Absolute Escapes February 3 2021

England is home to the most wonderful diverse mixture of villages, from the white-washed cottages of Cornwall to the cobblestone streets of the Cotswolds – each location is unique, each with its own style, atmosphere and rich history. 

England’s architectural charms and alluring landscapes have inspired writers, poets, filmmakers, and artists for centuries, and continue to attract people from all over the world to experience its captivating charisma. 

Dramatic cliffs, beautiful beaches, honey-coloured cottages, big skies, meandering rivers, thatched roofs, azure waters, imposing fells, undulating countryside, cobblestone streets – you could spend a lifetime discovering all that the villages of England have to offer before even getting started on the cities! 

To celebrate the launch of our wonderful new self-drive holidays in England, we’re shining the spotlight on England’s picture-postcard villages…



Port Isaac

Home to one of the narrowest streets in Britain – the appropriately named Squeezy Belly Alley – the stunning fishing village Port Isaac is full of charm and character from the get-go.

Nestled amongst the rugged coast of Cornwall, Port Isaac has been a bustling seaside location since the early fourteenth century and continues to attract visitors from all over the world each year, not least due to the fact that many TV and movie producers have based their shows here, including the renowned TV show Doc Martin.

The maze of cobblestone streets and white-washed houses exude an allure that only a Cornish seaside village can offer.

St Mawes

Snugly situated at the tip of the Roseland Peninsula within Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies St Mawes. Home to a small population of around only 700 permanent residents, St Mawes certainly holds its own and was recently named the UK’s best coastal destination.

With its harbourfront peppered with picturesque buildings, the hive of activities in the surrounding waters and the Mediterranean-like weather thanks to its position within the Gulf Stream, St Mawes is the ideal hotspot for visitors to take in all the charm of this Cornish gem.




A visit to this unique and charming village truly feels like stepping back in time. Once owned by the Queen of England, Clovelly has been privately owned ever since which has allowed it to keep its quaint, historical atmosphere.

With its cobblestone streets, higgledy-piggledy multi-coloured cottages and stunning views of a turquoise ocean, coastal villages really don’t come any more picturesque than Clovelly.

Given its position on a steep hill and as cars are not allowed, the use of sledges and donkeys to transport goods down throughout the village are still in use today – you may even spot a donkey when the weather is nice!


The pretty pastel-coloured houses of Appledore are sure to put a smile on your face.  Appledore is built on a tradition of fishing and boat building which still continues today and is home to the North Devon Maritime Museum to commemorate its maritime past.

Appledore is also known for its lively calendar of local events and one of the big highlights is the annual Appledore Book Festival.


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Lake District


The picture-perfect village of Grasmere is nestled at the foot of some of the most spectacularly colourful and divine fells of the Lake District and is one of the most popular spots in the area.

Described as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found” by the famous romantic poet William Wordsworth who spent his years here writing his most influential poems, Grasmere has provided inspiration for creatives for centuries and continues to attract visitors from all over the world, and quite rightly so.

Not only is this charming Lake District village surrounded by beauty and steeped in history, it is also home to the world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop – the only reason to we need to visit!


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Watched over by the mighty Old Man of Coniston which towers above the village, Coniston is one of the most striking villages in the Lake District. It is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise with spectacular fell walks in every direction, boat trips down Coniston Water – the third-longest lake in the Lake District, and rock climbing – there is truly something for everyone.

Step back in time and experience the Steam Yacht Gondola, an incredibly unique sailing experience. You can enjoy the charm of luxury travel once experienced by wealthy Victorians, riding in style in the Gondola’s saloons or relaxing on the open-air decks as it glides across Coniston Water.


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The historic village of Hawkshead is set in the picturesque Vale of Esthwaite making it another spectacularly scenic spot in the Lake District. With its charming mishmash of cobbled streets, stunning houses and inviting village cafes and shops, you could spend an afternoon soaking up its countryside charm – even more so as cars are banned from the village.

Hawkshead has historic ties with Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-duck and a host of characters loved by children all over the world. You can visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery in the heart of Hawkshead to find out all about Beatrix Potter’s life in the Lake District and the areas surrounding which inspired her.




Best known for its imposing castle which sits spectacularly above the Northumberland coastline, Bamburgh is flocked to by swathes of tourists each year.

The castle which towers 150 feet above the coast was built between 420 and 547. Today, it is the private family seat of the Armstrongs and has featured as a filming location for numerous productions, including Macbeth in 2015 and more recently The Last Kingdom in 2018.

Bamburgh Beach sits in a designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, and with one of the UK’s most iconic castles to one side and the Farne Islands on the other, it’s little wonder why.


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The quaint village of Warkworth is framed by a 12th-century church and a magnificent castle, artisan shops, and incredible views, making it one of the prettiest spots along the Northumberland coastline.

The beautiful village is set on a rocky spur encircled by a loop in the River Coquet beneath its castle. The castle stands proudly at the top of the village and is visible from miles around.


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Known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-Water has characteristic charm flowing through it in every which way.

The fairytale-like village is a delightful mix of cobblestone streets lined with Georgian houses, golden stone cottages, boutique shops and classic English tearooms.

The beautiful River Windrush flows through the centre of the village with picturesque low-arched bridges spanning the river, all adding to the quintessential Cotswolds charm of the village.

If the charm of the real village isn’t enough, there is a mini replica of the village dating back to the 1930s, including miniature gardens, a running river and all the beauty of the village just at a one-ninth of the size!


The historic town of Burford is home to England’s oldest pharmacy and plenty of incredible medieval architecture including a bridge dating back to the Middle Ages.

Its attractive high street is home to numerous boutiques, cafes, historic pubs and cute shops, and its quintessential Cotswold lanes are lined with 17th and 18th-century cottages. With every turn there is something special to spot here in the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’.


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Castle Combe

Nestled in the southern Cotswolds, a visit to Castle Combe is truly like stepping back in time. Usually a cliche, this statement stands true with no new houses having been built since the 1600s and no street lights or TV aerials installed.

The picture-perfect high street radiates quintessential English charm and is quite possibly the most magical location in England. Castle Combe has been used as the backdrop for many popular TV series and movies, including Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.

Wander down to the south end of the village where the postcard-perfect vista will come into view where the weavers’ cottages, flowing river and striking bridge blend to make the perfect picture.


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Known for its thriving fishing industry, the picturesque village of Staithes was once one of the largest fishing ports on the north-east coast.

It sits on the wonderfully rugged Yorkshire coast and brims with character and has a rich maritime heritage. Staithes was once home to the famous Royal Navy captain and explorer, Captain James Cook.

The charming higgledy-piggledy nature of the cottages and winding streets are a beautiful scene to see. The village also sits on the ‘Dinosaur Coast’ making it the ideal spot for fossil hunters.


With its rolling landscapes, charismatic pubs, friendly tea rooms and cottages that date back more than 300 years, the quaint village of Kettlewell is a well-loved location in the Yorkshire Dales.

Tucked away in a lush green valley, Kettlewell is the perfect spot to access some of the best walking country in the Dales. It is also home to Britain’s best scarecrow festival which attracts thousands of visitors each year!


Norfolk and Suffolk


Located in the delightful Suffolk countryside, Lavenham is one of the most well-preserved medieval villages in England and boasts 320 listed timber-framed buildings, which feature heavily in the Harry Potter films.

Medieval charm can be found at every turn with Tudor houses, crooked timber cottages and its 15th Century Wool church.


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Burnham Market

Situated close to the beautiful North Norfolk coast, Burnham Market which is centred around the village green provides a great mix of renowned restaurants, red-roofed pubs and a special mix of independent shops including a traditional post office, butcher, hardware shop, fish shop and lots of picturesque galleries.

Despite its popularity, Burnham Market has managed to preserve its unique and special village feel.


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Are you ready to experience these stunning locations for yourself? Discover the charm of England with one of our award-winning self-drive holidays.

Fern Urquhart

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