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    Don’t-Miss Destinations in the UK: Exploring Beyond London

    If you have orders to the UK, get ready to take advantage of the incredible travel opportunities within a few hours of RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath. There’s so much more to the UK than London, and an assignment there means you have time to explore it all!

    Take a look at some top destinations in the UK for a variety of interests.

    For Outdoor-Lovers: Lake District National Park

    Located in northwest England, the country’s largest national park is a must-visit for anyone who wants to explore England’s natural beauty. The Lake District encompasses more than 900 square miles of diverse landscape, including vast mountains, some of England’s largest lakes, sweeping valleys, and quaint towns featuring historic homes, museums, and local markets.

    Lake District National Park UKPhoto by Andrew Measham on Unsplash

    The Lake District is a paradise for those who love to travel on foot, as it offers walks and hikes for all ages and levels through a range of terrain. You can wander on your own or sign up for guided tours to learn about the land and the history during your trek.

    If you prefer to explore on wheels, there are plenty of opportunities for road cycling and mountain biking along with numerous outfitters to rent bikes. And of course, since the lakes are the major feature in this region, see it from the water by taking a boat tour or renting kayaks.

    The Lake District includes many towns and villages, each with their own unique charm and features. Check out the Lake District National Park website to plan your visit and decide where to stay based on what you like to do.

    For WWII History Buffs: Dover Castle

    This medieval castle sits on the famous White Cliffs, high above the English Channel. Built during the Middle Ages, it played an important role during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.

    Dover Castle above the English ChannelPhoto by Maisie Johnson on Unsplash

    A tour of the castle includes a visit to the maze of secret tunnels and the underground hospital used during the rescue of Allied forces. While you’re there, you can also challenge yourself with the castle’s own “Escape Room” featuring a Cold War-inspired scenario.

    This is an easy day trip from the Mildenhall/Lakenheath area, and Lakenheath Information, Tickets, & Travel (ITT) has it on their schedule regularly. If you want to splurge on a unique experience, stay overnight at Peverell’s Tower, a one-bedroom apartment within Dover Castle!

    Take a look at 10 OCONUS Military Resorts and Recreation Centers You Should Try.

    For City People: Edinburgh, Scotland

    Scotland’s picturesque capital city is definitely worth a visit while you’re stationed in the UK. With a population of only 550K, it’s more manageable than London but has plenty of things to do, plus many pubs, restaurants, and even a theater scene.       

    Edinburgh Scotland       Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

    One of the top attractions is the iconic Edinburgh Castle, which sits on a hill above the city. Take a tour and see the crown jewels, and then stroll down the “Royal Mile” to Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Charles III (the King of the UK) when he is in Scotland.

    Other interesting sites in this hilly but very walkable city include the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Garden, and Calton Hill, which boasts a collection of historic monuments plus some of the best vistas and photo opps in the city.

    Nearby, you can hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano with incredible views of Edinburgh and the surrounding area, or tour the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was also known as the Royals’ “floating palace.”

    Lakenheath ITT offers a 3-day bus tour to Edinburgh. You can also get there by train or take a short flight.

    For Harry Potter Fans: Sites Throughout the UK

    If you loved the Harry Potter books or movies, you will love the UK! Potterheads can find places of significance to the series throughout England and Scotland.

    The Making of Harry Potter

    Visit the Warner Brothers Studio just outside London and go behind the scenes to see how the Harry Potter movies came to life. Take the tour to see the costumes, props, and sets. The studio also has rotating special exhibits. Lakenheath ITT offers regular trips to the studio.

    Oxford, England

    The city of Oxford and prestigious Oxford University were filming locations for some of the most iconic scenes in the movies, including the dining hall, library, and great stone staircase.

    Glen Finnan Viaduct, UKGlen Finnan Viaduct/Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

    The Hogwarts Express

    The steam locomotive featured in the movies is a real train called The Jacobite. Take the scenic ride between the towns of Fort William and Mallaig to experience for yourself what it’s like to ride over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the railway bridge shown in the movies as the Hogwarts Express makes its way to Hogwarts.

    Finally, author J.K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books while living in Edinburgh. You can visit several locations where she created her masterpieces or got inspiration for various aspects of the stories, and even see her former residences.

    Those were just a sampling of the amazing places to visit in the UK! Make the most of your overseas tour by making your own list of must-see places and putting them on the calendar. Don’t forget to check the calendar at the Lakenheath ITT office. They have great day trips as well as overnight adventures all over the region!

    After you’ve explored the UK, you’re in a prime position to visit other places in Europe! Take the Eurostar train to France, fly Space-A from Mildenhall to Ramstein AB, Germany, or take advantage of one of Europe’s many low cost airlines to visit Italy on the cheap. While stationed in the UK, Europe is your oyster!

    Take advantage of all your military travel benefits. Learn more in our free guide below!

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    Dont Miss Destinations in the UK

    Stephanie Montague


    Stephanie Montague

    Stephanie Montague is the founder of Poppin' Smoke, a website dedicated to helping members of the military community take advantage of their travel-related benefits. She has been traveling and living abroad with her husband since he retired from the Army in 2015. Through Poppin’ Smoke, Stephanie shares everything she and her husband learn about Space-A travel and using military benefits while abroad. Also, through her Facebook group, U.S. Military Retirees and Veterans Living Overseas, Stephanie facilitates a large and growing community of veterans who are interested in living overseas after their military career.

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