With such a fast pace of life in London, we all sometimes need a change of scenery to help recharge our batteries. The pure diversity of the British landscape, combined with good transport links, allows us to explore a range of different pastimes and pleasures whilst still being able to be back at our desks first thing on Monday morning.
Perhaps you would like to get away and hike across the hills? Or cycle on quiet country lanes and visit pretty English villages? Alternatively, why not fulfil your passion for golf, horse riding, fishing or water sports? Or take a long blustery walk along the beach before returning to a cosy cottage with a log fire and a good book? Whatever you are after, Independent Cottages has plenty of holiday houses in beautiful locations all within an easy drive, or train journey, from London. You can leave your desk at 5pm on Friday evening and be settling down to fish and chips on the seafront a few hours later. The choice of destinations for a weekend break from London in the UK are endless, but here are our top five suggestions.
The Wool Towns of Suffolk
The Wool Towns of Suffolk are a perfect weekend retreat for anyone with a passion for antique hunting, historic buildings and gastronomy. This cluster of pretty villages and towns in the heart of Suffolk display some of the finest examples of Medieval timber framed buildings in the country, attracting people from far and wide to admire their beauty. Lavenham, Long Melford, Clare and Cavendish are among the most popular for their incredible architecture, historic trails, fine dining and antiquities. The area offers lovely walks and good cycling opportunities with quiet country lanes and winding village streets lined with pink washed cottages. Our Suffolk Guide provides lots of inspiration for things to do to help you plan your weekend away.
Just two hours drive away, or easily accessible by train via Liverpool Street, Suffolk is a popular choice for a short break.
Brockenhurst, New Forest
Brockenhurst, in the heart of the New Forest, makes a great weekend destination for anyone wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday city life. Wild ponies, donkeys, cows and even deer roam freely in this exceptionally pretty village which is surrounded by heathland and ancient woods. Hire a bike, take a walk in the forests, play a round of golf, or even explore this beautiful National Park on horseback. There are countless attractions throughout the New Forest and our New Forest Guide can help you pick the best ones for you and your group.
If you want a weekend away from the kitchen you will be spoilt for choice by the fantastic range of cafes, bars and restaurants. Enjoy hearty pub lunches, award winning restaurants, or just a quick coffee and homemade cake at one of the 25 eateries in the village.
It is an easy drive to Brockenhurst. Alternatively, leave your car behind and take one of the regular trains that run to Brockenhurst from Waterloo in just 90 minutes.
Stow on the Wold, The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds are popular all year round and Stow-on-the-Wold is no exception. Sitting in an elevated position, this historic market town attracts visitors from all over the world. The impressive market square is surrounded by honey coloured buildings, narrow streets, antique shops and chic bistros. Fine dining, traditional pubs and lots of interesting little shops to browse are just a few of the many reasons people visit Stow time and time again.
Surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside, Stow offers great walking opportunities. You can visit quintessential English villages such as The Slaughters and Bourton-in-the-Water without needing to get in the car. You also have popular attractions like Burford, Broadway, Chipping Campden and Snowshill within less than half an hour drive. To get a true taste of what’s on offer, take a look at our Cotswolds Guide.
Stow is under two hours away from London by car. The train from Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh or Kingham (both 10-15 minutes from Stow by taxi) takes about 90 minutes.
Buxton, The Peak District
The beautiful thermal spa town of Buxton sits in a picturesque position on the River Wye. The Derbyshire hills provide a stunning backdrop to this small town where you will find ornamental gardens, an opera house, independent shops, restaurants and bars, all nestled in between some stunning Georgian and Victorian architecture.
For any outdoor enthusiasts, the main attraction of Buxton is the close proximity to the Peak District National Park with its wealth of attractions (read our guide to find out more). Perhaps best known as walking country, this is the perfect place to enjoy some spectacular scenery and blow the cobwebs away. It is also a great place to get around on two wheels. Whether you are a seasoned mountain biker, or looking for gentle traffic free trails, there are plenty of biking opportunities. For those who like to go directly ‘up’, the Peak District has some of the most popular and challenging rock climbing routes. Or those who are brave enough to explore ‘under’ the hills can have a go at caving.
Whilst a little further away than some places, Buxton is still only 3 hours by train from London Euston making it a perfect getaway for any outdoor enthusiasts.
West Wittering, West Sussex
If you are craving the seaside, pack your bucket and spade and head to the glorious sandy beaches of West Sussex. Whilst there are many to choose from, we think the unspoilt sandy beach at West Wittering is hard to beat for a weekend of sandcastles, water sports and blustery walks by the sea. As well as the vast expanse of golden sand stretching out towards the English Channel, you can also enjoy the wonderful views of Chichester Harbour and the untouched marshland which is well known for its birdwatching opportunities.
If you fancy a break from the beach, visit the city of Chichester. Explore the beautiful Cathedral, enjoy browsing the independent shops and restaurants, visit an art gallery or have a go at stand up paddle boarding on the canal!
West Wittering is about a 2 hour drive from London. The train to Chichester from Victoria takes 90 minutes. Buses run from Chichester to West Wittering every 30 minutes and it takes 25 minutes.
Living in the British Isles we are so lucky to have so many fantastic and varied places to visit on our doorstep. Beaches, rolling countryside, history, culture and quiet country lanes are all easily accessible for a couple of nights away from London. And with so many last minute offers available, often with great discounts, it is easy to plan a spur of the moment escape from the big smoke.
If you are happy to travel a little further afield, go and explore the breath taking scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, climb the highest mountain in England in the Lake District, test your metal in adventurous Snowdonia, soak up some culture in Durham, explore the gorgeous beaches in Devon or the waterways in the Norfolk Broads. They are all less than a four hour train journey away. Perfect for that next long weekend getaway!