Off the Beaten Track in the UK: find some of Britain’s hidden gems

Michael hiking in the Lake district

I’ve got nothing against London – I lived there for two years and loved it – but it’s always a shame when folk visit the UK and never make it out of the capital city. So when Derin contacted me recently to ask if she could provide a post about visiting parts of the UK that aren’t London, naturally I was thrilled to take her up on her offer.

Today she shares some of her, and co-incidentally my, favourite spots in the UK for exploring. Enjoy – and for more inspiration, don’t forget to check out my ideas for a two week trip in the UK! Over to Derin:

Are you planning a trip to the UK soon? If so, does London feature somewhere if not entirely on your itinerary? As a born and bred (although now former) Londoner I might be biased in saying that London is one of the best cities in the world. It has everything a tourist could want – history, culture, nightlife, and a famous landmark on almost every street corner.

So if it’s your first trip to Britain, London should definitely be top of your to see list – but there is more to the UK than just its capital. Here are some of the places that are (slightly) off the beaten track that will often take a good few hours to get to, but which are well worth the trip and provide an insight into what this small island has to offer.


Head down to the South West of Britain and you will stumble upon Devon, a county known for its stunning beaches, traditional villages and rustic pubs. In this diverse region you can learn to surf in Croyde, spend days relaxing along the English Riviera or dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

If you prefer a more active getaway consider visiting Dartmoor, an atmospheric national park where Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was based and which also served as a backdrop for the film War Horse. Here you can explore its ancient woodlands, discover local folklore and horse ride through some of the most stunning scenery the UK has to offer.

devon sunset

Off the coast of Bigbury-on-Sea in south Devon is Burgh Island. This small tidal island is owned by the hotel of the same name. A stunning art deco building, Burgh Island Hotel is famous for its past guests including murder mystery writer Agatha Christie and the actor Noel Coward.

Isle of Wight

A short ferry trip from Portsmouth and you can get to the Isle of Wight. Top attractions on the island are Osborne House, which was once home to Queen Victoria, and Carisbrooke Castle, an 800 year old building that was once prison to King Charles I.

If history isn’t your thing then perhaps visit the island during June when it holds its annual Isle of Wight Festival. This is one of the most popular music festivals in the UK and it often attracts top artists.

The Isle of Wight is also popular with outdoor enthusiasts and its size and location makes it ideal for those who enjoy hiking, cycling and sailing.

Lake District

The North West of England is home to the Lake District, England’s largest National Park. This region is known for its stunning scenery of mountains and lakes, as well as being the inspiration for many of Britain’s most famous artists, writers and poets.

Ancient stone circles, waterfalls, miles of unspoilt countryside, and the highest mountain peak in England can all be found here. The region is also famous for its lakes – Windermere being the most popular with water sport enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for a bit of culture visit the Wordsworth museum, which is situated in the building where the Romantic poet once lived. Or perhaps stop at the Beatrix Potter museum instead and discover how the children’s author was inspired by the region.


In stark contrast to the mountains of the Lake District is Norfolk – often considered the flattest county in the UK. Here you can rent a boat and discover the waterways that make up the Norfolk Broads, which stretches for miles across Eastern England.

Staying on dry land you can travel along the North Norfolk coast. Here you will discover unspoilt beaches, fishing villages, and stately homes.

Head to the region’s largest city, Norwich, and you will find Cathedrals, historic streets and a castle, as well as the city’s modern bars, restaurants and shops.


Famed for its stunning mountain ranges, Snowdonia is a national park located in North Wales. This area is more than just beautiful scenery, as it was once an important mining centre. Although most of the mines are now closed, Sygun Copper Mine offers visitors the chance to discover the area’s mining past. Originally closed in 1903, Sygun Copper Mine is now open to tourists looking to discover this underground world.

Snowdonia scenery wales

Snowdonia is also home to numerous 13th Century castles that were built by Welsh Princes and later by King Edward I during his conquest of Wales. One of the most formidable of these is Harlech Castle, which is still standing today and open to tourists.

This post was written for Finding the Universe by Derin Clark, a writer, editor and blogger.

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