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Roams with a view: 10 UK peaks with stunning 360 panoramas | Walking holidays

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It is undoubtedly true that the best views are to be had from high places, although as musical hall star Gus Elen observed:

Wiv a ladder and some glasses
You could see the ’Ackney Marshes
If it wasn’t for the ’ouses in between

So, it’s all the better when you have an isolated peak, one left off the end of the range, or simply popping up, providing a fabulous 360-degree view, the sense of the entire Earth at your feet.

I’d even suggest that, with a couple of judicious additions, you could link all these in one magnificent UK-bisecting yomp, zig-zagging your way up the country, hopping from one visible peak to the next.

And autumn would be the season for it: the best time for pulling on your boots, when the trees are changing colour, when curls of mist haunt the hollows and when distant peaks might have a dusting of snow.

Wills Neck, Quantocks, Somerset

Heather at Wills Neck
Photograph: Craig Joiner/Alamy

The Quantocks are not very tall, but they pack a powerful panoramic punch. Wills Neck is the highest point at 384 metres, part of a ridge of rock (memorably termed Hangman Grit) that includes several other excellent panoramic points. Start by heading up Lydeard Hill, then climbing to the summit where there’s a trig point. The name Wills Neck is thought to derive from a tribe, the Wealas, who ambitiously took on the Romans here, and lost. On a clear day you can see across the Bristol Channel to the Brecon Beacons, plus Dartmoor and Lewesdon Hill, the highest point in Dorset. From the summit descend to Triscombe, then Rock Farm and West Bagborough.
Map OS Explorer 140 Car park Lydeard Hill, near West Bagborough Distance 2.6 miles to the summit, 5½ miles for the circuit Refuel Head to Bishops Lydeard for Daisy Cottage tearooms among others Route visorando.co.uk

Bredon Hill, the Cotswolds

Bredon Hill
Photograph: Graham Dean/Getty Images

At 299 metres isn’t the highest point in the Cotswolds, but Bredon Hill definitely outshines taller peaks such as Cleeve Hill for views. The walk up starts at the pretty village of Overbury, heads north through fields and woodland and then picks up the Wychavon Way, to turn west and climb to the summit. Here there is a useful landmark, Parsons’ Folly, a structure that conveniently makes the height of the hill-and-tower precisely 1,000 feet. Scattered around are various standing stones and the curvaceous bumps of an iron age hill fort. Bredon has excellent panoramas of the surrounding countryside, sufficient to inspire several poets including AE Housman and John Masefield. On a good day, you can spot Corndon Hill, 54 miles to the north-west.
Map OS Explorer 190 Car park in Overbury Distance 5 miles Refuel The Yew Tree pub in Conderton Route gps-routes.co.uk

Corndon Hill, Shropshire/Powys

A hiker sits on a bench looking out over the mid-Wales countryside from Corndon Hill
Photograph: Black Key/Alamy

Little wonder that our bronze age ancestors dotted this dolerite massif with tombs – it stands alone surveying the ancient wrinkled faces of the other Shropshire hills to the east and the Welsh hills to the west. There are two possible starts: one is north of the hill at the car park for Mitchell Folds Stone Circle, a popular spot with druids, witches and pagans for the past 3,000 years. Follow the farm track south, briefly on tarmac, then after a few hundred metres take the path uphill with a wood on the right. It’s a steep climb but there’s a bench at the top for a magnificent 360-degree view. The second, longer, route is to start at Roundton Hill nature reserve to the south, where there’s a good panoramic warm-up to the main event. From here head north for a mile, crossing the Wales-England border, to the 513-metre summit of Corndon. On a clear day the views are spectacular with Herefordshire Beacon in the Malvern Hills (see below) 45 miles away.
Map OS Explorer 216 Car park a rough lane off the road near Priest Weston village leads to a small car park for Mitchell Folds Distance short route 2 miles, long 5 miles Refuel plenty of choices in the nearby towns such as Churchstoke (Archie Lily’s Cafe) and Montgomery (Castle Kitchen) Route montwt.co.uk

Herefordshire Beacon, Malvern Hills

Herefordshire Beacon sunrise over the Malvern Hills
Photograph: Nicholas E Jones/Getty Images

Another classic and another gigantic fort: the Beacon was once home to an estimated 20,000 warriors, still not enough to prevent the British chieftain Caractacus being captured here in AD75, then carted off to Rome to be paraded and killed. Fortunately, he gave a powerful speech to the Senate and was granted clemency. This quick and easy climb goes up from the car park to the summit where you can try to spot 12 counties. At 338 metres, the summit can just about claim to be a mountain. Leave time to explore the defensive ditches and earthworks, then continue south over Millennium Hill to Hangman’s Hill, a good picnic spot.
Map OS Explorer 190 Car park British Camp on the A449 between Malvern and Ledbury Distance 2 miles Refuel Sally’s Place cafe is right next to the car park and open daily (outdoor seating only) Route walkingbritain.co.uk

Thorpe Cloud, Peak District

River Manifold valley near Ilam from Thorpe Cloud, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire
Photograph: Robert Harding/Alamy

This isolated limestone outcrop is the first hill I can remember climbing. It stands at the mouth of Dovedale and commands superb views of the surrounding countryside from a lofty 287 metres. It is a quick mile-long walk from Dovedale car park, a walk then best continued by heading up Dovedale itself towards the beauty spots of the stepping stones. Here many people turn back, so things get quieter as you reach Reynard’s Cave and the Milldale, where you can loop west and back to the start. Alternatively, at the stepping stones turn south-east down Lin Dale. And if you’re ever there at summer solstice time, watch out for the double sunset that happens over Thorpe Cloud’s northern shoulder.
Map OS Explorer OL24 Car park Narlow Lane Distance many options between 2 and 10 miles Refuel Head into Ashbourne for several choices; the National Trust’s Ilam Park has the Stableyard Grab and Go cafe, open daily till 4pm Route my.viewranger.com

Roseberry Topping, North York Moors

A black and white dog looking at the view from the peak of Rosebery Topping
Photograph: Gary Clarke/Alamy

A local Sunday afternoon favourite but well worth a visit, this outlier of the North York Moors is on the Cleveland Way, one of the UK’s great long-distance paths. You can use the car park on the A173 near Newton-under-Roseberry and sprint up the 320 metres in half an hour, but this is a spot worth savouring. Better start from Great Ayton and do the seven-mile circuit that includes Cook’s Monument, an 18-metre tall obelisk to Captain Cook. The view here is excellent, although not a 360, so it’s really just a starter to the main dish of Roseberry Topping, where you should be able to spot Great Whernside in the Pennines, 43 miles away.
Map Explorer OL26 Car park High Green in Great Ayton Distance 7½ miles Refuel Great Ayton has the memorable Velveteen Rabbit Luncheon Club; takeaways available, but book ahead if you want to sit inside Route northyorkmoors.org.uk

Catbells, Lake District

Teenage brother and sister enjoying the view over Derwent Water from Catbells
Photograph: Craig Joiner/Alamy

The selection of great panoramas in the Lakes is extensive, but Catbells packs some punch for what is a relatively small fell at 453 metres. Start from Hawes End car park and head south up the ridge to the summit, where you have a fine prospect of Derwent Water with its various islands, plus Helvellyn beyond with a magnificent array of other fells.
Map OS Explorer OL4 Car park Hawes End Distance 3½ miles Refuel Keswick has plenty of choice, including the quirky Mrs F’s Route walklakes.co.uk

Merrick, Dumfries and Galloway

A Panoramic view from the hike up The Merrick looking across the valleys and hills back towards Glentrool.
Photograph: David Attenborough/Alamy

I’m not sure what’s the longest view I’ve ever enjoyed in the British Isles, but Merrick is a hill in Galloway that is reputed to have a 140-mile view south to Snowdon. Start from Loch Trool with a moment to admire the Bruce stone, marking where, in 1307, Robert the Bruce began his long campaign against the English. Pass Kilsharg bothy on the way up and finally cross the wonderfully named Nieve of the Spit ridge to reach the summit with views of the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Helvellyn and, if you are luckier than most, Snowdon, 140 miles to the south as the crow flies.
Map OS Landranger 77. Car park 4 miles north from Glentrool village at the end of the road Distance 8¼ miles Refuel head to Newton Stewart for Brew Haha cafe among others Route walkhighlands.co.uk

Goat Fell, Arran

Climbers enjoying scenery from top of Goatfell, Isle of Arran, Scotland
Photograph: Nicholas Townell/Alamy

An island with one big hill in the middle ought to be a dead cert for a great panoramic walk – although the first time I tried to ascend Goat Fell the wind was so powerful I couldn’t get to the top. The path starts near Brodick and climbs through the trees on to exposed boulder fields with good views all the way to the top at 874 metres. Here the views of the Firth of Clyde can be fabulous and sometimes it’s possible to see as far as Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, 104 miles to the south-west.
Map OS Explorer 361 Car park near the Wineport Bistro and Arran Brewery Distance 6½ miles Refuel Wineport Bistro Route walkhighlands.co.uk

Mussenden Temple, County Derry

Mussenden Temple, Northern Ireland
Photograph: Emanuele Bresciani/Getty Images

Because of coastal erosion, this fine 18th-century monument is perilously close to the edge of the cliffs overlooking Downhill Strand – and the views have become ever-more spectacular (stabilisation work has, hopefully, halted that process). Start the walk at Bishop’s Gate and head towards the ruined Downhill House, then directly to the temple itself 36 metres above the beach. It’s not really a full 360 panorama, but the sweeping coastal aspect is certainly fully dramatic, and on a good day you will spot the Hebridean Paps of Jura, also visible from Goat Fell and Merrick, linking us back to that great zig-zag panoramic journey through the UK.
Map OS sheet 4. Car park Bishop’s Gate entrance to Downhill Demesne National Trust site – advance booking required Distance 2 miles Refuel Al’s Coffee kiosk is near the car park Route nationaltrust.org.uk

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Weight loss: "I eat bhakri and sabzi for lunch"

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Who amongst us wouldn’t call Sachin Tendulkar an inspiration?For 31-year-old Ameya Bhagwat, his idol’s message to get fitter and healthier changed his life. For someone who once could finish up an entire pot of butter chicken in a go, Ameya’s diet has overhauled so much that even cheat meals don’t tempt him anymore. He also bid health complications goodbye!

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Never too late: ‘I was one of the oldest ones there, and I also had no hair. But it was wonderful’ | Australian lifestyle

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Name: Allison Barnes

Age: 62

Public servant turned visual artist

When I left school I trained as a teacher. Back in those days, teaching was what girls from the country did: teaching or nursing.

When I graduated, in the early 80s, there were no jobs for teachers at all. There was a recession. I was underemployed for years; did casual teaching, worked in a bank, cleaned houses, did screen printing at a factory, sold photographs in Kings Cross, worked in catering and as a security guard. Then finally I got a job in the public service, at the Royal Australian Mint, in Canberra. When I was there I heard of the Office of the Status of Women and I thought “I want to do that”. I managed to get transferred to Office and I worked there for about eight years. That was, for me, a very big break. Following that I worked in policy and research for all of my career, in a whole lot of different areas in the public service.

It was great. I could work on really interesting things. I really loved it. While I was working, I became aware of how little superannuation women had, so I decided that I would try to make sure that my own retirement income was OK. I always intended to go at 55, when I was allowed to access my super. When I got to 55 I had done 30 years, and that felt like plenty. I felt like a change and I took up a redundancy package.

It wasn’t like I had a big plan about what I was going to do after I retired. Initially I started teaching English to new migrants. Doing environmental weeding. I participated in a refugee action committee. I did repairs and things around the house. I also started on a graduate certificate of environmental science at ANU. However, when I got to uni I found not having a background in science at all was difficult. So I wasn’t enjoying it. I withdrew.

I travelled overseas, and while I was away I found I had a lump in my breast. When we got back, for six months I underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation – you know, the whole shebang. Cancer is quite an isolating thing. Your friends are very supportive, but at the end of the day, it’s just you that it’s happening to. You’re the one who sits there having chemo. You’re the one who loses their hair. When I finished radiation I took up a short-term contract to make myself feel a bit normal. I was coming out of work after four or five weeks, and I was thinking “It’s so wonderful to be leaving work in the daylight!” And then I thought to myself, if that’s the best thing I can say about this, why am I here?

‘I’d never done drawing, really. What art I had done, I hadn’t done since I was in high school,’ Barnes says of enrolling in art school.
‘I’d never done drawing, really. What art I had done, I hadn’t done since I was in high school,’ Barnes says of enrolling in art school. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

That’s when I enrolled in CIT [Canberra Institute of Technology] for a certificate IV in visual arts. It was just great. Probably about three-quarters of my class were under 25. I was one of the oldest ones there, and I also had no hair. But it was really, actually, wonderful.

I stayed on at CIT and started the diploma. By the time I completed it I had lots of artwork, so I applied for ANU art school and was offered a place in print and drawing. This year I’m starting honours.

When you leave work you’re usually an expert in whatever you did. Then you start something new and everyone is younger than you, they know more than you do, they’re probably better at risk-taking, I think they’re better educated. It’s easy to feel intimidated. But remember you have skills that you’ll be able to build on.

I had never done printmaking. I’d never done drawing, really. What art I had done, I hadn’t done since I was in high school. Two or three times I had enrolled in night-time art courses, but it was just really difficult. About half of the time I wasn’t able to leave work in time to make the classes. Periodically I’d do a little bit at home, but I didn’t do anything really.

When I was in the public service, you’re writing cabinet submissions and things like that. You might write something, but up the line other people decide what goes in and what goes out. It’s not yours. No matter what you’re working on, it’s public policy and you don’t own it in any way. Art, on the other hand, to borrow an idea from Marxism, it’s like doing “un-alienated labour” – when the product of your labour is the thing you own.

I’ve been in a couple of exhibitions. It’s quite an affirming thing to see your work exhibited. Your friends see it, and that’s really nice. When it’s shown in public, and particularly when it’s been selected to be shown in public, it says that someone else thinks it’s worth looking at.

Art gives me a different place in the world. A different place to look at the world from. When I’m working hard on something it’s pretty much all I think of. It’s very all-consuming. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, and how I’ll do things.

One of the things it really does give me is a real sense of joy. When I’m making stuff, and I’m hard at it, I feel very joyous.


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The green cleaner: 15 natural ways to spruce up your home – from nettles to rainwater | Life and style

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It was a filthy washing machine that prompted Nancy Birtwhistle to embrace the power of eco-friendly cleaning. “I was nearly at the point where I thought I needed a new washing machine, because it was a disgrace,” she says. “And that’s the sort of culture we’ve become: ‘I’ll replace it.’” Instead, she gave it a thorough clean and switched to homemade detergent. She says her machine no longer gets gunked up from chemical overload.

Birtwhistle, a no-nonsense retired GP practice manager and grandmother of nine, won the fifth series of The Great British Bake Off in 2014, but she has also become known on social media for her green cleaning tips. Once a fan of bleach and strongly perfumed products, she now makes everything herself. “We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that natural products are inferior to synthetic ones. I used to use bicarbonate of soda in the 1970s, but I stopped using it because there were products I thought would do a quicker job, but they’re causing such a lot of damage to the environment.” She has now written a book, Clean & Green: 101 Hints and Tips for a More Eco-friendly Home, which is packed with advice and ingenious tricks. Green cleaning, she says, is “accessible for everybody. I made the point of making it affordable.” Here are a few of her tips to get you started.

Nancy Birtwhistle at home … ‘I made the point of making it affordable.’



Nancy Birtwhistle at home … ‘I made the point of making it affordable.’ Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

Bulk-buy ingredients

Birtwhistle buys her most-used ingredients in bulk – an initial outlay, but money-saving in the long run. Her main ingredients include bicarbonate of soda, “because that’s used a lot”, a big bag of citric acid, a bottle of surgical spirit, sodium carbonate (known as washing soda, which can be a skin and eye irritant) and a bag of sodium percarbonate (known as “oxygen” or “green” bleach; it’s not as toxic as chlorine bleach, though you still have to be careful with it, as you do with all these ingredients, which, while considered acceptable natural cleaning alternatives, aren’t entirely benign. So keep out of the reach of children, wear gloves if needed and follow the safety instructions on the packaging). “And I bought myself a variety pack of essential oils, because I do still like a little bit of perfume in fabric conditioner, or my ironing water.”

Forage for soap

It sounds miraculous, but Birtwhistle swears by ivy as a laundry detergent (about 60g, cut up and put in a muslin bag, then put in the drum). “It excites me so much; my husband thinks I’m crackers. I knew in the depths of my memory something about ivy and saponin [a natural foaming detergent], so I Googled it. Conkers have it as well.” Birtwhistle uses ivy “when I can be bothered to go out and cut some. I’ve got lots of it in the garden.” (Although remember that ivy can be a skin irritant for some people.) In the autumn, she collects conkers and boils them up to create a creamy laundry liquid.

Take water from your water butt for your iron.



Take water from your water butt for your iron. Photograph: EJ-J/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Harvest rainwater

This is what Birtwhistle uses in her iron, rather than buying expensive distilled “ironing water” or using hard tap water, which can fur up an iron with limescale. She takes it from her water butt a litre at a time. “Boil it and, when it’s cold, add two or three drops of lily of the valley essential oil.”

Make an all-purpose cleaner

Birtwhistle’s recipe is 150ml water, 60ml white vinegar and 40ml surgical spirit, with essential oil for fragrance. “I use it pretty much for anything,” she says. “It’s non-streaky and quick-drying. It started off as a kitchen cleaner for worktops, the hob, cupboards, cutting through greasy marks on shelves and things like that. Then I moved it into the bathroom and everywhere else. It’s good for mirrors, glass, inside the car. It’s brilliant for tiles.”

Decrease dry cleaning

The chemicals used at the dry cleaner are notoriously toxic. “When I worked in offices and used to wear suits, I would often send jackets to the cleaner just because the collar was grubby. But all you need is a pad dipped in surgical spirit; it will clean it up without having to use the dry cleaners.”

Bicarbonate of soda and water can work as oven cleaner.



Bicarbonate of soda and water can work as oven cleaner. Photograph: filistimlyanin/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Clean the oven without harsh chemicals

“Start by softening all the burnt-on bits with steam,” says Birtwhistle. Put a large roasting tin in the bottom of the warm oven and fill it with boiling water, close the door and leave it for 20 minutes. A paste made from bicarbonate of soda and water (add some xanthan gum if you want to make it a bit stickier) can then be painted all around with a pastry brush. Leave for 30 minutes, then remove with a scraper and fine wire wool.

Miracle oven-shelf cleaner

A horrible job – and one for which Birtwhistle used to use harsh chemicals in a big plastic bag. There are two methods, she says. “One is to simply put them out on the lawn overnight. The best results I’ve had is to do it when the grass has just been cut, and cover the shelf with grass clippings as well. It creates a sort of steamy environment and then the next day they just wipe clean.” One of her social media followers from South Africa gave her this tip. However, if you don’t have a garden or grass, “submerge them in washing soda overnight”.

Stained casserole dishes

Birtwhistle says she “lived for years and years” with stains on the inside of her cast iron casseroles. “Then it just took a tablespoon of sodium percarbonate and a kettle of boiling water and it was clean.”

Brightening whites

Yellowing fabrics, such as pillow cases, can be transformed, says Birtwhistle. “Put them in a lemon juice or citric acid solution [3tbsp added to 600ml hot water], with salt, and leave to soak. You need a sunny day. Peg them outside – don’t rinse or wring them – and the sun will bleach them.”

Screen clean

A fine mist made with white vinegar and surgical spirit, diluted with water, makes a good screen cleaner, says Birtwhistle: it removes dirty fingerprints and bacteria from keyboards. The vinegar reduces the static cling, she adds, “so it stops your TV collecting dust”.

Citric acid will dissolve limescale and kill germs.



Citric acid will dissolve limescale and kill germs. Photograph: kali9/Getty Images

Deep-clean the loo

Birtwhistle says citric acid will “dissolve limescale and kill germs. When you move away from bleach, you find all these stains appearing, because all you’ve been doing is bleaching them out, but the limescale is still there. Use citric acid to get rid of that.” She makes her own loo cleaner using 200g citric acid and 150ml water, emulsified with a squirt of eco-friendly washing-up liquid. “The only downside is you need to rinse your nozzle afterwards. Otherwise, it does crystallise there.”

Restore shower screens

Marks on glass screens come from “a combination of soap scum and limescale. Make a spray of citric acid and water and it comes off in a jiffy. Make sure you rinse it off, because it dries sticky.”

Banish mould

This will work on mouldy spots on grout, sealant and fridge seals, says Birtwhistle. “Salt and vinegar will kill mould. I keep white vinegar in a spray bottle, so you can get it into awkward places like that. I squirt it, then dip an old toothbrush into ordinary table salt and rub away at it. Once you’ve done that, you could then use a spray of sodium percarbonate if there are any stained bits.”

Conkers … contain natural detergent.



Conkers … contain natural detergent. Photograph: Katie Shires Photography/Getty Images

Remove scuff marks

After a run-in with a rubber parking bollard (“These things happen”), Birtwhistle dabbed some bicarbonate of soda on the mark with a damp cloth and it was as if it had never happened. It also works on walls, skirting boards and appliances.

Home-brew pesticide

Last summer, Birtwhistle had two different sprays to keep bugs at bay. She made one from nettles (60g boiled in 600ml water) and another using rhubarb leaves (500g of leaves in a litre of water). Both also contained clove bud oil, thought to deter insects. “The oxalic acid in rhubarb is a mild poison, so I didn’t use that on my veg,” she says. “I used the nettle spray there and I used the rhubarb spray on non-edible plants.” Both were effective, she says. “I was delighted.”

Clean & Green by Nancy Birtwhistle is published on 21 January by Pan Macmillan (£12.99). To order a copy for £10.39, go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply



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