Forget Cornwall and the Cotswolds, avoid the crowds in these alternative UK destinations

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Isolation is this summer's hottest buzz word.

We're all desperate to get away but really, really don't want a repeat of those packed-in-like-sardines scenes we saw unfolding during the heatwave on Bournemouth beach.

Not to worry. With over 7,000 miles of coastline and hundreds of quaint towns, it's actually very easy to escape the masses.

Cornwall is too obvious, try the rugged beauty of Northumberland instead. Usually head on autopilot to the Cotswolds?

This summer pootle up to the movie set-worthy towns and villages in Lincolnshire.

Deal, Kent

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Wedged between Dover and Ramsgate, Deal is a fantastic alternative to the nearby summer hotspots of Whitstable and Margate. The beach here boasts lovely, calm waters while the town itself is home to quaint tea houses and coffee shops, art galleries and seaside pubs.

Where to stay: a Deal landmark for over 200 years, The Rose has eight individually designed rooms complete with freestanding tubs painted a watermelon shade of pink - and the Scandi-style breakfast is the perfect start to the day.

You can read our full review of The Rose here.

From GBP100 per night, therosedeal.com

Mallaig, Highlands

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On the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, just an hour from Fort William, Mallaig is a quaint fishing village with bustling pubs and plenty of fresh, salty air. It's also an entry point to the Isle of Skye, which can be reached by ferry from Mallaig's port, and Glenfinnan Viaduct, the rail bridge made famous in the Harry Potter films, is a short drive away.

Where to stay: a luxury glamping pod perched high above Loch Morar, The Wee Lodge is a self-catered bolthole with unparalleled views.

From GBP255 for three nights, lochmorarselfcatering.co.uk

Aberystwyth, Wales

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An ancient market town built around a lovely beach (which boasts the oldest pier in Wales), Aberystwyth is a beautiful but oft-forgotten holiday destination.

Situated between the cathedral city of St Davids in Pembrokeshire and the surfers' paradise of Aberdaron on the Llyn Peninsula, Aberystwyth is a great base to explore the 180 mile Coastal Way Where to stay: with a baroque Edwardian facade, Castle Hotel in Aberystwyth's centre was originally built to look like a London gin palace - thankfully the bar it sits above stocks 40 different types of the spirit.

From GBP133 per night, castlehotelaberystwyth.co.uk

Alnmouth, Northumberland

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If you've ever travelled from London to Edinburgh on the east coast train route, it's likely you've spotted the picturesque blink-and-you'll-miss-it parish of Alnmouth. Hugging the Northumberland coast, the beach stretches for miles and the quaint village is home to just over 400 friendly residents.

Where to stay: a five-star hotel in the town's centre, St Valery Boutique Bed + Breakfast is modern (you'll find deep soak tubs in the room), and serves cooked-to-order breakfasts each morning made from local produce.

From GBP170 per night, stvaleryalnmouth.com

Plockton, Highlands

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A pretty settlement perched on the shores of Loch Carron, surrounded by mountains and woodland, it's not hard to see how Plockton earned its nickname as the 'jewel of the Highlands'.

Sheltered bays are ideal for kayaking or sailing, and walkers will have their pick of trails along native woods, open moorland and coastal spots.

Where to stay: in town, The Plockton Hotel offers home comforts in a stylish setting, but if you're travelling further into the Highlands, The Torridon is a five-star castle-style hotel just an hour away.

Price on request for rooms at The Plockton Hotel, plocktonhotel.co.uk. The Torridon stats from GBP340 per night, thetorridon.com

Lytham St Annes, Lancashire

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While sun-seekers on England's west coast flock to Blackpool as the heatwaves hit, those in the know head further south to its just-as-beautiful sibling, Lytham St Annes. A resort town with a tidal beach, its Victorian-era pier rivals that of Brighton's.

Where to stay: a Victorian Grade ll-listed building, with views over the Ribble estuary and windmill, The Queens Hotel sits in the centre of Lytham and has modern rooms and a stellar Sunday roast.

From GBP107 per night, queenslytham.co.uk

Dedham, Essex

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A chocolate box town on the River Stour, in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dedham is the ideal Cotswolds alternative.

Its Tudor and brick houses are flanked by lush greenery and on the high street, visitors will find Georgian-fronted houses, old inns and a fifteenth century church.

Where to stay: with its elm bar and open beam dining room, The Sun Inn pays homage to its old-world roots. Interiors are modern, and its sister restaurant, the Church Street Tavern, serves hearty Sunday roasts and rare breed steaks.

The Sun Inn's summer offer is GBP400 for two nights incl. dinner, bed and breakfast, thesuninndedham.com

Thornton-le-Dale, North York Moors

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On the edge of the North York Moors National Park, Thornton-le-Dale is a picture-perfect ancient market town. There's a nature trail that you can follow around the village and find tree carvings, watch the wildlife around the pond and there is even a bug hotel...

Where to stay: Warrington Guest House has been run by owners Jane and Jonathan for nearly two decades and offers four individually styled rooms in the heart of the village.

Rooms from GBP80 per night, warringtonhouse.co.uk

Stamford, Lincolnshire

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With its seventeenth and eighteenth century stone building, medieval churches and old timber-framed homes, Stamford became England and Wales' first designated conservation area in 1967.

Assuredly one of the prettiest towns in the UK, it's been used as a filming location for the likes of Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version) and The Da Vinci Code.

Where to stay: The Crown in the city's centre is a classic pub with rooms but with cooler decor than most. Rooms are modern and cosy and the downstairs eatery is always buzzing.

Rooms from GBP110 per night, kneadpubs.co.uk

Pwllheli, Wales

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The main market town on the Llyn Peninsula, Pwllheli is just a half hour drive from Snowdonia National Park. The real selling point here, however, is the nearby Porth Iago beach (pictured above), one of the most stunning in the UK.

Where to stay: sitting pretty on Pwllheli's high street, Rooms at Martha Jones is cool, cosy and modern and the ideal lovers pit stop.

Rooms from GBP85 per night, booking.com

Sheringham, Norfolk

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A quintessential English seaside town on the Norfolk coast, Sheringham's beach boasts brilliantly blue waters and there are several pubs and restaurants to dine and drink at during your stay.

A market is held on Saturdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer, and it also holds its famous crab and lobster festival each year.

Where to stay: just one mile from Sheringham, The Dales Country House Hotel couples grand rooms and dining with expansive gardens to wander.

Rooms from GBP179 per night, dalescountryhouse.co.uk

Settle, North Yorkshire

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A market town in the Yorkshire Dales, Settle is the start of the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway, a route that glides over beautiful Victorian viaducts.

The town itself has a bustling market square and it holds its annual flowerpot festival each summer - this year it's been pushed back to the month of August.

Where to stay: once a seventeenth century coaching in, The Golden Lion is now a stunning restaurant with rooms in the heart of the historic town.

Rooms from GBP105 per night, goldenlionsettle.co.uk

More about: | UK staycations | staycations | Holidays | UK holidays

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