From the Welsh mountains to a mail sorting office in the heart of London, seasoned travellers share their secret hideaways

Arabella Weir, Comedian, actress and novelist

Plockton, on the west coast of Scotland. Some of my family are from there so it's got a sentimental, emotional attachment for me, but it's also a phenomenally beautiful place.

They filmed Hamish Macbeth here, so that gives you an idea of how adorable it is. It's wee and unspoilt, despite being quite well-known among tourists. It's a beautiful part of Scotland, which, of course, has unpredictable, mainly horrible weather. In a way, thank God, it hasn't been sun-soaked, because then it would turn into the Riviera. I used to go all the time when I was a child, but I haven't been there at all since I've had children, because it's quite far north. I'm going to go back next year, so nobody had better go there, unless they want me growling at them.

Arabella Weir is currently hosting the Dove Body Wash Naked Truth Comedy Tour across the UK. For information go to

Michael Nyman, Composer and musician

The Post Office sorting office on the corner of New Oxford Street and Drury Lane. I only recently discovered it, and it may now have been demolished. It was extremely ugly (which is why its disappearance will be no great loss). But it did house, briefly, the most astonishing installation ever devised by Artangel: Kutlug Ataman's Küba. I was there on the first night - when a vast collection of old armchairs and old TV sets displayed interviews with residents of the Küba ghetto in Istanbul. And I was there again on the last afternoon, when only one armchair and one TV remained - the others having been dispersed to other sites in London."

Michael Nyman's new album, 'The Piano Sings', is out on MN Records. He is about to embark on a nationwide tour. For information go to

Alice Roberts, Television presenter

North Devon. It's got fabulous scenery and is brilliant for surfing. I've only been surfing for three years. I took it up quite late. It's wonderful, exhilarating and gives you a totally different perspective of the coast. It's quite nice to be in the sea looking back at the beach. Croyde is my favourite spot. It has an amazing pub called The Thatch, which does the most delicious food. All the surfers head there.

One of the presenters of BBC2's 'Coast', which is broadcast on Fridays and Sundays at 9pm. The Thatch is at Hobbs Hill, Croyde (01271 890349)

Allegra Hicks, Fashion and interiors designer

The Isle of Skye. It was one of the first places I visited when I came to England. I'm Italian so the landscape seems so different. It's wild and there's something mystical about it.

I also really love the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. It's amazing the way they've kept it looking like a Victorian museum. It's so unsophisticated and undesigned. I love the fact that it's lit in a bizarre way. You almost feel like he's there and he's telling you what he's found. And the pieces of textile are amazing. It gives you a new way of wanting to travel: it's very un-now.

Allegra Hicks's shop is at 28 Cadogan Place, London SW1 (020-7235 8989; Pitt Rivers Museum is on South Parks Road, Oxford (01865 270927;

Giles Coren, Restaurant critic and novelist

The Lake District. I like the fact that it doesn't have any McDonald's. I went there last year to finish writing a novel and stayed at a friend's house near Hawkshead. I always thought walking was rubbish because I live in London; if you can't get there by car it isn't worth going. Hiking just seemed a thing for geography teachers and middle-aged lesbians in special trousers tucked into their walking boots with their socks rolled up. But I was in the Lakes for a month and I went walking every morning, quite long five- or six-mile walks, and I finally got the walking thing. Also, one of the best restaurants in the country is up there. It's called L'Enclume and it's really cutting-edge experimental, like the Fat Duck at Bray.

Giles Coren's novel, 'Winkler', was published last week by Jonathan Cape, £16.99. L'Enclume is on Cavendish Street in Cartmel (01539 536362;

Sankha Guha, Journalist and television presenter

Holkham Beach in Norfolk. This protected heritage coastline is so huge that it can never get full. Unspoilt with kiss-me-quick hats and nasty concessions, it's just a piece of beautiful British coastline. The beach is gently shelving, which is great for kids, though you have to watch the tides. And not only is Holkham one of the world's best beaches, it's great for wildlife too. Three different kinds of eco-systems - the coastal, the forest immediately inland, then the marsh behind that - mean that you see everything from spoonbills to three or four different kinds of tern fishing underwater. And it's where the last sequence of Shakespeare in Love was filmed.

Sankha Guha is currently presenting programmes on Discovery USA

Bear Grylls, Mountaineer and author

The Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales. It's where I spent so much of my army time, and did a lot of climbing when I was younger. It's one of the reasons I got into climbing. It's a place I associate with my late dad and with my best man, who I was in the army with, and it's where I go now to climb and paraglide and drink flasks of tea. It's where I'll always run to when things are hard.

Bear Grylls's book, 'Facing the Frozen Ocean', is published by Pan, £7.99

Margherita Taylor, Radio DJ and television presenter

The Thames. It's a great way to see London, really peaceful, away from all the traffic and noise. You see a different side to the city: the police boats, the dredgers, as well as the passenger ferries with all the tourists. I did something the other day that I haven't done since I was a little girl: I took a boat trip up the Thames. It was amazing. You see all the bridges that have been in so many movies. You get Greenwich, the Tower of London, Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. Then you leave central London for Kew and Richmond. I would recommend it as a great day out for anyone, especially if you've got kids. I took my godchildren and they loved it.

Margherita Taylor presents the Sunday morning show on Capital FM from 7am to 10am. She will also present 'Jam 'n' Wine', about carnival, on Radio 2 this Wednesday at 9pm

Sir Neil Cosson, Chairman of English Heritage

Ditherington Flax Mill. The roots of modernity lie in the astonishing new technologies of the 18th and 19th centuries - steam power, widespread use of iron and the rise of manufacturing. This building brings together all three. Built as a flax mill in 1797, it was the first in the world with an iron frame. The rhythmic, modular interior is extraordinarily elegant. It's been empty for nearly 20 years, so hardly anybody has seen inside it.

Ditherington Flax Mill at Spring Gardens, Ditherington, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, is usually closed to the public. To join the waiting list for for the next tour telephone 01743 356511 or visit

Julie Burchill, Author and broadcaster

Portmeirion in North Wales. The Italianate village where The Prisoner was filmed was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis, just about the coolest man ever. My husband and I have been three times and we never feel we've scratched the surface. It really is like heaven on earth, especially after half an E.

Julie Burchill's documentary 'Reality TV is Good for You' goes out next month on Sky One. She is currently writing 'Sweet', the sequel to 'Sugar Rush'