July 10, 2023

Destination: United Kingdom

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

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 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 places in England which are 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.

Before we share the full Hidden Hundred, here are my favourite 10 on the list…

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.

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.

3. Malham (and Tarn) 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.

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4. Bike the Roman Road into Bath

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.

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!

6. Walk into Oxford on the Thames Path via Eynsham

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!

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7. The River Erme, Devon (Note: I’m biased, as I live there!)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Those are my ten favourite places but here's the full Hidden Hundred, organised by region...

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.

Cotswolds

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

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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

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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

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Experienced by

Will

Founder & Expert Guide

Signature Tours

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