12 wild places to get away from it all

It’s easy to forget – from in front of our screens or behind our desks – that the UK has thousands of islands, hundreds of hills and rivers, and a coastline almost 20,000 miles long. We live in an increasingly populated and urban country, but there are still areas of wilderness to be found where you can really get away from it all. We’ve picked some of our favourite wild places – get out there and enjoy.

Blakeney at sunset

Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk 

At the heart of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blakeney NNR (National Nature Reserve) boasts wide open spaces and uninterrupted views of the wild and beautiful North Norfolk coastline. The four-mile long shingle spit of Blakeney Point protects Blakeney Harbour. The salt marshes provide a perfect habitat for a vast array of residential and migratory birds, and the area is also home to England's largest seal colony.

Looking down on Carding Mill Valley from the Pike

Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd, Shropshire 

This wildlife-rich heathland has stunning views across the Shropshire Hills and beyond. You don’t have to venture too far to find some solitude and if the night sky is your thing, you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye from here. There's something on offer in every season, whether you take a short stroll through Carding Mill Valley, or a more rugged route to the top of the hill.

Walkers admiring the view from Little Trowlesworthy Tor, near Cadover Bridge, Upper Plym Valley, Dartmoor National Park, Devon.

Dartmoor, Devon 

The woodland, rivers and rock formations of Dartmoor are wonderful places to explore on foot. You can choose a well-signposted gentle amble along the banks of some of Dartmoor’s most beautiful and ever changing rivers, the Teign, Bovey and Plym. Or perhaps a more demanding walk across the wild, open moorland from Cadover Bridge in the upper Plym area.

Sunset looking north from Devil's Dyke, South Downs, West Sussex

Devil's Dyke, West Sussex 

With stunning views of the South Downs, Devil’s Dyke is the longest, widest and deepest dry chalk valley in the country and home to many plants and animals unique to this remote habitat. There are dramatic views north over the Weald and south over Brighton to the sea. The artist John Constable described it as “the grandest view in the world”. Britain’s first cable car was built here in 1894 – the ride took Victorian day-trippers across the 300-metre-wide valley, and was a great attraction in its day.

Walkers on Divis Mountain

Divis and the Black Mountain, County Antrim 

Sitting in the heart of the Belfast Hills, this mosaic of upland heath and blanket bog is a great place for a wild countryside experience. With panoramic views across the Belfast skyline, the rich, varied archaeological landscape is home to a host of wildlife, including red grouse, skylarks and peregrine falcons. From the summit of Divis Mountain, on a clear day, you can see the Scottish, Cumbrian and Welsh uplands rising from the horizon.

Dunwich Heath at sunset

Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk 

Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers peace and quiet, and a true sense of being at one with nature. A rare and precious habitat known as coastal lowland heath, this remote and beautiful area is home to many special species, such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.

Summer the hills above Heddon's Mouth near Lynton, North Devon

Exmoor, Devon 

With its remote and romantic landscapes, Exmoor is also home to some of Britain’s largest mammals and most beautiful insects. You might encounter the wild Exmoor ponies or the large herds of red deer that roam freely in the area. The National Park covers 267 square miles of dramatic coastline, open moorland, ancient woods and valleys, clear rivers and tumbling streams. There are excellent hiking opportunities across wild landscape and among the stone circles and ruins of ancient inhabitants.

lone walker on Kinder Scout blue sky

Kinder, Edale and the Dark Peak, Derbyshire 

Enjoy the misty valleys and sunlit hilltops of this rich moorland habitat – it’s the perfect isolated spot to appreciate big open skies, dramatic sunsets and far-reaching horizons. Enjoy a challenging and exhilarating walk high on the windswept Kinder plateau, one of the great upland areas of the gritstone Dark Peak. Or explore the mysterious rock formations in the area and look out for a fantastic range of wildlife.

Murlough sand dunes

Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down 

This fragile, 6000-year-old sand dune system became Ireland’s first nature reserve in 1967. The spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains make it excellent for walking and bird watching. The dune fields at Murlough are the best and most extensive example of dune heath in Ireland. Over 600 species of butterflies and moths have been recorded, including the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Black Beacon Orford ness

Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk 

Take a short boat trip to the wild and remote shingle spit, the largest in Europe. Follow trails through a stunning landscape and a history that will both delight and intrigue. Orford Ness is an example of acid shingle heath, one of the rarest habitats in Britain. The brackish lagoons of Kings Marsh have varying levels of salinity, meaning the area can support ecologically important plants and animals. This truly is a wild place.

Walker in South Snowdonia

South Snowdonia, Wales 

The awe-inspiring landscapes of South Snowdonia are wild and varied - from the ancient oak woodland at Dolmelynllyn to the volcanic rocks at Cregennan. The rugged mountain landscapes of Cadair Idris and Dolmelynllyn are home to glacial fossils, rare lichens and heathland. South Snowdonia is also home to Dinas Oleu, our first acquisition in 1895.

A  view of the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent 

One of the country's most spectacular natural features, these enormous cliffs look out onto the English Channel, giving far-reaching views towards the French coast. The best way to see the cliffs is to take a walk along the coastal path towards South Foreland Lighthouse. You’ll get a great view of the cliffs and also see the chalk grassland that’s home to so many unusual plants and butterflies, such as the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly and the Pyramidal Orchid.