Category: Holiday Ideas

Escaping from London for a weekend break

Boats moored up alongside reeds with golden sunset

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!

29 thoughts on “Escaping from London for a weekend break

  1. Longtail Lodge

    Lake District Cumbria….take the hassle & stress out of driving on the Motorways. You can travel to Kendal, Oxenholme or Windermere by train from London Euston in as little as 3 hours and rail services are very frequent. If you book a ticket in advance you’re guaranteed a seat & can sometimes get a 1st class ticket at an excellent rate so you travel in real comfort.
    Once you reach the Lakes you can do plenty of sighseeing without the need of a car but with the help of tour buses, pleasure cruisers or hire boats, hire bikes (electric ones now available many places) or a sturdy pair of shoes & a warm jacket but you don’t need to be a serious “hiker or walker” as many walks of interest are well signposted & on tarmac or pathways!
    Taxi fares are also reasonable here.
    Villages such as Bowness & Windermere have some intersting & quirky shops plus numerous bars, cafes & restaurants which cater for every taste & budget.
    Visitors to the area who use cars will find progess can sometimes be slow & you will miss the most exciting & breathtaking scenery which can generally only be seen on foot.

  2. Jean Baylis

    Escape the greys of town and visit a landscape of colour on the New Forest / East Dorset border. Only 2 hours approx., easy drive from London. Forester’s & Keeper’s detached Gold Award self catering cottages are ideal for a weekend retreat. Warm and cosy, we include full central heating, gas, electricity, linen, towels, free wi-fi and lots of start off essentials – dishwasher tablets, condiments, beverages etc. Our location is ideal for walking, cycling, horse riding or just enjoying the scenery of the forest, countryside and coast for a weekend, mid-week short break or holiday. Discounts for a couple and special offers please click on our website and contact us for a Winter Getaway with a Warm Welcome.

  3. Lindsay Christian

    Come to Tetbury and stay at my Christmas cottage. Tetbury is a wonderful destination from London, in fact, it’s attractions already make it popular for short breaks and long weekends. So easy to get to – a 2 hr cruise down the M4 or A40/M40. Or even from Paddington to Kemble railway station and a taxi pick up works well as this picturesque little station is just 7mls out of town and takes 15mins. Lovely scenery all the way too!! Once here you will find Tetbury is quite unique in the range and quality of its shops. You won’t find any chain type stores here. If you won’t something for the home there are lots of different interior shops not just beautiful antiques. You will find the prices better than similar in London. Clothes for his/her are catered for. The lovely Highgrove shop is also a real treat. Eating out is of a good quality – you will be spoilt for choice somewhere different each night. My cottage is ideally situated also for lovely country walks as although it is only minutes to walk to the town centre it is only seconds to be in countryside too. Guests praise its location time and again. You really do not need to get in the car when here but if you do drive the 2mls to the beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum, passing the Gates of Highgrove H R H Prince Charles much loved home. There are 600 acres of lovely walks and a very very nice shop and cafe as well. So do contact Christmas Cottage to book that break away!!!! My two sons live in London and they love coming here as the town is a little class act nestling as it does in the gorgeous Cotswolds. See you soon best wishes Lindsay

  4. Gill Brown

    Need to relax, want peace and quiet and not to far from London. Why not visit us at Avocet Rest as we are situated in the peace and quiet of the south Lincolnshire Fens within walking distance of the Wash. This is an exceptional place for bird watching and it also gives excellent walking and cycling. The property is set back from the road with plenty of off road parking and it benefits from no near neighbours but we are only a mile out of the village of Freiston. RSBP reserve of Freiston Shore is less than a mile away, Frampton Marsh RSPB site is only 6 miles away and Gibralta Point at Skegness is 25 miles away. If you prefer, Lincoln is only 30 miles away which offers a beautiful Cathedral City with excellent shopping and eating houses. Or just come and enjoy the comfort of Avocet Rest and our garden and birds without using the car. We see from our garden, barn owls, little owls, tawny owls, We also have a pair of merlin that hunt the garden every day, along with sparrow hawk, kestrels etc. We have at the moment gold crests resident, along with gold finches, and all the regular garden birds. Buzzards and Marsh Harriers can be seen from time to time and also the occasional red kite. It is the time of year for plenty of geese, including canada, greylag, and brent with a good selection of wading birds, such as red shank, godwits, golden plover, green plover, curlew etc and ducks, such as pochard, teal, shoveler, wigeon, little grebe etc – all to be seen at Freiston Shore and Frampton Marsh. All these birds enjoy our peace and quiet why don’t you even if you are not a bird watcher the peace and quiet is deafening. We can’t guarantee the weather but the welcome and comfort will be second to none. Many thanks for reading this and good wishes for the festive season. Gill and Rick.

  5. Carole Browm

    Our place is around a 2 hr journey by car, or catch a train from London to Gloucester, a taxi ride of about 10 minutes from station.
    There are lots of interesting places to visit. We have the Forest of Dean nearby with lovely walks and cycle tracks. There are lots of market towns within easy reach.The cities of Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford are just a short car ride away.
    We have a lovely home from home accommodation with free wi fi and everything you could need for a short or longer break.
    Hope to see you soon.

  6. Karen Marshallsay

    We get many guests from London returning again and again to the peace and tranquility at Odle Farm….take a look at our visitors book on our website, the words “leaving so relaxed”, “stunning views” “so quiet” appear regularly.

    The hot tubs help you relax those aching muscles after exploring the surrounding countryside, the Blackdown Hills AONB with quaint farming villages and cosy pubs won’t dissapoint. There is a lovely walk from Odle Farm that passes the Sidmouth Arms in the village, they are well known for their Sunday lunch so you may want to book in advance.

    Maybe fossil hunting at Charmouth and Lyme Regis is your thing, I love visiting the beaches in winter, especially after a storm to see what treasures you can find. Walk the south west coast path, with a stop for lunch by a roaring fire in one of the locals? Dartmoor and Exmoor are both within an hours drive if you want to explore the moors.

    Don’t take our word for it…come and see for yourselves, hopefully you’ll get some clear nights to watch the stars from your hot tub…….shooting stars if you’re really lucky…..and go home fully recharged, relaxed and ready to face the rest of the world!

    See you soon. Karen

  7. Sarah Humphreys

    A three hour drive from London and surrounding area will find you in the heart of beautiful Mid Wales, and if that’s not enough, we offer our guests a three night weekend stay in 4 star log cabin accommodation equipped with five star quality.
    A private hot tub where star gazing is a must-no light pollution here!
    There is also a steam sauna in the downstairs shower room.
    Three bedrooms along with three shower rooms make these bespoke log cabins an ideal get away from it all for a group or family of 6.
    A short walk down to the village of Carno, where there is a well stocked Spar shop and pub which serves food daily.
    Mid week and weekend stays are available all year round, so take a good look at our website and drop me an email. Sarah

  8. Sue Davies

    Brecon in Wales is so beautiful at any time of year. Come and enjoy the countryside.
    In the Brecon Beacons National Park
    We are just 1 mile from Brecon town easily accessible from all parts of the uk.
    Ideal for family and friends reunions. Activity Breaks, walking, canoeing, cycling, etc all nearby.

    We offer a large 5 bedroom farmhouse with oak beams and open fire, large garden.
    for more details look at our website.

    Midweek and Weekend Breaks available all year.

    Come and enjoy a wonderful warm welsh welcome
    See you soon Sue

  9. The Chauffeur's Flat, Snape

    An hour and a half from London will bring you to the Suffolk Coast where you can enjoy peace and quiet, beautiful scenery, classical music at Snape Maltings and wonderful food. Our towns and villages are unspoilt, yet they offer a wide choice of individual shops and restaurants. Our footpaths are extensive and our beaches are wonderful. Try it for a weekend and come back time after time. So many of our guests do just that!

  10. Crossing Cottage, Aldeburgh

    Aldeburgh is just perfect for a weekend away from it all. Whether you live in London, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire it is less than an hour and a half’s drive. Come and unwind, enjoy the coastline, fresh air, long walks and good food. Crossing Cottage is ideal in all weathers with a woodburner, conservatory and garden. Book now for 2013!

  11. Elaine Avery

    Escape to our beautiful Hideaway Cottage tucked away in a small Village on the edge of the New Forest. After the hustle and bustle of the festivities of Christmas Hideaway Cottage is the perfect retreat for winding down with a good book or simply doing nothing except relaxing in this tranquil environment with only the sound of ducks and wildlife. 3 night bookings available

  12. The Stowaway

    Stow on the Wold is the perfect destination, so many fabulous restaurants all within a stones throw of this property, no need to bring or prepare anything, we are fully equipped with bed made up, towels and tea towels. The small delis and Supermarket (open late) will have any essentials you need. Mabys Deli have a lovely range of ready meals in their freezers, no need to cook as we would like to mention The Old Butchers restaurant, Digbeths Bistro, The Talbot, Prince of India and so many more stroll around and look at the menus and take in the atmosphere! Shopping is excellent with mainly independent shops fashion we have Foundation, Little Black Dress, The Square, Frock Shop and many more. Scotts of Stow have their main shops in The Square. Various country walks from Stow and Daylesford Farm Shop is only a few minutes drive away. So many celebrities choose to weekend in the area and you many even spot one or two!

  13. Court House Cottages, Norfolk Broads

    Rollesby is a small, quiet village on the easterly edge of the delightful Norfolk Broads and only four miles from the most beautiful sandy beaches. Xmas and New Year are a brilliant time to visit and go to the beach to see the baby seals that have been born – hundreds of them all along the coastline. Seals are in evidence all through the year, particularly swimming in the sea. Our cottages are all en-suite and centrally heated and two of them have their own private hot tub – they make an ideal weekend break away. There are lots of things to do within easy reach of the cottages – Norwich is a lovely city and a 30 minute drive away. Walking and bird watching along the Broads along with boat hire on the rivers helps you see the area from another perspective. Two hours from London and three from the Midlands Norfolk has a unique landscape with big, open skies to welcome you. See our website for special offers and further information.

  14. courtyard barn north norfolk

    North Norfolk is beautiful any time of the year and so close to london you could be in the hot tub drinking champagne or laying in front of a log burner with in two hours of leaving the big smoke.imagine massive skies with sunsets to die for huge beaches were you can walk for ever just joined by the birds and the rolling sea. We have amazing pubs restaurants and shops with the market town of holt a stones throw away it really is the place to come for me time book today and discover the best kept secret in norfolk

  15. Janet Williams

    Plum Tree Cottage is perfect for a winter’s weekend break. Situated in Lechlade on Thames in the Cotswolds with good walks, great pubs and shops all a stone’s throw away. The cottage itself is pretty and is superbly furnished. Please visit our site!

  16. The lilies

    The Lilies in the New Forest is a perfect family base to explore the surrounding area & to escape from the city. with the choice of sand sea or the anciant historic New Forest with its free roaming horses, deer and even pigs!!…and all this is just a 2hr drive from London. The Lilies is set in a quiet location, fully equipped with linen,towels and all amenities included – is just a10min walk away from the historic georgian town of Lymington which has a great high street with very individual shops, a big choice of restaurants also the Old Quay has some lovely boat trips.

    !So come relax with us at The Lilies!

  17. Tessa Leeds

    Two hours 40 minutes from Trafalgar Square and a million miles away, Swanage. Park the car and unwind, cottage with lovely views, character features, linen and amenities included. A three minute walk gets you to a good pub and a general store. A ten minute walk takes you to the steam railway, sandy beach and main shops. Swanage has lots of restaurants and old fashioned pubs and a country park on its door step plus lots of quiet spots and good walks, boat trips and sporting opportunities.

    2 Carrants Court, Swanage do see our photos.

  18. Upper Barn Stable, Reepham

    Only 1.50 by train to Norwich from London or around 3 hours by car. Sleeps 2, log fire, hot tub for star gazing, walk out from the doorstep or visit the North Norfolk Coast, Holkham beach with lunch or afternoon tea at the Victoria is a must! Local Pub around 12 minutes walk. 2 nts breaks available.

  19. Jas Singh

    Watkin Cottage in the medieval town of Conwy boasting a 13th century castle and a harbour withing a few hundred yards in North Wales close to the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno provides a perfect weekend retreat with its breathtaking scenery and attractions and amenities to cater for the needs of all. Check out the cottage and its surroundings.

    Treat yourself and family …… you know you deserve it!

  20. loraine wheatley

    Nestling in its own high walled garden, secluded and quiet yet less than 5 minutes walk from Stow-on-the-Wold Town centre, South View is the perfect place to stay to make the most of your Cotswold experience.

    This beautifully presented, detached Cotswold stone cottage provides a wonderful combination of old world charm and modern day luxury and amenity.
    From London by car, Stow will take approx 2 hours, or by train from London only one and a half hours.
    Stow-on-the-Wold is a truly bustling market town offering many great shops – ideal for searching for that special gift or even a fabulous old antique. The Town’s stores offer fresh and organic produce and the area is littered with excellent restaurants, pubs and bars which help heighten your memorable Cotswold’s experience.
    Whether it is a well earned short stay or a longer holiday you’re looking for, Stow-on-the-Wold is the perfect place to unwind, retreat and immerse yourself in a small Town full of historical, architectural and unforgettable pleasure.

  21. Emma Jennings

    No 5 Vineyard Street, is the perfect location in central Winchcombe, a very easy 2 hour run from London. You can easily arrive in time for Friday Fizz and Wesley House bar and grill and join in with the local banter of the locals de-briefing their weeks and welcoming the weekend visitors. For the rest of the weekend enjoy a true Cotswold town, within 200 yards to the gatehouse of Sudely Castle, with many hosteleries, boutiques, deli, antique emporiums and galleries to mooch around. The countryside is stunning, for walking and cycling. The town is central to all of the Cotswolds and only 5 miles from Cheltenham and its infamous racecourse.
    No 5 is just in the final stages of a full renovation and we are looking forward to welcoming our first guests. If you quote “Escaping London” we will treat you to a bottle champagne to enjoy during your stay.

  22. gill stovold

    The Coach-House, Stoke Prior,Herefordshire is a 5 STAR Gold Award property fully renovated in 2012 offering spacious and contemporary design and style in a period setting. Accessible within 3 hours by car from London and set in the Heart of England, Herefordshire is a gem of a county.Stunning scenery,delightful black and white villages set among farm land and ancient forests and woods make this the ideal retreat for a short or longer break from the bustle of city life. Hereford, a Cathedral city and the Tudor town of Ludlow can both be reached within 20 minutes.There is a wealth of walking, cycling and horse riding opportunities.Plenty of good eateries within easy reach most offering locally produced food. For National Trust lovers, there are 3 properties within 20 mins of The Coach House. Do try to make the ‘great escape’ from city life and enjoy a true break in the country. A luxury hamper awaits you!! Please click to our website for all details.

  23. Katie Handley

    Birchefields farm Holiday Cottages are situated just a couple of hours up the M6, and provide you with the perfect accommodation for a weekend break in the country. Nestled in the beautiful Stafforshire countryside yet just 5 miles from Alton Towers, whether you want to relax or go crazy, Birchenfields is the place to base from. Miles and miles of walks and cycle routes start on the doorstep and country pubs are in abundance. You can go rock climbing, mountain biking, sailing, kayaking and even scuba diving without travelling more thn 15 minutes. Alton Towers, Drayton Manor, Trentham Estate Ariel Extreme provide an adrenaline rush, or you can choose to play golf, go fishing, sample the delights of the temendous farm shops and markets or simply relax and enjoy the views. Our cottages are cosy, comfortabe and homely, fully equipped with everything you need to create the perfect home-from-home. 3-7 night breaks available.

  24. Balneden Steading

    Now don’t think I have gone mad for suggesting this but The Cairngorms National Park is an excellent place to get away from it all and with regular flights from London to Inverness we can be reached within 3 hours!!! At Balneden Steading we have had lots of visitors come up from London (particularly ‘off season’) to take advantage of our weekend breaks. The park has so much to offer and all of our city guests have enthused how Balneden Steading is the ideal place to get away from it all, relax and unwind. Particularly in the winter the park is able to offer snow sports (most of the time if the snow dance is performed properly!), good walks, excellent whisky’s by the log fire, as one of our guests said ‘it’s an excellent place to do everything or absolutely nothing’

  25. Janet

    2 1/2 hours from London. Slad Farm in the middle of Cotswolds Malvern Hills and Forest of Dean. Lots of lovely walks and great pubs to visit. 3 bedroomed barn conversion with wood burning stove. Lovely and cosy, ideal for weekend or longer holiday.

  26. ruth

    Two and 1/4 hrs from London by train and you are on the edge of the North York Moors National Park! Fabulous walking country, and at this time of year short breaks are still available in our cottages. Get away from the hassle and noise – breathe the wonderful fresh air. Eco living (powered by a water-wheel) but all the comforts of a hotel with none of its restrictions. Roaring log-burning stoves and fires – walk out into the heart of the countryside – come back to centrally heated cottages. Bliss! groceries delivered to the door – Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco or local farm shops and local food – great pubs and eating places within 1 mile. What are you waiting for?

  27. stuart and boo collier

    Fancy a weekend in the country, then come and chill out in our beautiful, 4 star gold award Lodge. We are 2 miles from the A303 in South Somerset, situated in the beautiful Blackdown Hills. Lovely walking country or riding if you prefer. Jurassic coast is a 25 minute drive away, while historical places of interest are all within our area. There are excellent local pubs or if you wish to stay in we’ll provide excellent take-aways at a reasonable price!

  28. Jane

    The New Forest is an easy 2 hours drive from London, only 1.5 hours from south west areas like Chiswick & Richmond. Bartley Barn is in the most fantastic location on the open New Forest close to Beaulieu, 2 minutes walk from beautiful Hatchet Pond. Our sunsets across open heath land are as good as they get – and after so much poor weather we’ve had the joy of them again this weekend! Comfortable, spacious and well equipped, Bartley Barn offers flexible accommodation including downstairs and upstairs bedrooms – cosy for couples, also great for families and family groups including the grandparents!


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