We’re Londoners through and through, but sometimes even the most ardent urbanophile needs to quit the city, breathe some fresh air, and maybe see a few trees. Below, in association with VisitEngland, we’ve picked out 18 inspiring rural spots that promise a delicious dose of tranquility.
Hastings & 1066 Country: Herstmonceux Castle
Explore beautiful gardens and grounds. For more suggestions, go to visit1066country.com.
New Forest: Riverside Park, Fordingbridge
Frolic by the river. For more New Forest ideas, visit thenewforest.co.uk.
Isle of Wight: Robin Hill
Discover illuminated woodlands. And there are plenty more things to do at visitisleofwight.co.uk.
Wiltshire: The white horses
Find eight massive chalk carvings in the Wiltshire hills. For more in Wiltshire, go to visitwiltshire.co.uk.
Buckinghamshire: The Royal Standard of England pub
More cosy pubs than you can shake a sausage roll at. For more things to do in the area, try visitbuckinghamshire.org.
The Broads: Explore by boat
Hire a day boat, sailing boat, luxury cruiser, canoe… find out more at enjoythebroads.com.
West Norfolk: Kings’ Lynn’s Hanseatic Trail
Discover the town’s centuries of trade and outstanding historic buildings. For other ideas, try visitwestnorfolk.com.
Shakespeare’s England: Compton Verney
This country house cuts a dashing figure, and it’s now an award-winning art gallery. For more interesting places near Stratford-upon-Avon, visit shakespeares-england.co.uk.
Nottinghamshire: Newstead Abbey
The seat that poet Lord Byron inherited as a child, and a unique visit for nature, design and culture. Find other things nearby: experiencenottinghamshire.com.
Rutland: Normanton Church, Rutland Water
A half-submerged structure, in Europe’s largest man-made lake. Explore more sights in the area at discover-rutland.co.uk.
East Lincolnshire: Natural coast
Mile after mile of wild coastline – you might even glimpse the local population of grey seals. For more information, visiteastlincolnshire.com.
Peak District: Poole’s Cavern
Catch the underground. Lots more ideas at visitpeakdistrict.com.
Staffordshire: The Roaches
Dozens of things to do, meals to eat and places to stay at enjoystaffordshire.com.
North York Moors & Howardian Hills: Castle Howard
Designed by Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor, and set in landscaped parkland dotted with temples and lakes. For more, www.northyorkmoors.org.uk.
Yorkshire Wolds: Hockney’s landscapes
See the woodland scenes and sweeping vistas that inspired David Hockney’s 2012 exhibition ‘A Bigger Picture.’ More things to do at visithullandeastyorkshire.com.
Northumberland: The North Pennines
England’s second largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a tranquil place for a long walk. See visitnorthumberland.com for more details.
Durham: High Force
The River Tees drops 70ft from the rugged rocky top to the plunge pool below, surrounded by lush green vegetation. Visit thisisdurham.com for more attractions in the area.
Hadrian’s Wall Country: Tynemouth
In the west, peaceful Solway Firth has long empty beaches, and is a haven for birds. On the east coast, seaside resorts like Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and South Shields are busy every summer and are great for surfing and sailing. You’ll find more information at visithadrianswall.co.uk.
Want more travel ideas? See our guide to 16 things to visit in 16 great cities!