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England’s Secret Nature Spots

By Alex Boag-Wyllie
More by Alex

Get Off the Beaten Path in England

England’s mountains are well known for their natural beauty and opportunity for adventure, but it can be difficult to escape the crowds and really explore nature at its finest. We’ve found a few of the country’s best-kept secrets, from hikes around the most westerly lake in the Lake District to wild swimming with a mermaid in the Peak District. There are plenty off-the-beaten-path adventures left to discover in these green and pleasant lands.

Rumbling Kern, Northumberland

England’s rugged northernmost county isn’t most people’s first choice for a holiday, but you’re missing out if you overlook Northumberland. Extensive beaches and the tempestuous North Sea make for a breathtaking coastline. There is no better-hidden gem to enjoy it from than the beach at Rumbling Kern. The name, Rumbling Kern, comes from the unique sound of the sea as it rushes through a hole in the rock.

A location so secret Google Maps can’t even find it, park at Howick Hall and enjoy the lovely walk down towards the sea. With only a bathing house stoically looking over you for company, this spot is best seen at sunrise. From here, you can easily pick up the Northumberland Coast Path and enjoy a further walk along this majestic coastline. Fun fact, the bathing house was built by the 2nd Earl Grey, a name you might recognise from a certain type of tea…

Ennerdale Water, Cumbria

It wouldn’t be a visit to the Lake District without a waterside walk, but when everyone else has the same idea, it can be challenging to find a truly undiscovered space. Head to the most westerly lake in the Lake District, Ennerdale Water, to enjoy a secluded local secret.

The only lake in the region without a road along its full length, park up at Bowness Knott, also the start of a good trail running loop, or Bleach Green, then scramble up Angler’s Crag for the best views. This is a great spot to end the day as you can get a spectacular, clear sunset from this western edge. Pillar Rock, the birthplace of rock-climbing in the region, is just three miles away and dominates your view down the valley.

Old Gang Beck, North Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Dales are the epitome of the English countryside, and there is no better place to get off the beaten path than in Swaledale. One of the most remote and northern of the dales, Swaledale is perhaps best known for the hardy breed of sheep of the same name (in fact, the ram is the logo for this national park).

During the industrial revolution, this was a hub of mining activity. Today, Old Gang Beck is one of the best-preserved lead mining complexes in the Pennines. A stark example of industry being reclaimed by nature, this site is on the iconic Coast to Coast path. Start your hike in the charming village of Healaugh to end the afternoon with a swim at the beautiful Kisdon Force waterfall.

Doxey Pool, Staffordshire

You might know the Peak District for its sweeping landscapes, but take a moment, put down your pack, and get off the beaten path to meet a malicious mermaid. At just 49 x 33 feet, Doxey Pool isn’t much on the surface but it is said to be bottomless, or perhaps connected by an underwater passage to the nearby pool of Blake Mere. Both are said to be home to the mermaid Jenny Greenteeth so take your chances and enjoy a secluded dip in Blake Mere if you dare.

Both pools are on The Roaches so don’t worry if you don’t see a mermaid; in World War II, five wallabies escaped from a nearby private zoo and began to breed. They’re a rare sight too so keep your eyes peeled as you take in this windswept landscape…

Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire

Often described as quintessential England, the Cotswolds are quite rightly a popular destination and it can be difficult to escape the crowds. Head to the Rollright Stones to find some peace among this ancient monarch and his party. Dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, these stones span almost 2,000 years and are said to be a king and his courtiers whom a witch cursed.

Visit at sunrise for a magical moment of isolation, or for something really unique, approach the ancient stones at midnight to see if the king does come back to life as a church clock strikes 12! Start in Salford and enjoy a five mile circular walk to the stones and through the charming hamlet of Little Rollright.

Beaulieu River, Hampshire

 

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In the middle of England’s south coast, Hampshire is known for its fishing and windsurfing. You would be right to head here for the watersports, but get off the beaten track and enjoy Beaulieu River. One of only a handful of private rivers in the world, this water has been in the hands of the Montagu family for over 400 years.

Book a launch time and enjoy the undisturbed peace as you canoe or kayak down one of the quietest rivers in the New Forest. Picturesque Beaulieu village can get busy, so arrive early to enjoy this 13th-century settlement without the crowds before you launch. Swimming is not recommended here, so make sure you stay in your boat.

Discover England With Us

Meet the Author: Alex Boag-Wyllie

Born in the Scottish Highlands, I was lucky enough to spend my early childhood playing on beautiful, sweeping beaches and learning to ski (or, more often, fall over). My father’s job kept us on the move through, and I was soon just as at home amidst the rolling Wiltshire downs, the dramatic Yorkshire Dales and the expansive East Anglian coast. I’ve had almost 40 bedrooms to date across the UK, so I’m your gal if you need a good cafe recommendation (almost) anywhere in the country; if I haven’t been there yet, you can be sure it’s on my trip list…

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