Self-Catering Cottage Holidays in Central England
Our guide to holidays in and around Central England
Swathes of rolling green countryside and patchwork pastures are broken up by serene villages and lively cities, making a Central England holiday both fun and varied. With a landscape that ranges from postcard pretty to industrial chic, you're sure to find a view that speaks to your soul.
Take a read of our guide to Central England below, or browse through all holiday cottages in Central England
Derbyshire is famous for the Peak District National Park, staggeringly grand country estates, and terrific shopping. It's geographically central making it convenient to reach from anywhere in the UK. You don't have to go far to feel removed from the rush and stress of your daily life, so if a day hiking the hills sounds too strenuous, make your way to Britain's oldest public park: the Arboretum in Derby.
A visit to Chatsworth House is a treat for all the senses, and if stately homes are your thing, there are also Hardwick Hall and Bolsover Castle in Chesterfield to enjoy. Bakewell, Buxton, and Ashbourne are just three of many bustling market towns. The latter is an especially good base if you plan on visiting Alton Towers theme park.
The Cotswolds is the embodyment of quintessential English village life, and is arguably one of the prettiest parts of England. The soft golden stone buildings make it feel warm and welcoming on even the most miserable day. The Cotswolds AONB covers large parts of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also clips the edges of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset. Although a popular tourist area, farming and equestrian pursuits are a major part of the local economy resulting in a landscape that is largely unspoiled. Many of the towns and villages such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Norton and Broadway have rich histories and architecture dating back hundreds of years; the Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold dates back to 947AD making it the oldest inn in the UK.
The county of Gloucestershire is vast, bordering Wales to the west and Oxfordshire to the east. The county town of Gloucester is rich in character and history, as is Bath, where you can sit where Romans sat, and stroll where Jane Austen promenaded. It's great for shopping and eating, as is Cirencester. The landscape is no less attractive than the architecture. Gloucestershire is home to both the Forest of Dean - fantastic for mountain bikers and hikers - and Clearwell Caves. It is understandable why Gloucestershire is the weekend county of choice for so many well-heeled Londoners.
Ever since the Saxons settled there in around 700, Hereford has been a vibrant market town. Its position on the Welsh border means it has seen a few skirmishes, but it's now a calm and pleasant place to visit. Herefordshire includes the celebrated book town of Hay-on-Wye, Ross-on-Wye, and Mortimer Country, which remains as unspoiled as it was in medieval times. Appreciate it first on the Mortimer Trail, which runs from Ludlow to Kington.
Given its proximity to London - it takes an hour to get from Paddington Station in central London to Oxford - it would be easy for Oxfordshire to feel totally suburban. Thankfully, it doesn't. Oxford city centre is built around the ancient university and surrounded by gorgeous villages and countryside. The peace of the Chiltern Hills belies its industrial past and is popular with walkers; while Bicester is a haven for lovers of a bargain with its fantastic designer outlet shopping. The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Blenheim Palace are both enjoyable and educational, but even a leisurely stroll along a stretch of the River Thames will leave you relaxed and smiling.
Looking across the peaceful Shropshire countryside, it's difficult to believe this was where the Industrial Revolution began. Whether you base yourself in Shrewsbury, Church Stretton, Ludlow, Market Drayton, or any one of dozens of villages, you can experience the fantastic food and history the region is renowned for.
No matter what your age or interests, Staffordshire has it covered when it comes to fun. Cannock Chase has hair raising mountain bike trails as well as challenging walking paths, while England's National Forest is 200 square miles of heaven on earth. Send your adrenaline level through the roof at Alton Towers and Drayton Manor theme parks, or shop until your wallet begs for mercy at Trentham Shopping Village, the pottery outlet stores at Stoke-on-Trent, or one of many weekly farmers' markets, like those at Tamworth, Newcastle Under Lyme, and Stafford.
History buffs should visit The Ancient High House in Stafford, and the kids will enjoy the hands on activities at Gladstone Pottery Museum. Other activities include seeing the stunning Capability Brown designed gardens in Weston Park, and taking tea at the Trentham Estate.
Warwickshire is bursting with goodies, including Coventry Cathedral, Coombe Abbey, and the magnificent (and magnificently haunted!) Warwick Castle. We haven't even started on the delights of Stratford-Upon-Avon (birthplace of William Shakespeare) and Royal Leamington Spa, or mentioned what a fantastically convenient base it makes for visiting Birmingham, Leicester and Northampton. Warwickshire's heritage is rich and varied, and certainly not to be missed.
Worcestershire may be known internationally from the sauce label, but this amazing county is full of flavour that can't be bottled. The canal is a focal point for many holiday makers who walk, cycle or sail its length, and there are miles of other paths to navigate, such as the Worcestershire Way, Severn Way, and Wychavon Way. The region produces incredible food and drink, so whether you tuck into a meal at a country pub or buy the ingredients at a farm shop, you can always eat well. Save a day or two for West Midland Safari Park, or time your visit to coincide with one of the amazing events at the Three Counties Showground.
Whether you pop over for a few days or stay for a week, Central England is beautiful at any time of year.