England! That green and pleasant country. An inspiration to poets and painters, writers and filmmakers, from the rugged cliffs and golden beaches of Cornwall to the gently rolling hills and honey-stone dwellings of the Cotswolds, and then again the granite hills and glassy lakes of the Lake District.
And then there are the cities. Bold and energetic London is where the action is, while elegance and sophistication are easily found on a two-hour train ride in Bath – the city of Georgian grandeur, Jane Austen and invigorating hot springs.
It would be an insurmountable task to catalog everything this small country has to offer, but here we present the essentials – the 10 principles everyone should really visit to see England at its best.
Visitors flock to Yorkshire because there is no place on earth like God’s Own County. The sheer beauty of the landscape, sometimes as unexpected as a derelict chimney of a mill poking through a leaden sky, has inspired generations of painters: from the lunar landscapes of John Atkinson Grimshaw to the Victorian artists of the Staithes Group to the Yorkshire Wolds of David Hockney. It boasts three national parks, a wild and rugged coastline and beautiful Victorian architecture, not least the preserved terraced streets and mills of the World Heritage Site of Saltaire.
Not only that, but the food and drink reputation now matches that of any other destination in Britain, with more Michelin star restaurants than anywhere else in London. The only drawback for visitors is that the secret is out. For heritage-related tourism alone, around 40 million visitors now travel here every year. Well done, the great old towns and vast moors and Dales are big enough to take them all in.
The glorious, honey-colored towns and villages of the Cotswolds look like they have entered the 21st century from a different era. The area is characterized by soft dynamics, with lively galleries, lively festivals and an abundance of intriguing museums. Covering nearly 800 square miles in five counties (Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire), this region of ‘wolds’ or rolling hills is the largest of the 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales.
Every season here has an intrinsic appeal. Bustle-free winters are ideal for invigorating walks, pub fire sessions – and lower hotel prices. Come in the spring to see lambs and wild daffodils. Visit in summer (inevitably with many others) for magical light, especially in the long evenings. Or take a fall excursion for a calmer atmosphere and beautiful leaf color, especially at the two great arboreta, Westonbirt and Batsford.
Steep coves and cream teas, surf breaks and walks, picnics and pints in pub gardens – Devon holidays are healthy, simple and scenic. A visit here combines two of life’s finest pleasures: fine dining and the great outdoors. Most people are drawn to the beautiful beaches on the south and north coast, but inland Devon also has its appeal: Dartmoor and Exmoor are expansive granite plateaus offering solitude and great skies, while the softer, Frisian meadows in the middle of Devon hides clusters of thatched villages, meandering rivers and densely wooded cliffs.
Most people are attracted to the beautiful beaches of Devon, but inland areas such as Dartmoor are just as attractiveA visit here combines two of life’s finest pleasures: fine dining and the great outdoors. Devon people make the most of the rich food on the doorstep. Lamb, venison, pheasant, pork, and seafood are staples, and the county farmers’ markets are full of artisan producers selling delicious cider, apple juice, cheese, and ice cream.
- LAKE DISTRICT
Visit the Lake District for Britain’s greenest scenery and best views. With a total area of just over 885 square miles, the Lake District National Park has been protected since 1951, and the picturesque patchwork of lakes, valleys, forests and hills makes it one of the best places in Britain to get out and about and the great outdoors to experience, whether it’s a leisurely bike ride on country lanes or a day-long hike through the hills. And while the weather is notoriously unpredictable, showers and racing clouds only emphasize the grandeur of the beautiful view.
The patchwork of meres, valleys, forests and hills of the Lake District makes it one of the best places in Britain to get out and experience the great outdoors.
The Lake District also has plenty of artistic and literary connections, most notably William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and drew much of his poetic inspiration from the surrounding landscape. And while the weather is notoriously unpredictable (locals will tell you it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day), showers and racing clouds only emphasize the magnificence of the beautiful scenery.
The rolling countryside of Norfolk and the sleepy flint-built villages are perfect for leisurely cycling, walking or touring by car. Stately homes, ruined castles, medieval churches and half-timbered towns with fascinating museums make for a fun day out. While East Anglia receives less rain than many other holiday destinations in the UK, the north and east winds above the North Sea can keep temperatures low. But even on cold, clear days in winter, the beach car parks can be busy with dog walkers and walkers.
Norfolk offers a wide variety of places to visit, including large country houses, steam trains, gardens, nature reserves and of course the Broads.
The county offers a wide variety of places to visit, including large country houses, steam trains, gardens, nature reserves and of course the Broads, one of England’s 10 designated national parks, which are packed with visitors in the summer. Small towns like Burnham Market and Holt, with their local food and craft shops, are good for a morning or afternoon of soft pottery.