The United Kingdom is a haven of wondrous landscapes, with mirror-like inland waters enshrouded by convex arid hills, and vast open plains of verdant greenery stretching from rugged coastlines, to golden sanded beaches. From the cobalt blue of flaxen fields in Buckinghamshire, to the desolate beauty of the Cairngorms - Britain boasts a wealth of beautiful locations, ideal for a weekend or summer getaway. Quaint villages and winding lanes comprise the most common perception of our rural retreats, however there is far more to rural escapism than just the picture postcard hamlets.
Aberfeldy, Perthsire - Scotland
Nestled afoot the magnificent silhouette of Perthshire's highest mountain - Ben Lawers; the picturesque North West Scotland village of Aberfeldy is ensconced beside the county's largest, and arguably most beautiful loch - Loch Tay. A popular retreat for walking enthusiasts, the surrounding landscapes of Aberfeldy are distinctly Alpine, giving way to a plenitude of romantic walking trails. The Birks of Aberfeldy is a circular trail which encompasses the breathtaking Falls of Moness. Quaint cottages dot the rugged topography of Aberfeldy's exterior, while the village itself offers the famous Dewar's Distillery, art galleries and a smattering of complimentary souvenir shops.
Blackdown Hills, Honiton - East Devon
Best known for their densely wooded dramatic slopes, hidden valleys and meandering streams, the Blackdown Hills which encompass both Devon and Somerset counties have now achieved the British Association acknowledgment for 'Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.
The steep Blackdown plateaus give way to sprawling valleys of relatively un-farmed fields and meadows, with occasional clusters of cob and thatch buildings. Winding trails and hazy summer days compliment the lushness of this relatively untouched corner of delightful Devon, where the easy-going pace of life allows you to do as little, or as much you so choose.
Towy River Valley, Pembrokeshire - South West Wales
The Breacon Beacons locality may dominate the plethora of Welsh cottage holidays on offer in the U.K, however that just adds to the hidden allure of the Towy River Valley. Punctuated by ox-bow lakes, rising promontories such as Black Mountain, and the placid River Towy itself; the valley presents the ideal backdrop for walking and hiking, however is also becoming popular with mountain biking enthusiasts. Natural trails such as the dashed, beach-like shores of the Towy are ideal for bike rides down-river to Llanarthney - home to the legendary Paxton's Tower. The magic of 'Merlin's Valley' is brought alive by ruinous castles perched upon hilly knolls, the cavernous realms within her hillsides, and sleepy villages where little has changed for hundreds of years.
Wymondham, Norfolk - East Anglia
The chocolate-box market town of Wymondham in Norfolk may be well known for it's 12th Century Benedictine Abbey, and adjacent St. Thomas A. Becket Well, however it is the adjacent countryside that really contributes to the area's suitability for a rural getaway. Marked by dense woodlands and low-lying meadows, the gateway to the Norfolk Broads is prime walking country, with trails to neighbouring Wicklewood and Mulbarton - popular with nature watchers and photography enthusiasts. Thetford Forest lies just 30 minutes South of the market town, and offers a diverse range of recreational activities, while the coast itself is also within comfortable driving proximity to the area.
Sotherton, Southwold - Suffolk
Cottage holidays in Suffolk breathe connotations of crumbling romantic farmhouses, beset within acres of meadows and quintessentially 'English' countryside. The reality plays true to this ideal, particularly within the hamlet of Sotherton, near the coastal town of Southwold. If true escapism is what you seek, this small village three miles from the coastal town of Southwold is the hidden gem you've been looking for. Enjoy a plenitude of walking opportunities via well-trodden paths to the neighbouring villages of Holton or Uggeshall. Craven Manor within Sotherton itself is a great place for afternoon tea, and embracing the tranquility of this tiny Suffolk village.
What magical places do you like to escape to in the UK?