Millions of overseas visitors flock to Britain every year, with latest figures forecasting 36.7 million visitors to the UK in 2016.
And rightly so! Britain boasts many an ancient monument, areas of outstanding natural beauty, world-famous buildings and hundreds of historic sites that ensure a healthy tourism industry.
But our nation also offers some less famous, but no less beautiful, attractions. If you fancy getting off the beaten track this spring, here’s our round-up of some of scenic Britain’s best hidden gems.
1. Barnard Castle
Visit the North-East to see a castle, and it’ll probably be Alnwick - as used in the filming of Harry Potter. Fair enough - it’s lovely. Equally as lovely, in a slightly less starry but still wonderfully beautiful way, is the 12th century Barnard Castle, overlooking the stunning River Tees.
It’s Potter-fan free, but gives a whole other level of magic.
The east coast of Suffolk has become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades, with the picture-perfect towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh seen as holiday hotspots for well-heeled families looking for good, old-fashioned seaside fun.
Travel a few miles north, though, and you can reach Dunwich - a town that, back in the 12th century, was the 10th biggest in Britain. Still famous in its own right, Dunwich is always less busy than the ‘big two’. A trip here will reward you with wild open sea views, some amazing heathland walks – and, right up on the cliff, an amazing tea shop.
Polperro is often dubbed ‘Cornwall’s most picturesque fishing village’, but how many people have heard of Lansallos? The tiny village (some cottages and a church, pretty much) is just two miles up the road, and has a staggeringly beautiful - and comparatively empty – beach with bright blue sea and sheltered sand.
OK, there are no toilets or ice cream shops, but it’s a small price to pay for one of the county’s only quiet beaches come summer.
Swimming? Off the west coast of Scotland?! It’s not on every holidaymaker’s to-do list, but (wetsuits allowing) it should be. Catch it on the right sunny day, and you can forget the Caribbean and your other far-flung exotic islands - Knockvologan beach is about as close to seaside perfection as you can imagine.
5. Llŷn Peninsula
Thousands head to Snowdownia to visit Wales' biggest and most well-known mountain, but head further down to the Llŷn Peninsula and you'll find a host of similarly amazing walks, including Mynydd Nefyn, Garn Fadryn and the paths around Mynytho and Aberdaron, to name but a few.
They're of a smaller scale, but that’s no bad thing. They’re also quieter, with the added bonus of being mere minutes from the beautiful sandy, unspoilt beaches lining the coast of this peaceful North Wales peninsular.
6. Clevedon Pier
To the uninitiated, it’s all about Brighton Pier or Blackpool Pier. But to those in the know, Clevedon Pier in Somerset is the place to visit.
The country’s only Grade I listed pier still intact, it had to be built especially tall and thin (due to reasons ranging from iron supply issues to a very high local tide), creating what’s known as “the most graceful seaside structure in Britain.”
7. Camley Street Natural Park
London is many things, but an oasis of calm it is not - especially around the sprawling transport hub that is King’s Cross St Pancras Station. Until, that is, you discover one of the unlikeliest beauty spots in the country.
Camley Street Natural Park offers two hectares of quiet, nature-filled parkland, running along the Regent’s canal, which is home to birds, beehives and butterflies.
8. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Giant’s Causeway, the series of basalt columns in Country Antrim, may be the go-to tourist spot for stepping across the water in Northern Ireland. Just 15 minutes drive away, though, is another, less well-known contender: Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
Built some 350 years ago by salmon fishermen, and hanging 30 metres above the waves below, it’s truly exhilarating to cross – and with equally exhilarating views to look at.
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