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A year of extraordinaire discoveries


We’ve put together a fresh take on some of your favourite UK cities, giving you a taste of some unexpected retreats you can uncover, to breathe new life into your day.


Nowadays, screens dominate our lives, so sometimes we need to disconnect to reconnect. Okay, yes, you’re staring at one right now, but we’re using it to show you how nature can give you a much-needed digital detox every now and again.

We’ve unearthed some extraordinaire hidden gems. So you can enjoy the calming beauties offered in abundance by nature. All year round.

But shhhhh, don’t tell everyone…


Autumn on Ilkley. There’s moor to discover than you think.

Autumn on Ilkley. There’s moor to discover than you think.

With flora and fauna galore, there’s something for everyone on Ilkley Moor.


The meandering trails are the perfect escape for anyone wanting to get lost for a moment. Although, thanks to the Friends of Ilkley Moor, each trail is mapped and you won’t actually get lost, so don’t panic.

For history lovers, there are 4,000ish year old settlement remains to discover at Backstone Beck. And 19th Century graffiti (we won’t tell you exactly where – exploring’s half the fun). If you’re feeling brave, dip into the spa bath plunge pool, fed directly from a water spring on the moors since the 1800s. It’s not quite the Perrier spring in Vergèze, but well worth a visit. There are even rumours of an alien sighting in 1987. How‘s that for extraordinaire?

Aside from anything else, being On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at (that’s On Ilkley Moor without a hat, if you don’t speak the local lingo) on a fresh autumn day is a reet good way to build up an appetite for the roast spuds and Yorkshire puds waiting back home.


Make an appointment at Dr. Neils Garden this winter.

Make an appointment at Dr. Neils Garden this winter.

Edinburgh embraces extraordinary. From a castle perched on an extinct volcano to the world’s most pierced woman (9,800 on the last count – airport security must be a nightmare).

The city’s also brimming with delightful nooks and crannies – Dr. Neils Garden among them.

This unique, peaceful haven is named after Doctors Andrew and Nancy Neil. This extraordinary couple knew the benefits of outdoor activity. They filled their eclectic garden with weird and wonderful plants and trees gathered on adventures though Europe, for their patients to enjoy.

Finding it is an adventure in itself. But, tucked behind Duddingston Kirk and virtually empty year-round, it’s worth getting wrapped up and sniffing it out.

As you wind your way through the myriad of cobbled paths, you’ll stumble upon Thomson’s Tower, built in 1825 for winter curling on the loch. And, as tempting as it may be to give it a go yourself when the playing field is blanketed in white, we wouldn’t recommend it. You could end up with more than your feet getting wet. Head to one of the nearby pubs for a hot toddy instead. Much more sensible.


Enjoy a spring fling with Fletcher Moss.

 Enjoy a spring fling with Fletcher Moss

Ditch the pine-scented air freshener for the real thing and make your way to the fairytale-esque vistas of Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens. Mother Nature’s been working overtime on this little slice of leafy heaven in Manchester.

It’s a top spot to scoff alfresco, especially in springtime, if you nab a seat under the stunning canopy of cedar trees. So, pack your pimped-up picnic basket (don’t forget the Perrier) and settle down amongst the carpet of bright marigolds. Feel yourself unwind as you listen to some of Manchester’s finest songbirds. No, we’re not talking about the Gallagher brothers or The Stone Roses – we’re talking about the resident parakeets.

It’s great for a wander. Or just a ponder. And by letting you in on this botanical time capsule, you too can take a break and immerse yourself in the best that nature has to offer.


Travel light at the Kyoto Garden.

Travel light at the Kyoto Garden.

Karaoke. Sushi. Takeshi’s Castle. Pokémon… Yes, we’ve got a lot to thank Japan for. And hiding at the heart of Holland Park, there’s yet another – the tiny pocket of Zen that is the Kyoto Garden.

The design was dictated by the world’s oldest gardening manual that formed the basis of feng shui. And with its abundance of cherry blossom trees, a feature pond brimming with vibrant Koi carp and a staggered bridge that prevents darkness from passing through, this is indeed feng shui at its finest.

Best enjoyed in full bloom at the height of summer, you’ll find peaceful areas of both sun and shade. So, it’s the perfect place to contemplate life. Or maybe just your lunch, if you work nearby. You could even nip in and have a power nap, Japanese stylee (or ‘inemuri’ as they say down Tokyo way).

Just find a spot near the bubbling rock waterfall, lie down and close your eyes. Once the soothing sounds start to work their magic, you’ll be powerless to stop yourself drifting off. We guarantee it.


Time to get out there and take a fresh look around our wonderful isle? We think so, too. Enjoy…