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Where are Britain's most tranquil places?

Tuesday 11 October 2016

WHEN Trevor Cox sought out the most tranquil place in England for his book Sonic Wonderland: a Scientific Odyssey of Sound, he had to mountain bike and the trek through miles of bog to get there.

So, was it worth it? “Tranquillity often means remote from man-made places – but Kielder Mires was strange,” he says. “It was very, very quiet. I heard a bird a couple of times, but apart from that there was nothing at all.”

With ‘peace and quiet’ harder to find than ever, the renowned acoustics professor has been sharing what he’s learned from two decades of studying the nation’s soundscape for The Daily Telegraph’s – 20 of the most peaceful places in Britain.

Kielder Mires – at No1 – was first identified for its tranquillity in 2014 when The Campaign to Protect Rural England mapped a list of factors like traffic noise levels, aircraft flight paths, where buildings were situated against a range of places famed for peace and quiet and found the 8,650 acres of blanket bog to be the quietest.

Too quiet?

So is silence what gets you on the list? Not exactly. “When you go in search of tranquility, you want to hear the babbling brooks, the leaves rustling in the trees, the birds singing – all those clich├ęs of the countryside,” says Prof Cox.

Curiously, Prof Cox’s ‘tranquil tourism’ advice to the Telegraph’s compiler includes some places you wouldn’t consider exactly quiet. “For instance you might not associate Soho with tranquillity – but that’s exactly what works in Soho Square’s favour (No6), says Prof Cox. “There’s such a thing as 'relative tranquillity’. If you measured the noise level in a London park, it will be noisy. However, if you’ve just walked off a busy road, it will seem relatively tranquil – a haven.”

Anyone who has visited the Anechoic Chamber at the University of Salford’s Newton Building, will understand that sometime places can be too quiet! “Silence can actually be quite alarming,” explains Trevor. “When there’s no sound travelling down our ear canals, we hear the blood pumping through our veins and even the firing of synapses (a hissing sound).” Adding: “Don’t let that put you off the Silent Valley Reservoir (No19), in County Down, Northern Ireland.

For the full list of ‘20 of the most peaceful places in Britain’, see The Daily Telegraph.