Cosy Country Escapes in the UK

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

Venture to these verdant pockets of the countryside in scenic corners of the United Kingdom to set out on cosy winter walks and discover the sites that really set these exceptionally picturesque regions apart. End each day in the great outdoors with a cosy evening by the fire.

Country escapes in England

Declared a royal forest by William the Conqueror and now designated a national park, the New Forest spans a vast area of pasture, heathland and forest across both Hampshire and Wiltshire. This wild landscape is dotted with picturesque villages as well as the two main towns where many visitors base their stay, Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst. The forested landscape can be explored on foot, by hiring a bike or joining a horseback ride from the riding stables in Brockenhurst.

Travelling north of the capital to central England, the Peak District draws outdoor enthusiasts to its forest and moorland for exploration of hiking trails including a section of the Pennine Way. Within this extraordinary landscape, other areas of interest include heritage landmarks like Chatsworth House - also known for being Pemberley estate in the popular 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Rural retreats in Scotland

The Cairngorms spans an incredible 4,528 sq km of the Scottish Highlands. Known as the UK’s largest national park, this landscape stretches across parts of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus, and Perth and Kinross. Four of the five highest mountains in the UK are found here and there are nine nature reserves to explore as well as woodland, rivers and lochs. In this environment, outdoor pursuits abound with walking trails, cycling routes and water sports all catering to visitors. Adding to this are several spectacular golf courses and heritage landmarks including the impressive royal residence, Balmoral Castle.

A bucolic getaway in Wales

Wales’ famously scenic Pembrokeshire Coast Path stretches along 299km of coastline, from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, and is appealingly made up of limestone cliffs, red sandstone bays, beaches, estuaries and volcanic headlands. This dramatic coastline is then home to harbour villages such as Porthgain, clifftop towns like Tenby and Fishguard, and inland from the coast, the market town of Narberth. Time here can be spent following the coastal path and seeking out its beaches, taking a boat trip to catch sight of dolphins and visiting one of several castles in the area. Many of Pembrokeshire’s restaurants and hotels take pride in championing the artisanal produce that’s in abundance in the area.

A remote retreat in Northern Ireland

County Antrim is the setting for some of Northern Ireland’s most spectacular sights. You can travel to see the atmospheric Dark Hedges made famous by Game of Thrones, follow the trail leading through Glenariff Forest Park to the Glenariff Waterfalls, and cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which was first erected in 1755 by salmon fishermen, linking the mainland near Ballintoy to the island of Carrick-a-Rede. You can visit the coastal ruins of Dunluce Castle and clamber across one of Northern Ireland’s most famous sites, the world heritage Giant’s Causeway made up of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns at the water’s edge. Cosy hotel options abound across the region, from cosy lodges to coastal retreats.

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