With many of us still enjoying a holiday at home in the UK rather than jetting off abroad this year, we thought we’d take a look at the best countryside holidays and getaways for rediscovering the peace and beauty of Britain in 2021 and 2022.
There’s so much to see across the length and breadth of the beautiful British Isles and we can’t wait to explore all the countryside corners of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Home to stunning landscapes for walkers, charming villages and rolling green hills, the UK is an amazing place for countryside getaways.
While city breaks and visits to London or Edinburgh are eternally popular, there is, of course, something to be said for a relaxing countryside escape.
The UK has such an abundance of impressive rural and coastal resorts that the opportunity to gather yourself, enjoy great food and accommodation and bask in nature is only ever a couple of hours’ away.
To celebrate everything rural Britain has to offer, we’ve compiled the best countryside holidays in the UK that you can book exclusively through Country Living.
These aren’t just any country breaks either. Our incredible trips invite you to meet wildlife experts, weather presenters and legendary cooks, such as Will Wagstaff, Carol Kirkwood and Delia Smith. You can also sail on luxurious private-yacht style ships and ride nostalgic steam trains.
Check out these revitalising countryside holidays for 2021 and 2022, where you can stay at incredible hotels and experience inspirational views around every corner.
1. Admire the spectacular Peak District
Derbyshire’s mighty Peak District was the first area of the UK to be made a national park, in the 1950s, and when you visit it’s easy to see why. From its ancient stone villages, half-hidden walking trails through magical woodland and soaring hilltops, there are unforgettable scenes everywhere you go.
During Country Living’s five-day railway and walking tour in April and September 2022, you’ll explore the region’s best sights on foot and by train, including the home of the famous tart, Bakewell, and the magnificent Chatsworth Estate. You’ll also walk along the River Dove, enjoy a stroll along the Monsal Trail through old railway tunnels and across the Monsal Viaduct, and travel on the picturesque Ecclesbourne Valley Railway to take in the beautiful Peak District scenery by rail.
2. Ride the heritage trains of Devon and Somerset
England’s South West is treasured for its picture postcard views of sparkling blue seas next to rolling green hills, and you can explore the whole area on Country Living’s five-day break there from May and September 2022, as you travel on five different railways.
Staying in Tiverton, a charming riverside market town in South Devon, you’ll ride through the famous Quantock Hills through Somerset, as well as riding on the world’s steepest, water-powered railway from the harbour town of Lynmouth up to Lynton, where you can enjoy amazing views of the Bristol Channel. Other highlights will include a ride on the Dartmouth Stream railway along the coast, and a relaxing cruise along the River Dart.
3. Stay in a quirky village inn in East Sussex
The Bell in Ticehurst is a truly unique country pub with rooms, with hearty South American-inspired dishes on offer, fairytale décor and oast house lodges out in its garden. You can expect a traditional welcome though, like roaring log fires and big comfy beds, plus stylish copper tubs in some of the rooms’ ensuite bathrooms.
Outside your front door is the cute village of Ticehurst, with a leafy, traditional centre and community atmosphere, and then the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty beyond, where you’ll find endless walks, the blue expanse of Bewl Water at the National Trust’s romantic Scotney Castle.
4. See Scotland’s Highlands and islands in their autumn colours
See some of Scotland’s most remote and wild corners in style on the magnificent Lord of the Glens, a private yacht-style ship where you can sink into supremely comfortable armchairs from the Orient Express and sip a whisky in the elegant bar.
On our cruise around Scotland’s countryside in October 2022, you’ll sail past the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle, visit the nation’s seafood capital of Oban and see Tobermory’s colourful harbour. You’ll also explore iconic Loch Ness and stay in Banavie, in the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis.
5. Explore the magnificent Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales have inspired countless artists and writers, perhaps most famously the Brontë sisters, with Emily Brontë’s iconic novel Wuthering Heights set among the wilderness of the moors. You’ll explore all this with Country Living on a five-day walking holiday this year or next, staying in the charming market town of Skipton and chugging through inspirational landscapes on old steam trains.
Transport yourself back in time on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway, which includes a stop at Oakworth, made famous in The Railway Children, and soak up the scenery as you take in the Dales along the Pennine Bridleway. Plus, you’ll stay at a family-owned hotel with a bar, restaurant, indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room – so there’ll be plenty of time to relax too!
6. Glide through the Scottish Highlands with Carol Kirkwood
Carol Kirkwood grew up among the romantic scenery of the Highland’s lochs and mountains, with her grandfather having helped build the incredible 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous around the world in the Harry Potter films. She rode over it regularly to school, and will tell you all about her time growing up there and her exciting TV career since, including appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, as you retrace the journey.
On Country Living’s October 2022 tour, you’ll travel on the iconic Jacobite train, used as the Hogwarts Express, and enjoy three unique boat rides: one on the Falkirk Wheel, another on the SS Sir Walter Scott and a cruise in the footsteps of Rob Roy on Loch Lomond. Plus, you’ll stay amid epic scenery at the historic Winnock coaching inn in the Trossacks, and have the chance to grab the freshest fish and chips going in the pretty port of Mallaig.
7. Discover Norfolk’s foodie hotspots with Delia Smith
The Norfolk Broads are one of the UK’s most famous landscapes, vast, wide-open wetlands with winding rivers and charming windmills that make for a beautiful backdrop on a lazy summer afternoon. It’s also a foodie haven, and the location of iconic British chef Delia Smith’s Delia’s Restaurant and Bar.
On our foodie-themed tour of the Norfolk countryside in May 2022, you’ll spend a full day at Delia’s Food and Wine Workshop, with a Q&A and book-signing with Delia, as well as cooking demo from Alex Mackay and a masterclass from cocktail expert Simon ‘Ice’ Atkinson, followed by a three-course lunch and wine-tasting. Bon appétit!
8. Relax on the ultimate spa break at Ragdale Hall
Refresh and revitalise yourself next year with a steamy spa break in the leafy Leicestershire countryside, home to one of Britain’s best-loved hotels, Ragdale Hall. Matching state-of-the-art facilities, like its fabulous rooftop infinity pool, and indulgent treatments with traditional Victorian architecture, it’s won a string of awards for its first-class service.
With Country Living, you can save up to 35 per cent on a two-night break, where you’ll enjoy full use of the spa and all facilities, two 40-minute treatments, three deliciously healthy meals each day and a free Clarins gift to remember your blissful stay.
9. See incredible wildlife on the Isles of Scilly with Will Wagstaff
When it comes to remote countryside, the Isles of Scilly are the perfect destination, scattered in the English Channel off the tip of Cornwall. Thanks to their southern location, they enjoy loads of sunshine and warmth, meaning that you can choose between gorgeous sandy beaches, lush gardens full of exotic plants, and rugged grassy plains.
See the best of the Isles of Scilly alongside wildlife expert and TV presenter Will Wagstaff, who will be joining sell-out tours in 2021 and 2022 to show you the rare birds and other creatures that flock to the islands’ shores. As well we plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery, you’ll try some of the excellent local cuisine – including ultra-fresh seafood – during dinners at the renowned St Mary’s Hall Hotel (where you’ll stay) and Star Castle Hotel.
10. Stay at one of Britain’s best hotels in beautiful Oxfordshire
Perhaps the most iconic country escape in the UK, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire won two Michelin stars when it opened 37 years ago and has kept them ever since. The hotel has magical gardens for growing its own herbs and tasty organic veg, as well as beautiful orchards to explore – and that’s just on-site.
Venture beyond Le Manoir’s grounds to see some of the best countryside southern England has to offer. While at the hotel, you’ll want to experience the restaurant’s seven-course menu, browse the breathtaking Japanese garden and check out the Raymond Blanc Cookery School.
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