Google searches for ‘things to do near me’ are up 250% and rising. So, how can you plan big days out this summer but avoid overcrowding at the usual beauty spots?
MINI has searched high and low to find Britain’s best-kept secrets. The longlist of 100 was judged against two sets of criteria, which were used to measure both their ‘visitor rating score’ or ‘popularity’ (what the general public thinks) and ‘wildness’ (lesser-known adventure spots). The average of the two determined a final score out of 100 and gave a treasure trove of places to explore, revealing the best wild, hidden gems of 2021.
MINI has created a new interactive tool that helps you find the best big days out nearest to your postcode. The one-stop-shop includes staycation ideas and hidden gems across the UK – https://www.mini.co.uk/en_GB/home/mini-news/big-days-out-index.html
To get things started, we thought we’d share the best of the best – the Top 10 Big Days Out across the UK. Have a look and see which ones tickle your fancy.
The Top Ten Big Day Out Adventure Spots:
|3||Binevenagh||County Londonderry||Northern Ireland|
|4||Gaping Gill||North Yorkshire||England|
|7||Pedn Vounder Beach||Cornwall||England|
|8||Sgwd Yr Eira||Powys||Wales|
The uninhabited tidal island of Uyea in Shetland, Scotland takes the coveted top spot as the UK’s best-hidden gem according to the research.
Securing second and third places respectively are Llyn Dinas lake in Gwynedd, Wales and Binevenagh mountain in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Below, we delve into what there is to do at each of the top ten and why it deserves a top spot.
- Visitor Rating Score worked out from how highly recommended locations are based on reviews from Google and Trip Advisor.
- Wildness Score calculated on volumes of Google Searches, Instagram tags and Positive Google/Trip Advisor reviews (lower volumes help find incredible adventures that get less attention and therefore really are off the beaten track).
Scotland, Visitor Rating 108, Wildness Score 100
It doesn’t get much wilder than Uyea. This stunning uninhabited island in Northmavine received our maximum wildness score, as well as 5-star ratings from both Google and Tripadvisor. It’s perhaps the smallest setting for your big adventures, but its wild beauty is really something to behold. Amongst the stunning nature, you’ll also find the ruins of Saint Olaf’s Chapel. You can only access the island on foot via a connecting beach at low tide but the trip is worth it, with its natural arches and rocky climbs it’s truly one of the most magical places to visit in the UK
2. LLYN DINAS.
Wales, Visitor Rating Score 106, Wildness Score 100
The shores of Llyn Dinas might have you believing you’ve stepped right into the world of Tolkien. Rolling misty hills and endless lakes encapsulate the best of Wales and the adventures it holds. With that in mind, it’s no wonder Llyn Dinas is so highly rated by visitors, with 5-star reviews on Tripadvisor. But the best bit? We found particularly low locations tags, so chances are you’ll get to enjoy its splendour in peace and quiet. Protected by the National Trust, these stunning shores sit in northern Snowdonia. Take a drive to the area itself, then prepare to stretch your legs. The footpath provides magical views and can take you all the way to Beddgelert. If you’d prefer to drive, take one of the best drives in the UK and head down the A498 which passes by the lake, surrounded by the wild hills of Gelli Lago.
Northern Ireland, Visitor Rating Score 106, Wildness Score 99
If you’re looking for views that stretch on and on, you can’t do much better than Binevenagh. Stunning sights can be found on the summit after a day of exploration and adventure – you can look out to Lough Foyle, Inishowen and even to the west coast of Scotland. To get there, you can experience the scenic drive across Binevenagh whilst taking in the views along its mountain and lake. The Binevenagh Mountain itself was formed 60 million years ago by molten lava, making it one of the hottest cool places to visit in the UK. 58 Google reviewers left Binevenagh 5-star reviews, and after a day experiencing its sights, you might just find yourself joining them.
4. GAPING GILL.
England, Visitor Rating Score 106, Wilderness Score 99
Going underground? Gaping Gill is the largest underground cave chamber in Britain, so big in fact that you could fit a whole Cathedral inside. In fact, visitors were so wowed by it, they scored it 5 stars on Tripadvisor. The chamber also features an extensive cave system, so if you’re looking to take your Big Days Out to the next level – there’s many spaces to explore in this 16.6km space. There are parts of the cave that are only accessible to more experienced spelunkers (cave explorers), but if you’ve got the skills this is one cave system you don’t want to miss. It’s a truly unique adventure that goes deeper than most.
5. WHITELESS PIKE.
England, Visitor Rating Score 104, Wilderness Score 100
Cumbria is one of the best locations to explore England by car, its rolling hills contain a multitude of adventures. One for your next big day out is Whiteless Pike, a wild and wonderful fell that’s bursting with natural beauty. Boasting some of the best views in the UK, you can explore the landscape and then make your way up to the summit. And if you do make your way up to the top, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views of the Helvellyn range and the Western Fells. Before you even lace up your walking boots, the drive itself provides some stunning sights with Cumbria as the backdrop. With its combination of strong visitor rating score (4.9 on Google) and high wildness score, Whiteless Pike is one of our most well-rounded Big Days out.
6. LLYN GLASLYN.
Wales, Visitor Rating Score 104, Wilderness Score 100
Take your day out to new heights. Discover a part of the incredibly popular Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd that manages to remain one of its best-kept secrets, with search volumes as low as 10. Llyn Glaslyn offers adventure with a twist of folklore. Its name literally means ‘Blue Lake’ in Welsh, and it sits in a naturally rough eclipse shape. As you walk around the perimeter, taking in both the water and surrounding mountains, you might want to break out some Welsh folklore reading. According to legend, King Arthur had Bedivere throw Excalibur into the lake. To get to the legendary lake itself you can take the Miners Track on Snowden, it’s a winding walk packed full of rugged natural beauty.
7. PEDN VOUNDER BEACH.
England, Visitor Rating Score 105, Wilderness Score 99
When looking for UK staycation ideas, you’ll likely see a lot of beaches in Cornwall coming up. Whilst we think they’re all beautiful, Pedn Vounder really does take the cake. And we’re not alone. Visitors give this Cornish seafront full marks. Set in a small, secluded cove, you’ll find soft white sand and amazing turquoise waters. And if you feel like a little wild adventure before or after your sunbathing, the area is surrounded by rugged cliffs that you can explore – just remember to pack some suitable shoes, flip-flops won’t cut it. And when you’re done, why not take a dip in the immaculate sea. Pedn Vounder is truly an all-rounder, offering a little something for everyone. It scored highly on wildness, so be sure to discover it before everyone else does.
8. SGWD YR EIRA.
Wales, Visitor Rating Score 107, Wilderness Score 97
Part of Wales’ stunning Waterfall country, Sgwd Yr Eira is a wild wonder within the Brecon Beacons. The waterfall itself is located in a gloriously wild ravine, perfect for those looking for a more rugged adventure. To get to the falls, you’ll walk through some stunning scenery with some routes cutting through a wooded gorge. But perhaps Sgwd Yr Eira’s biggest selling point is the fact that you can walk the path behind the falls themselves. You can stop to take in the running water and maybe take a selfie or two. No surprise, visitors adore Sgwd Yr Eira, and have left dozens of 4.9 and 5-star ratings on Google and Tripadvisor.
9. THE ROACHES.
England, Visitor Rating Score 107, Wilderness Score 96
If you’re looking for rugged, you’ve found it. The Roaches might not have the prettiest name, but it’s got some beautiful scenery to take in. Loved by both climbers and hikers, this is one wild adventure you’ll need your walking boots for. If you’re driving to The Roaches, look out for the ‘Winking Man’ rock – he’ll give you a wink if you take the road towards Buxton. The area, on the whole, is one of the best if you’re looking to explore England by car, with plenty of natural sights and cosy pubs to stop off at.
10. FINGAL’S CAVE.
Scotland, Visitors Rating Score 106, Wilderness Score 97
A truly original sight, Fingal’s Cave has one of the most unique structures you’ll ever see. Basalt columns inside feature hexagonal patterns that almost seem man-made, but it’s all the work of nature. It can be explored by taking a sightseeing cruise and getting off at Staffa Island’s landing place. The cave itself also benefits from some pretty impressive acoustics. Fingal’s Cave offers a striking experience and over the years its inspired J. M. W. Turner, Sir Walter Scott and even Pink Floyd. And it’s not just artists who adore Fingal’s Cave. Visitors gave this dreamy location 4.8 stars on Google.
To see more including the Best National Parks and use the interactive map to decipher the Best Big Days Out near you visit MINI.
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