Christian O’Connell: “When my dog died I sprinkled his ashes there…”

A field of pumpkins? A duck island? Christian O’Connell, Cerys Matthews, Shappi Khorsandi and more pick their favourite spots to get away from it all

Shappi Khorsandi
Maiden Castle, Dorset

I roamed around Dorset recently with my children, because for a four- and nine-year-old the very words ‘Jurassic Coast’ widens eyes and creates adventure. We drove to Maiden Castle, the awesomely huge Iron Age fort. It’s nothing other than a jaw-droppingly beautiful link to our ancient past. The fort is very steep but great fun to climb if sheep poo doesn’t bother you too much.

Maiden Castle

The place envelopes you, you become tiny and the real world, with all its chaos, is pushed terribly far away. My new show is about Horatio Nelson and his lover Emma Hamilton. Admiral Hardy, who famously kissed Nelson on his death bed, was from here so there’s a monument to him which you can climb and get fantastic views.

Now how can I not mention the Tolpuddle Museum? Anyone who believes in workers rights should go and see it all began with the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Shappi Khorsandi: Mistress and Misfit, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 3-27

Ellie Taylor
Whitsand Bay, Cornwall

Last year I needed a break away from the city but didn’t fancy dealing with airports and planes, so instead I decamped down to the South West and it was one of the loveliest breaks I’ve ever had.

Incredible beaches, great walks, truly sexy ice-cream and some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Ellie Taylor: This Guy, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh 3-27 August, then touring the UK

Christian O’Connell
Ranmore Common, Dorking

About 10 minutes from where I live. Amazing views. I walk my dogs there and just love it. There is a bench. I go sit there. I look out, and sometimes I look in. When my dog died I sprinkled some of his ashes there.

  • Find out more about ‘how to get lost’ – from vendors and celebrities – in this week’s Big Issue, on sale now

Samira Ahmed
Regent’s Park, London

It has always been an oasis in the heart of London and there is still no more magical place first thing in the morning or on a summer evening, walking round the Rose Garden checking out the dozens of varieties, and their names which each tell a story – City of Bradford, Ingrid Bergman, Savoy Hotel, Princess of Wales.

Regents Park

I remember reading how Paul McCartney used to walk through there to visit Linda in hospital towards the end of her life.

There’s an Alice in Wonderland perfection to how well it’s kept. I keep expecting to see living cards painting the white roses red. I love the idea of a perfect public rose garden that everyone can share.

It’s a little kingdom and there are often birds nesting in there

There’s a place my family calls Duck Island – a little island with a bridge off the main park onto the Inner Circle canal. It’s often locked so there’s always the anticipation of whether you can get on or not.

My children love heading for it. When it’s open they run round the little gravel paths. It’s a little kingdom and there are often birds nesting on the sculpture of the giant bird of prey in there, which I find quite weird.

Cerys Matthews
Hawarden, Flintshire

Cerys Matthews

Flintshire is not quite Snowdonia. It’s near to the English border, not in west Wales, not on the coast. So it sort of gets overlooked when you think about visiting Wales. It’s really lovely, huge oak trees and rolling hills. it’s where William Gladstone had an estate. When people come to Wales they usually end up driving through Flintshire.

There’s a village called Hawarden and a mound is the particular place I like – they built a lake at some point, and left this mound of soil. I like to walk to the top of this mound and sit there and watch people – because it’s usually during the festival time, which is harvest time, mid-September – and it’s a farm so it grows pumpkins.

The fields are full of pumpkins. And it grows maize and blackcurrants, you can pick your own. It’s pretty magical for that reason. 

We believe in a hand up, not a hand out.

Which is why our sellers BUY every copy of the magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50.

Learn More