Hidden Treasures and Uncharted Paths: Best Getaways in the UK



8 min read

When we think of summer getaways in the UK, our minds often drift to the bustling streets of London, the historic beauty of Edinburgh, or the picturesque landscapes of the Lake District. While these destinations are undoubtedly captivating, there's a wealth of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations across the UK that offer a unique and enchanting summer adventure. In this blog post, we'll delve into some of these lesser-known treasures, exploring secluded beaches, charming villages, and tranquil nature spots that promise an unforgettable escape from the ordinary.

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1. Studland Bay, Dorset

Trains to Studland Bay
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Tucked away on the Isle of Purbeck, Studland Bay is a coastal paradise that seems almost untouched by time. Accessible by train from London to Wareham, followed by a short bus ride, this hidden gem boasts golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant heathlands. With a range of water sports and scenic trails, it's the perfect spot for those seeking relaxation and adventure in equal measure.

How to get there:

For your journey, consider the mainline railway stations at Parkstone and Branksome in Poole, or Wareham. If you're traveling on the Swanage Railway, Swanage itself is the closest stop. To reach Studland Bay, you have various options, including buses, walking, and cycling.

Catch the Purbeck Breezer no.50 from Bournemouth, Poole, or Swanage, priced at £2 per person until the end of October.

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2. Portmeirion, Wales

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Discover a slice of the Mediterranean right here in the UK with a visit to Portmeirion in Wales. Accessible by train from various cities, including Chester and Birmingham, this captivating village is a vibrant tapestry of Italian-inspired architecture nestled amidst lush woodlands. Meander through its charming streets, bask in the beauty of its gardens, and relish the unexpected allure of this distinctive locale.

Portmeirion is conveniently located just a mile away from Minffordd Station, a haven for rail enthusiasts. With platforms catering to both narrow gauge and mainline services, it's a paradise for train aficionados. For a nostalgic experience, hop on a steam train bound for the heart of Snowdonia, journeying towards Blaenau Ffestiniog.

How to get there: 

Portmeirion is easily accessible by train from various major UK cities. You can take a train to nearby towns such as Chester or Birmingham, and from there, make a convenient connection to reach your destination. The closest railway station to Portmeirion is Minffordd Station, which is approximately a mile away (28 minutes walk). It serves both narrow gauge and mainline services, making it a convenient transit point for travelers. Simply check the train schedules and routes that best suit your journey from your departure location, and set out on a scenic rail adventure to Portmeirion.

3. Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire

Trains to Robin Hood Bay
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Nestled on the Yorkshire coast and reachable by train to Scarborough followed by a short bus ride, Robin Hood's Bay is a charming fishing village that exudes timeless appeal. With its cobbled streets, quaint cottages, and dramatic cliffs, it's a haven for artists, nature lovers, and history enthusiasts. Explore rock pools, uncover fossils, and embrace the serene atmosphere of this coastal treasure.

How to get there:

To reach the picturesque village of Robin Hood's Bay, start your journey by taking a train to Scarborough, a delightful seaside town on the Yorkshire coast. From Scarborough Railway Station, you can catch a short bus ride to Robin Hood's Bay. Buses connecting Scarborough and Robin Hood's Bay operate regularly, making it a convenient and scenic way to access this charming coastal gem.

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4. Isle of Arran, Scotland

Trains to Isle of Arran
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Escape to the rugged beauty of the Isle of Arran, a hidden gem in Scotland. Accessible by train and ferry from Glasgow, this island paradise offers a diverse range of landscapes, from towering mountains to lush forests and pristine beaches. Hike, cycle, or simply unwind in the tranquility of nature as you discover the captivating charm of this lesser-explored Scottish gem.

To reach the picturesque Isle of Arran by train, follow these steps:

  1. Start in Glasgow: Begin your journey in Glasgow, one of Scotland's major cities and a well-connected transportation hub.

  2. Head to Ardrossan: Catch a train from Glasgow to Ardrossan, a coastal town on the mainland. Trains from Glasgow Central station to Ardrossan typically run regularly.

  3. Ferry to Brodick: Upon arriving in Ardrossan, you'll need to take a short ferry ride to Brodick, the largest town on the Isle of Arran. Ferries are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), and the crossing offers stunning views of the island.

  4. Explore Arran: Once you've reached Brodick, you're free to explore the beauty of Arran. Whether you're interested in hiking, wildlife spotting, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the island, Arran has something for every traveller.

  5. Enjoy Your Stay: Arran boasts a variety of accommodations, from cosy B&Bs to luxury hotels. Plan your stay according to your preferences and explore all that this charming island has to offer.

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5. St. Nectan's Glen, Cornwall

Trains to St Nectan's Glen
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Hidden away in the mystical landscapes of Cornwall, St. Nectan's Glen is a place of natural beauty, spiritual significance, and serene tranquility. Here's a closer look at this enchanting destination:

Nestled near the village of Trethevy, close to Tintagel on Cornwall's rugged north coast, St. Nectan's Glen is situated amidst lush woodlands and captivating countryside.

At the heart of this magical place, you'll discover St. Nectan's Kieve, a magnificent waterfall that cascades over 60 feet into a natural rock basin. The sight and sound of the glistening water create a peaceful and awe-inspiring atmosphere.

St. Nectan's Glen is steeped in legend and folklore. It is said to be a place of spiritual significance, attracting visitors seeking both inner peace and a connection with nature. The glen is named after St. Nectan, a sixth-century Celtic saint known for his miracles and spiritual wisdom.

How to get there: 

Getting to St Nectan's Glen by public transport is a bit more involved, but it's certainly doable. Here's a step-by-step guide:

From London, Exeter, Bristol, or Birmingham:

  1. Take a train to Bodmin Parkway station in Cornwall.
  2. At Bodmin Parkway, check bus information and schedules on Go Cornwall Bus to St.Nectan's Glen.
  3. Board the appropriate bus to St Nectan's Glen.

Remember to check the latest bus information on Go Cornwall Bus for accurate schedules and routes. Enjoy your visit to St Nectan's Glen!

Note: The glen is dedicated to preserving its natural environment, and visitors are encouraged to respect its peaceful ambiance and the surrounding woodlands.

6. Loch Awe, Scotland

Trains to Loche Awe
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Board a train from Glasgow to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Loch Awe. This hidden gem is the third-largest freshwater loch in Scotland and is surrounded by lush hills and historic sites. Explore the ruins of Kilchurn Castle, take leisurely walks along the loch's shores, and relish the peace that this off-the-beaten-path destination offers.

How to get there:

  • Start your journey by taking a train from Glasgow to Loch Awe station.
  • Glasgow offers excellent rail connections to these stations, making it a convenient starting point for your adventure.

Exploring Loch Awe:

Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe | Image credit: theasis | Getty Images Signature

  • Kilchurn Castle: Begin your Loch Awe exploration with a visit to Kilchurn Castle, an enchanting ruin perched on a small island near the northern tip of the loch. The castle's picturesque setting against the backdrop of rugged hills and the shimmering waters of Loch Awe makes it a must-see.
  • Shore Walks: Enjoy leisurely walks along the loch's shores, where you'll be treated to stunning vistas of the surrounding hills and pristine waters. The tranquility of the area is perfect for unwinding and taking in the natural beauty.
  • Fishing: Loch Awe is renowned for its fishing opportunities. Whether you're an experienced angler or just trying it out for fun, you can cast your line in the hope of catching brown trout, salmon, and other fish species.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including otters, eagles, and various bird species. Loch Awe's diverse ecosystem provides a habitat for many fascinating creatures.
  • Boat Trips: Consider taking a boat trip on the loch to get a unique perspective of its grandeur. Boat tours are available, and they often provide insightful commentary about the loch's history and folklore.

7. Rye, East Sussex

Trains to Rye
Mermaid Street, Rye | Image credit: katkov | Getty Images

Nestled in the picturesque county of East Sussex, the historic town of Rye is a hidden gem that offers a captivating blend of medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and stunning coastal views. Whether you're interested in history, culture, or simply a relaxing getaway, Rye has something for everyone.

How to get there:

  • Rye is well-connected by train, making it easily accessible from London and other major cities. You can catch a train to Rye from London's St Pancras International, Ashford International, or Brighton.
  • The train journey itself is a scenic treat, as it takes you through the picturesque countryside of East Sussex.

Exploring Rye:

  • Mermaid Street: Start your exploration in the heart of Rye, where you'll find Mermaid Street, a quintessential cobbled street lined with charming medieval buildings. Don't miss the famous Mermaid Inn, a historic pub with tales of smuggling and intrigue.
  • Rye Castle: Discover the rich history of Rye at Ypres Tower and Rye Castle. These medieval landmarks house fascinating exhibitions and offer panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
  • St. Mary's Church: Visit St. Mary's Church, a beautiful Anglican church with a towering spire. Explore its interior, which features stunning stained glass windows and historic artifacts.
  • Rye Harbour: Take a short journey to Rye Harbour, where you can enjoy scenic walks along the coast and observe the diverse birdlife at the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Birdwatching enthusiasts will be in their element here.
  • Local Cuisine: Savor the local cuisine at Rye's cosy tearooms, pubs, and restaurants. Try fresh seafood and traditional British dishes while enjoying the town's warm hospitality.

Day Trips:

  • Camber Sands: Just a short drive or bus ride away lies Camber Sands, a magnificent sandy beach known for its dunes and breathtaking sea views. It's a perfect spot for a day of sun and surf.
  • Winchelsea: Explore the nearby town of Winchelsea, which boasts a medieval grid layout and picturesque church. It's a great addition to your Rye adventure.

As you plan your summer adventures, consider veering off the well-trodden path to uncover the hidden treasures that the UK has to offer. Whether you're drawn to secluded beaches, charming villages, or tranquil nature spots, these lesser-known destinations promise a unique and enriching experience that will leave you with cherished memories for years to come. So, hop on a train, embrace the spirit of exploration, and embark on a journey to discover the hidden gems that await just beyond the familiar.

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