Share:

Where do you recommend I visit? Where can I get away from it all? What’s your favourite place in the UK? What’s the quirkiest place you’ve ever been to? These are just some of the questions I get asked on a regular basis and my answer changes each time, depending on many factors, including what the questioner is looking for ie a beach holiday, a quaint village, shopping, culture, night life etc etc. Plus, what I’m feeling like at the time!

Here’s the first of an occasional series of articles to answer some of those questions.  Each of these very different English places provides some kind of escape, for at least an hour  – or maybe much longer …

Buxton, The Peak District, Derbyshire

Buxton, Derbyshire - photo by Zoe Dawes

Buxton, known at ‘The Gateway to the Peak District, has a faded charm that reflects its illustrious past. If your idea of escape is to do a little walking, shopping and watching the world go by, this could be just right. Once a famous spa town frequented by royalty and gentry from all over England, you can still drink the warm waters from a geo-thermal spring at St Ann’s Well – just bring your own bottle.  Sitting in the Pavilion Gardens, on the famous Slopes or at one of the many little tea shops, you could be a million miles away from all the hurly burly of city life  …

Grassington, Yorkshire Dales

River Wharfe Grassington

This pretty Yorkshire village in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a great centre from which to explore the glorious countryside around. Grassington has lots of unusual little shops, quaint cafes and an excellent visitor centre to find out more about the area. The sound of rushing water takes you on a short stroll from the village to the River Wharfe which tumbles over large rocks, through fields of sheep and dainty wild flowers.  In two shakes of a lamb’s tail you will be far from that madding crowd …

Chesil Beach, Dorset

Chesil Beach Dorset

Recently made famous by Iain McEwan in his book ‘On Chesil Beach this undulating piece of coastline is a joy to wander along and get some fresh sea air from the English Channel.  Chesil Beach is one of the finest barrier beaches in the world, protecting a huge lagoon called the Fleet, home to vast flocks of water birds that swoop and drift overhead.  It’s over 17 miles long and curiously the pebbles increase in size as it goes eastwards.  Strolling along here you can forget all the stresses and strains of workaday life and listen for the curlew & skylark instead …

Moss Eccles Tarn, The Lake District, Cumbria

Moss Eccles Tarn

My next choice is in the heart of the gorgeous Lake District National Park.  I’ve chosen Moss Eccles Tarn as an example of how easy it is to escape the crowds without having to go too far off the beaten track. This perfect little lake is only about 20 minutes’ easy walk from one of the most visited places in the area; and that’s all I’m going to tell you. It’s easy enough to find if you want to and from here you can get all the tranquillity and escapism anyone could wish for …

Crosby Beach, Merseyside

Another Place by Antony Gormley Crosby - photo zoedawes

Another Place by Antony Gormley – photo zoedawes

Possibly not the most obvious choice to escape from it all; Crosby is on the outskirts of the vibrant city of Liverpool. However, make the effort to find this beach on the way toward Southport, because it is here that world-famous sculptor Antony Gormley has placed one of his finest works; Another Place. Spread over 2 miles, a 100 cast-iron figures gaze out towards the Welsh hills and the Irish Sea. As is usual with Gormley’s work, each figure is a replica of his own body, over 6 feet tall and each weighs about 1400lb.  As the tide ebbs & flows it covers the figures then reveals them in their sentinel grace. Originally planned to transfer to New York, it was eventually decided to keep the sculpture, and a truly moving sight these figures create.  Sometimes decorated in quirky ways, they are slowly being covered in seaweed, barnacles and tiny sea creatures, gradually taking on a marine life of their own …