Connected to the Welsh mainland by two impressive bridges over the Menai Strait, windswept Anglesey claims the village with the longest name in Britain. Anglesey is also where you’ll find the best preserved burial mound in Britain: the Neolithic Barclodiad y Gawres. The name translates as “the giantess’s apronful” and legend has it that a giantess on her way to build a house on the island dropped all her stones at this site.
Anglesey © Helen Hotson/Shutterstock
Isle of Sheppey, Kent
Sheppey (whose name means “Isle of Sheep” and whose inhabitants call themselves “swampies”) has a lot more to it than sheep, prisons and caravan parks. The very east of the estuary island has historic importance in the aviation industry, as in 1909 it was the site of Britain’s first aviation factory, producing planes for the Wright Brothers, and in 1913 Winston Churchill learnt to fly there. Oh, and Sheerness Docklands is home to Britain’s only scorpion colony.
Beach huts on the Isle of Sheppey © Sue Martin/Shutterstock
Southern England’s Isle of Wight has long been a family favourite destination because of its sandy and shingle beaches, but it also has all sorts of quirky attractions such as Britain’s oldest working telephone box, the eclectic Blackgang Chine amusement park and the option of taking an alpaca for a walk. The island is proud of its moniker “dinosaur island” – the biggest dinosaur to be discovered in the British Isles was unearthed in the cliffs here.
Isle of Wight © Laurence Baker/Shutterstock
Off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, the exotic Isles of Scilly are a sunny, wildflower-covered paradise. Privately owned Tresco is open to visitors – but not to cars – and boasts the world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden, a tropical garden growing plants from all over the world that would never thrive on the mainland.
Tresco Abbey Garden © Emily Luxton/Shutterstock
Sark, The Channel Islands
Sitting between Guernsey and Jersey, and closer to France than mainland Britain, tiny Sark is car-free – you get around on foot, by bicycle, or horse and cart (the transfer to the village from the ferry is by “toast rack” tractor). The Channel Islands are not strictly part of Britain, but they are a Crown dependency; this tangled relationship dates back to 1066 when the islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy and William the Conqueror invaded England. Sark is also the world’s first Dark Sky Island and star gazing here is phenomenal.
Sark © Elke Kohler/Shutterstock