COMMENT

I like to think I'd be able to survive the end of the world. I regularly head off into the mountains with just my rucksack and bivvy bag for company. Taking a small amount of food to cook with, I'll forage for extras in whatever terrain I find myself in. And there's no relying on Google to get me out of any scrape. There isn't any signal up in the mountains, and it's bliss.

But "preppers" would call me dangerously naive. They are extreme survivalists. They are not your run-of-the-mill worriers, but are constantly prepared for the collapse of civilisation. And who can blame them?

They hoard canned goods, keep stocks of clean water, fuel and medicine, and have a penchant for gold as an alternative currency should the economy fall apart. They will have a bag packed and will be ready to move at a moment's notice, to hide away in a pre-selected bolt-hole should the first signs of societal breakdown emerge.

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I certainly can't laugh at them for that. I picked out my own little patch of prepper-friendly paradise years ago – and fell out with a colleague when I refused to disclose its location.

I can tell you it is not in New Zealand, however, the place the wealthiest among the preppers have chosen to ride out the storm. A land legendary for its wilderness – its mountains, fjords, rivers and glaciers – it is also famed for its isolation. Cast out in the Tasman Sea, if you really want to put space between you and the rest of the world, there's not a better place on earth you can go.

But the New Zealanders have got fed up. The country's government has just banned foreigners from buying property there, partly because of the effect on prices of preppers building hideaways, often replete with underground layers and secure air supplies. So where will they go now?

I have a modest proposal: they should come to the UK.

Perhaps not to Britain itself. We are an island, of course, blessed with our own dramatic scenery, and I can think of plenty of places you might be able to hide. Wales's mountainous hinterland, one of the areas I most like to explore, is littered with mountain huts, old barns, crofts, castles and even defunct underground war bunkers. Rather than acres, we offer bothies, caves and old mines.

But the truth is we are too close to the rest of Europe. They won't think us safe enough to survive some of the more extreme scenarios they worry about.

British territory St Helena has just opened an airport and is the perfect hideaway writes Phoebe Smith. Photo / 123rf
British territory St Helena has just opened an airport and is the perfect hideaway writes Phoebe Smith. Photo / 123rf

So what about our overseas territories? The Union Jack flies above some of the most remote and beautiful places on earth. Perhaps the preppers would like a piece of land on Tristan da Cunha, home to a few hundred people in the South Atlantic, or Ascension Island?

Then, for the more hardcore, there's the sub-Antarctic isles of South Georgia and the ludicrously remote South Sandwich Isles where no one but a handful of penguins call home. Safety at its most remote – for a money-can't-buy (but really it can) price tag, with a one-way ticket included.

Perhaps all this is a little ludicrous. Perhaps we shouldn't be playing the preppers' game, and should encourage them instead to spend some of that money on preventing the disasters they're so concerned about. But perhaps the UK might just have assets that we too often overlook. It wouldn't be the end of the world if we made a bit more of a fuss about them.