When most people talk about their next holiday they usually mention escaping to the beaches of Thailand or another exotic destination. After four years of travel, visiting many of those exotic destinations, there are certainly a few places that stand out in my mind as stunning. But ask me to list the 5 most beautiful places that I’ve visited and there’s one place on my list which will probably surprise you – the English countryside.
England is a beautiful country. Green rolling pastures, the glow of the sun over The Dales or Derbyshire on a frosty morning, the historic villages with their quaint pubs and ancient landmarks. Even the rugged coastline is beautiful. Give me cliffs and a pounding surf any day over a hot Thai beach with no waves and touts asking you every two minutes if you’d like to buy sunglasses or a satay stick.
If you are visiting the UK, be sure to get out of the cities. There are so many destinations to choose from but these are some of my favourites:
Arundel is the quintessential postcard English town. Cobbled sidewalks lined with Georgian and Victorian buildings loomed over by a fairytale castle. There’s even a cricket ground behind the castle! The Arun river with it’s colourful boats and historic bridges just adds to the postcard perfect nature of the town.
Make sure you take the time to explore the nearby wetlands. Early morning as the sun rises over the wetlands is a beautiful time to visit. Plus the drive or walk to the wetlands offers several fantastic glimpses of the castle.
You should also plan to drive around the countryside. The quiet back roads with their small villages and old pubs are beautiful. It makes for a long detour back to London but consider driving from Arundel to London via Bodiam Castle. Not only is the castle amazing but the backroads along this driver were some of the most beautiful we saw driving around England.
Tucked away in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the small city of Harrogate. Long renowned as spa town with healing waters, Harrogate was a popular destination in the 17th and 18th centuries. Modern day Harrogate offers something for every visitor. If shopping and spas are your thing, Harrogate has plenty of offer. It’s renowned as a great shopping destination and you certainly won’t complain about the local restaurants. Be sure to visit Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms. Overlooking the nearby gardens, not only is the building beautiful but the cakes are delicious.
If exploring historic architecture and visiting museums interests you, the city has plenty of those on offer. There are castles, gardens and what is thought to be the oldest church in England to have remained in continuous use.Harrogate is also the perfect base to explore the Dales, some of the most picturesque countryside in England. You can find out more information on what to do in Harrogate at www.harrogate.co.uk
The best thing is Harrogate is easy to get to. It’s ten miles to Leeds Bradford International Airport and three hours by train to London.
Salisbury is another “postcard” English town. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the leading examples of early English architecture. Until I’d seen Westminster Abbey I’d always mentally pictured it to look more like Salisbury Cathedral. The Cathedral contains the worlds oldest working clock and one of only 4 copies of the Magna Carta. Add in historic timber buildings, great farmers markets, quaint local shops and a thriving arts scene, Salisbury certainly makes for a great destination.
Within a one hour drive of Salisbury are a number of historic sites. Stonehenge and the slightly less famous stone circle at Avebury are both nearby, as well as a number of white horses. The historic village of Lacock with cottages dating back to the 15th Century is a one hour drive, as is Bath.