Britain's best crowd-free holidays

Try something different this year with an escape in the quiet countryside. Avoid the crowds by planning a holiday with a difference in a less touristy location and stay somewhere unique. Here is a selection of the best crowd-free escapes in the UK.

Falstone Moss overlooking Kielder Water
Published: March 10th, 2021 at 4:00 pm
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It’s been a long winter, so why not cheer yourself up by dreaming of a tranquil break? Here is a selection of sensational holidays to unsung but gorgeous countryside, far from the crowded honeypots.


When the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased this spring, most of us will be looking to book a holiday or weekend break and keen to enjoy sometime away from our homes. With foreign travel still looking uncertain, the British countryside and coast is likely to be busier than ever this spring and summer.

Avoid the crowds by planning a holiday with a difference in a less touristy location. Here is a selection of the best crowd-free escapes in the UK.

Best crowd-free holidays in the UK

Wild coast, Mull

Kilninian, Isle of Mull, West Highlands, Scotland.
Kilninian, Isle of Mull, West Highlands, Scotland/Credit: Getty

The Isle of Mull has a 300-mile coastline, a population of under 3,000 and oodles of wilderness. Take a one-day wildlife tour and spot golden and white-tailed eagles, otters, seals and more. Stay at Achnacraig Cottage in the midst of all the glorious nowhere.

Close-up of eagle flying over sea
Spot white-tailed eagled in Mull/Credit: Getty

One-day wildlife tour, £60; Achnacraig Cottage (sleeps six) costs from £325 a week. achnacraig-cottage

Forgotten Hills, Denbighshire

Berwyn mountains, Wales - Getty
Looking towards Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd, a hill in the Berwyn range in Wales/Credit: Getty

There’s plenty for walkers to enjoy in North Wales beyond busy Snowdonia. Try out the generous network of footpaths along the upper Dee Valley, or the surprisingly remote moorland of the Berwyn range. Stay at The Landmark Trust’s Plas Uchaf, a glorious medieval ‘hall house’ above the Dee with easy access to the Photos: Berwyns. From £244 for four nights.

Between shore and moor, Somerset

Porlock Weir, Getty
Boats in the outer harbour at Porlock Weir, Somerset/Credit: Getty

Get your seaside vibe on at Porlock Weir in Exmoor National Park. The bijou Locanda on the Weir hotel enjoys magnificent views over the 15th-century harbour, while local Exmoor Adventures offers everything from paddleboarding and kayaking to archery and mountain biking. From £350 for two nights B&B.

Secret beaches, Pembrokeshire

Bullslaughter Bay, Pembrokeshire, Getty
Bullslaughter Bay, Pembrokeshire/Credit: Getty

Pembrokeshire is a beach-hopper’s delight. Avoid the crowds at Barafundle and head for lesser-known gems such as Bullslaughter Bay and Mowingward Bay. At nearby Stackpole Under The Stars there are yurts, luxury pods and safari tents, and plenty of space to pitch your own tent. Glamping from £110 a night, camping £25 (for two).

Safari and yurts
Stackpole Under The Stars yurts

Great estates, Yorkshire

From the landscaped ‘wilderness’ of Hackfall Wood to the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, discovering North Yorkshire’s less-frequented parks is a joy. Trundle jauntily between them in the eDub – based near Knaresborough, it’s the world’s only classic VW campervan for hire that’s entirely battery-powered. The campervan is £149 per night (including campsite and recharging).

Camper van
Stay in a battery-powered campervan

A leafy Eden, Powys

Hiker sitting enjoying the view on a hillside
Hiker in the Llangattock escarpment quarries looking towards Crickhowell, in the Brecon Beacons national park, Wales/Credit: Getty

Seek out the quiet of the night in or around the Brecon Beacons National Park – one of only 18 Dark Sky Reserves on the planet – and go stargazing. Stay at Plas Bach eco-cabin and during the day you can enjoy its seven acres of sumptuous garden, woodland, orchards and fields. From £88 a night (sleeps two).

Plas Bach eco cabin, Wales
Plas Bach eco cabin, Wales

A secluded retreat, Cornwall

Percuil river near St Mawes Cornwall, Getty
Percuil river near St Mawes Cornwall/Credit: Getty

The Roseland Peninsula is a ravishing corner of Cornwall yet most visitors rush to St Mawes and miss out on its tranquil interior. Hire a boat or take a sailing lesson on the picturesque Percuil River with Roseland Paddle and Sail. And stay in one of four pretty holiday cottages on the glorious Place Estate, with its manor house and church, at St Anthony-in-Roseland. From £378 a week.

Simple pleasures of the peak, Derbyshire

Kinder Estate sign, Peak District National Park,UK
High Peak area of the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire/Credit: Getty

Standing alone on the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate with magnificent Peak District views on every side, White Edge Lodge is a holiday cottage in the classic tradition, even down to the roll-top bath. Hire bikes from nearby Monsal Trail Cycle Hire ( and hit the family friendly cycle path following a former railway line. From £659 a week (sleeps five). 03448 002070, nationaltrust.

Nest in the wilderness, Scottish Highlands

Croft round house
Crofthouse in the Cairngorms

Head for the Cairngorms and you’ll find the Crofthouse on a farm in the remote fastnesses of the national park. Ideal for a large family, there’s the beautiful River Spey to explore and a separate studio thrown in free, where guests can paint, draw, sing, dance, or practice yoga to their heart’s content. It’s £786 a week (sleeps eight).

A floating paradise, Devon

Barge boat
Stay on a private lake in Devon

Fancy some time simply lounging around reading that book you never have time for, while rocking gently on water? Try Blackbird. Moored on a private lake in north Devon, it’s a brand new deluxe narrowboat just for two. Its “patchy mobile reception” and lack of internet make it perfect for a total escape. Four nights from £400.

Railway retreat, Sutherland

Railway carriage
A railway retreat in Sutherland

The beautifully converted railway carriages at Rogart – one of the nation’s most remote railway stations – is in one of the least populated parts of Britain. This inspiring get-awayfrom-it-all destination comes with a nearby nature reserve and expanses of sandy beach beyond. The carriages are open from April to October; £58 a night (sleeps two) or £88 (sleeps four).

A green escape, Northumberland

Falstone Moss overlooking Kielder Water
Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland, has the largest man made lake in Northern Europe/Credit: Getty

The hamlet of Greenhaugh is home to the Holly Bush, a 300-year-old drovers’ inn that ticks all the boxes: tasty locally sourced food, real log fire and wonderfully comfortable rooms. Nearby Kielder Water and Forest Park ( offers everything from watersports and mountain biking to zip wires and zorbing. Double rooms from £95.


Dixe Wills is the author of a shelf-wearying host of books about Britain including The Z-Z of Great Britain, Tiny Islands and Tiny Churches.


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