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The Big Days Out Index.

Introducing the MINI Big Days Out Index, your one-stop-shop for staycation ideas and hidden gems in England. Because we know everyone is itching to get back on the open road and on some adventures, but everywhere is busier than usual. To help you escape the crowds, we’ve found over 100 of the best wild locations in the UK.

We’ve 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’ (what the general public think) and ‘wildness’ (lesser-known adventure spots). The average of the two determined a final score out of 100, and gave us a treasure trove of places to explore.

HOW WE WORKED OUT THE VISITOR RATING SCORE.

We’ve researched how highly recommended locations are based on reviews found on Google and Tripadvisor from fellow adventurers.

HOW THE WILDNESS SCORE WAS CALCULATED.

The wildness score was worked out by looking at the volumes of Google searches, Instagram tags, and positive reviews on Google and Trip Advisor. Lower volumes helped us find incredible adventures that get less attention. The ones that are really off the beaten track.

The Top 10 Big Days Out adventures.

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.

1. Uyea.

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.
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2. Llyn Dinas.

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 the 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.
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3. Binevenagh.

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.
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4. Gaping Gill.

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.
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5. Whiteless Pike.

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.
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6. Llyn Glaslyn.

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.
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7. Pedn Vounder Beach.

When looking for UK staycation ideas, you’ll likely see a lot 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.
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8. Sgwd Yr Eira.

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.
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9. The Roaches.

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.
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10. Fingal's Cave.

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.
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The Best National Parks.

If you’re looking for even bigger Big Days Out, how does a whole national park sound? There might not be any best-kept secrets when it comes to UK national parks, but we used a set of metrics to determine which three were the best-loved. We used reviews and ratings from Google and Tripadvisor, along with popular search terms, high volumes of Instagram posts and estimated number of domestic trips and the trio with the highest scores topped our list.

Lake District National Park.

The largest National Park in England can also claim the crown of largest number of Instagram posts using its name in the hashtag (a massive 3,201,292 in fact). And it’s no wonder that people are flocking here. It’s home to the country’s deepest lake and highest mountain, Scafell Pike – both of which you can explore. You can hire boats and head out onto some of the most stunning waters in the country surrounded by amazing views. If you’re looking to stay on dry land there are areas to walk, climb, cycle and surprisingly swing. That’s right, there’s an area where you can take a treetop trek, swinging or zip lining amongst the trees.
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Peak District National Park.

An amazing area with amazing reviews, its Google rating sits at an impressive 4.8, the Peak District National Park is home to some brilliant scenery and wildlife. If you’re looking to get professional(ish) with your Big Days Out you can even spend the day with one of the park’s rangers. They offer a wide range of walks and courses, including days designed for families, historical tours and even mindfulness walks. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can book a gorge walking experience, try your hand at spelunking in caves or even try ‘weasling’ (open air caving)
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Snowdonia National Park.

Snowdonia needs no introduction; in a word this National Park is iconic. If you’re heading to Wales, chances are you’re going to pay a visit to the Snowdonia National Park. And the data backs it up, it’s UK search volume is an impressive 135,000 searches. This National Park is huge for walkers and climbers alike, offering lots of diverse experiences at varying difficulties. But it’s not all hills and mountains, Snowdonia National Park also features stretching sandy beaches and extraordinary lakes and rivers. Of course, we can’t forget Yr Wyddfa (Snowden) itself – one of the most challenging yet rewarding mountains in the UK.
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Go on your own Big Days Out with MINI.

With the perfect balance of practicality and spontaneity, the MINI Countryman is the ideal way to explore England by car. With 450 litres of boot space (1,390 litres if you put the seats down) you’ll be able to pack more in as you head out on some of the best drives in the UK. Also, its intuitive, fully LED headlights will prove optimal light wherever you wander, keeping you safe on the road. So whether you’re heading out to a leafy last minute staycation or grabbing your surfboards for a day at the beach, the Countryman has everything you need to explore the great outdoors.
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METHODOLOGY

To gather the best wild locations in the UK to visit, we pulled together a longlist of over 100 nature based locations from across the UK, judging them against two sets of criteria which were used to gauge both their 'visitor rating' and 'wildness'. The average of these visitor rating scores and wildness scores were then used to give a final score out of 100 that determines the best, undiscovered, wild locations (lesser known locations of natural beauty that are perfect for an adventure).

Our longlist of nature based locations was compiled by using travel listicles that featured wild locations or places of natural beauty. The full list of sources can be found in the sources tab.

To gather the visitor rating scores for each location in the list, the following metrics were used. For each they were then given a score, the average rating receiving a score 100, then those above the average rating receiving a higher score and those below the average rating receiving a lower score.
1. Google Rating - Google.co.uk
2. TripAdvisor Rating - Tripadvisor.co.uk

To then gather the wildness score for each location in the list, the following metrics were used. For each they were then given a score out 100, with the highest number receiving 100 and the lowest 0.
1. No. of Google Reviews - Google.co.uk
2. No. of TripAdvisor Reviews - Tripadvisor.co.uk
3. UK Search Volume - SEMRush.com
4. No. of Instagram Location Tags - Instagram.com
5. No. of Instagram Posts for Main Hashtag - Instagram.com

Finally, using the nationalparks.uk website to compile a list of the 15 national parks found within the UK, we used the below metrics to also create an index of the most popular national parks. With each ranking more highly the higher the amount of figures it had for said metrics.
1. Google Rating - Google.co.uk
2. No. of Google Reviews - Google.co.uk
3. No. of TripAdvisor Reviews & Opinions - Tripadvisor.co.uk
4. UK Search Volume - SEMRush.com
5. No. of Instagram Location Tags - Instagram.com
6. No. of Instagram Posts for Main Hashtag - Instagram.com
7. No. of Domestic Tourism Trips* - Statista.com

All data was collected during the following dates: 07/06/2021 - 11/06/2021

*Please note for the New Forest and Northumberland National Parks, visitor figures were sourced from their respective websites instead as the Domestic Tourism Trips data set was missing their figures. These sources can be found in the sources tab.

To see the full data set, click here.

 

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EVEN MORE ADVENTURE INSPIRATION.

Discover even more exciting escapes off the beaten path. Our Big Days Out hub is packed with unique adventure ideas – check it out to get inspired.