The Great British Outdoors
Where would you name as your favourite outdoor spot in the UK? It’s not a simple question. The British wilderness is a savagely beautiful place. From the fells of the Lake District and the sheer-drop ridges of Snowdonia to the ranges of the Highlands and the brooding folds of the Peak District, it’s somewhere big on raw, rampant panoramas. But where, once you’ve strapped on your boots and tucked the Kendal Mint Cake into your backpack, is the one spot you’d choose to return to time and again? Speak to any outdoor lover and they’ll almost always have a ready response. It might be a particular valley or a specific peak; a hidden dale, never-forgotten summit or hill-ringed forest. With this in mind, we put the big question to five expert contributors to The Great Outdoors Magazine: where’s your favourite spot in the UK?
Ben Lerwill is a freelance travel writer based in Oxfordshire. His work has appeared in more than 50 publications, including National Geographic Traveller, The Times, The Independent, Wanderlust, BBC Countryfile and Time Out.
Banner Image Credit: iStock.com/Matthew Dixon
Writer and filmmaker behind recent record-breaking BBC film “Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike”
“I consider this far flung corner of the Lake District National Park to be my spiritual home. It’s an area rich in history and heritage, but also a place you’ll discover what is arguably the wildest upland scenery Lakeland has to offer. Take a stroll from Brotherilkeld Farm and you cannot help but be in awe of the delights found in Upper Eskdale. It’s a valley that permeates a true sense of ‘wilderness’ not found anywhere else in England, where Scafell Pike truly looks like a mountain – an aggressive wall of shattered rock reaching up to the heavens above. Too many visitors climb England’s highest point from Wasdale and even the Langdale Valley, but if you’d like something more, less tiring even, but no less rewarding – then Upper Eskdale is the place to go.”
Image Credit: Terry Abraham – Upper Eskdale, Lake District
It’s a valley that permeates a true sense of ‘wilderness’ not found anywhere else in England…
Editor of The Great Outdoors Magazine
Image Credit: Daniel Neilson – Y Llliwedd, Snowdonia
“Perhaps my favourite spot in the world is Y Lliwedd, one of the ridges that rises up to Snowdon’s summit, Yr Wyddfa. Snowdon is, in relative terms, a busy mountain, but the Y Lliwedd ridge is often very quiet and, for me, grants the best views you’ll find of both the summit and the more formidable knife-edge ridge of Crib Goch. The most rewarding hiking route in Snowdonia is the horseshoe-shaped trail that heads up Y Lliwedd, climbs steeply to the Snowdon apex and then leads back along Crib Goch. It’s easily one of the best mountain days out in Britain. And it’s no coincidence that the dark cliffs below the ridge were used by George Mallory and, later, Edmund Hillary in training for their Everest expeditions.”
Award-winning writer and photographer, author of over 20 books, Hillwalking Ambassador for the British Mountaineering Council
Image Credit: Chris Townsend – Upper Glen Feshie, Cairngorms
“Upper Glen Feshie is one of the wildest and most beautiful glens in the Scottish Highlands. Home to some of the last remnants of the great Caledonian Forest it is split by the River Feshie, one of the most active rivers in Scotland, which runs over shingle banks, constantly changing its course and heavily braided in places. Beyond the roads in the lower glen massive, magnificent ancient Scots pines fill the glen with delicate birches on the craggy walls of the glen above them. I’ve camped in Glen Feshie many times, summer and winter, and it’s always glorious spending a night amongst the great trees below the steep waterfall-split crags of Creag na Gaibhre and Creag na Caillich. As the glen rises out of the forest it turns into a wild moorland valley that stretches deep into the mountains. It’s one of my favourite places.”
…one of the wildest and most beautiful glens in the Scottish Highlands.
Writer and photographer, Fellowship of the British Institute of Professional Photography
Image Credit: Stewart Smith – Wastwater Morning
“They say you never forget your first time, and that’s certainly true of my initial view of Wast Water. The fells seemed to tower, surround and tumble around me – I was enveloped on three sides. Dark clouds shrouded the tops and rain was falling, yet through the murk the landscape had a majesty and presence that begged you to stand and look in awe. I was transfixed. And then it happened. The rain subsided, and as if a switch had been flicked, a celestial torch or ‘godlight’ broke through the clouds. Suddenly the scene completely changed – the cloak was let down and I stood watching as the clouds rolled back. Mean and moody to inviting within minutes. A smile broke out on my face, and I knew Wast Water and I were meant to be.”
Youngest person to walk both the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke
Image Credit: Will Renwick – Fan Llia, Brecon Beacons
“From the foot of Pen y Fan you can – instead of heading up the mountain itself – venture into the empty west side of the national park. After a bit of a bounce through hill and valley you’ll find the summit of Fan Llia. It’s nothing extraordinary to look at, but something very special to look from. On its top you can see to Pen y Fan in one direction and to the curved edges of the Black Mountain in the other, while in the north the land sinks down until the distant hills of mid Wales. There’s a wild swimming spot on the mountain as well – a six-foot deep pool with a gentle waterfall sliding into it. Idyllic when encountered on a hot day.”
The Great Outdoors has been the UK’s leading authority on hill walking and backpacking for more than 35 years. Its 13 issues a year are packed with inspirational stories, incredible photography, expert reviews and advice, maps and walks. www.tgomagazine.co.uk
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