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Britain is open: Why you should visit Wales and Scotland for a slice of Celtic life

Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan, Scotland
Loch Shiel, Glenfinnan, Scotland   -   Copyright  Canva
By Nichola Daunton

With four nations to explore, the UK is the perfect destination for history buffs and nature lovers alike. But we think Wales and Scotland have something really special to offer, full of romantic castles, rugged peaks and jutting coastlines.

So here are some of our favourite places to visit at any time of year, in these two Celtic countries.

What are the travel restrictions for the UK?

The UK has just abandoned its red list, so fully vaccinated visitors from all countries are allowed to come to the UK without having to quarantine.

Passengers who are fully vaccinated with approved vaccines - you can check the list here - no longer need to take a COVID-19 test before setting off either.

You will need to prove you are fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to flying, before you get on the plane.

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Loch Morlich, CairngormsCanva

What do I need to do when I arrive in the UK?

Fully vaccinated visitors to the UK need to take a lateral flow test two days after they arrive. This test needs to be booked before travelling, and you will need to provide a picture of your negative result. You can find out how to do so, here.

These tests must be privately booked, you cannot use NHS kits. You must also fill in a passenger locator form, 48 hours before you travel, which can be found here.

If you want to check any other rules for your country, you can do so here.

What is there to do in Wales?

Sitting to the southwest of England, Wales has a rich and independent culture. With epic mountain peaks, extensive coastlines and rolling green fields, there’s lots of nature to explore here.

With so many areas of outstanding natural beauty on offer, we’ve picked our two favourite places in Wales if you’re looking for outdoor adventure.

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Mount Snowdon in Snowdonia National ParkCanva

Snowdonia National Park

Covering 823 square miles of Wales, Snowdonia National Park is a craggy, wild landscape.

Combining ancient Celtic rainforests, windswept beaches and Wales’ highest mountain Yr Wyddfa (Mount Snowdon), the park offers visitors diverse natural experiences.

Can I climb Mount Snowdon?

There are six different paths up the mountain, all between eleven to fourteen kilometres in length. Though they vary in intensity, all are pretty rocky, so take those walking poles.

If you’re not keen to walk, you can also get to the peak via the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which runs between March and October.

Where can I ride a steam train in Snowdonia?

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A steam train in Snowdonia National ParkCanva

In the 19th century, many steam railways carried slate from the quarries to surrounding towns.

These days, the quaint trains only carry passengers, but there are plenty of beautiful views to enjoy on the different tracks, from the Llyn Tegid Lake to the harbour town of Porthmadog.

What castles should I visit in Snowdonia?

There’s no shortage of castles in Snowdonia, with many of them dating back to the 13th century.

Harlech Castle, once home to Edward I, overlooks the town below and is a short walk from the long stretch of Harlech beach

Harlech Castle, once home to Edward I, overlooks the town below and is a short walk from the long stretch of Harlech beach, prized for its stunning sand dunes and views.

How do I get to the island of Anglesey?

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Anglesey lighthouse, AngleseyCanva

Just off the coast of north Wales, across the Menai Strait, lies Anglesey.

The island is fully accessible to cars thanks to the Menai suspension bridge and has 125 miles of coastline.

What’s the history of Anglesey?

An island with an ancient history, Anglesey was holy to the Celts and Druid priests planted many sacred oak trees here.

It’s also home to Britain’s longest place name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Things for families to do in Anglesey

There are lots of great activities for families in Anglesey too.

The Pili Palas Nature Reserve has a tropical butterfly house and nature trail, while visitors to Anglesey Riding School can explore the Menai Straits on horseback, with views of Caernarfon Castle just across the water.

What wildlife can I see on Puffin Island?

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Puffin Island, AngleseyCanva
If you’re feeling adventurous you can visit Puffin Island, one of the smaller islands in the Anglesey archipelago.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can visit Puffin Island, one of the smaller islands in the Anglesey archipelago.

Home to Atlantic grey seals all year round, the main season for visiting is April to July, when you can see guillemots, razorbills, and puffins during their breeding season.

What is there to do in Scotland?

Located at the top of the British Isles, Scotland is a country of epic landscapes and bold spirit.

The sprawling highlands are the best place to visit if you like lush green landscapes and mountains. We’ve picked two of our favourite places for an awe-inspiring holiday.

Should I visit the Cairngorms?

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Sheep in the Cairngorms, ScotlandCanva

Sat in the northwestern highlands, the Cairngorms is the UK’s largest national park and boasts five of the UK’s highest mountains. It’s also full of wildlife.

From the rare red squirrel to golden eagles and highland cows, there’s plenty to see here.

What animals can I see in the Cairngorms?

If nature spotting is your thing, you can hire a wildlife guide to help you get to the right place, at the right time. From the rare red squirrel to golden eagles and highland cows, there’s plenty to see here.

Whether you want to see capercaillies and dotterels, or hunt for badgers and pine martens at night, a guide will help you spot them all.

What about a whiskey tour?

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Whisky barrelsCanva

If whisky is your tipple of choice, you could do a lot worse than visit Speyside.

Home to many distilleries, the region is famous for the Glenlivet whisky. Gin distilling is also growing in popularity, and gin lovers can visit Caorunn distillery to taste the latest Scottish produce.

What are the snow roads in the Cairngorms?

As the highest road in Britain, the snow road scenic route is 90 miles long and takes you through the wild landscapes of the highlands. With photo posts - a citizen science initiative to map the changing landscape - along the way so you can stop and admire the view at key locations, there’s plenty to see.

With lots of tight bends and single lane tracks, be sure to take it slow as the road takes you from Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-Sprey.

Where is the Isle of Skye?

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Old man of Storr, SkyeCanva

Sitting off the northwest coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is a rough-hewn beauty, connected to the mainland by the Skye Bridge.

Full of fishing villages, weather-beaten rocks and sheer cliffs, Skye is a must visit if you’re in this part of Scotland.

Full of fishing villages, weather-beaten rocks and sheer cliffs, Skye is a must visit if you’re in this part of Scotland.

What is the capital of Skye?

Portree is Skye’s capital, founded just 200 years ago as a fishing village.

With colourful houses surrounding a natural harbour and a backdrop of jagged mountains, it’s an ideal place to stay while exploring Skye. Boat trips leave from the harbour, and the town is home to a thriving arts scene, including the popular Aros Centre.

Is the Old Man of Storr worth climbing?

The most famous walk on Skye, the Old Man of Storr, is a collection of tall rocks, which can be seen from miles around.

Formed by an ancient landslide, this rock outcrop, a short distance from Portree, offers panoramic views. The walk up from the carpark will take visitors around 45 minutes - longer if you admire the view.

Can I swim in Skye’s fairy pools?

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Fairy Pools, SkyeCanva

Close to Glenbrittle in the southwest of Skye, the fairy pools are clear green and blue pools, formed by the River Brittle.

Complete with waterfalls, and sitting at the base of the Black Cuillin mountains, the pools are worshipped by wild swimmers. Beware though, this being Scotland, they are very, very cold.