Why Take a Weekend Break in the Countryside?
It sounds like one of those things you should do; hiking up a mountain every Sunday was what your parents did before their roast, and all those times they dragged you with them were “for your own health”.
It was hard work, cold and the promised view when you reached the top – covered in sweat, mud and blood – was unfailingly just a sea of cloud, fog and disappointment. So why should you do it all again?
You don’t have to hike
The countryside does not have to be synonymous with plodding up hills after the distant shadow of the dog. Cycling is a much more leisurely way to experience the scenery, and many National Parks have extensive cycle path networks. If this still sounds too much like hard work, try a golf or spa holiday, visit museums or a historical site, or treat yourself to an exploration of the local cafés and pubs.
Whether you’re going with your partner, your best friend or on your own, the beauty of the country is undeniable. Experience the views that have characterised English literature for centuries, and lose yourself in the nature which claimed the minds of the Romantic poets Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley. See the inspiration behind Pemberley and Wuthering Heights while appreciating the romance of a cosy country pub.
The hustle and bustle of the city is great, but even the most social of us needs a break. Escaping to the country is just that: an escape from life and a chance to unwind. Make the most of the weekend and use a trip to the country as a chance to forget about real life and relax – so that you’re ready to start it all again on Monday morning.
But where should you go?
There are rural escapes throughout Britain, and the welcome view of the countryside can be found only around an hour’s drive out of most cities. A quick look on the National Parks website should reveal your closest protected green area, but here are my top three destinations for a quintessentially British country weekend.
Chatsworth, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire
The possible inspiration for Mr Darcy’s Pemberley, the Chatsworth estate is truly stunning. Not too far from Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham, a weekend in Chatsworth is bound to have you in awe and appreciation at the beauty of its estate and house. Stay in one of the many B&Bs in the local Bakewell, and taste the renowned Bakewell Tart in one of the town’s cosy cafés before making the short trip to Chatsworth for a wonder around the estate or an explore through the house. For a busier trip, visit on the weekend of the International Horse Trials, the RHS Flower Show, or book tickets to the Christmas Masquerade Ball.
Elterwater, Lake District National Park, Cumbria
Just 15 minutes from the more touristy Ambleside, Elterwater is truly at the quiet heart of the Lake District. Easily accessible from the M6, Elterwater is home to quaint hotels and surrounded by walking, cycling and climbing routes, so a central location for the adventurous. For those looking for a slower pace, enjoy the gentle strolls, friendly cafés, or pop over to Ambleside for a day of shopping, eating and enjoying the view.
East Grinstead, West Sussex
For those needing a quick escape from London, East Grinstead is only a short drive away and seeped in history; it truly is a step back from the busy city. An historic market town set in some of the finest English countryside, visit its friendly cafés, pubs and restaurants and explore the many traditions of the town. Alternatively, spend a night at Gravetye Manor, famous for its twisting lake, stunning gardens and ethos of relaxation. With 17 luxury rooms and a Michelin star restaurant, visit this hotel for a weekend to remember.