When thinking about a trip to England and where to visit, one always jumps to London. This is for good reason of course. London is a magnificent city, rich in history, culture, food and amazing experiences. It should most certainly be on your England travel itinerary. But, we’re here to tell you to not forget about the England countryside.
While the countryside in England is often skipped by international tourists, the locals know all about its wonders. From the best small towns for quaint hospitality to the vast wandering fields for long reflective walks. The countryside is where you go when you need a breath of fresh air.
We urge you to explore the English countryside for a completely different experience of England. While the big cities and towns scattered across the country have a lot to offer, the countryside has something extra special to offer. Below are a few reasons why we love visiting England’s countryside.
The adjectives ‘charming’, ‘breathtaking’, ‘awe-inspiring’ and ‘lovely’ are commonly used to describe the England countryside, and for good reason. It really is that beautiful and lovely and picturesque and all the cliche words you can think of. First off there’s the miles of green fields, moss covered moors, hedged roads and ancient stone walls. Then there’s the dramatic mountains, rugged cliffs, sparkling beaches and thick forests. And not to forget the most picturesque small towns, complete with cobblestoned roads and old brick houses with beautifully landscaped front gardens.
Everywhere is picture perfect, mostly for its simple, natural perfection.
There’s nothing like a typical British pub. And the English countryside is full of them. You’ll find at least one in every village and more scattered in the more rural areas. Look out for the traditional English pub building on the side of country roads or along well-walked paths.
Most of the traditional English countryside pubs have open fires, high ceilings and traditional décor. From antique signs on the walls to collections of bottle caps, coasters and knick-knacks. The perfect place to warm up on a cold day by settling down for a traditional pub meal and cold pint.
England’s countryside is not all about pubs and Indian takeaways on the corner, as one would think. A vibrant food scene is emerging in the middle of nowhere. There are some amazing restaurants hidden in country inns and town hotels. The Peacock Country Inn in Henton, in particular, offers up an exquisite menu. You will find some of the best Sunday roasts and high tea experiences scattered throughout the countryside inns, hotels and restaurants.
Wildlife doesn’t always come to mind when you think of England, but you will be delighted to find that the countryside is home to a variety of animals and birds. The forests and woods are home to deer, foxes, badgers and squirrels. Along the coast, you can also spot dolphins, seals and sometimes whales at certain times of the year.
The English countryside is home to a number of national parks. These include Exmoor, the Lake District, North York Moors and the Peak District. These parks are all extremely beautiful and definitely worth a visit at least once in your lifetime. Our England Travel Guide lists a few of the best places to visit in England, including the national parks.
A large majority of the countryside villages are hundreds of years old, the villagers have been tirelessly preserving and protecting their village to keep them looking like something out of a storybook. You will find pubs that have been passed down through several generations, original libraries still in tact and train stations that still look the way they did way back in the day.
Dig a bit deeper and you will find even more interesting history in the countryside. From stories of why the Peak District was deforested to how the Norfolk broads originated and where the old Roman roads still lie.
The countryside in England is home to a few amazing galleries featuring classic and contemporary artworks. There’s the Harley Gallery in North Nottinghamshire, Tate St Ives in Cornwall, Gainsborough House in Suffol, Audley End in Essex and Lady Lever Art Gallery in Merseyside, among others. Most are housed in old castles or mansions that were once home to well-known, wealthy British families.
Great Britain is an island, lest us not forget. This means that there are miles and miles of coastline to explore. We don’t mean your typical umbrella-clad beaches (the water is way too cold for that and the weather is more gloomy than sunny). We mean dramatic cliffs, rugged rocks, caves, bays and unique geographical marvels. There are also long white-sand beaches in between the rugged coastal landscapes for those who like to put their feet in the sand.
Some of the most dramatic coastal areas to explore include Durdle Door (Dorset), Marloes Beach (Pembrookshire), Abbot’s Cliff (Folkestone Kent), Pedn Vounder (Cornwall), Old Harry Rocks (Isle of Purbeck) and Lannacombe Bay (Devon). For more typical beach vibes, Polzeath Beach in Cornwall is a laid back, quiet beach with ideal conditions for beginner surfers. During low tide, the beach stretches half a mile in all directions.
We’ve mentioned it before, but it deserves another mention. The English countryside towns and villages are packed with character and things to explore. Sure, there’s not nearly as much to do compared to the big cities, but they are still great to experience. Wander through the streets, visit the independent shops, pop into the cute cafés and enjoy a pint in the village’s pub. It’s a great opportunity to slow down and appreciate the small things that make the village tick.
Many villages are famed for specific delicacies, including Grasmere gingerbread and Bakewell pudding. Make an effort to find out what specific villages and towns are known for and make sure to try out the local dishes. They must be famous for a reason right?
Big cities come with pollution, it’s sad to say. We don’t always notice it while we’re in the city, but as soon as we step out into the countryside, it is the most obvious thing. There is something so incredibly refreshing by taking a big breath of fresh air - whether it’s in the forests, the mountains or at the seaside. Retreating to the countryside for a few days will do wonders for your health, purely just by breathing the fresh air.
Visiting the countryside also offers loads of opportunities for spending time outdoors (weather permitting of course). If you love hiking in the wilderness and taking long scenic walks, then there’s nowhere better than the countryside in England. There are countless walking trails for all fitness and adventure levels.
You can travel through the countryside by train! England’s amazing rail system makes the English countryside near London and all other major cities and towns in the country. The many great countryside spots are all easily accessible by train - often only a few hours from the nearest airport. Traveling by train is great as you can bring your own snacks and drinks and there’s loads of space to spread out. And, of course, the scenery out of the window. Once at your destination, the villages are easily explored on foot.
There are a few far flung places that require a car to get to. If so, then it’s easy enough to rent a car when you get there or plan a road trip through the countryside.
Whether it’s bright and sunny or rainy and gloomy, the England countryside always looks pretty. Each type of weather brings with it its own characteristics, often transforming the landscape completely. While England doesn’t get too much snow, when it does then the English countryside is even more beautiful. With its white top houses and tree-lined streets. The mountains are particularly breathtaking when they are covered in a layer of white dust.
The autumn months bring with it its range of colourful falling leaves while the springtime is packed with white and pink blossoms. Event calendars are packed with festivals, concerts and weekend markets in the summer months and the English countryside towns streets light up during winter with the most spectacular Christmas lights. Each season has a reason to visit the countryside in England. There’s always something new and different to experience. Though, sometimes nothing changes and that’s wonderful too.
We hope that you are inspired to plan a visit to England’s countryside sometime soon! Whether its a day trip, a weekend or full on countryside road trip, there’s so much waiting for you to explore.
Join us on our England & Wales woman-only tour where we experience the best of London along with visiting popular tourist attractions like Stonehenge, Bath and Shakespeare’s birthplace, among many others.