The Hole of Horcum, North Yorkshire (Flickr: Paul Tomlin)
List Words : Cool Places | 22 May

Britain's 6 wildest places

Want to get truly off-the-beaten-track in the UK? Cool Places recommends where you can get lost in the wild... But with a pub or town not too far away

No one would claim that Britain is home to Europe’s wildest scenery: it’s a compact, crowded country, and the joys of its landscape can often be gentle rather than dramatic. But you may be surprised – not only about how remote the British landscape can feel at times, but how easy such places are to get to. Our friends at have come up with a few locations you may not have heard about, and which are relatively easy to reach, too.

1. Carn Ingli, Pembrokeshire

Take time off from the magnificent beaches of the Pembrokeshire coast to climb Carn Ingli, from whose frost-shattered volcanic rocks you can see as far as the equally desolate mountains of Snowdonia.

Carn Ingli is easily accessed from the pretty Norman village of Newport and its wide, golden strand, Traeth Mawr. The hill is famed locally as being the home to Saint Brynach who is said to have communed with angels here – although it should be noted that the local hills are also known for their ‘magic mushrooms’.

If you don’t fancy the long slog up from town you can drive onto Carn Ingli Common and park just a mile or so away from the summit, which is reached via an easy amble across open moorland. 

2. The Hole of Horcum, North Yorkshire

Is this North Yorkshire’s Grand Canyon, and was this gigantic hole scooped out by a giant having an argument with his wife? Whatever is origin, a walk around its stark, windswept ten-mile perimeter, via the old villages of Levisham and Lockton, is a must.

The truth behind the 'Devil's Punchbowl' is based in geology, though it's just as startling – an ongoing process known as 'spring-sapping' has undermined and eroded the land here over thousands of years, making the feature ever larger and ever deeper. It's home to a magnificent view in any case, easily seen from the National Park car park at Saltergate, around eight miles north of Pickering.

You can also pick up the walk from Levisham station, which is a stop on the grand old North Yorkshire Moors Railway line. 

3. Loch Lubnaig, Argyll and Bute

It may be small by Scottish standards, barely 5km long and only around 40m deep at its deepest point, but this wee gem is one of the nation’s prettiest lochs by some way. It's dead easy to get to as well, just north of Callender, and a handy stop off for those heading further north.

It is dominated by two hulking mountains, Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich, and surrounded by swathes of forest. You can rent canoes, fish or just chill by the water’s edge.

4. Mam Tor, Derbyshire

The so-called ‘Shivering Mountain’ is one of the Peak District’s – and North Derbyshire’s – most romantically dramatic hills, and can only be accessed by a twisting road slashed through a deep, steep, v-shaped gorge.

This part of north Derbyshire is rich in things to do and see; historic Castleton is the village at the bottom of Mam Tor – English Heritage's medieval Peveril Castle is worth a look-see, and deep into the earth under the surrounding hills lie the world famous Blue John mines. You're deep in the Hope Valley here, and Hathersage is only 20 minutes away; spend half a day in each place.  

5. Samson, Isles of Scilly

With its distinctive mammary-shaped peaks, this is perhaps the most remote of the Scillies, abandoned over 150 years ago. With ruined buildings and burial chambers scattered across the islands there is an eery sense of isolation.

It has exceptional flora and fauna, and can be reached by boat between April and October.

6. Wheatfen Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Just to the south of the Yare River, Wheatfen Nature Reserve is the creation of the naturalist Ted Ellis, who made his home here while he was keeper of the natural history collection at Norwich Castle.

He died in 1986, and the marshes and watery channels of Wheatfen have been a nature reserve ever since. You can do a lovely circular walk down to the river – about an hour in
all, more if you linger – that gives you some appreciation of what Ted and his wife Phyllis (who lived here until her death in 2004) saw in this magical place, as well as striking off on a different path from the entrance to tiny Wheatfen Broad.

There are regular Sunday nature walks and bushcraft sessions – everything from freshwater mussels and medicinal plants to a 'Swallowtail day".

Cool PlacesCool Places is a website devoted to selecting and celebrating the best of UK travel, whether you’re booking a last-minute weekend away or looking for longer trip ideas. They cover the UK’s best places to stay, from stunningly located campsites to cosy boutique hotels, great gastropubs and restaurants to beachside cafés, and the country’s quirkiest shops and markets. Check it out, and add your own favourites