The winding roads, the rolling fields and reflective lakes beckon to us all at one time or another, and for the traveller looking for a respite out in nature, nothing quite mirrors the peaceful, even civilised ambiance of the English countryside. From time to time even the hardened city dweller among us will hunt for that perfect country getaway - to be out of the orbit of the urban jungle and its all-consuming force for even just a day. Whether you’re looking for a day trip from London or Manchester, or long for a full-fledged country tour, you won’t want to miss these delightful English lands.
The rugged coastline of Cornwall has long been a favourite spot for a countryside tour. Forming the tip of England’s southwestern peninsula, the county offers dramatic clifftop views of the Celtic Sea on the north, and the English Channel to the south. The Medieval fortifications of Tintagel Castle on Cornwall’s north-eastern shore are particularly noteworthy. Garden lovers will enjoy the 19th century style gardens near Mevagissey, The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
The rolling hills and placid lakes and forest make the Lake District one of the U.K.’s most popular country destinations. Located in the north-west corner of England, visitors will find all kinds of outdoor distractions. Go hiking or biking along the 26 miles of coastline in the Lake District National Park, or, if you prefer to be on the water, try your hand at canoeing, kayaking or simply have a swim. Boat rental are available in several locations too.
If a holiday by the sea is what you’re after, head to Scarborough, on England’s north-eastern coast. Beaches provide the perfect summer escape, while a short walk away, the arcades, shops and seafood stalls make for an interesting diversion within the town. Also not far away, and located on a prominent headland, you’ll find the 900-year-old Scarborough Castle, where Richard III was said to enjoy the views.
Less than a two-hour drive or train trip from London, the Cotswolds in south-central England attracts all kinds of visitors for its luxury manors and cottages, lovely seasonal gardens, and most of all for its hundreds of miles of walking trails and bike paths. A popular Cotswolds activity is renting a classic car for a self-drive tour around the picturesque countryside or through quaint country villages. Enjoy high-tea along the way or sample area cheeses with a cheese plate and wine. You won’t have to worry about going hungry in the Cotswolds.
Another short drive or train trip away, Hampshire County to the south-west of London is home to South Downs and New Forest National Parks where scenic views, forest trails and lovely picnic spots provide an enjoyable day out in nature. Downton Abbey fans will want to tour Highclere Castle which is located in northern Hampshire County. If you’d like to get a view of the county from the water, take in a boat ride on Basingstoke Canal. Starting from Penny Bridge, boat tours take visitors past Odiham Castle and other historic buildings.
Beautiful Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent sits on an idyllic island in the middle of a lake. Cross the stone foot bridge and pass through the imposing arched gate where the grand features of the site become immediately apparent. Lovely gardens include a shrubbery maze and peaceful lake views while the interior exemplifies the castle’s Medieval and Tudor history.
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