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From coastal villages to wild Scottish islands, Culture Trip rounds up the lesser-known beauty spots to travel to in the UK this year.
Scotland boasts pristine beaches to rival those of the Caribbean. Yes, really. Scotland’s West Coast is home to the Silver Sands of Morar, a string of idyllic white sand beaches with stunning views across clear blue waters to the Scottish isles. If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day, you’ll almost forget you’re in Scotland.
Take the chance to explore Glastonbury’s scenic countryside without the thousands of revellers. Overlooking the pastures of Somerset is Glastonbury Tor, a sacred hill surmounted by the 14th-century remains of St Michael’s Tower. The Tor is a spiritual site for both Christians and pagans, having featured in Christian mythology and believed to conceal a tunnel that leads to a secret fairy realm.
Jura is one of the few inhabited Scottish islands, though its deer population is over double that of humans – there are 5,000 deer on the mountainous island, compared to just 200 people. A land of untamed wilderness and stunning scenery, Jura offers the perfect getaway, with plenty of hiking trails and a thriving artisan gin scene, run by three women who produce the island’s delicious Lussa Gin.
Most people wanting to hike in South Wales will head to the Brecon Beacons, but the headland of the Mumbles, on the coast of Swansea Bay, is just as beautiful. Known as the gateway to the Gower Peninsula, a walk here takes in craggy cliffs and stunning seaside views. Make sure to check out Mumbles pier, the surfing hotspot of Langland Bay and the 12th-century Oystermouth Castle.
Take a trip down South and discover Devon’s postcard perfect villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo. Located on opposite sides of Newton Creek, a tidal inlet off the Yealm River, these neighbouring villages are as pretty as Cornwall but easier to get to and far less busy. There’s plenty of unspoilt natural beauty to take in here, from quiet beaches to acres of countryside.
Kielder, a secluded village in western Northumberland close to the Scottish border, is home to the largest man made forest in England. This 650km (404mi) area is full of hiking and cycling trails, outdoor sculptures and plenty of incredible wildlife, including a family of ospreys. It’s the perfect spot for stargazing, too, as the forest also lays claim to being one of the UK’s ‘dark sky’ hubs.