The United Kingdom is renowned for its rich history and architectural wonders, from iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace to the majestic Stonehenge. But beyond the well-known attractions lie secret spots that often go unnoticed by the average tourist. Whether it’s a day trip or a family staycation, get ready to embark on a journey to explore some of the most unusual architectural marvels and uncover hidden gems in the UK.

The Shell Grotto, Margate:

Located in the coastal town of Margate, the Shell Grotto is an enigmatic underground chamber adorned with millions of seashells. Its origin remains a mystery, adding to its intrigue. Visitors can wander through a maze of underground passages, marvel at the intricate shell mosaic patterns, and contemplate the perplexing symbolism. Nearby campsites, including Kingfisher Park, provide a convenient base for exploring.

Year-Round Camping Tips:

  • Weather ready: Camping means encountering different weather conditions. Be prepared for all seasons by packing appropriate clothing layers, including warm jackets, hats, and gloves for cold weather, and lightweight, breathable clothing for hot weather. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof tent and extra tarps for rainy days.
  • Campfire safety: If allowed, campfires can provide warmth and a cosy atmosphere. However, always prioritise safety. Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish the fire completely before leaving it unattended. Follow local guidelines regarding fire safety.
  • Outdoor activities: Stroll along Margate’s sandy beaches, visit the Turner Contemporary art gallery, and explore the historic Dreamland amusement park.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall:

Once abandoned and overgrown, the Lost Gardens of Heligan have been meticulously restored to their former glory. This magical Eden spans over 200 acres and features a diverse range of horticultural delights, including exotic plants, ancient woodlands, and enchanting sculptures. Visitors can embark on a journey through time through hidden corners and secret pathways. The nearby Heligan Caravan and Camping Park offers a tranquil setting for all outdoor glamping enthusiasts seeking to explore this natural wonderland.

Glamping Tips for a Luxurious Outdoor Experience:

  • Choose the right accommodation: When glamping, select a unique and comfortable accommodation option that suits your preferences. Whether it’s a safari tent, a treehouse or a yurt, make sure it offers the amenities and level of comfort you desire.
  • Pack cosy essentials: Glamping is all about comfort and style. Pack soft bedding, plush blankets, and comfortable pillows to create a cosy sleeping space. Don’t forget to bring your favourite loungewear and slippers for relaxing evenings around the campfire.
  • Outdoor activities: Explore the scenic Cornish coast, visit nearby attractions like the Eden Project, and hike along the Southwest Coast Path.

Portmeirion, Wales:

Nestled on the picturesque coast of North Wales, Portmeirion is a destination stowed away that will transport you to an Italian village. This whimsical creation by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis is a stunning blend of colourful buildings, gardens, and coastal views. Visitors can explore the intricate designs, enjoy walks through the woodland, or simply relax by the estuary. 

Caravan enthusiasts will find several nearby campsites, such as Min-y-Don Caravan Park, offering scenic landscapes to pitch up at and easy access to the village.

Portmerion Yukon Haughton
Portmerion | Yukon Haughton

Staycation Tips for Caravanning:

  • Weather considerations: Depending on the time of year, weather conditions can vary greatly during a caravan staycation. Be prepared for extreme heat or cold by ensuring your caravan/motorhome is looked after. Check all your tanks are maintained and full and you are well-ventilated.
  • Site fees and power: Before choosing a caravan site, check the fees and amenities offered. Ensure the site has electricity access and that you understand the power usage limits. This will help you plan your energy consumption and avoid any surprises during your stay.
  • Outdoor activities: Plan ahead, whether it’s hiking in Snowdonia National Park, exploring the nearby coastal paths, or enjoying water sports on the estuary.

Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland:

Tucked away in the countryside of Northern Ireland, the Dark Hedges is an otherworldly avenue of intertwined beech trees. This natural phenomenon has gained international fame due to its appearance in the hit TV series ‘Game of Thrones’.  Nearby campsites such as The Meadows Campsite provide an opportunity to soak up the peace of the countryside while being within reach of this captivating site.

Dark Hedges Greg Willson
Dark Hedges | Greg Willson

Wild Camping Tips for an Adventurous Outdoor Experience:

  • Do your research: Before embarking on a wild camping trip, research the area you intend to visit. Look for information on local regulations, permits, and any restrictions. Plan your route, identifying potential campsites and water sources along the way.
  • Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles to minimise your impact on the environment. Pack up all Rubbish, including food scraps, and dispose of waste properly. Leave the campsite as you found it, without disturbing the natural surroundings.
  • Outdoor activities Explore the Giant’s Causeway, visit the historic city of Derry/Londonderry, and hike in the beautiful Glens of Antrim.
Hidden Gems

While the United Kingdom boasts numerous architectural wonders and renowned attractions, there are always undiscovered destinations waiting to be explored. These unique spots provide a glimpse into the country’s rich history and offer the best excuse for an outdoor adventure.

Blog Author: Erin Lorde