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July 10, 2023

Destination: United Kingdom


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The Hidden Hundred – 100 Unique Places to Visit in the UK

The Hidden Hundred – The Top 10

1. Tarka Trail Bike - Braunton to Meeth, Devon

From the beachy hotspots of North Devon, you can be forgiven for thinking there’s not much to see until Dartmoor. The Tarka Trail, named after the Henry Williamson book, Tarka the Otter is a delicious 33 mile off road reclaimed railway track which cuts through the Devon Countryside. It’s perfect for families and can be biked in tandem with the Granite Trail and Drakes Trail which takes you from North to South Devon, a journey of 100 miles with 80+ miles offroad. On route the Puffing Billy is a must stop as is the market town of Hatherleigh and the lovely George Pub.

More information: The Tarka Trail, Barnstaple, EX31 1QN,

2. Ennerdale, Lake District

The only valley in the Lake District with no roads, you feel like you’re walking into another world as you walk into the valley, past the shores of Ennerdale Water. It’s a stunning place and there is a myriad of routes to take once you start to see the huge bulk of Great Gable before you. You can climb the Gable and come back the same way or head to the Wasdale Inn for a pint via Black Sail Pass or through Scarth Gap Pass and into Buttermere.

More information: Ennerdale Water, Cleator CA23 3AS,

3. Malham Tarn from Watersinks Car Park, Yorkshire Dales

Instead of parking down in the valley with everyone else, head up the windy roads to the Watersinks Car Park, close to where the water Malham Beck literally disappears into the Limestone and down to the limestone pavement and back to humanity, heading down into the village of Malham and the Lister Arms.

More information: Yorkshire Dales National Park, Pennine Way, Settle, Skipton BD23 4DJ,

4. Bike the Roman Road into Bath, Somerset

Heading to Bath can be so much more enjoyable by bike. Starting at Westonbirt or Tetbury, pick up the Fosse Way, the Roman Road and head into Bath via Bathampton. There are three big dips with short but steep climbs then you’ll head downhill, 2 miles to Bathampton. Pop onto the Kennet and Avon Canal and get into the heart of the city via the Holburne Museum – a great way to enter a wonderful city. As an alternative, head for Bradford-on-Avon and bike from there all the way down the Kennet and Avon Canal.

More information: Bath, Avon, BA2 6QU,

5. Bike the Upper Camel Trail - Wadebridge to Wenford Bridge, Cornwall

Forget the Camel Trail into Padstow, head the other way towards the outskirts of Bodmin. Make sure you take the left turn onto Sustrans Route 3 (from route 32) and bike up the delicious valley path all the way to Wenford Bridge and the Snail’s Pace Café. Have a coffee, enjoy the composting loo and head back downhill and go to “Padstein” for Fish and Chips if you must!

More information: Camel Trail (Padstow), The Blockhouse, S Quay, Padstow PL28 8BL,

6. Walk into Oxford on the Thames Path via Eynsham, Oxfordshire

Walk from Eynsham, past Wytham Woods (known to Inspector Morse fans as the place where all the murders took place!) and along the quiet Thames which meanders towards Wolvercote. Stop here at Port Meadow, soon to be granted clean bathing status (so bring your cossie) and have a pint in The Perch, with its garden of weeping willow trees and outdoor bar shack. Bliss!

More information: Eynsham Back Lane Car Park, 57 Back Ln, Eynsham, Witney OX29 4QP,

7. The River Erme, Devon

’m biased, as I live here! By car, go to the hamlet called Harford and park by the church. There are only 5 spaces so get there early. Head up onto Dartmoor onto the Puffing Billy track (the old Clay mine track on the Two Moors Way) and walk past Three Barrows. Head down towards the River Erme and the wonderful Piles Copse – an ancient oak wood, with all the trees covered in moss it’s like being in The Hobbit! Head back into Ivybridge and head up Longtimber Woods (if you see a dog swimming it’s mine and he’s called Forrest (Gump)!) and dip in one of the many natural pools.

More information: Harford Road, Harford, Devon, PL21 0JQ, United Kingdom,

8. Battery Rocks, Cornwall

Penzance is a mecca for swimmers and Battery Rocks is where all the locals swim. Head around the back of the Penzance Lido (which is also well worth a visit with its geothermal 35 degrees pool) and pop in the water via the steps. It’s better at high tide and only when it’s relatively flat (don’t try it when the sea is bouncy). There are marked buoys to the left and right, so stick within them. It’s a great place right in the heart of Penzance.

More information: Battery Rd, Penzance TR18 4FF,

9. High Force to Cow Green Reservoir, County Durham

Cross the River Tees just south of the falls and head up on the left hand side of the river to High Force – it’s spectacular – through a farm and into a wonderful valley on the Pennine Way before climbing up via Cauldron Spout to the reservoir. Cross Fell, the highest point in the Pennines is off to the left but walk to the Langdon Beck Hotel for great beer and simple unfussy food whilst chatting to the locals.

More information: Alston Rd, Forest-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle DL12 0XH,

10. College Valley, Northumberland

Park in the car park at Hethpool, there are only a few spaces, and walk up the road (where you are not allowed to drive) and in a loop, taking in the peak of the Cheviot at 813 metres it’s not for the faint-hearted. It feels like the Lake District but with no people – you’ll be lucky to see a soul on a tough but rewarding 10-mile hike.

More information: College Valley, Kirknewton, Wooler NE71 6TW,

100 of the Best Places to Visit in England

Those are the top 10, but here’s the full Hidden Hundred, organised by region. Unique parts of England that you must visit at least once.

Broadway Tower

White Horse carved into chalk grassland in the late 1600s. Legend suggests it was created to commemorate King Alfred's victory at the Battle of Eoandun in 878.

River Thames: The official source is marked by a group of stones and a marble slab beneath an ash tree.


Bike The Roman Road to Bath

Tracing a route directly southwest on the old Roman Road, this biking route isn’t well-known but thanks to off-road sections and quiet on-road parts, it’s a brilliant way to see the Cotswolds. Tackle it over one or two days and make sure to leave time to explore Bath when you arrive!

More information: Bath, Avon, BA2 6QU,

Sat amongst rolling hills on the Southern edge of Oxfordshire is the Uffington White Horse. At over 100 metres end-to-end, this pre-historic hill figure is a sizeable feature, but little is known about its exact origins. A short walk along the ridge you’ll find Waylands Smithy, a fine example of a Neolithic Long Barrow. 

More information: Waylands Smithy, Ashbury, SN6 8NX,

Park (or even better arrive in Pewsey by train) and enjoy an amble along the Kennet & Avon Canal before taking one of the various routes up the hill to see The Pewsey White Horse, one of 8 White Horses carved into the Chalk hillside in Wiltshire. It’s thought that the current horse is a replica of an earlier horse that was lost sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century.

More information: Pewsey, SN9 5AF,

Spanning an 82-mile route between Oxford and Hereford is the Cotswold Railway Line. It is a beautiful, two-hour direct trip, but rather than flying along the route in a diesel train, take your bike! Much of the route can be ridden on National Cycle Network 442 until Evesham, where you can skirt the Malvern Hills and press on East to Hereford.

More information:

Bath’s Two Tunnels circuit is a right of passage for any cyclist riding their bike in England. Skirting the Somerset Wiltshire border, this 13-mile circular route skirts the quiet Kennet & Avon Canal before taking on the Devonshire and Combe Down Tunnels. The Combe Down Tunnel is a thrill to ride. At over 1,500 metres it’s the longest tunnel in the UK only open to walkers and cyclists.

More information:

Quiet lanes, the babbling river coming in and out of view, this is quintessential bike riding in England. Leave Burford, heading East along National Cycle Route 57 before crossing the river at Asthall. Continue onto Minster Lovell, where the River Windrush looks at its absolute best before returning on the same route to Burford. I’d recommend visiting Hufkins, for a post-ride treat. 

More information:

Arguably our most well-known river, The Thames can and should be swam! For locals, Port Meadow is a well-known spot for a dip. For a car-free day, take the train to Oxford and bimble along the Thames Path out to Port Meadow.

More information: Walton Well Rd, Oxford, OX2 6ED,

Classic Cotswold countryside, the beautiful villages of Broadway and Snowshill and stunning views from Broadway Tower – a couple of hours well spent I’d say! Great at any time of the year, I like walking this route in late Spring or early Summer – lambs dot the fields and you can almost see the greenery growing from the hedgerows as you walk past.

More information: Middle Hill, Broadway WR12 7LB,

Oxford is certainly a cycling city, but it’s the most wonderful feeling leaving the city by bike along the canal. It’s like you’ve found a secret route no one knows about! Follow National Cycle Route 5, before jumping onto route 442 and heading into the Cotswolds. From there, the world, or to put it correctly – the Cotswolds – is your oyster.

More information:

Starting at the quiet riverside village of Streatley this walk heads up onto the Ridgeway, a National Trail route that traverses the belly of Southern England. This particular walk delivered fine views of the Chiltern Hills before you visit the riverside village of Moulsford and return to Streatley.

More information:

A 6-mile walk, this route is the perfect day out, even for little-legs. Watch a boat navigate Eynsham locks, marvel at the variety of houseboats moored along the river, spot the cows in the surrounding meadows, or even a heron fishing for his lunch. Speaking of which, be sure to dive into The Perch in Binsey before you head on into Oxford.

As the River Thames continues its meandering journey eastwards through Oxfordshire, it passes under Tadpole Bridge. This is our favourite place to swim in the river, outside of Oxford anyway. The nearby Trout pub is the ideal place to warm up or cool down, depending on what the weather is doing!

More information: Tadpole Bridge, Faringdon, SN7 8RF

Reading and Didcot are not the first towns which spring to mind when thinking about a weekend on foot, but with the River Thames connecting them., this 14-mile route is a perfect long walk. Take in the Goring Gap, the narrow gap which marks the line between the Chiltern Hills and the Berkshire Downs. The return journey can easily be done by train in a little over 10 minutes.

The Thames Path National Trail starts in Trewsbury Mead, Gloucestershire. We recommend starting in the small village of Ewen and heading north along grassy footpaths toward the stone that marks the start of the river. Return to the start by crossing a section of the classically straight Fosse Way Roman Road. 

More information: Cirencester, GL7 6NY

Porthcurno and Pedn Vounder

Jubilee Pool next to Battery Rocks in Penzance

Sunset at Nanjizal, also known as Mill Bay, a beach and cove near Lands End, Cornwall

Mullion Cove, Cornwall

Devon & Cornwall

Enjoy the view overlooking Buttermere lake in Cumbria, The Lake District

Janet’s Foss waterfall - perfect for a refreshing swim

Weekly sheepdog demos in the Yorkshire Dales. Shepherd Richard Fawcett, with one of his dogs Lola, left, and her pup called Croft. 

Buttermere Lake, Lake District

Ribble Viaduct, Yorkshire

The North

Perfect spot for a sunrise swim at Man o War cove in Dorset.

Birdseye view of Dover Castle at sunset.

Go punting along the River Stour in Canterbury and enjoy the view of traditional Tudor buildings.

The South

The Hidden Hundred: Note from the Author

The best thing about my job (and there are many good things) is the opportunity to visit some of the lesser known places that our beautiful country hides away. The UK has plenty of unique places to visit and we love discovering and sharing some of these hidden gems.

Many of these unique places are close to the well-known, the iconic places where everyone knows and goes; however some of them are wild, less travelled and remote. My aim is to unveil some of these magnificent places and champion their beauty and charm.

The genesis of this idea was from the Adventure Travel Networking Conference in 2022 which was expertly organised by Pru Goldie. I was on a panel moderated by Lyn Hughes at Wanderlust Magazine and posed the question to the assembled audience asking if anybody had heard of College Valley in Northumberland… there was silence and one half-hearted hand went up. College Valley is along a no-through road, close to the border of England and Scotland, under the magnificent Cheviot peak and is as wild and remote as it gets.

This got me thinking… there must be many hidden places in England which are unique, stunning, off the beaten track and well worth a visit. And so the Hidden Hundred was born…

Much of the list will be known to some of you, but I doubt that over half of these unique places will be known to all but a very few. Some of them are “nearly in plain sight” – hidden gems, close to well-known places that might just be accessed differently. Others are wild places – a little more tricky to reach, but well worth the effort. It’s been great fun researching and I hope considerable fun is had visiting and embracing the Hidden Hundred.

Experienced by


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