New year, new you, new places to discover! January is all about new beginnings so why not add these incredible and often forgotten places to your must-visit list in 2014. Whilst the likes of Devon and the Lake District attract thousands of tourists and walkers throughout the year, there are so many other places in the UK that are worth a visit.
Venture off the beaten track and explore the UK’s hidden gems; from abandoned villages and sunken towns to the some of the quietest beaches but shhh it’s a (not so) secret! Here are a few of our favourites…
Explore what once was…
Whether it’s war-time abandonment, nature’s doing or wear and tear, many of us are fascinated by our ancient buildings and places that scatter the UK.
Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire
– playing host to the Tour de France Grand Départ this summer has put Yorkshire firmly back on the tourist trail. Whilst the country’s largest county has plenty to offer, Rievaulx abbey is often shunned in favour of the more popular, Bolton Abbey. Make a day of exploring this peaceful area of the North Yorkshire Moors before stopping off in the charming neighbouring town of Helmsley.
– step back in time to visit this ancient Iron Age settlement. Last occupied over 2,000 years ago, you can meander through the stone remains of a village street and the village’s ‘fogou’ - an underground cellar.
– this fascinating village is steeped in history – Tyneham was abandoned in 1943 during World War Two as part of a ‘temporary’ evacuation but the residents never returned. This ghost town has become a curious attraction for visitors to Dorset which includes the likes of a good-bye letter pinned to the door of a church and dusty books inside the abandoned school.
– rumour has it that at on a quiet night you can hear church bells coming from the submerged city of Dunwich. Over the years the sea has claimed the 13th century city of Dunwich leaving behind only a small village above sea level. After a walk along the beach, make sure to pay a visit to the Dunwich museum which will share with you this fascinating story of a lost city.
As an island, the UK has plenty of beaches and seaside towns on offer. It goes without saying that some are more popular than others – here are three beaches you’ll have all to yourself:
Isle of Harris, Scotland
– With crystal clear water and white sand you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at a photo of Thailand or Malaysia, but you are in fact looking at the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Say goodbye to overcrowded beaches and say hello to pristine white sand at Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris.
– enjoy a spot of seal-watching in the Norfolk Broads National Park! This is a fabulous place for casual strolls along the beach, taking in Britain’s unspoilt scenery and wildlife.
Musselwick Sands, Pembrokeshire
– There are two reasons why Musselwick beach is one of your best bets for the ultimate secluded beach: 1) It’s located half a mile from the nearest car park and 2) you’ll need to know your tide times before you go! To reach it you can park in the village of Marloes and take the footpath in the west of the village, heading north.
The UK’s hidden gems
Terence Coventry Sculpture Park
- if you’re looking for a casual stroll with a difference then Coverack to Terence Coventry Sculpture Park will provide you with intriguing points of interest along the way.
You can find a detailed suggested route here
Worm’s Head near Rhossili, Gower Peninsula
– this has got to be one of the UK’s most impressive landscapes; shaped like a giant sea-serpent, ‘Worm’s Head’ is a tidal island located in Rhossili on the south-western tip of the Gower Peninsula in Swansea. Whether you choose to walk the length of the Worm or along the beach this is a stunning walk with spectacular views.
Top tip: it’s important to bear in mind that the causeway has a rocky surface and that the 'Worm' is only exposed for two and a half hours before and after low tide so make sure you plan your trip accordingly.
Jenni Douglas - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenni40947/
Tim Regan - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dumbledad/
Richard Allaway - http://www.flickr.com/photos/geographyalltheway_photos/