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Britain’s coasts and countryside offer quiet, regenerative retreats away from the bustle of major cities and tourist attractions. From beachside bungalows to hillwalks, there is an endless variety of ways to spend your holiday.

By the beach
Go fossil-hunting along the coast or stay in a retro beach hut

1. Sleep in style in St Ives, Cornwall
British seaside b&bs have come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, but the Salt House takes things to another level. Lost in St Ives’ tangle of cobbled streets, the house is a slice of modernism that would be just as at home in California as Cornwall. Clad in wood, glass and polished concrete, the b&b’s angular architecture feels distinctly at odds with old-world St Ives. Inside, the two rooms (North and South) are straight out of a design magazine: Orla Kiely textiles, enormous flatscreen TVs, spot-lit showers and BoConcept easy chairs, with oceans of light streaming through cinematic windows overlooking the epic sweep of St Ives Bay. Only the promise of warm sand between the toes at the nearby beaches of Porthmoer, Porthminster and Porthgwidden will tempt you away from the b&b’s private, sea-facing terraces. Rooms from £170; salthousestives.co.uk

2. Hunt for fossils on the Jurassic Coast
In 1811, a twelve-year old amateur palaeontologist by the name of Mary Anning was strolling along the beach near her home in Lyme Regis when her brother, Joseph, found something sticking out of the cliff. It turned out to be the first ichthyosaur skeleton ever discovered in Britain, and over the next few years, Mary subsequently turned up a pterosaur, two plesiosaurs and a host of other marine fossils (most of which she sold to collectors to help feed her impoverished family). Dorset’s Jurassic coastline remains the UK’s richest area for fossil hunting, and the fragile sandstone cliffs are still yielding frequent finds for collectors – even if they’re not quite on the same scale as Mary’s ground-breaking discoveries. Local expert Brandon Lennon leads regular fossil-hunting expeditions around Lyme Regis – and if you don’t manage to unearth your own ammonite, you can always cheat and buy one from his fossil shop instead. Guided walks £7; lymeregisfossilwalks.com

3. Step back in time on the Lincolnshire coast
In the days of transcontinental travel, it’s easy to overlook seaside trips closer to home. A century ago, Lincolnshire’s beaches were awash with holiday-makers escaping the smog of the Midlands’ industrial cities. Now, the coastline is practically deserted and it’s a fantastic place to experience the peculiar charms of the British seaside away from the crowds. Halfway between the kitsch resorts of Mablethorpe and Skegness lies Anderby Creek, an overlooked stretch of Blue Flag beach backed by rolling sand dunes. Design consultant Martin Hoenle renovated a 1959 chalet with stripped wood floors, designer furniture, a flashy kitchen and even a few solar panels. The result, Twentysix, now available to rent and just minutes from the sea. From £350 to £420 per week; anderbycreek.eu

4. Hole up in a beach hut in Tyneside
Technicolour beach huts are a staple feature of the British coastline, but the ones owned by Beach Hut Resorts are just a tiny bit different. These deluxe huts at Whitley Bay, near Newcastle-upon- Tyne, are furnished more like a design hotel than what is essentially a shed by the sea: each one has glossy wooden floors, underfloor heating and luxurious bathrooms. There’s even a 24-hour concierge service if you fancy a cocktail on the deck as the sun goes down. The only thing they can’t provide is a guarantee of decent weather – but when the huts are as swish as this, who needs to go outside? Huts from £301 per week; beachhutresorts.com

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