Top 10 forgotten British beauty spots

From crumbling spoils to holy wells and butterfly-filled woodlands, some of the countrys loveliest places have been all but forgotten. Our experts identify their favourites

Dolbadarn Castle ,< strong> Llanberis, Gwynedd

I determined the fairytale tower of Dolbadarn Castle near Llanberis quite by chance as I climbed the hills behind the Dinorwic slate museum. Halfway up the steep gradient, in search of a row of destroyed slate laborers cottages, I stopped to catch my breath. The sky cleared and I seemed down over the clear deep water of Llyn Peris. There it was, perched on the hillside, against a background of Welsh mountains: a perfect humble little tower, built by Prince Llywelyn the Great around 1230. It was here that the princes grandson Llywelyn the Last prevent two brothers Owain imprisoned for 20 years.
Dave Hamilton, writer of Wild Ruinings: The Explorers Guide to Britains Lost Castles, Follies, Relics and Remains

Millican Daltons Cave, Borrowdale, Cumbria

Photograph: Phoebe Smith

Head to the small community of Borrowdale, about 12 km south of Keswick, and you cant are inadequate to notice Castle Crag, the pointed little peak rising up alongside the river Derwent. But its not just the summit that is special. Hidden underneath it is a secret cave. Back in the 1930 s, it was home to Millican Dalton, the self-described Professor of Adventure who gave up a house and a good job in London to move into his cave hotel. Something of a luminary saunter and climbing guide, he wore a wide-brimmed Tyrolean hat and was a teetotal, pacifist vegetarian. Gaze for the faint track in the woodland while treading north on the Cumbria Way, about 1.5 km after leaving the car park in Rosthwaite.
Phoebe Smith, author of Wilderness Weekends: Wild Adventures in Britains Rugged Corners

The Rudston Monolith ,< strong> Rudston, Yorkshire

Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

Given the interest in Britains great megalithic tombstones Stonehenge, Avebury, Callanish and so on you would be forgiven for guessing these are the most massive. But no, the tallest standing stone in the UK( 7.6 m above soil, 4.5 m below ), sits in a quiet churchyard in the Yorkshire Wolds. Scientists claim the 40 tonne monster was dragged at least 15 km to Rudston and put together, likely on a sacred hill. The fact, nonetheless, is that the devil hurled it there in hysterium when early Christians built a faith. Only divine intervention mailed the diabolical warhead off-course into the graveyard. There are two village saloons and a good walk could take in Burton Agnes Hall, a fine Elizabethan manor house( with handy cafe ).
Kevin Rushby, novelist, Guardian Travel

Pine tree circle, Wimbledon Common, London

Its easy-going to forget that pockets of wild are confronted with metropolitans. One of my favourites, nuzzled in a wooded its participation in the west bit of Wimbledon Common, is the Corsican pine tree circle and the natural springs within it. The original stone-ringed Caesars Well, simply uphill, was believed to date back to neolithic times, although it is now closed up. Youll often find the common busy at the weekend but, thankfully , not the tree circle. If youre into lore, you might be interested to know that this space is believed to lie on a ley line.
Jini Reddy, author of Wild Hour: Extraordinary Experiences Connecting with Nature in Britain

Kennall Vale Gunpowder Works ,< strong> Ponsanooth, Cornwall

Photograph: Jon Taylor, JRTPhotographer/

On a scorching south Cornish day, I wandered down a long lane to find Kennall Vale gunpowder works among a canopy of beech trees not far from Ponsanooth village. Fifty or so abandoned builds stood amid rushing streams, a lush carpet of mosses and a jungle of bright dark-green ferns. After the sun-soaked beaches and exposed moors, the lumbers felt teeming with life, full of birdsong and buzzing insects. In this tucked-away Eden, it was hard to dream this is only the site of a huge coincidence, causing five mills to explosion and hurling a section of roof over a couple miles out.
Dave Hamilton

Kingley Vale, Chichester, West Sussex

Photograph: Alamy

This is a very special place: a mixture of ancient yew woodland and chalk grassland. It lies within a steep valley in the South Downs national park but is still not already known it feels like trade secrets wood. Besides 500 -year-old yew trees there are 11 different species of orchid to be found here, including bee, frog and common-spotted assortments, and butterflies such as the chalkhill blue.
Ben Le Blas, senior adviser,
Natural Nature Stockpile

Ariundle Oakwood ,< strong> Strontian, the Highlands

Photograph: Kimberley Grant

Ariundle( Airigh Fhionndail in Gaelic) is a peaceful woodland in the north intent of Strontian glen. Often refers to as Scotlands rainforest, it features remnants of the ancient coastal oak forest that once spanned the Atlantic coasts of Europe, and the damp woodland floor is covered with primitive flowers, lichens and mosses. It is also one of best available places available in Scotland to catch a glimpse of the rare chequered skipper butterfly. When I marched here on a sunny period last spring, the footpath was fringed with wildflowers and hovering dragonflies.
Kimberley Grant, co-author of Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventure and the Good Life

Inchnadamph Bone Caves, Assynt, the Highlands

Photograph: Kimberley Grant

The three caves concealed beneath the northern crags of Beinn an Fhuarain are called after the remarkable number of animal bones discovered inside: northern lynx, dark-brown birth, Arctic fox and, more recently, the skull of a polar carry. About 4km south of Inchnadamph theres a car park and small-minded wooden sign for the caves. I followed the dramatic limestone hollow of Allt nan Uamh( Burn of the Caves ), extending a tumbling cascade and curious underground watercourse flowing out from beneath a limestone crag. Beyond here, the riverbed was almost dry. I resumed following it until the footpath forked and I took a right across the rocky bed and on to a steep narrow track that led to Creag nan Uamh( Crag of the Caves ). The caves themselves werent as dark and shadowy as I had expected, but a warm rusty colouring with impressive views of the mountains. I sat inside the largest for a while, “ve been thinking about” the many swine that would have found shelter here hundreds of years ago.
Kimberley Grant

Bellirica Chapel and Holy Well, Hythe, Kent

Looking at the stone-walled builds of Manor Farm, in the hamlet of Court-at-Street beside the B2067, you wouldnt think this was somewhere of any particular significance. But on a slope behind the farm, accessed by a public footpath and the Saxon Shore Way, are the roofless remains of an old chapel, and the still-saturated soil of a formerly supremely holy well. This was a popular spot for pilgrims in the early 16 th century( before pilgrimages were vetoed by Henry VIII ). This was because of its linkage with Elizabeth Barton, aka the Holy Maid of Kent, known for her divine prophecies until Henry had her executed and her chief placed on a spike at London Bridge. Go now with a silver pin in hand( gifting silver to liquid is an age-old tradition to thank it for sustaining us with life) and bend it as you make a wish, before offering it to the water. The little patch of country seems quite wild, surrounded by wizened age-old trees and with nettles and grass arise over the ruins.
Phoebe Smith

Fenns, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses ,< strong> Shropshire/ Wrexham

Photograph: Alamy

Some of the best locates for wildlife, habitats and geology in Britain are designated as national natural reserve and many are quite under the radar. “Thats one” I specially adoration. Straddling their own borders near Whitchurch in Shropshire and Wrexham in Wales lies one of the biggest developed bogs in Britain. Its an interesting place you could be in the Canadian Shield or the wilds of Finland. Its a long way from any constructs; youll only hear fowls and high winds. It has incredibly varied wildlife, from pink-flowered cranberry to the sovereign dragonfly( Britains largest ), buzzards and Daubentons at-bats. I had a picnic here formerly and experienced something move under my cagoule; an adder reared up when I moved.
Ben Le Blas

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