25 Great Escapes
A 3G iPhone can definitely be useful. Particularly when youâre half way to the Lake District and the dogâs just chewed your map in half. But when you get there, you just want to shut the thing off and live life off the map for a while. which is why the team at WideWorld has raided its collective contacts book to find the best places to flee civilisation in the UK. Just donât tell anyone. And whether you agree or disagree with our choices (and we know some of you willâ¦ strongly), we expect you to let us know via our Facebook page. So without further ado, and in no particular order:
1.TRY CROSSING THE SANDS: Mothercombe Beach, near Modbury, Devon
Unspoiled Mothercombe Beach is on one side of the Erme Estuary and at low tide you can walk to the nearby Wonwell Beach on the other. When the sun sets over this idyllic spot, with green fields on either side and gentle waves rolling on to the shore, you’ll wonder whether it ever gets any better than this.
2.GO SHARK WATCHING: Elender Cove, South Devon
The only way to get to this secluded little cove is by foot or boat. Itâs tucked away, around the headland in between East Portlemouth and East Prawle near the town of Salcombe. Itâs well worth the effort itâll take getting there. Sit on the golden sands and look out for the tell-tale fins of the massive basking sharks that stalk these waters.
3.GET LOST IN THE FOREST: Sway, The New Forest, Hampshire
Sway, in the New Forest, is a pretty village in the middle of acres and acres of ragged, unspoiled forest. In the Domesday Book, its name was ‘Svieia’, meaning a noisy stream. Stick on a backpack, mind the wild ponies, and head off into the hills. Don’t forget your compass â even though itâs England, you CAN get lost out here.
4.FIND THE HOME OF CLIMBING: Wasdale, Lake District
Wasdale, on Cumbriaâs west coast, is well away from the path beaten by regular Lake District visitors and home to some of the most dramatic scenery in the region. Youâll also find Cumbriaâs deepest lake, Wastwater, and Englandâs tallest mountains. This is climbing country. Just donât forget to grab a pint afterwards in the Wasdale Head Inn. As if you would.
5. THE BAJA OF BRITAIN?: Three Cliffs Bay, Gower peninsula, Swansea.
This may be one of the most photographed spots on the peninsula, but we couldnât have a round-up of places to get away from it all without mentioning Three Cliffs Bay. Itâs vast, so youâll never feel overwhelmed by people. Climb up onto the rocks overlooking Rhosilli Bay and you wonât want to leave; or sit on a surfboard waiting for the next swell. Stay nearby at the marvellous Nicholaston Farm camp site.
6. BEING NUDDY BY NATURE: Holkham Beach, North Norfolk
Start walking towards the sea from the car park set behind the pine trees at Holkham Beach and youâll wonder whether youâll ever get there. Itâs about a mile to the shore, but itâs worth the walk. This is one of the most beautiful spots youâll ever see. Thereâs also a nearby nudist beach and the Queen owned a beach hut here, hidden among the trees, until an arsonist destroyed it in 2003.
7. THE GREAT WELSH FOREST: Fforest Fawr, Brecon Beacons, Wales
The hills and mountains of the Brecon Beacons cover 520 square miles from Haye-on-Wye to Llandeilo. The incredible Fforest Fawr is a Geopark within the Beacons and begins only a few miles north of Cardiff. A UNESCO protected area of scientific importance, Fforest Fawr is great for gorge walking and cycling through the lush green pasture.
8. GO BIKE TO NATURE: Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre, Port Talbot, South Wales
This Mountain Biking Centre, situated in a wooden building in the heart of the Afan Forest Park, is a perfect base for long rides along the trails. One of them, the Penhydd Mountain Bike Trail, was the chosen course for the 2001 World singlespeed championships. There is also a bike shop, cafÃ©, and shower rooms.
9. AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN: Llanberis, Snowdonia National Park, Wales
The pretty town of Llanberis is a great starting point for summit climbs of Mount Snowdon. But the nearby Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris lakes are also great for kayaking and the surrounding rugged countryside perfect for long hikes and mountain biking adventures.
10. THE SECRET GARDENS: Hever Castle, Kent
You may think this a strange choice but Hever Castle, dating back to 1270 and the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, has an incredible garden where you can go to while away the hours. As well as a striking Italian garden, itâs got a 35 acre lake, walled rose garden and yew maze.
11. WILD CAMPING: River Dart, Dartmouth, Devon
The upper reaches of Devonâs River Dart are a brilliant spot for whitewater kayaking and canoeing. The river crosses the quiet, lonely expanses of Dartmoor â the only place in England that allows wild camping. As long as you canât see anyone else, and you only stay one night in each spot, you can pitch up where you like.
12. WHERE EAGLES DARE: Ben Nevis, Scotland
Ben Nevis, Britainâs highest mountain, boasts the best cable car rides in the country; even in summer you can lock yourself in a gondola and take the breathtaking ride up to the ski centre at 2150ft. If youâre feeling brave, mountain bike back down to the valley below.
13. CAMP BY THE FALLS: Cwm Nantcol, Wales
Cwn Nantcol is a valley in Gwynedd. On certain days, at certain times of the day, the colours of the surrounding countryside are simply breathtaking. Sombre skies, craggy rocks, bright yellow grasses and dark orange moss. Head for Cwn Nantcol campsite at the foot of the waterfalls where you can build your own campfire to the soundtrack of the mountain streams.
14. DISAPPEAR TO AN ISLAND: Shell Island, Llanbedr
If you think we like Snowdonia, youâd be right. Another Gwynedd treat is Shell Island with beach camping, wild birds, fishing and fantastic views of Cardigan Bay the mountains. The island is tidal and cut off from the mainland half the time, and allows you to pitch your camp right on the beach out of sight of everyone else.
15. HERITAGE COAST HIDEAWAY: Worth Matravers, Dorset
Worth Matravers, just to the west of Swanage, is a picture perfect village in the Purbecks and a perfect start-off point for hiking along the South West coastal path. Donât forget the obligatory stop at the Square & Compass pub â itâs just a joy to drink in this bar untouched by modernity, overlooking the cliffs. (Thereâs a campsite round the back of the pub too). Ask for a local Ringwood Ale and enjoy the flotsam.
16. CLIFFSIDE CAMPING: Caerfi Bay, Pembrokeshire
A rare gem of a campsite just south of St Davids: occupying a corner of an organic dairy farm, you can stay right on the cliffâs edge and overlook the beautiful bay beneath you and the sight of Skomer island in the distance. Itâs also a brilliant base for Coasteering, rocky Pembrokeshireâs best extreme sport. Donât be fooled into going to the ugly caravan park around the headland though â ask for the organic farm site.
17. GO BAG SOME MONROES: Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
The Cairngorms National Park covers 1,467 sq miles) and encompasses the stunning Cairngorm Mountains. The Cairngorms contain 18 Munros (3,000 footers, as listed by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891). By April thereâs still snow on the summits, but May and June are good months for all altitude climbing (unless of course you like snow, in which case, wait until winter). You canât get much more remote than this.
18. SURF A LONELY WAVE: Saunton Sands, Devon
This is a simply massive beach, with the nicely-placed Saunton Sands Hotel sitting overlooking the old-style for-hire beach huts. Saunton Sands is a great surf spot for the amateur, much frequented by tourists by lunchtime but empty first thing. Even in high summer youâll find a swell of your own at dawn, so pack your wax and head down there at first light, then rent a hut to snooze by in the day.
19. WEIRD SPORTS WONDERLAND: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
If youâre looking for somewhere tucked away in great hiking country, this is the place. Nestled deep in the Black Mountains, this is also the home of Bog Snorkelling, the Man vs. Horse marathon, and the Mountain Bike Chariot Racing World Championships. You donât have to be daft to come here, of course. It does help though. Especially if youâre dressed as a Roman Senator pulling a chariot on a mountain bike â really.
20. THE CLEAREST COAST: St Davidâs, Wales
Undoubtedly one of the coolest coastlines in the UK. Lovely and hilly for running, but also made for coasteering, and some fantastic climbing and sea kayaking â youâll likely spot dolphins, seals, and on a calm day the sea can be as clear as anything in the Adriatic. This far-west outpost of Wales is everything you want Cornwall to be â without the traffic and tourists.
21. CHEAP ROOMS WITH A VIEW: Pinkery Bunkhouse youth hostel, Exmoor
Perched on top of a beautiful green hill, next to a small copse, the former Victorian farmstead is the perfect place to get away from the rat race and hike the hills of the southwest or explore the nearby coast. And at a mere Â£14 a night, itâs competitive even with campgrounds in the area.
22. A TOWN AT ITS PEAK: Castleton, Peak District
Right in the heart of the Peak District, Castleton is a brilliant little town with great pubs and fantastic hiking nearby. Although the town itself, with Peveril Castle and four huge caverns, draws in masses of crowds during the summer, far fewer beat a course through the surrounding hills and look down on the place from afar.
23 MILES OF ISLES: Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Genius architect Robert Adams designed the fairytale Culzean castle for maximum visual effect: on a hundred-foot granite cliff on the Ayrshire coast with a clear view to the Mull of Kintyre and Arran. Dispense with the normal tour of the grounds and head to the beach, where smugglerâs caves have been built into the rock for purely artistic effect. The oldies up top wonât get down here, and they sure wonât appreciate the magnificent sunsets over the water and islands in the distance.
24. THE SHELLFISH GENE: Strangford Lough
Only a few minutes outside Belfast, the 150km2 expanse of sea lough is a hidden classic, with a peninsula that narrows down to a opening just 500 metres across. Harvest your own cockles on the enormous sandflats left at low tide and sit in the ruined churches and roundhouses that pepper the shore.
25. DESERTED HIGHLANDS: Loch Maree, Wester Ross
When you think of the Highlands of Scotland, chances are youâll imagine a view of Loch Maree. Tucked away between the bleak hills, this secluded and enormous stretch of water isnât your usual tourist destination: when the sun shines, itâs film-set glorious. In the mist, it only gets better. Scuba diving and whale spotting outfits are easy to find.
About the Author
WideWorld is a brand new online magazine about everything outdoors. We’re here to bring you amazing news, reviews of products, and a features section bulging with adventures, advice and interviews with inspirational people.
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