Find your own piece of UK wilderness
It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do to a keen walker’s mind! With spring just about in the air, more people will be looking out their walking boots and thinking about a few countryside outings. But where will you go for your own piece of tranquility? Perhaps you have a hankering for a spot of true wilderness; just you, a compass, a tent, a waterproof jacket and a sturdy pair of boots against the elements?
Being relatively small and densely populated, you might not imagine that Britain is the ideal place to go in search of solitude. But there are still a few places where you can sit and gaze out over a landscape unsullied by metalled roads, villages, mobile phone ringtones or any other evidence of man’s residency.
Knoydart Peninsula: Widely acclaimed to be the most scenic and well preserved of Britain’s wilderness areas, the Knoydart Peninsula is not connected to the national road network, and is therefore only accessible by boat or on foot.
Walking into Knoydart, in the north-west of Scotland, takes between one and three days, depending on where you start from, and the official website recommends not attempting the hike unless you are comfortable using a compass, navigating trackless moorland and carrying your accommodation and food on your back.
When you do make it to Knoydart, you’ll be treated to one of our island’s most beautiful and unspoiled landscapes. If you’re after sheer, rugged beauty, head for na Garbh-Chrìochan or “the Rough Bounds”, the peninsula’s harshest, most remote area. Or walk a few Munros. See: A penultimate Munro hike and Wild camping and Munro bagging in Knoydart.
Dartmoor: From the north-west of Scotland to the far south west of England. Dartmoor’s popularity as a tourist destination means it isn’t quite the wilderness it once was, however there are still huge swathes of open, foggy moorland where no car would dare to venture. Dartmoor is a place where wild horses roam free and craggy tors punctuate the otherwise bleak but breathtaking moorland. Unsurprisingly, this striking landscape has spawned its fair share of myths and legends, from packs of spectral hounds to headless horsemen, and also famously inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Dartmoor is perfect for wilderness seekers. Its status as “Access Land” allows walkers to roam freely, seeking out their own little spot of solitude. Check out Dartmoor National Park
Loch Etchachan and the Cairngorms: Back in Scotland and this time at At 927 metres (3,041ft) above sea level, hikers will discover Loch Etchachan, which is the highest body of water of its size in Britain. The loch is popular with wild campers, and it’s a wonderfully deserted spot, miles from the nearest roads.
If you do decide to camp here, you’ll be surrounded by the unbelievable majesty of the Cairngorms National Park, but you’ll definitely need some good quality outdoor gear and a nice thick sleeping bag to get through those cold nights!
North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Punctuated by its only large town, Alston, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been called “England’s last great wilderness” by none other than David Bellamy. It’s a mostly deserted area of woodland, rolling hills and moorland, and its status as an “area of outstanding natural beauty” as opposed to a national park makes it much quieter than the neighbouring Lake District, Northumberland and Yorkshire Dales. Think of it as a real undiscovered gem.
Be prepared for the wilderness
If you’re heading out into the wilderness, even one of Britain’s relatively modest regions, you need to have proper equipment. That means good walking boots, waterproof jacket, tent, sleeping bag, compass, map, GPS gadget, food and water. Even the mildest of terrains can conceal hidden dangers such as peat bogs, and a sudden fog can disorientate even the most experienced hikers.
* This is a sponsored guest post by Ski Trek.