Think rolling hills, countryside walks, spa hotels, quality dining, and some good old peace and quiet. Although city breaks are a lot of fun, sometimes it’s hard to beat a relaxing countryside getaway.
Whether you’re already in the UK or planning your next visit, it’s well worth heading outside of the UK’s big cities to discover its hidden gems, plus some fresh air and healthy hikes. And don’t worry, if fine dining is your thing, there are some incredible top Michelin restaurants in all of these spots to help balance it all out, and some gorgeous settings too.
When you imagine a dreamy walk in the countryside, this is pretty much the kind of scenery that pops up. The endless hills, valleys, moors and idyllic villages make for a perfect walking holiday, with some relaxing five star spa pampering in between. Plus, it’s easy to get to no matter where you’re coming from or what your mode of transport is.
Whether you’re looking for a casual stroll with your dogs, guided walks or thinking of climbing some peaks, it truly does offer it all, but it’s not just for nature lovers. It’s home to some of the UK’s most acclaimed restaurants too. Just be sure to wear comfy shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy, especially if there’s been any rain recently.
There are some beautiful places to stay in the area, including country pubs, bed and breakfasts and country lodgings with more upscale rooms. The Yorke Arms is an excellent location with rooms and top quality dining, as is Yorebridge House and Hipping Hall. And if you’re up for a little extra drive, it’s definitely worth eating at The Black Swan Oldstead for a special meal, and they also have rooms.
Isle Of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye has some of the most dramatic and rugged scenery the UK has to offer and is a special place to spend a few nights. You can drive up through the highlands from Glasgow, which will take you through some impressive landscapes and take around 5-6 hours. Or you can also drive from Inverness, taking 2-3 hours. You could also catch a train to Mallaig and take the ferry across from there.
It’s the perfect place for outdoorsy activities including hiking, kayaking and climbing, as well as just taking in the incredible sights. Don’t miss The Storr, the Quiraing trail, Mealtfalls and the Rocky Mountains of Cuillin.
For some fine dining and a very reasonably priced lunch menu for a Michelin starred restaurant, head to Loch Bay, or stay and eat at the beautiful and luxurious Three Chimneys and The House Over-by – a perfect and peaceful place to relax and unwind.
The Lake District
We couldn’t leave off the Lakes. With so many beautifully quaint towns and villages dotted around the mountains, valleys and lakes, it’s hard to know exactly where to be, but there are plenty of options getting to and around the area, whether you’re driving or taking public transport.
This picturesque part of the UK is understandably always popular and recently became a World Heritage Site. As well as all the endless nature and dreamy scenery it’s a great place for any Beatrix Potter fans: both the World of Beatrix Potter and the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Hawkshead are beautiful and well worth a visit.
If you’re on the look out for some fine dining on your countryside travels, try L’Enclume or sister restaurant Rogan & Co, both in Cartmel. Enjoy fresh, local, seasonal dishes and with rooms at L’Enclume guaranteeing you a table it could be a good place to stay also, if not it’s worth making a reservation in advance. The Gilpin is also a lovely place to stay for a special occasion with endless views, luxurious facilities and a fantastic restaurant, HRiSHi.
Dartmoor National Park, Devon
Devon offers the perfect balance of coastal towns and miles and miles of countryside, making it one of the best UK holiday destinations – especially if you luck out with the weather. The Dartmoor National Park has spectacular views, lots of history, cool wildlife and outdoorsy activities for all the family. But, again, it’s those countryside walks, fresh air and enjoying the wonderful nature and history that surrounds you that’s so hard to beat. There are routes and trails for all levels and distances, as well as guided tours, cycling and horse riding.
Getting there by car or train from London is relatively easy, the train from Paddington to Plymouth takes around four hours, and driving from London will usually take between 4-5 hours depending on traffic. Find your best options here.
For a luxury stay in the area and some fine dining, Gidleigh Park has it all. The Horn of Plenty is also in a beautiful location with stylish rooms and another excellent restaurant. But, if you have a car and are willing to venture out even further, it’s absolutely worth booking in advance and splashing out at the wonderful Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 in Padstow, it’s another 90 minutes further away, but if you have the time is a fabulous side trip and could also be fun to spend the night in the area being a pretty coastal town.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales
Be sure to pack your cameras, because the dramatic landscapes, rugged cliffs and sandy beaches make for some incredible pictures. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a designated trail all along the cliff tops and goes on for 186 miles, making it safe and an ideal place for your morning walks, however much you’re able to cover.
If you’re driving from London, Pembrokeshire is about a five hour drive, but there are also coach and train options. You could also fly into Cardiff airport, followed by a 2.5 car ride.
When it comes to where to stay, there are lots of self catering style cottages, but for a little more luxury and relaxation, the Twr y Felin Hotel is a beautiful property in an excellent location with modern rooms and a good restaurant. Crug Glass Country House is a beautiful venue and also well located. Penally Abbey is close to Tenby, about 25 miles East of the National Park, but is a lovely coastal town and the hotel itself is excellent with pretty views. Whilst in Tenby it’s also worth eating at The Salt Celllar for well thought out dishes using local, fresh ingredients.