Top 10 Least Popular Places in the UK That You Don't Want to Visit
Top 10 Least Popular Places in the UK That You Don't Want to Visit

The word that the UK is fully booked for the staycation summer of 2021 is premature and, frankly, entirely inaccurate. The country may fall into the top 50 of the world’s most densely populated, with 2020 reports stating that there are an average of 5,700 people per square kilometer in London. And there may be scones-, cream- and jam-based fight going on around Devon and Cornwall for cottages and hotel rooms.

As the birthplace of Shakespeare and home to The Beatles, it's no surprise that the UK is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. However, if you're the traveler who's over waiting in long lines just to see a building you could see on any postcard - if you're looking to go on a trip that's not completely touristy, this article is for you.

We've got ten of the UK's least visited places that still have amazing things for you to see and do. With coastal towns, countrysides, and historic castles spanning all over England, Scotland, and Wales, here are the places you can go on your UK trip without having to bump into all those other tourists!

One Week Itinerary to Visit Britain

With just one week, call it 9 days including two weekends, you will need to stay in England. If you have two weeks or more, it’s delightful to visit Wales and Scotland , but consider flying there. It is a very long drive. Or skip them and visit Ireland or France instead.

So now you’ve planned your trip to Britain the right way. You’ll get culture and history, without blowing your weary tourist brain. You’ll avoid the bustle of London and bond with the beautiful English countryside and people by driving North, East, and West. You’ll explore mazes, gardens, castles, and interact directly with zoo animals and ancient stone circles. You’ll leave feeling that you’ve done it all.

Here’s a proposed schedule for a 9-day trip:

Day 1, Saturday. From America, leave Friday, fly overnight, and arrive early Saturday. Pay the rental car fee that allows you to fly directly into Warwick or York and later drop off your car in London for your flight home. (Or you may do as we did and waste a day, Day Zero, to fly into Gatwick Airport and drive hours through London traffic to get to Warwick, visiting Blenheim Palace.)

If your hotel lets you check in early, rest up. Then visit Warwick Castle, the nearby swan boats, and return in the evening for a Warwick Castle event such as the Grand Feast. Stay overnight locally.

Day 2 and 3, Sunday and Monday. Travel north to The Forbidden Corner. Skip Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park, instead spending the rest of your time in York. Visit the JORVIK Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, and other attractions of York. On the drive back south, you may visit the touristy but extensive Warner Bros. London Studio Tour of the Harry Potter movie sets, but not at the cost of missing ancient castles and history.

Day 4, optional Tuesday. This is the day to skip if you need an extra day in your schedule, for example to spend more time in London. Visit Hampton Court Palace and optionally Windsor Castle. These destinations are close enough to London that you may wish to move them later in your schedule or defer them to your next trip to Britain. Then drive way out west.

Day 5, Wednesday. Longleat with its safari and amusement park.

Day 6, Thursday. Stonehenge Tours that go inside the circle of Stonehenge, and spend the rest of the day with Stonehenge Tours, or on your own, visiting the Roman baths or secondary ancient stone circles and sites. Now drive all the way to the east of London. Because you’ll need to plan in advance to get one of limited dates for the Stonehenge tour, you may (as we did) end up basing your entire trip around this day. Stonehenge and Longleat are close enough that Day 5 and 6 can be switched. Don’t see the date you need? I recommend Stonehenge Tours, but a few other tour companies also go inside the circle.

Day 7, Friday. Hever Castle and Leeds Castle. Stay overnight in one or both destinations. Such inexpensive luxury and convenience will rest your tired traveler bones.

Day 8, Saturday. The Coca-Cola London Eye River Cruise, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, and other London attractions. Try to stay outdoors if it’s not raining. St. Paul’s Cathedral will still be there your next trip to London. Skip the Tower of London and other tourist traps because you’ve seen so many great castles outside Metro London.

Fly home Saturday if you think you’ll need a vacation to rest up from your vacation before going to work on Monday. Otherwise, why not see an evening show like Strictly Ballroom or take in a painting party with PopUp Painting?

Day 9, Sunday. More London, then fly home. Congratulations! You did it!

Make sure to buy an electrical outlet power converter for Britain, ensure that your rental car is an automatic drive (it’s hard enough driving on the opposite side of the road), and it helps enormously to have a second person in the passenger seat constantly reminding you that driving on the left is not only okay — it’s the law!

Have extra time? Visit sites in the Northwest of London, include Blenheim Palace and Fountains Abbey in your drive north, and go to other London locations such as the Churchill War Rooms worth a visit but only if you’ve got more than a week to tour.

Top 10 Least Popular Places in the UK That You Don't Want to Travel

1. Sunbiggin Tarn, Cumbria

2. Rutland, England

3. Ross Back Sands, Northumberland

4. Castleton Village, Peak District

5. The Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve, Dumfries & Galloway

6. Berwickshire, Scotland

7. Hunstanton, Norfolk

8. Yorkshire, England

9. Walberswick, Suffolk

10. Carn Euny, Cornwall

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What Are The Least Popular Destinations in the UK

1. Sunbiggin Tarn, Cumbria

Photo: pixels
Photo: pixels

Lakes of any size are very thin on the ground in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Sunbiggin Tarn’s rarity makes it popular with wildlife and visiting humans alike.

Interesting birds can be seen here all year around but this place’s greatest claim to fame is probably its starling murmurations. One of the country’s largest and most spectacular, it involves tens of thousands of birds and occurs here at dusk on most autumn and winter evenings.

2. Rutland, England

Photo: the Guardian
Photo: the Guardian

This market town is the sleepy hub of the smallest county in England; its Latin motto is multum in parvo, meaning 'much in little'. Stone terraces and Georgian villas huddle up against the Norman-era Oakham Castle, where horseshoes are embedded in the walls. Plump hills and broadleaf woodland abound beyond the town, where gently undulating lanes are home to some impressive taverns and gastro pubs including the Old White Hart in nearby Lyddington, a beamed old-timer with blossomy window boxes and games of pétanque in the garden on summer evenings.

Overlooking the navy expanse of Rutland Water, Hambleton Hall is a vast country pile that has been welcoming guests since 1980, with an in-house restaurant that has held a Michelin star since 1982 (nowhere in the UK has retained one for this long). Normally such reluctance to evolve would result in staleness, but owners Tim and Stefa Hart are among the best in Britain at keeping things timeless and seductive; from the polished oak staircases to the crackling sitting-room hearth.

3. Ross Back Sands, Northumberland

Photo: acornleisureholidays
Photo: acornleisureholidays

This gloriously deserted sandy spit extends for 5km from Budle Bay to Lindisfarne. Access is via a 1.5km-long footpath through Ross Farm and across the dunes, which puts off the few travellers who venture here.

Your reward, however, is an unbeatable panorama: all-sky, sea and white sands with Lindisfarne Castle at one end and, at the other, Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands. A pair of binoculars will come in handy, not only to check out the seals lazing on Lindisfarne’s bay (best viewed from Guile Point) but also to scan the sea for divers, grebes and scoters in winter, and terns in summer.

4. Castleton Village, Peak District

Photo: peakdistrictkids
Photo: peakdistrictkids

The small chocolate box village of Castleton in the Peak District is one of the best places in the UK for a budget escape. Situated in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, this quaint spot is a favourite for hikers and nature lovers.

Castleton is famous for being home to Mam Tor, also known as the Shivering Mountain, which has dramatic views over the whole of the Peak District. Best of all, this hike, and others in the area such as Winnats Pass and the Great Ridge, won’t cost you a penny, making Castleton such a cheap getaway.

Other affordable things to do in Castleton is to visit the 11th century Peveril Castle which overlooks the village. It is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses, and the ruins can be visited by enjoying a short hike above Hope Valley. After you’ve worked up an appetite you can head to the village centre and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or a pub lunch before retreating to one of the best budget accommodations I’ve ever stayed at.

Just a few minutes walk outside of the village is YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, a Grade I listed gothic mansion that has been newly refurbed by the YHA, providing cheap accommodation for all who want to visit Castleton, without breaking the bank. The mansion is surrounded by forests and is filled with old world charm, making Castleton somewhere you’d want to visit over and over again.

5. The Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve, Dumfries & Galloway

Photo: Watch Me See
Photo: Watch Me See

The wild and rugged landscape of this National Trust for Scotland reserve in Dumfries & Galloway is a taste of the highlands in the lowlands. The 60m Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall is the UK’s fifth highest; a walk up alongside it will eventually bring you to isolated Loch Skeen and Britain’s rarest native freshwater fish, the vendace.

Continue climbing to the top of White Coomb (821m), Dumfriesshire’s highest peak for inspirational views to the Scottish Borders and even beyond if the weather goes in your favour. Look out for peregrine falcons, osprey and, if you’re lucky, golden eagle, which have been reintroduced in recent years.

6. Berwickshire, Scotland

Photo: thetimes
Photo: thetimes

The county of Berwickshire in Scotland is a historic county and houses castles that date back to the twelfth century. Its close proximity to the sea allows the county to experience humid heavy weather where flowers and gardens thrive. For garden travelers, you won't want to miss the nature and wildlife areas that surround Berwickshire. They're a sight to see, especially under the sunlight.

Another great escape from the city, Berwickshire is surrounded by huge rolling green hills that allow for great views of the Scottish coastline. You don't want to miss it.

7. Hunstanton, Norfolk

Photo: picturesofengland
Photo: picturesofengland

Standing a short walk along the beach from the Victorian resort of Hunstanton (‘Sunny Hunny’) are the magnificent banded cliffs of Old Hunstanton. The cliffs, which are comprised of layers of rusty ginger sandstone (‘carrstone’), red limestone (‘red chalk’) topped with chalk, are framed by a foreground of chalky sand and green, seaweed-covered rocks.

Unusually – actually, uniquely – for East Anglia, they face west. With the setting sun lighting up the cliffs as it lowers across Wash, and a painterly combination of red, white, green and blue, this is the sort of place that holds great appeal for romantics and landscape photographers alike.

8. Yorkshire, England

Photo: thecrazytourist
Photo: thecrazytourist

Known for its Roman and Viking heritage, the county of Yorkshire in northern England is the go-to destination for history buffs and those who love and appreciate ancient European architecture. With its 13th-century cathedrals, gothic-style castles, and national parks, Yorkshire is a popular destination to visit when wanting to escape London.

Close enough to the city of Manchester where you can catch live entertainment and sports events, but just near enough to the beautiful rolling fields of the English countryside, Yorkshire is a place that has something for everyone, and a great spot to really start learning about day-to-day English countryside life.

9. Walberswick, Suffolk

Photo: thetimes
Photo: thetimes

Walberswick was formerly a small trading port before its harbor silted up. Long adopted as a bohemian retreat by artists like Philip Wilson Steer and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the former fishing village has long-since morphed into a enclave for media-types.

These days it is popular with walkers and birdwatchers, and young families who come here to relax and go crabbing in the creek. The most atmospheric way to reach Walberswick, though, is by way of the rowing-boat ferry across the River Blyth from Southwold, an enterprise that’s been in the same family for five generations.

10. Carn Euny, Cornwall

Photo: countrylife
Photo: countrylife

Although this ancient hut settlement is managed by English Heritage, the sense of private discovery is overwhelming. To get here, it’s an easy walk from Chapel Carn Brea car park north-east over Tredinney Common past a very natural, gurgling holy well that marks the site of St Euny’s Chapel.

The low stone walls of the roundhouses are clearly visible, beneath a soft blanket of turf and wildflowers and the entrance to a mysterious fogou (underground structure) is also apparent. This remote and beautiful acre lies on a south-facing slope; it’s a place to linger, maybe with a picnic and a jug of local cider.

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