England's most tranquil holiday spots
Is it possible to feel the draw of the wilderness on English soil? Would you believe that there are still corners of this small country where you can walk all day and barely see another soul? If you're craving peace and quiet, these fascinating yet sparsely visited areas offer the chance of pure tranquillity to intrepid travellers...
Northumberland National Park and Kielder Forest Park, Northumberland
A holiday based in the heart of Northumberland could be just what the doctor ordered if you've been feeling overwhelmed by the pace of life. The UK's least populous county with just 62 people per square kilometre, staying off the beaten track is easy here!
Did you know that Northumberland's International Dark Sky Park has the lowest level of night-time light pollution in England? The stars are dazzling on a clear night, when you can see up to 2,000 stars, the great swathe of the Milky Way and 'shooting star' meteor showers with the naked eye.
Don't miss: Star gazing, Holy Island, Bamburgh Castle, Hadrian's Wall, Chillingham Wild Cattle, miles of sandy beaches, hiking the Cheviot Hills
Exmoor National Park, Devon and Somerset
Much quieter than nearby Dartmoor, Exmoor National Park's 267-square-mile expanse encompasses rolling wooded valleys, spectacular high cliffs, wild moorland and babbling brooks. Walk a way along some of the excellent footpaths and bridleways that criss-cross this beautiful area for a rare sense of remoteness in the south of England.
Don't miss: Cream teas, "the tallest tree in England", cycling, rare butterflies, the Exmoor ponies, rockpooling on the beach, ancient oak woodlands, horse riding, canoeing and sea kayaking.
As the masses head up to the Norfolk Broads, you can be sunning yourself at a haven of seaside calm: the quiet sands at Covehithe, just a few short miles from the quaint resort town of Southwold. This beach oasis is a development-free rarity - no ice cream vans, no bars, no hotels, no cafés, no car parks. Pack a picnic and the buckets and spades, park in nearby Wrentham village and take one of the two footpaths for the ten-minute walk down to the beach.
Don't miss: Sandcastles, sea swimming, Southwold, Sutton Hoo, Framlingham Castle, Colne Valley Railway, Lavenham medieval village.
Love the Lake District but not the crowded trails in high season? Head for westerly Ennerdale, where you'll find sweet solitude and the Lakes' most remote hostel, the Black Sail YHA, only accessible on foot or by bike. In the 1930s this area was carpeted in commercial tree plantations, however now the valley is in the process of 'rewilding' and this stunning landscape is gradually returning to wilderness.
Don't miss: Forest walks, Kendal Mint Cake, incredible scenery, Muncaster Castle, boating and watersports, cycling, Swinside Stone Circle, the tallest Viking cross in England.
Northumberland: James Gilbert [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Exmoor: By Becks - Great Hangman to Holdstone Down, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25739818
Suffolk: By Ian Robertson, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12545980
Ennerdale: Alan Godfree [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons