Favourite Things: magical places

Five Blue and Green Badge Tourist Guides share places around the UK where one can feel connected to nature or to the past.

Castlerigg stone circle in the Lake District. Just outside Keswick, it makes a great photo stop on a lovely day. It is much smaller than Stonehenge, of course, but dates from roughly the same time (2-3000 BC) and you may walk in among the stones and gain a feel for early man attempting to communicate with his gods. There are also great views of the Lakeland countryside from this spot. Eddie Lerner, London Blue Badge

White Park Bay, in County Antrim. This crescent-shaped Atlantic surf beach, flanked by chalky white cliffs, is on Northern Ireland’s spectacular north coast. The bay is overlooked by high ridges offering vistas across 25 miles of ocean to the often mist-cloaked Scottish islands of Islay and Jura. Cattle graze on nearby dunes, and sometimes share the sands with walkers. Maureen Maginnis, Blue Badge Guide for Belfast and Northern Ireland

The cliff top where waves pound below the Botallack Crowns engine houses. Standing proud against a backdrop of soaring cliffs, their motors ceased forever when the mines finally closed in 1914. The buildings are part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, where tales abound of fortunes gained and lost in the struggle to win tin and copper. The dramatic cliff top is carpeted with pink thrift, golden gorse and purple heather. The Crowns engine houses and nearby Wheal Owles have become TV stars, as mining locations in the recent BBC Poldark series. This combination of great views and relics of a past era never disappoints. Viv Robinson Blue Badge Guide for South West England

Hard by the church of St Cross at the north-east end of Oxford is Holywell cemetery. Oxford has greater literary monuments, but none as atmospheric. Passing through a wooden gate, you enter a secret space of long grass and wild flowers. Ivy and lichen grow over the Victorian gravestones. Here can be found the grave of JW Burgon, poet of Petra – ‘a rose red city half as old as time’. There’s a fine memorial to The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame and to other literary lions of their day, united as one in the great leveller, death. Compared with Christ Church or other great colleges, Holywell cemetery may look insignificant, yet its mix of past and present, of Town and Gown, is utterly memorable. Alastair Lack, Oxford Green Badge Guide (You can find details of tours of Oxford here)

Wells in Somerset. When you’ve finished marvelling at the medieval gems in the smallest city in England, take a look at the surprising swans gliding round the Bishop’s Palace moat. If you’re lucky you’ll see them pull the rope attached to a bell at the gatehouse window when they’re hungry – a tradition going back to the 1870s when the Bishop’s daughter first trained swans to ring the bell for food. Patricia Isaac, Blue Badge Guide for the South West (You can find details of tours of Wells, Glastonbury and the Cheddar Gorge here)