Secret summer staycations

Accommodation, Beaches, Coastal, Days out, Romantic breaks, Rural, Activity, Nature

Posted by Kate A on 8th January 2020

Secret summer staycations for couples

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and avoid the busy tourist trails for the path less travelled. The UK is brimming with hidden gems and unspoilt secluded spots off the beaten track, just waiting for couples to discover together.

There are plenty of hours in the day, so why not be spontaneous and uncover a new remote location where you and your loved one can make lasting memories this summer?

We’ve selected seven secret places to visit in the UK that showcase our country’s incredible natural scenery. Get away from it all on a romantic summer retreat to one of these beautiful isolated spots.

Seek out adventures in special locations, your spectacular summer staycation awaits.

Nanjizal Beach, Cornwall

  • Admire remarkable natural stone sculptures
  • Watch seals playing in the shallows
  • Bathe in the clear turquoise sea

Nanjizal Beach

Completely off the beaten track with no signposts, this secret beach in Cornwall is a true hidden gem that many people never knew existed. No direct road access here means that Nanjizal Beach can only be reached by foot along the South West Coast Path from Land’s End, therefore it’s wonderfully untouched and often deserted.

In the way of facilities, you will find none, but this is all part of its character and charm. At low tide, you can swim through the ‘Song of the Sea’ natural rock arch where the sun bursts through in the late afternoon to dance on the Caribbean-worthy jade plunge pool. Snorkel into anemone-studded sea caves filled with coralline and wash off any post-swim salt under the freshwater waterfall.

Snorkelling at Nanjizal beach

There are lots of large stone structures to discover too, one being the famous equine-shaped ‘Diamond Horse’: this nickname is due to it having a quartz vein running through it which sparkles in the sun. Summer is the best time to visit this glorious cove when its golden sand returns, and swimming in the amazingly clear sea is just blissful.

Stay at: The Top Shelter (sleeps 2) – 6.5 miles away

The Top Shelter

Nestled on the edge of beautiful Lamorna Cove, with distant sea views and a stylish interior, this is the ultimate romantic getaway in Cornwall. The South West Coast Path is right on the doorstep, with easy access to some of West Cornwall’s finest stretches of sand, so there’s no need to worry about parking during the busier summer months.

Cottages nearby

Sapperton Valley, Gloucestershire

  • Picnic amongst bluebells
  • Spot kingfishers, herons and otters
  • Discover the five original locks of the old canal

Sapperton Valley

This spectacular bluebell-clad valley is in one of the most peaceful and secluded spots you could possibly come across. Stretching across the serene and derelict Thames and Severn Canal, overgrown flood meadows and shaded ancient woodland, you will feel a million miles away from reality.

Considered to be an important wetland area, Sapperton Valley in Gloucestershire is the perfect spot for nature-loving couples to view wildflowers, birds and wildlife in their natural habitat. You may well see kestrels, buzzards, owls, badgers, rare butterflies, dragonflies, foxes and deer as well as orchids, red cowslips and wild poppies.

Spot kingfishers at Sapperton Valley

The landscape is speckled with ancient agricultural equipment and old moss-covered bridges and canal locks, providing both depth and interest to the views, and incredible photo opportunities. Cared for by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Sapperton Valley is a great place to lose yourself in the true wilds of nature.

Stay at: Broadridge Mews (sleeps 2) – 8.5 miles away

Broadridge Mews

For couples who love exploring the great outdoors, this cosy mews apartment is a haven, set within the midst of the ancient beech woodland of Buckholt Wood, with easy access to the scenic Cotswold Way. After wonderful fresh air walks through the surrounding countryside, soak up the last of the summer sunshine on the roof terrace and make use of the apartment’s set of binoculars to spot local wildlife grazing in the grounds below.

Cottages nearby

The Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire

  • Take the plunge into the cool waters
  • Spectacular views from the clifftops
  • Paddle a kayak into the lagoon

The Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy

The Blue Lagoon is found by a charming bay with no roads or lanes leading to its very sheltered location, and with it being so inaccessible, it is rarely frequented by any other tourists. It's one of many beautiful spots waiting to be found along the Pembrokeshire coast. Only those who aren’t afraid of a good walk are rewarded with the most spectacular black sands here.

A walk southward along the windswept clifftops lining the bay, will display the large, deep rock pool which gives the bay its name. On hot summer days, couples can enjoy the sunlight dancing off the walls of this flooded slate quarry, adorned in fossilised anemones and limpets. You might even find yourselves sharing the pool with a few seals!

Swim in the Blue Lagoon

A breathtaking circular pool formed perfectly and filled with clear greenish-blue water, legend has it that it’s bottomless – a spot of wild swimming and diving is the only way to find out. One for the adventurous, the lagoon has hosted Red Bull's Cliff Diving championships in recent years.

Stay at: Cysgod Y Nos (sleeps 2) – 3.5 miles away

Cysgod Y Nos

Wake up to mesmerising views of the sparkling sea and rolling countryside from this unique glamping pod in Pembrokeshire. Perfect for making special memories, coasteering, diving, kayaking and surfing await adventure-seeking couples here, while wildlife-watching cruises and an abundance of castles and historical sites are ideal for those seeking a more leisurely way to spend quality time together.

Cottages nearby

Low Force Waterfall, County Durham

  • Wild swim in the pools below the falls
  • Kayak down the rapids
  • Trek 1.5 miles to High Force Waterfall

Low Force Waterfall

Nestled away, hidden alongside the River Tees in County Durham is this stunning waterfall, set against the most picturesque countryside location. Low Force tumbles over the Whin Sill, a layer of hard dolerite rock which formed 295 million years ago from molten rock.

After millions of years of constant erosion from the flowing water cascading over it, unique rocky landscape features have been formed providing some captivating views. Though not as dramatic or well known as its more famous cousin upstream, High Force, this series of low cascades is one of the most beautiful in the north of England.

Kayak at Low Force Waterfall

Take a walk along the Pennine Way footpath which runs alongside the river for one of the most relaxing experiences to be had in the area. And if you want to try something new, brave the cool waters together and enjoy a wild swim in the wide, frothy pools below the falls.

Stay at: Rosemary Cottage – Whorlton (sleeps 2) – 16 miles away

Rosemary Cottage

This pretty little stone cottage is an idyllic retreat for two, featuring a traditional wood burner which you can snuggle up by after a day exploring at the falls. Its pretty walled garden filled with the scent of summer flowers is a perfect spot to sip a Yorkshire brew in the morning, before donning your walking boots and heading off on your adventures.

Cottages nearby

Soar Mill Cove, Devon

  • Canoe to the cove from Salcombe
  • Explore the abundant rock pools
  • Discover hidden caves at low tide

Soar Mill Cove

No cars, no facilities, no phone signal: if you are wanting that private beach feeling, then Soar Mill Cove in Devon should be a must-visit on your secret summer staycation list. This tiny remote sandy cove is set below the craggy cliff formations at Bolt Head, and is only accessible via the South West Coast Path or by boat from Salcombe.

For complete escapism with the one you love, this hidden haunt is sure to hold fond memories in your heart. Swim in the crystal-clear azure waters, discover an exciting array of rock pools, explore some of South Devon’s best caves, and have a picnic on the clean, golden sands.

Sunbathe at Soar Mill Cove

Best experienced on a sunny day, this isolated cove is a special place to enjoy as a couple. Lay down a blanket and watch the waves crash against the rocks and seagulls soar above. And if you're lucky, you might spot seals fishing close to the shore.

Stay at: Bay Anchorage (sleeps 4) – 4 miles away

Bay Anchorage

Set right on the National Trust beachfront at South Milton Sands, this chic seaside apartment is a treat for couples wanting to escape to the coast. Sample some freshly caught seafood at the nearby beachside café, indulge in a relaxing dip in the shared outdoor heated on-site pool and enjoy cocktails on your sunny balcony listening to the waves lapping on the shore.

Cottages nearby

Arne Nature Reserve, Dorset

  • Look out for ospreys in the late summer
  • Spot sika deer roaming the woodland
  • See if you can find the six species of reptiles

Arne Nature Reserve

Find Arne on a map and you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing there – and that’s precisely why you should go. Step off the beaten path and discover a hidden gem in Dorset rich with wildlife. Situated on Poole Harbour and within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, RSPB Arne Nature Reserve encompasses dramatic open heathland, ancient oak woodland, farmland, reedbeds, mudflats, grassland and sandy beaches.

Covering 1,392 acres, you’ll find Dartford warblers, nightjars, all six species of British reptile, plus many species of butterflies, dragonflies, and moths. It is also home to nearly 500 types of flowering plants. Head for one of the bird hides to gaze out over the mudflats at waders and waterfowl.

Walking in Arne Nature Reserve

Peaceful, scenic and full of interesting things to see and hear, there are seven signposted nature trails in the reserve to follow of which vary in difficulty and accessibility, from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Make sure you factor in plenty of time to stop and stare, because you’ll be doing plenty of that.

Stay at: Nightjar Cottage (sleeps 4) – 3.5 miles away

Nightjar Cottage

Perfect for walkers, nature lovers and birdwatchers, this gorgeous couples’ retreat has direct access onto the beautiful RSPB Stoborough Heath nature reserve from the garden. After blissful walks among the surrounding heath, fire up the BBQ and soak up the last of the day’s sunshine together.

Cottages nearby

The Witch's Cauldron, Scotland

  • Swim in the cool Scottish waters
  • Enjoy a romantic picnic together
  • Play ‘pooh sticks’ from the bridge

The Witche's Cauldron

There is something truly special about going for a wild swim. And on a hot summer’s day, nothing beats cooling off in the Witch's Cauldron pool near Glencoe in Scotland. One of Britain's great wild swimming spots, you’ll find a series of three falls (known locally as Chia-aig Falls) and pools set in quick succession with interesting rock formations.

A narrow remote road twists through Mile Dorcha before reaching this secret spot, and a set of stone steps will lead you down to the top of the tumbling falls which are spectacular during high waters.

Wild swimming at the Witch's Cauldron

Jump off the rocks into the deep, dark pool beneath – it’s an invigorating experience that you will both never forget!

Stay at: Shepherds Cottage – Erracht (sleeps 4) – 8 miles away

Shepherds Cottage – Erracht

Tucked away on the Great Glen Way, this characterful Highlands cottage is perfect for cosy nights in with your loved one after discovering the best secret spots in Scotland. Balmy summer evenings are best enjoyed in the garden, stargazing over the incredible mountain ranges.

Cottages nearby


If you're ready to replace your routine with the unexpected, to share in special moments and experiences this summer, browse our romantic cottages in the UK. Our characterful retreats designed with just two in mind offer everything you need to enjoy adventures in the great outdoors, leaving you with an abundance of stories to tell and memories to cherish forever. 

For even more inspiration on how to make the most of the summer sun, try our top 10 odd ways to spend your summer.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.