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To All UK Residents Or Anyone With Good Knowledge Of The UK

My girlfriend and I are looking to plan a future trip to the UK and I am hoping some of you can help us out with deciding where to go. I'm open to any area of the UK and it does not have to be a National Park or AONB. My only caveat is that we have been to the Lake District three times and are looking for something different.

These are the types of experiences we are looking for:

  • Village-to-village walks
  • Lots of well-marked footpaths and bridleways
  • Scenic, undulating countryside with good variation in geography
  • Good public transport
  • Not overly crowded or tourist-y
  • A heritage railway is always a bonus, although not a necessity
  • And the most important: good pubs with quality cask ale

I've looked into a few areas - The Yorkshire Wolds, Cranborne Chase, Kent Downs - but it is always hard to determine exactly what you are getting into without firsthand information.

Any help, information and/or advice is greatly appreciated!!

Thanks!!

Posted by
3386 posts

I would like to suggest that you check out the HF holidays website. This group specializes in walking tours, both independent and group. Even if you don't feel like they are a match for you in particular, I think you will find the locations of their trips and their walking itineraries helpful in your planning.

https://www.hfholidays.co.uk

Posted by
2721 posts

Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales is our family favorite. Many walks, some hamlet to hamlet or pub. We don’t have a car there and managed fine with the bus from Skipton and the Grassington taxi.

Posted by
710 posts

Yorkshire is my neck of the woods. The Yorkshire Wolds are not so much quiet as deserted in my view - walked the Wolds Way a couple of years back with Julie and a couple of friends but otherwise hardly saw another soul. My suggestion would be to head for the Yorkshire Dales - better scenery and more of it and villages that are more lived in generally speaking. Geologically more interesting too. The Northumberland Coast is also good and you are in roughly the right area for a trip to Hadrian’s Wall. Buses in all the northern rural areas can be a bit sparse so careful planning on that front would be advised!

I guess it all depends what you are after but these areas meet your specifics, including the pubs!

Ian

Posted by
742 posts

Another nod of the head for the Dales.
Plenty of footpaths,plenty of river walks
Natives are friendly.

Tan Hill is a great place for a pint but the food is band average

Putting my mind to it the Old Hill Inn is in my best 3 for food of any pub I have been in. Go check the reviews on trip advisor.
The Station Inn at Ribblehead is a decent pub too.

Neither pub in Horton in Ribblesdale is up to much ,with the Golden Lion the best of the two.

In these post ( ish) covid days worth checking recent reviews.
The White Lion at Cray ,top end of Wharfedale, is in a georgoeus spot and has an excellent reputation

Last time I was in The Falcon at Arnside ,beer was served straight from the barrel via jug.

Steam railway down at the "bright lights" at Hawes.

A ride on the Settle and Carlisle can be recommend too.

Posted by
618 posts

One of my favorite areas of England is the Yorkshire Dales and Moors. As you mentioned a heritage railway, the North Yorkshire Moors Heritage Railway came to mind. Take the steam train from Pickering to Whitby and spend a day in Whitby, a seaside resort famous for the Abbey that inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. There is so much to do and see in this area with many walking opportunities. Another option would be to stay in Settle, Yorkshire, famous for the Settle-Carlise railway (not a heritage railway) but there are some stunning scenic walks around this area also.

Margaret

Posted by
4364 posts

The Watercress line is a popular restored railway with steam trains that take in four restored stations along a stretch of the Hampshire countryside, https://watercressline.co.uk/

There are a variety of walks from each of the stations although arguably the most popular one is the Jane Austen Trail that is easily reached from the station at Alton, http://www.janeaustentrail.org.uk/

Also popular is the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, https://www.bluebell-railway.com/. They offer a number of events such as afternoon tea, beer festivals, fish and chip journeys and many more. This one starts from Alresford where you can alight the Watercress line, take in the National Trust site of Hinton Ampner, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hinton-ampner and follow on through countryside to the small village of Droxford. My advice would be to deviate along to Corhampton and end up at Exton instead of continuing to Droxford and have a meal and a few ales at the Shoe Inn, https://www.theshoeexton.co.uk/home/the_shoe_inn_exton_1980x1320_1-2/, it's a pub I recommend a lot on here as it has everything going for it that a country pub should have. I last visited last Friday evening for a meal and it's still as good as ever, they've made some adaptations to accommodate Covid restrictions such as more covererd outdoor seating but there's been no reductions in the service or menus offered.

The route description can be found here, https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside/walking/wayfarerswalk-alresford.

Around this area you are within easy reach of England's Medieval capital, Winchester, the great Roman city of Chichester and the city of Portsmouth crammed full of naval history along with myriad of country villages that are just as attractive, if not more so, than those found in the Cotswolds, and also the village that has ancestral links to the US President, Joe Biden (https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/people/joe-biden-will-be-first-us-president-have-sussex-ancestry-3034906).

Posted by
1848 posts

If you’ve been to the Lake District three times and you’re looking for something different I’d steer you away from the Dales, towards gentler more bucolic areas of England.

England’s countryside is crisscrossed with footpaths allowing you to get away from the crowds and explore the villages and pubs. Might have to manage your expectations on good public transport, but you will be able to get around.

Of the three areas you list I’d probably go with the Wolds, then again the High Weald in Kent has lovely villages; too much choice. Other areas you might consider – Dorset, Devon, the Cotswolds, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Suffolk, North Norfolk (too flat maybe) and, as JC mentions, Hampshire and the New Forest.

Just go with whatever floats your boat!

Posted by
22 posts

Yorkshire Dales
The Peak District
The Cotswolds

Use the Rick Steves guidebook for iconic sights of Great Britain
Also, for the roads less traveled consult with Eyewitness road trip guide: Back Roads of Great Britain. As well as the Lonely Planet guidebook Great Britain's Best Trips 36 Amazing Road Trips

Posted by
25725 posts

nobody mentioned the beautiful villages of Northamptonshire and their unique steeples. Gives the term steeplechasing a whole new personality.

Several long distance paths pass through Northamptonshire, and then there is walking along the Nene river.

Fotheringhay is unique for its history, church, and royal connections. Beautiful too.

Posted by
2 posts

Wow...what a shock to sign in this morning and see so many replies!! Thanks to everybody for your time, effort and advice. It is greatly appreciated.

Carol - Great suggestion. While I probably wouldn't be interested in a guided or pre-planned walk, you are exactly right about their site being loaded with great information. Thank you!!

wray, ianandjulie, richard & mpaulynsettle - The Dales are definitely being considered, and we have been to a few places in the Eastern Dales like Clapham, Skipton and Settle. We've done the Settle-Carlisle route and agree that it was a beautiful trip. We would love to see more, for sure. The Moors look amazing, as does its steam railway. The Northumberland Coast looks awesome as well. Ian, I actually find the "off-the-beaten-path" quality of The Wolds to be appealing but the lack of transport in the interior is a bit of a deterrent. Thank you for all of your great ideas!!

JC & ramblin' on - you guys both make great cases. I have to admit, right now we are leaning towards a Surrey Hills, South Downs, Kent Downs & High Weald holiday. Is the New Forest worth it? I love Ringwood beer but don't know much else about the area. I have heard that the traffic can be bad in the Southeast. We have also discussed Cranborne Chase/Dorset Coast, Malvern and Monmouthshire. Any information that you can volunteer about these areas would be great and thank you for the information. It is most valuable!!

geovagriffiths & Europe Travelers - the tourist-heavy nature of The Cotswolds concerns me; otherwise, the place looks idyllic. Having the Wychwood Brewery handy would be a treat. I've actually been to the Hope Valley in the Peak District. I have to admit, while beautiful, the crush of tourists was a bit of an issue as were the unfriendly locals. I certainly appreciate the suggestions, though!!

Nigel - I am fascinated with idea of going to Northamptonshire. My girlfriend is considering visiting family in Melton-Mowbray and we may end up in that area. Your posting makes me want to explore staying in the area further. Thank you for the information!!

P.S. I realise the irony that, being a tourist myself, it is somewhat hypocritical for me to complain about "too many tourists." However, I am comfortable with my acknowledged hypocrisy, so there you go.

Posted by
89 posts

Hi I live in the East Yorkshire Wolds so I’ll give a shout out for this area! Whilst the scenery is not as dramatic as other parts of Yorkshire, as far as tourists go (apart from cyclists!) it is very quiet. Because it’s a predominantly rural area transportation can be patchy but it depends on where and when you want to go. The Tour de Yorkshire, when they ran it, passed a lot through this area and if you haven’t looked already I’m sure that there are lots of videos of the area on YouTube to give you an idea of the geography.
Pickering would probably be a good place to base yourself as you can get to plenty of places from there- eg York, Helmsley, North York Moors, Castle Howard and there is also the bonus of a steam train from there to Whitby. Lots of opportunities for walks and pubs. Beverley would also be a good base and you could walk the Minster Way from there to York if you wished.

Posted by
4364 posts

Is the New Forest worth it? I love Ringwood beer but don't know much else about the area. I have heard that the traffic can be bad in the Southeast.

The New Forest is absolutely worth it, one of my favourite places in England and fortunately right on my doorstep. I too love Ringwood beer, Old Thumper and Boondoggle being my favourite however don't miss out on Vibrant Brewery, a New Forest brewery going from strength to strength although they're more of a 'on trend' approach than traditional British ale https://www.vibrantforest.co.uk.

There is a steam railway in the New Forest at Exbury Gardens however it's more of a theme attraction and a bit short in duration, https://www.exbury.co.uk/steam-railway.

There's also the Moors Valley Railway near Ringwood, https://www.moorsvalleyrailway.co.uk.

For walking there are numerous trails and whilst there are not a lot of hills to speak of there's a great mix of ancient woodland (William The Conquerer commandeered the forest for his hunting ground), heathland filled with wild ponies and free grazing cattle and coastal walks all interspersed with some great towns and villages. https://www.thenewforest.co.uk/things-to-do/walking.

Food wise I love The Pig, https://www.thepighotel.com/brockenhurst and which was recently featured on BBC's Remarkable Places To Eat.
The Limewood Hotel, https://www.limewoodhotel.co.uk/food, run by chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder.
The Montague Arms, https://www.montaguarmshotel.co.uk/fine_dining_in_hampshire.html

Traffic can be busy in the forest during the summer, a lot of the issues are usually caused by livestock in the road but this adds to the charm. Lyndhurst can be very congested due to the layout of its roads and the centre is best avoided. The South Coast in general is busy, particularly in the summer but nothing too onerous, I've faced heavier traffic on the outskirts of Birmingham, Manchester and Derby. The coastal roads will be the busiest but I often find that moving a few miles away from the main coastal routes the traffic becomes far more tolerable.

Posted by
13 posts

The Exe Estuary Trail, though short, is all of what you are describing. There are some lovely places to eat along the way.
It's better for a day trip and if you follow the trail make sure you're not going at high tide.