Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

In The Wilderness

Great Britain may be small and relatively overcrowded, but you can still 'get away from it all' if you want to.

And these days, I seem to want to do that more and more. Sometimes I have a great need for solitude and serenity, which is why I treasure my solo trips away as much as I do those with my husband or friends.

There's an awful lot to be said for spending time alone with your own thoughts and self. If you've got a problem, getting away somewhere quiet is often the way to find a solution - in fact, there's been times when I've ended up wondering why I had been making such a fuss over nothing!

So, here are some places where you really can find a quiet spot 'far from the madding crowd' I've not included Ireland and Scotland at this point, because both of those places are renowned for their idyllic loneliness.

Blue Pool, Dorset

Yes, it's a tourist attraction, but hidden in a hollow away from the roads, and completely surrounded by trees, it's easy to find somewhere quiet, and marvel at the ever-changing colour of the water.

Chesil Beach, Dorset

This amazing bank of shingle stretches almost half the length of the coast of Dorset. At the Weymouth end, there's a car park, and a busy little cafe, and at the other, there's Abbotsbury, with its famous Swannery.

But in the middle, there's nothing. Well, maybe the odd fisherman, but at times, there's nobody. Walk out along the bank for a mile or so. You can't be reached by the holiday makers in their caravans, because they're the other side of the Fleet lagoon. There's just you and the seagulls.....

Brecon Beacons, Wales

There's a beautiful road that runs from Brecon towards Merthyr Tydfil, through the heart of the Beacons. Ignore the cafe, and the Verandah, with it's burger van, and find somewhere small to pull off the road. Walk just a few yards to where you can't be seen from the road, and relish in the quietness and the beauty.

Elan Valley, Wales

It always surprises me that so few of my friends have even heard of the Elan Valley. It's renowned for it's huge reservoirs and magnificent dams, and there's a visitor's centre, and a circular route from which you can see everything. Even so, take one of the little maintenance roads that lead off the main trail, and there's beauty everywhere. It's a grand place for watching the red kites swooping and soaring above the valleys.

Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Wales' largest national park has tourist areas aplenty, but it's still not hard to find a little tranquility and peace off the beaten track. What is it about sitting on the bank by water - whether sea, river or lake - that is so relaxing?

North Yorks Moors, North Yorkshire

Most bikers are familiar with the road from Pickering to Whitby, and they all know the big layby opposite the Hole Of Horcum - a favourite stop off for ice-cream!

Cross over the road, and look down. There's a huge hole in the ground. This is the Hole Of Horcum, a natural depression in the Moors. Everytime I go there, I'm amazed by the different colours, which change almost daily throughout the year. It's probably at its' prettiest when the purple heather is in bloom. There are walks around the rim, and down into the valley.

Of course, this is a huge area, and can be quite spectacular in its' solitude. Like all the high moors in the UK, it is sparsely populated, with narrow twisty roads, where you seem to spend most of your time dodging livestock!

This is the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, which just seems to grow out of the moorland for no reason, other than to make the view stunning.

Exmoor, Devon

Of the three high moors in the West Country, Exmoor is my favourite. Bodmin Moor is often grey and drizzly, and Dartmoor is oftimes overrun with tourists. OK, so you will probably have to stop and wait for that little posse of ponies to remove themselves from the road in front of you, but while you're waiting, just take in that vast expanse of sedge, bracken and heather. Take a deep breath of that cool clean air. Now, doesn't that feel better?

Of course, you can find a quiet spot anywhere - even in the middle of London, but there's much to be said for really getting away from the humdrum routine of daily living, and opening your mind to what could be.

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