As the temperature outside rises and COVID restrictions loosen, there’s no better reason to explore the UK like never before. We’ve picked out our favourite hidden gems from across the nation for you to explore this season. Let’s divert from the beaten track…
From the rolling glory of the Lyth Valley to the exciting heights of the Langdale Pikes, many of us will return to the Lake District year after year and never get bored. But what if you venture west of Keswick and Borrowdale? The Western Lake District - the 'other side of the Lakes' - offers up a wealth of new experience stretching from the quiet shores of Bassenthwaite lake to the rugged and wild coast, from the far reaches of Coniston to the looming heights of Black Combe, and from the friendly bar at the world famous Wasdale Head to the wildest picnic in Ennerdale.
Wasdale & Wastwater | Wasdale is where Britain's mountaineering tradition began. The shores of Wastwater are otherworldly, the climb up Scafell Pike exciting to say the least, and the pints and banter at the Wasdale Head Inn are worth the hike.
Ennerdale | Beginning at St. Bees on the Western Lake District coast, the first leg of Wainwright's Coast-to-Coast walking route will take you to Wild Ennerdale - one of the area's most peaceful valleys and where a 'wilderness' scheme is allowing the landscape to return naturally to its natural wild state.
The Coast | Yes, the Lake District has one! From Millom and Black Combe north to the Solway Firth, explore nature reserves, coastal paths and the Lake District's only coastal village, Ravenglass (where you can catch the La'al Ratty steam train through breathtaking scenery to the heart of the Eskdale Valley.
Praise be for the Dartmoor Commons Act - a legislation allowing solo hikers or small groups to wild camp for up to two nights in this gorgeous area of England. So why not split your holiday in two? Enjoy the fruits of rich agricultural landscape and local produce at farmer’s markets, then pack your solo camping kit and head off for a couple of days of quality escape time.
West Devon Way | Explore the western edge of Dartmoor on this well-marked route, with no need to go home for the night. The West Devon Way in total is 37 miles long and can be divided into 8 stages - all of which can be reached by bus. So just like Wainwright, you won't even need to drive.
Ever been to Padstow in the height of summer? It's great, but it's busy - just like many of the UK's most attractive coastal destinations. The key is to think outside the honeypot - if you're staying somewhere famous, get out your map and scour your destination's surroundings for interesting features. Grab your daysack, walk or cycle and escape the crowds.
The South West Coast Path | A great way to uncover quiet corners of coast and hidden beaches is to explore the South West Coast Path. For example, blissful Hawker's Cove is just a 40-minute walk along a section of the South West Coast Path from Padstow, and at low tide reveals 1.5 miles of glorious beach away from the crowds. Daymer Bay (pictured) is just over 2 miles from Polzeath, one of the top surfing destinations on the Cornish coast.