Spring is just around the corner, we promise. If you look closely enough, you might even see tiny buds appearing in the garden -- and as today marks the start of English Tourism Week (16-24 March), what better time to plan your weekends out and about in the countryside? Here's our guide to England's top outdoorsy spots...
If it’s rugged and dramatic scenery that you’re looking for, then load up the car and head to the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales. The Lake District covers 885 square miles of mountainous terrain and is made up of striking scenery, carved out over thousands of years by glacial movement. It also stakes claim to the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike.
The Yorkshire Dales, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covers some 680 square miles that straddle the Pennines in North Yorkshire and Cumbria. The area is a firm favourite with tourists from around the world looking to experience movie-set backdrops from films including "Wuthering Heights", "Calendar Girls" and "Elizabeth".
If it’s more the quaint, stereotypical English countryside that puts the spring in your step, then the Cotswolds is the place to go. The range of hills in southwestern and west-central England stretches across an area that’s 25 miles across and 90 miles long. A haven away from the metropolis of London, they can both be reached by car in two hours from the capital. After what might seem like a long (albeit well sign-posted) drive, you’ll be suitably paid off with the sight of postcard-pretty villages and cute tea rooms.
Most people have seen photos of Durdle Door -- a natural arch reaching from the coast of Dorset into the English Channel -- however it’s hard to appreciate the cathedral-like architecture until you’ve taken the stroll along Dorset’s breathtaking Jurassic Coast. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, this prehistoric coast stretches on for 96 miles. Keep your eyes peeled for fossil-shaped souvenirs in the rock pools.
Closer to home
Kent and Sussex are easily accessible by train or car from London. Both counties have a diverse offering of walking trails, picturesque towns and coastline -- and they’re closer to the capital than you might think.
How about this for a wildcard: Hyde Park. It’s one of the greatest city parks in the world, with more than 4000 trees, a lake, a meadow and rose gardens. Wander among the daffodils this spring and we guarantee that you’ll forget you’re in central London. (Well, almost.)
The National Trust website details over 700 walks on National Trust land, all free to download. Just enter your postcode or region to search an extensive list of places to visit. Where2Walk has over 100 walks in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Each one of them has been mapped out over the years by Jonathan Smith, a qualified mountain leader -- including personal recommendations for those all-important pubs and cafés! Ramblers is a leading British walking charity that offers an online library of walking routes. All of them have been created and tested by volunteers, ranging from easy urban strolls to more advanced hikes.