and self-confessed “biophiliac” Dr. Meriel Lland will be your guides – pointing you in the direction of our country’s favourite birds, from Red Kites soaring round Bristol to the puffins that call the coast of Pembrokeshire home. With colourful illustrations from Nicola Howell Hawley.
London’s No.1 Dog Walking Agency – Kate MacDougall
A dog’s eye view of the capital city, Kate MacDougall’s charming and often moving memoir invites you to explore London from an entirely different angle. London’s No.1 Dog Walking Agency is a reminder of the adventure that lies round every corner of this sprawling city if you allow yourself to get dragged in a new direction. So book your pup a seat on the train down with you, and let your four-legged friend be your tour guide.
The Old Religion – Martyn Waites
Martyn Waites’ thriller follows an ex-undercover police officer sent into witness protection in the fictional Cornish village of St Petroc. Full of menace and dark secrets, The Old Religion is unlikely to come recommended by the Cornish tourist board; but with its heady depictions of local folklore, salt air, and the region’s inimitable wild coastline and countless hidden coves, the book might just tempt you into joining Tom Kilgannon and leaving your old life behind for the weekend.
Snowflake – Louise Nealon
And one for our readers in Ireland too. Louise Nealon’s tender coming-of-age debut enrols its readers into life at Dublin’s Trinity College, but its portrait of the Kildare dairy farm in which protagonist Debbie grows up will have you longing to step away from the bright city lights and head into the heart of rural Ireland. Explore the county’s lush green country, narrow canals and great open skies, and find yourself a farm to milk cows on. Snowflake is a novel about leaving home and bringing it along with you – take a trip to Kildare and you’ll see exactly why Debbie does.