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National parks in Wales: which one is right for you?

When it comes to Britain’s breathing spaces, the national parks in Wales compete with the best of them. Here, we explain why.

Surrounded by sea on three sides, Wales is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts. While not as rugged as Scotland or romantically perceived like Ireland, deepest Wales is just as beguiling. 

Lonely corners abound on dramatic mountain passes, deep river valleys and weather-lashed cliffs. Scattered seamlessly across the natural landscape are Iron Age hill forts, Roman ruins and over 600 castles – more per capita, it’s said, than any other country in the world. 

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10 best hikes in Dartmoor National Park

Our selection of the best hikes in Dartmoor National Park showcases the very finest of England’s wildest landscape.

I’ve always been fond of Dartmoor. I first visited as a child on a family holiday and I’ve returned regularly ever since. Famous for its wild ponies, open moorland and craggy granite tors (free-standing rocky outcrops that rise abruptly from the surroundings), it is one of the few genuinely wild places left in England.

Tucked away in the southwest of the country, Dartmoor National Park is home to some of the finest hiking in England. An array of trails criss-cross the wide open vistas and there are several routes to suit different abilities.

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Best road trips in the world – by continent

The best road trips in the world have inspired artists through the ages, from Kerouac and Steinbeck to the talents at Pixar. Here, we attempt to explain why.

When it comes to road trips, we’ve had our fair share of mishaps. We’ve battled a whiteout in Iceland, got stuck in a ditch in Turkey, broken down in Chile and changed a tyre in Namibia’s lion territory.

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10 great outdoor destinations – and their British twins

From Alpine-esque peaks to Basque-country beauty, there’s a world’s worth of wonder right here at home.

It’s strange that in a place literally named ‘Great’, we the British like to self-deprecate. We as a nation tend to regard blind ambition and gaudy success with a sense of mild distaste. We value modesty and restraint and seldom shout about our strengths.

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Highest mountains in the Yorkshire Dales

The highest mountains in the Yorkshire Dales are home to some of England’s finest and wildest scenery, all of it ripe for hiking.

Covering 2,179km2 of countryside, Yorkshire Dales National Park showcases some of England’s best outdoor landscapes. The park’s glacial valleys are defined by a unique terrain of high heather moorland, rolling hills and dramatic waterfalls, all criss-crossed with miles of dry stonewalls and delightful villages.

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Quiet Cornwall: 10 reasons to visit St Ives in winter

Blissfully quiet beaches, cut-price costs, cosy pubs and hearty grub – a St Ives winter break is the perfect antidote to a busy summer.

It’s not hard to see why Cornwall is one of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations. It has 300 miles of jaw-dropping coastline, over 2,400 miles of inland walking paths, 12 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, four Michelin-starred restaurants and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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10 weird and wonderful sights in Cornwall

From Arthurian legends to dramatic moorlands, we share the best sights in Cornwall for a quintessential English break.

Cornwall may not be on par with diving in Djibouti or volcanoes in Vanuatu, but it holds a special place in my heart. It was in Cornwall that I took my first trip away from my parents (at the age of 10 on a school residential).

In fact, visiting Cornwall was my second holiday ever. I’d never been hiking, never been camping and had seldom seen a beach, so Cornwall was a complete novelty.

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10 most visited countries in the world

We profile some usual suspects plus one or two surprises in the top 10 most visited countries in the world.

Have you dreamed of a romantic kiss atop the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you’ve thrown a wish into the Trevi Fountain or stopped and stared at the Sistine Chapel. If so, you’re certainly not alone.

According to the latest UNWTO Tourism Highlights report, France and Italy are two of the most visited countries in the world.

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Travels with my sister: conquering a lifetime of hearing loss

My younger sister was born three months premature and grew up with pronounced hearing loss. After a recent change for the better, she agreed to join me for a trip…

Kia’s story

I first realised that my sister was different when I was seven and she was six. Forida was told to wear hearing aids and I remember how much they embarrassed her. The chunky beige aids were conspicuous on her child-size ears and, to other schoolchildren, marked her out as different; not one of us.

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natural wonders in the uk

20 (typically modest) natural wonders in the UK

The best natural wonders in the UK may not equal those in the US, Canada or Australia, but the sometimes quirky, always striking sights are still worth seeing.

When the ArcelorMittal Orbit was foisted on the London skyline in 2012, it split opinion rather starkly. I, for my sins, thought it was quirky and interesting while Peter thought it a blight on the landscape.

“It’s so typically British,” he said – a notion that baffled me. It was so unbritish in its haphazard, loping design: a clear contradiction of the order and tradition that defines Britain. Continue reading

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Britain’s best long-distance footpaths

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths provide excellent access to the UK’s outdoors while showcasing the finest scenery our isles have to offer. 

When you think of the best long-distance hiking trails from around the world, little old Britain probably wouldn’t top of your list. Hikers will more likely be drawn to the Triple Crown of the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails in the US, New Zealand’s Great Walks or the famous Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal.

However, the UK does have an extensive network of long-distance footpaths. Managed by the National Trails in England and Wales and Scotland’s Great Trails north of the border, the UK has thousands of miles of tramping to be discovered – and the network continues to expand. Continue reading

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In photos: the best views in the Yorkshire Dales

We’ve put together a selection of the best views in Yorkshire Dales National Park, home to some of England’s prettiest landscapes. 

Having just moved to the area and started our exploration of the Yorkshire Dales in earnest, we thought it appropriate to share some of the wider scenery the Dales have to offer.

Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) was designated in 1954 and extended by 24% in 2016 to cover 2,178 km2 in total. YDNP is famed for having some of the finest limestone landscapes in the UK with crags, pavements and caves set amid an expansive heather moorland of rolling hills and dramatic waterfalls, all criss-crossed with miles of dry stonewalls and picturesque villages. Continue reading

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Hiking Great Shunner Fell: my first ‘Dales 30’

Hiking Great Shunner Fell was my first of the Dales 30, the highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales. One down, 29 to go…

As many of you will know, Kia and I recently moved to the country. It’s taken me eight years, but I’ve finally convinced Kia that life is better away from the busy south. As such, we’ve moved to the small and charming market town of Richmond on the edge of Yorkshire Dales National Park.

As well as enjoying the delights of Richmond, the best thing for me about our move is having easy access to the countryside, right on our doorstop. It takes five minutes to drive into the national park, one of Britain’s 15 breathing spaces, while at the end of our street is a walking trail along the River Swale that gets us into the park in just 15 minutes.

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The ups and downs of our move to the country

After three decades in London, would a move to the country prove horribly wrong? We share the ups and downs of our time in the Dales.

We’ve finally settled down. After four years on the road interspersed by stretches in a tiny French village, we’re back in Britain permanently – well, kind of. We have trips to Namibia, South Africa and possibly Costa Rica planned for Nov-Dec and more next year, but we also have a permanent home. Continue reading

Star struck: exploring the world’s Dark Sky Reserves

International Dark Sky Reserves are protected areas that offer exceptionally starry nights. We review the 13 places that hold this hallowed status.

They sound like something out of Star Trek, these ‘Dark Sky Reserves’ – like they may have been conjured one evening in a lively LA writers room. Unlike the ‘Delta Quadrant’ or ‘Delphic Expanse’, however, International Dark Sky Reserves actually exist.

We at Atlas & Boots hadn’t heard of them until our recent trip to New Zealand‘s Aoraki Mackenzie, one of the world’s 13 Dark Sky Reserves. Continue reading

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Climbing Carrauntoohil: Ireland’s highest mountain

Climbing Carrauntoohil is an excellent introduction to the Reeks District, Ireland’s adventure playground.

The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in Kerry are Ireland’s highest mountain range and the inspiration behind the region’s newly renamed Reeks District, home to Carrauntoohil which at 1,038m (3,406ft) is Ireland’s highest mountain.

High cliffs, mountain lakes and fast running rivers define the range which runs 19km along the eastern boundary of the Iveragh Peninsula. Known as the backbone of the Kingdom of Kerry, the sandstone mountains have been hewn over hundreds of thousands of years by glacial erosion and extreme weather.

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7 adventure sailing holidays for your bucket list

Adventure sailing holidays have the ability to carry passengers to the far reaches of the world, accessing some of the most remote and magnificent scenery the world has to offer.

Having recently returned from my first tall ship sailing adventure off the west coast of Scotland, and with my interest for the high seas well and truly piqued, I take a look at some adventure sailing holidays I would love to join. Continue reading

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Learning to paddleboard in Scotland

I spent a week learning to paddleboard off the west coast of Scotland, the perfect setting for trying the world’s fastest growing water sport.

My only experience of standup paddleboarding (SUP) was the odd paddle at a beachside resort here and there. I’ve never liked surfing (I know that’s so uncool to admit) but I have always enjoyed kayaking whether it has been along the Thames in London or kayaking in more far-flung destinations.

So when I joined the Lady of Avenel for a tall ship sailing adventure recently, I was excited to learn it would be part of a wider paddleboarding trip organised by London-based SUP enthusiasts Active360.

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Tall ship sailing adventures off the west coast of Scotland

I joined the Lady of Avenel for a week of tall ship sailing adventures around the Inner Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland.

This summer I joined the tall ship Lady of Avenel to sail around the Inner Hebrides archipelago. When the sails were furled we put kayaks and paddleboards overboard and headed for land, exploring wild beaches, craggy coves and traditional fishing villages en route.

Unhindered by ferry schedules, busy roads or hiking trails we could access some of the most remote scenery in Scotland; scenery that only the sea has passage to. The unique approach to tall ship sailing adventures provided by the Lady of Avenel combines traditional sailing with outdoor activities. Continue reading