Kate Brown June 19 2023

Where is the best English countryside? A tough question – but we’ll try to answer!

At Absolute Escapes, we’re always discussing our favourite spots to visit in the UK. As someone who grew up in Scotland, I fondly remember crossing the border to England and observing the changing landscape from the backseat of my parents’ car during the summer holidays.

With recommendations from the team, I’ve put together a list of a few of our all-time favourite spots in the English countryside. Despite being a relatively small country, England’s countryside is very varied and diverse. From steep grassy hills and rugged moors to tranquil lakes and gently flowing rivers, the English countryside has so much to offer.

These classic landscapes are not the only reason why countryside retreats are loved by so many. There’s something particularly idyllic about village life in the English countryside. Many pubs and restaurants are proud to serve local produce and there is something to be said for enjoying a fresh meal when you know the ingredients were grown just a few miles down the road.

For history lovers, the countryside can also be a real treasure trove. While large cities can offer multiple museums and endless visitor attractions, the countryside is also full of history and unmissable sightseeing opportunities.


The Yorkshire Dales: Cherish A Classic Favourite

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is an area which never fails to amaze its visitors. Situated in the North of England, the Yorkshire Dales are an ideal location for those looking to escape the crowds and relax in the beautiful countryside. Rolling hills dotted with sheep, charming villages and endless walking opportunities make the Yorkshire Dales a real sanctuary for nature enthusiasts. The quintessential dry stone walls of Yorkshire stretch as far as the eye can see and are an integral piece of the landscape.

Some of our favourite spots in the Yorkshire Dales include Malham, Keld and Hawes.



Malham is famed for its impressive limestone rock formations (which even featured in the Harry Potter films!) Malham Cove can be easily accessed from the village of Malham and makes an excellent spot to take in the views.

Gordale Scar is another popular attraction. The gorge is extremely impressive and the true size of this natural phenomenon can only be appreciated in real life.



Situated in North Yorkshire, the pretty village of Keld is perhaps one of the most tranquil spots in the Dales. Lying in Swaledale, this village is relatively secluded and makes the perfect spot to enjoy the surrounding countryside and nearby walks.

Keld has become a popular spot for walkers, with the Pennine Way, the Coast to Coast and the Herriot Way all crossing through this village. Kisdon Force Falls are a short walk from the village and the surrounding woodland has been named a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ due to its abundance and variety of flora and fauna.



The pretty market town of Hawes in Upper Wensleydale is a great location to explore the Yorkshire Dales from, with fantastic walking opportunities in the surrounding area.

The circular route which includes a visit to the famous Hardraw Force Falls – the highest single-drop waterfall in England – is a must if you are in the area.


The North York Moors: Explore the Rugged Moorlands

Perhaps less famous than the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors National Park offers some of the most remarkable scenery in England. The beautiful heather-clad hills and extensive woodlands offer fantastic walking opportunities.

For nature lovers, the moorland is a great place to discover different species of wildlife, such as the Merlin, the UK’s smallest bird of prey.


A Place to Stargaze

The North York Moors National Park became an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2020, and the countryside is one of the best places to stargaze in the UK due to the clear skies and low light pollution. The more remote the better and in some spots up to two thousand stars can be visible in the night sky.

If you’re looking for a change of pace and a breath of fresh air, you’ll love Yorkshire.

Interested in visiting the Yorkshire countryside? Take a look at our itinerary Classic Yorkshire: Whitby, York & The Dales which encompasses the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and the historic city of York.

For a self-drive holiday which is more focused on walking opportunities, we’d recommend looking at our Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks multi-centre walking holiday which allows you to explore these two fantastic national parks.


Kent: Discover The Garden of England 

Situated in the southeast of England, the countryside of Kent cannot go unmentioned and is another popular destination for the Absolute Escapes team.

With miles of beautiful pastures and landscapes dotted with enchanting cottages, the historic county of Kent is a wonderful destination frequently referred to as the ‘Garden of England’. The region is also famed for its hop production and abundance of National Trust attractions.


The Perfect Retreat

The Kent Downs AONB is a protected landscape which encompasses the vibrant, bluebell-studded woodlands and pastoral villages from the white cliffs of Dover to the London border. It’s hard to believe that these beautiful gardens and stunning countryside views are less than an hour away from bustling London.

A couple of days in the Kent countryside would make a wonderful addition to a trip to London and would be a great way to combine rural and urban England.


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The enchanting Scotney Castle is well worth a visit and the mansion on the estate is a fine example of classic Victorian architecture. Oldbury Hill is another excellent place to visit and combines a fantastic woodland walk with a visit to one of the largest remains of an Iron Age hill fort in the country.

Take a look at our South of England Road Trip itinerary which passes through some of this incredible countryside as well as the beautiful Kent coast. You can also speak to one of our Travel Specialists about adding additional days to this itinerary if you would like to explore the region in even more detail.


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The Cotswolds: Enjoy A Timeless Haven

The Cotswolds AONB stretches through five counties in England and is the perfect place to explore those charmingly classic English villages. Explore quaint villages where gentle rivers are lined by honey-coloured cottages, traditional tea rooms and atmospheric pubs.



Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is the perfect place to soak up the timeless charm of southern central England and is often referred to as ‘the Venice of England’ due to its impressive stone bridges.

The famous Model Village of Bourton-on-the-Water has been delighting visitors since 1937, when it was officially opened to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI.


Castle Combe

Many consider Castle Combe to be one of the prettiest villages in England. Castle Combe has been a popular filming location for several years and has featured in various acclaimed pictures such as War Horse.


Glorious Walks

The Cotswolds offer both excellent sightseeing opportunities and fantastic walks. From long and challenging walks to more relaxed rambles, there are many well-loved walking routes which will allow you to explore the area at an easygoing pace.

Our Cotswolds and Jurassic Coast multi-centre walking holiday enables you to explore the delightful areas with a focus on exploring the wonderful countryside on foot.


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Discover the English countryside

If you’d like to experience classic England for yourself, why not have a look at our Classic England: Oxford & The Cotswolds self-drive itinerary?

The English countryside offers a unique blend of majestic landscapes, delightful villages and world-class heritage sites. For me, England’s most impressive feature is its sheer variety of landscapes, each with its own rich history and extraordinary character for you to discover.

While the areas I have mentioned are particular favourites of mine, it’s important to note that there are still so many more spots waiting to be explored! If you’re looking to plan the perfect holiday to the English countryside, please get in touch and our Travel Specialists will be delighted to assist you.

Kate Brown

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