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13 Hidden Travel Gems That Locals Say Are The UK's Best Kept Secret

Secret paths, tunnels, and gardens galore for you to explore.

We're still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so before travelling please know before you go and check the latest government advice and local guidance relevant to your destination. When you're there, please be mindful of locals, keep to social distancing rules, and respect the surroundings around you.

The UK has some incredible, iconic, and famous attractions to explore. However, it also boasts some secret hidden gems that only locals know about, making them the perfect places to escape your everyday. Here are 13 lesser-known places everyone must visit...

1. Lancashire: The Tolkien Trail

2. Yorkshire: Staithes

Helen Hotson / Getty Images

Charming, historic, and picturesque fishing village Staithes is just along the coast from the better-known Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby. Its steep, winding streets were once home to the famous British explorer, Captain Cook, who worked as an apprentice in a haberdashery on the seafront from 1745 to 1746.

Suz Gibson says: "It was once the busiest fishing village in the area, but now has a calm and tranquil air. You still get a deep sense of history as you stroll downhill towards the Cod and Lobster pub for a cold pint with a sea view."

3. Edinburgh: Colinton Tunnel

4. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Jesmond Dene

Palliki / Getty Images, Ben Armson

Jesmond Dene is an enchanting, historic park nestled in the suburbs of Newcastle. It has many incredible nature trails but the real gem of this park is its famous waterfall. The bridge close by offers not only the best views of the waterfall, making it the perfect place for a photo opp, but also a view of the ruins of a fourteenth-century water mill too!

Former local resident Ben Armson says: "Jesmond Dene is the perfect woodland escape literally minutes away from the city centre. It’s incredibly peaceful and a great place to go for a walk without having to drive out to the countryside. The waterfall is always the real highlight for me.”

5. Glasgow: The Hidden Lane

6. London: Kyoto Garden in Holland Park

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This beautiful slice of Japan is a true oasis amid the hustle and bustle of central London. The garden opened in Holland Park in 1991; it was a gift from Kyoto and a gesture of friendship between Japan and Great Britain. It's filled with stone lanterns, tiered waterfalls, and even peacocks to snap a selfie with.

Londoner Peter Hoffer says: "My favourite part of the park is the peaceful Kyoto Garden, which is like a tiny pocket of Japan inside an English setting. When I first moved to London, my apartment was only minutes away. I would often spend time here to get away from the cramped space of my flat."

7. Wiltshire: West Kennet Long Barrow

8. Coleraine to Derry Railway on the Antrim Coast

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A great way to see Antrim's spectacular and dramatic coastline is to take a railway journey from Coleraine to Derry. You'll pass sandy beaches and travel through tunnels as the line weaves its way along the clifftops before ending up at the famous walled city of Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland.

Local resident Karen Yates says: "It's lovely scenery all around and makes you proud to be from Northern Ireland. Beware though, you'll want to jump off the train every minute to go and see things even closer. It's a majestic journey."

9. Surrey: Ashtead Common

Instagram: @truestar, Kim Woermann / Via Instagram: @kimwoermann

This 200-hectare expanse of ancient woodland, open countryside, and pretty lakes is a National Nature Reserve. Some of the oak trees are between 300 and 400 years old, with Autumn being one of the best times to visit if you want to experience the leaves changing, bathing everything in warm, golden light. There is also a beautiful Roman villa on the common, as well as other ancient monuments.

Local Amy Champion-Maclean says: "I love Ashtead Common. When I moved to the UK 14 years ago, I'd stroll around it and soak up the scenery. It feels quintessentially English. Very peaceful and pretty."

10. London: Brixton Village Arcade and Market Row

11. Peak District: Howden, Derwent, and Ladybower reservoirs

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This series of three equally stunning reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley are arguably at their best in autumn but are well worth a visit at all times of the year. With amazing walking and cycling routes that wrap around the reservoirs, you could easily the spend the entire day exploring and admiring sites along the way, like the twin-towered Derwent Dam, completed in 1916 and used by the RAF's 617 squadron to test their "bouncing bombs" in 1943.

Steve Brown, who lives nearby, says: "This place never ceases to amaze me. It's so dramatic. And it's peaceful too. You can sit and watch birds of prey swooping around the dam."

12. Mid Wales: Glyndŵr's Way

13. West Sussex: Petworth town and park

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Petworth is a stunning market town steeped in history and famous for its plethora of antique shops. It's the perfect place for shopping and culture. But the Petworth Park and Gardens is a treasure so close by that it would be a shame to not visit both. And for the entrance fee of £10 per adult, you'll get access to the house and the aptly named "Pleasure Gardens". With rolling hills and beautiful views of the Sussex Downs, the park is great for escaping crowds and taking refreshing walks. Keep an eye out for the fallow deer that roam there.

Former local resident Bethan Moore says: "Petworth is a beautiful little town and the antique shops make for a fun activity, even if you're just peeking through and taking a casual stroll. The park, however, is pure bliss if you're looking to get away from it all, and there's something inherently magical about seeing the fallow deer at any age."

Feeing inspired? Escape your everyday and plan a trip to one of these amazing places right here in the UK. Go to Visit Britain to learn more.