Walk out through orchid-studded meadows to reach this remote headland with sandy bays and skylarks. Swim in crystal waters with starfish and seals. You are on the Lecale Way, a little-known coastal route that traces the remote western shore of County Down. Continue on to the south to find an island isthmus and a multitude of deep inlets known as zawns or geos. Follow the lane north from Ballyhornan and after a mile follow the track on the right by the farm, leading up to a parking area on the headland.
This cylindrical tub, beyond the north end of the Rhossili sands, is very deep and has mauve water. Set in honey-coloured rock, there are various levels from which you can jump. A long, wild beach stretches beyond, ending in a set of sea arches and ancient caves said to contain gold doubloons from a Portuguese wreck. Also, seek out the remains of the chapel on nearby Burry Holmes island.
Seacombe, Purbeck, Dorset
The remains of 18th-century quarries dominate the undercliffs of this area. The stone was used to build some of the most famous squares of Georgian London but now only the ammonite-encrusted sea ledges remain where cargo was once loaded onto waiting boats. At Seacombe, these create golden lagoons and perfect sunbathing platforms, with different tiers for jumping and diving, and areas of deep water for snorkelling among the sun beams. Also, explore east to Dancing Ledge and west to Winspit along the coastal path.
Lost deep in West Penwith, not far from Land’s End, this is a superb sandy cove with a stream, waterfall and caves; it’s perfect for sunsets. In early summer, the winding track down is lined with foxgloves and rare wildflowers. Seals are a common sight.
Fidden, Fionnphort, Ross of Mull
Pink granite and azure water create a Mediterranean scene at Fidden, and an archipelago of islands and skerries reaches away to the west. This is a great place for wild camping, and the perfect base for walking on to the secret coves of Knockvologan. For a real adventure, follow the old track through ancient woodland to the abandoned settlement of Tireragan, where you’ll find the ultimate shell-sand beach.
Daniel Start, author of Hidden Beaches: Explore the Secret Coast of Britain
Glenuig Inn, Inverness-shire
Right on the beach down a tiny no through road on the Sound of Arisaig, the Glenuig Inn can be reached by land or sea: kayaks can glide right up on to the grass at high tide, and Lochailort, the nearest station, is an eight-mile walk or cycle away. The pub, restaurant and rooms have undergone a recent renovation and it’s all run on 100% renewable energy. There’s plenty of real ale on offer and the menu features lots of fish and seafood from the area. Overnight accommodation options include a nine-person bunkhouse.
Dyffryn Arms, Pembrokeshire
The Gwaun valley in northern Pembrokeshire, formed by meltwaters from the last ice age, is an enchanting place of dense ancient woodland and water meadows, ripe with legend and age-old traditions (locals celebrate New Year on 13 January, following the old Julian calendar). One pub that has stood the test of time is the Dyffryn Arms in Pontfaen village. Better known as Bessie’s Pub, and essentially a front room with a few chairs and a dartboard, it’s been in the same family since 1840 – step inside and you could be back in the 1920s. Landlady Bessie has run the place for over 45 years and can still be found serving draft Bass from a jug through a hatch (with a bit of help from son Gwyn and granddaughter Nerys). No frills, just proper beer and good conversation.
• 01348 881305, no website
Lion Inn, North Yorkshire
It made headlines in 2010 when seven people were snowed in for nine days, and the Lion, perched 1,325ft above sea level on Blakey Ridge (the highest point of the North York Moors national park), is certainly remote. The grouse moors offer great windswept romps, with beautiful views over Rosedale and Farndale. Find shelter in the welcoming pub, built by monks in the 16th century. Thick stone walls, low-beamed ceilings and open fires create a cosy atmosphere, and there are candlelit dining rooms as well as 13 bedrooms for those who want to linger.
Moorcock Inn, Cumbria
With wild walks aplenty on the doorstep, this isolated tavern at the tip of Wensleydale is often alive with hikers refuelling after a hard day on the hills. It’s close to Garsdale station, but there’s nothing else for miles around – just views of some of England’s prettiest countryside. There are comfy sofas by the fire for chilly weather and a lovely beer garden if the sun’s out. Real ale tops the bill (though there are over 50 malt whiskies on offer) and there’s good traditional pub grub in the bar, as well as more refined fare in the restaurant, with a focus on local (meat from Brown’s in Kirkby Stephen, cheeses from Wensleydale Creamery) produce. The rooms are popular with walkers on multi-day trails across the Pennines.
Locks Inn, Norfolk
Hidden away from the rest of the world on the Norfolk side of the river Waveney, it’s a bit of an adventure to get to the Locks Inn. Come by boat (there’s free overnight mooring) or via tiny roads and a footpath across the water. Dating from the 1560s, it was originally a mill-keeper’s cottage and first granted a public house licence in the 17th century. The vibe is laid-back, the local ale good and storytelling and live music regularly bring the place to life. Despite the remote location, it’s popular with walkers, birdwatchers and boaters, so it can get busy in summer. Good, reasonably priced food (curry every Friday night) adds to the appeal.
Poltimore Arms, Devon
This lovely ivy-clad Exmoor pub, which dates in part from the 13th century, is surrounded by great wildnerness walks. It’s so remote there’s no mains electricity, but woodburners and low-beamed ceilings keep it cosy, the staff are friendly and the menu’s full of tasty homemade fare – they’ll even open for full breakfast on request – and there’s a focus on real ale. There’s a cute beer garden, a little shop for essentials and a tiny gallery showcasing local artists too. Landlord Steve is quite a character and impromptu music nights are common. Keep an eye out for the (friendly) ghost.
Those who enjoy a few mod cons may appreciate this new wild campsite in an old quarry near Tintagel, a mile from the beach at Trebarwith Strand. Campers sleep in one of four two-person “kudhvas” – three-legged hideouts 8ft off the ground – and can swim in the reservoir and cook on campfires.
• From £95 a night, hostunusual.co.uk
Arenig Fawr bothy, Snowdonia
The Mountain Bothies Association is best known for maintaining remote buildings in Scotland, but it also looks after several in northern England and Scotland. This tiny hut on the slopes of Arenig Fawr, a mountain in Snowdonia, is about as basic as it gets, with just two sleeping platforms and a fireplace.
• Free (optional MBA membership £25 a year), mountainbothies.org.uk
Don Whillans Memorial Hut, Staffordshire
This is one of three huts managed by the British Mountaineering Council. Built into the rocks and with a cave for a kitchen, it is aimed at climbers tackling the Roaches, and is well kitted out with showers and a drying room. Sleeps 12 in two rooms.
• From £10pp (plus BMC membership, from £15.72 a year), donwhillanshut.co.uk
Hermit’s Castle, Achmelvich, the Highlands
This miniature castle, said to be the smallest in Europe, was built of concrete in the 1950s and then abandoned. Today, intrepid walkers sometimes use it as an overnight shelter. There’s just one very small room, a single concrete bed and a fireplace – but there are glorious views over the inlet and out to sea.
• Free, discoverassynt.co.uk
Port Moon bothy, Dunseverick, County Antrim
This bothy sits between the Giant’s Causeway and Dunseverick Castle on the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail, and can only be accessed by sea. It sleeps six on one large sleeping platform and has a woodburning stove and composting toilet, but no mains water or electricity.
• £10pp, canoeni.com