Far from the madding crowds’ ignoble strife lie spots of great beauty, even at home in Britain. Many of us are too quick to think of far-off fields when daydreaming about beautiful landscapes. Here then are my favourite countryside spots here at home. If you’re willing to share your own secret favourites please do let us know in the comments.
- Malham Cove, Yorkshire. Escape the honey pot of this Yorkshire village and you are soon away from the hubbub of geography field trips and ice cream munching day trippers. The view down Malhamdale from the limestone pavement above Malham Cove is sublime. And you can see the house where I grew up!
- Symond’s Yat Rock. An idyllic, peaceful look-out over the River Wye, woodland, fields, and the best of rurual England.
- Wasdale Head, the Lake District. The tiny little chapel here feels like one of the remotest spots in England, a quiet outpost of solitude a million miles from the madness of modern England. At night England’s highest mountains tower black above you and frame a sky of stars free from any orange light pollution.
- King Henry’s Mound, Richmond Park, London. Northerners in particular may howl indignantly at the daftness of including London in this list. But this hidden, quiet spot is a gem. The perfect, uninterrupted view through a gap in the trees all the way across to St Paul’s Cathedral is protected by law. I love the fact that even in London people realise that the visual landscape is important.
- Pentland Hills, Edinburgh. Sleeping on the windy summit of these low hills south of Edinburgh, buffeted by winter wind while the warm lights of the city twinkled in the distance, was where I learned of the joys of sleeping out without a tent. The days and weekends I spent running up and down those hills gave me my first taste of testing myself physically in wild spots. And they were a bracing blast of fresh air and peace for me away from my life in the city.
- Crib Goch at dawn. Watch the sunrise from this knife-edged ar te and then dash down to the wonderful Pete’s Eats cafe for the biggest breakfast in Britain.
- Ben Macdui. Conspicuously un-famous, and therefore usually deserted, Ben Macdui is Britain’s second highest mountain. What you lose in bragging rights by not climbing the highest is more than made up for by being able to greedily enjoy having an entire mountain to yourself.
- New Forest. I love the tranquility of forests, the changing light, and the way they look so different across the seasons. Britain has a dearth of woodland, but there are pockets of the New Forest that are beautiful.
- Box Hill, Surrey. The view south from the top of the zig-zag road is beautiful and broad, especially when you bear in mind that you’re not many miles from the capital. Solace for the city dweller. Box Hill helped keep me sane when I lived in London.
- St. Govan’s Chapel, Pembrokeshire. This remote, tiny chapel hidden in a cleft of rock halfway down a cliff is a silent and mysterious spot that feels far removed from the modern world. There are plenty of good spots nearby for a bracing wild swim too.
- The Cuillins, Skye
What have I missed? Surely this post will generate argument and vehement disagreement…?!
This post first appeared in Wanderlust.