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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 11:46 GMT
Your 20 hidden tourist gems
Last week the Magazine compiled an alternative tourist map of the UK. Here are your nominations for where to go, far from the madding crowd.

Come the Easter break, millions of Britons will head off on holiday. Those who don't flee abroad are increasingly keen to find hidden gems at home. Where might they go?

For our alternative tourist map of the UK, comic Dave Gorman picked a trip in the Tardis-like lift of the Greenwich foot tunnel, which runs under the Thames. Crime writer Ian Rankin chose to be creeped out by the specimen jars at the Sir Jules Thorn exhibition at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. And BBC Radio 1's Edith Bowman opted for seal-watching on the Isle of May.

And here are the 20 best suggestions from Magazine readers:

Antrim Coast RdIsle of Man, Snaefell Mountain RailwayBenmore Botanic GardenWilliam Wallace statue near DryburghBlanchlandRhaedr Falls, AbergwyngregynPlas Powe WoodsWhite Sands Beach, Pembrokshire CoastPort SunlightMersey ValleyThe Roaches , Blackshaw MoorMarchHorsey Beach in NorfolkWalter Rothschild Zoological MuseumBekonscot Model VillageWistmans Wood, DartmoorOldway Mansion in PaigntonCape CornwallSark, Channel IslandsBruce Castle Museum, Tottenham

1. Antrim Coast Rd, Northern Ireland
"A perfect day out would be to drive along one of the most scenic roads in the world, the Antrim coast road, with the beautiful glens opening up to your left and the Scottish western isles on the horizon to your right. Stop at Waterfoot for a nature walk beside the waterfalls, carry on for lunch and a tot at Old Bushmills' distillery, then three miles down the road to the beautiful Giant's Causeway, before finishing off with a trip across the rope bridge over the Atlantic at Carrick-a-rede. Or go the other way to see the wonderful wildlife at Strangford Lough or Lough Erne.
Bill Walker, Portsmouth

Snaefell Mountain Railway, Isle of Man
On the electric rails
2. Snaefell Mountain Railway, Isle of Man
"This is the ONLY place where, on a clear day, you are able to view England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from a single point. I've visited the Isle of Man many times over the past years and every time I go, this is one place I make sure to spend a couple of hours in total silence."
Chris Payne, London

3. Benmore Botanic Garden, Scotland
"This lies a few miles north of the Clyde coast port of Dunoon, and is easily reached by regular ferry from the mainland at Gourock - it's a 20-minute crossing. Regardless of the weather, an exploration of this utterly enchanting place is guaranteed to provide an uplifting experience. Don't forget to pick up a map of the grounds, and in case you spend more time here than budgeted for, take along a Thermos. The Bhutanese and Chilean glades are also worth the trek to reach them along gravel paths and bridges around the hillside. Remember to count the kids when you get back to the car. After a quick cuppa at the cosy coffee shop - if you have any energy left - carefully cross over the main road and pick up the way-marked forest trail south towards Puck's Glen for adventure number two."
John Honeyman, Markinch, Fife, UK

William Wallace
Scotland's hero
4. William Wallace statue, Scottish Borders
"To reach it, you have to walk for five minutes down a path through trees and the statue doesn't come into view until the last moment. It is huge, carved from red sandstone and is a wonderful sight. Best to visit in the summer months when the trees are in full leaf for maximum impact and surprise. A great place high up above the Tweed river. And I've never met another soul there which adds to the atmosphere."
Alastair Muirhead, Reading

5. Blanchland village, Northumberland
"Blanchland, on the Durham-Northumberland border, a perfectly preserved village nestling in a valley between North Pennine moors. Complete with cobbled square and haunted village inn, it is so hard to find, reportedly the Scottish raids missed it completely."
Robin Beveridge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

6. Rhaeadr Falls, Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd
"Situated amongst some of the most beautiful scenery is this 240-foot waterfall. My partner and I went on camping holiday last summer and came across it. We started off by driving through the little village of Abergwyngregyn (just off the main road A55), parked up and walked through the amazing countryside until we arrived at the waterfall. It was a boiling hot day and the clear water fills up into many ice-cold rock pools. We tried to brave the cold water but only managed up to our knees. Its unofficial nickname is 'the hidden pearl of Wales'."
Jonathan Gallagher, Loughborough

7. Plas Power Wood on Clywedog Trail, Wrexham
"This starts at the Nant Mill in Coedpoeth and ends in the nearby village of Bersham. In between is a delightful walk through an ancient wood which crosses Offa's Dyke, but also includes old ironwork relics such as a weir and mill. It is one of the few areas where natural beauty and industrial splendour are perfectly matched together."
Andy Lees, Wrexham

Whitesands
Idyllic, no?
8. White Sands Beach, Pembrokeshire
"Whitesands Beach has to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Close to the tiniest city in the UK, St David's, and the lovely Pembrokeshire Coastal path, it makes an excellent alternative to crowded Cornwall."
Ian Rowbotham, Surrey

9. Port Sunlight village, Merseyside
"For a nice day trip I recommend Port Sunlight, between Chester and Liverpool. It's a gorgeous little town built entirely for the workers in a soap factory which only in the past 20 years or so has been opened up to outside people. It's a planned community with straight roads and little parks and greenery everywhere, plus a surprisingly good art collection housed in a small museum. If you just wanted to have a picnic in a new setting, those parks and village greens are just too inviting. Plus you catch a train in Chester behind a supermarket, so you can get your food and wine on the way."
Daniel, Charleston, SC, US

10. Mersey Valley, Manchester
"Less than five miles from the centre of Manchester and intertwined with the southern stretch of the M60 orbital motorway, the Mersey Valley is a glorious green ribbon where you can go 10 miles without crossing a single road, and is the home to herons, cormorants, salmon and kingfishers. A very large number of Mancunians don't even know its there - on second thoughts it's such a glorious haven maybe I should keep quiet about it."
Steve Mansfield, Manchester UK

11. The Roaches, Blackshaw Moor, Peak District
"I come here when I want to get away from civilisation. You can stand on the top and turn a full circle, with only the occasional abandoned farm cottage in sight. In the distance towards Manchester is the Jodrell Bank observatory, and sweeping to the south is Tittesworth reservoir. The rocks themselves are an unusual geological feature which have never really been explained. In one of the rocks, someone has carved a small house with round windows, and I imagine hobbits might live there."
Stuart Thomason, Newcastle, Staffs

St Wendreda's Church
Hark the herald angels...
12. March village, East Anglia
"March is perhaps 30 miles from Cambridge. Just off the main road there's a delightful little church, St Wendreda's - it looks totally normal from the outside, but on the inside! As you step into the church and look up, you see hundreds of angels carved in oak, topping off the ends of each hammer-beam in the ceiling. One of them is the devil; the rest (presumably) on the other team. Usually there's no one at all around so you have the place to yourself. After standing and staring upward for a minute or two you can almost hear the flutter of wings. And when your neck gets stiff, you can press on to enjoy the Dali-esque twisted half-timbered houses of Lavenham, the most perfectly preserved 14th Century village in England."
Allan Lees, Novato, CA, US

13. Horsey Beach, Norfolk
"Outside the hamlet of Horsey, on a sharp bend in the road, there is mightily pot-holed track wide enough for cars. The beach itself is utterly unspoilt. Sparsely peopled, it's clean and wide and has no shops, arcades or sign of human habitation. This is where you come to spot seals and where seals come to spot humans. When you leave, visit the excellent tea shop just opposite the turning."
Hugh, Coventry

14. Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring, Hertfordshire
"This museum is fantastic. An overspill of the Natural History Museum is crammed to bursting with all manner of specimens collected in the 19th Century by Rothschild, who announced his intentions to open his own museum at the tender age of seven, and who had already started one in his garden by the time he was 10. The museum is small enough to be manageable in an afternoon, even for small kids, and has a fabulously dusty, faded Victorian feel to it, with hundreds of specimens - many of which are very rare, like the now extinct zebra called a Quagga - jostling for space at every turn in magnificent old glass display cabinets. I loved it as a child and still find it fascinating now, as do my young nieces and nephews. It's so atmospheric, and in a way it's as much a museum of museums as it as of natural history. Have a wander round on a wet Sunday afternoon; you won't regret it."
Joanne Sheppard, Salford

Bekonscot Model Village
Just like Gulliver's travels
15. Bekonscot Model Village, Buckinghamshire
"It's ancient, about 80 years old - and hardly anyone knows about it. I took my children and then my grandchildren there. You can climb around mini trees, model trains and houses - it's like The Borrowers for real. Or Enid Blyton in miniature. It's a charity too, very sweet in this age of commerciality. I'm worried about letting the secret out about this hidden gem - what if everyone comes now and spoils it?"
Richard Timms, Beaconsfield, Bucks

16. Wistmans Wood, Two Bridges, Dartmoor
"A tangled web of stunted ancient sessile oaks, all gnarled and twisted, that transport you into a mystical world of moss-carpeted boulders, luxuriant lichens of all descriptions, finger-like branches, all engulfed in a wonderful smell of earth and age. Welcome to Middle Earth."
Paul Burrows, Southend on Sea

17. Oldway Mansion, Paignton, Devon
"I'm taking my wife on her first trip to Devon and apart from the House of Marbles and the Teapot Factory in Newton Abbot, I will be taking her to that hidden gem that is Oldway Mansion. It was once owned by Issac Merritt Singer, founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Inside the mansion are a number of sewing machines, but it is always the ceiling paintings that make me smile. There are tromp l'oeil images of animals, including what look like dinosaurs peering in through arches in the ceiling. There is an opulence in the design and a lot of recent history for everyone to enjoy. It is currently used by the local council, but has been a film location, war-time hospital and an RAF centre during World War II."
Darron Mould, London

Cape Cornwall
All things Cornish
18. Cape Cornwall, Cornwall
"A rocky promontory near St Just, owned by the National Trust. It symbolises all things Cornish; the mine ruins, the rocky headlands, the rolling green fields. From the top you can look along the coast or straight out to the Atlantic, next stop North America. On a summer's evening, you can sit with your back against the old smelter's chimney and watch the gulls race across the seascape. The gentle warm breeze in your face is in sharp contrast to the angry white surf on the rocks below. Priceless."
Geraint, Northampton

19. Sark, Channel Islands "I would vote for Sark, a little-known Channel Island. No cars, no street lamps, no litter, no noise - just amazing beautiful walks and beaches. Lovely restaurants and pubs to fill the evenings away. That is where I will be this Easter."
Charlotte, London

20. Bruce Castle Museum, Tottenham, London
"A haven of local history, with a community feel and it's a lovely piece of architecture. An unexpected resource in this locality, with [postal reformer] Rowland Hill as a former resident and its very own ghost story. There's an permanent exhibition about local London education through the ages. It has a volunteer-run cafe and rooms for exhibitions by local artisans. I spent happy hours there with my son, enjoying the themed craft events during school breaks. It's set in Bruce Castle Park, so you can get a feel of its former grandeur (big house in its own grounds). I rediscovered it when I moved back into the area and was lonely and bored on a Sunday afternoon. A slice of tranquillity for the 'fevered brow'."
Susan Clark-Wilson, Bridgwater, Somerset

The alternative tourist map was compiled by Megan Lane.


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