With so many people enjoying staycations this year some of the UK's most beautiful areas have found themselves more in demand than ever.

And as more families explore their home country instead of jetting off to sunnier climes they are discovering that the charms on their own doorstep and beyond can come as quite a surprise.

In the North East we don't tend to need reminding of the merits of our local attractions, which range from wild and wonderful countryside to vibrant and vivacious cities, with our history and heritage flowing through it all like the Tyne.

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And sometimes we like it all so much that we don't like others to know about it.

Areas of the North East have been dubbed Britain's best kept secret but now it seems the secret is out as one much-loved part of Northumberland has been picked out as Britain's hidden gem, second only to the Cairngorms in Scotland.

College Valley has been selected in a round-up of the UK's top 10 national parks which can be enjoyed by visitors without crowds of people being around.

Hethpool Linn, College Valley
Hethpool Linn, College Valley

The list was drawn up by housebuilder Miller Homes from a study which analysed more than 2.2m Instagram location tags in our 10 national parks, comparing places least-tagged with the number of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor and Google Reviews.

The resulting list of the top-secret beauty spots in the UK saw Northumberland National Park 's College Valley - an area which was a top pick in our own Passionate People, Passionate Places series - come second.

Described as a "beauty spot which is home to wildlife and ancient hillfort ruins", it is pipped to first place only by Uath Lochan Lake in Cairngorms National Park which featured in just 375 Instagram posts and 144 reviews but has a 86.81% five-star rating.

College Valley in Northumberland National Park
College Valley in Northumberland National Park

This compares with the likes of 188,000 and 165,000 Instagram location tags respectively for the popular Lake Windermere in the Lake District and Seven Sisters in South Downs.

Top 10 list of the UK's National Parks hidden gems

1.Uath Lochan Lake, Cairngorms - a group of black pools hidden in the Inshriach Forest.

2. College Valley, Northumberland - a beauty spot which is home to wildlife and ancient hillfort ruins.

3. Gaping Gill, Yorkshire Dales - a stunning natural cave and the largest underground cave chamber in Britain.

4. Angletarn Pikes, Lake District - a fell in the Lake District which is home to a lake of the same name which resembles a fish hook in shape.

5. Skirrid Mountain, Brecon Beacons (also known as Ysgyryd Fawr) - known locally as ‘the Holy Mountain’, offering stunning views of the countryside on the summit.

6. Muir of Dinnet, Cairngorms - a national nature reserve full of woodland, moors, and incredible sculpture work.

7. Denny Wood, New Forest - a campsite and dog walking spot with beautiful scenery and situated in England’s largest ancient woodland.

8. Ravenscar, North York Moors - a coastal village in Scarborough, with a steep incline to the beach to spot fossils and seals.

9. Stackpole Quay, Pembrokeshire - a small harbour within the cliffs which reveals a stony beach at low tide with crystal clear waters.

10. Grimspound, Dartmoor - a Bronze Age settlement which consists of the remains of 24 stone hut circles, surrounded by a huge boundary wall.

Tourists have named the hidden spots as ‘magical’, ‘bucket list worthy’ and ‘superb’ on TripAdvisor reviews.

Aisling Ramshaw, regional sales director at Miller Homes, said: “With the popularity of staycations, we expect huge numbers of families and friends to be exploring the UK’s national parks this year and beyond – after all, they are a fantastic example of the beauty which Britain has to offer not far from home.

“However, with so many people staying at home, popular walking and climbing spots in well-known locations are much busier than usual, particularly during peak holiday seasons right across the year."

She added: “Most tourists tag the locations they go to visit on Instagram and, while these spots in our Hidden Gems index have thousands of fewer posts than many popular areas, they all have exceptional ratings.

"This shows that when people do visit them, they have a fantastic time in an area which looks like it’s straight out of a painting and not quite so busy!”

For the full study carried out see here.

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