The sound of silence isn’t easy to find, but city-dweller Richard Mellor heads to England’s supposed most tranquil spot for a dose of wilderness. Is it really as quiet as they say?

I sit beside Channelbush Sike, a boulder-strewn stream of transparent water, and listen. The current rushes down a couple of chutes. A bee buzzes by; a cuckoo cuckoos. Every so often, I think I hear a car approaching along the track—but it’s just wind sighing through surrounding forest. Other than that? Nope. Nothing.

And that was my hope in visiting this remote corner of Northumberland, found just inside the Cumbrian border and less than 10 miles from Scotland. It’s known as the Kielder Mires (or the Border Mires) thanks to around 60 peat bogs—which store precious amounts of carbon, thus negating the effect of global warming—speckling the boundaries of Kielder Forest.

And one particular 500-meter-by-500-meter-square of one particular Mire (its precise location a secret but somewhere nearby) was specified as Britain’s most peaceful spot in 2006 when the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) produced a ‘tranquillity map’ of the country.