There’s a great deal to like about London. It’s always active, and there’s always something going on. But stay in London every day and this might begin to strike you as too much of a good thing; swapping the built-up city with some rolling green countryside, even if it’s just for a day or two, might provide a refreshing change of scenery.
Fortunately, modern transport links are good enough that you can get right out into the countryside in less than an hour or so. Let’s take a look at some convenient patches of countryside that Londoners might consider visiting.
Just north of Luton you’ll find Biggleswade. This little town has been inhabited for hundreds of years, and the centre is currently a conservation era. Without doubt the biggest draw here is the launch site of Virgin’s hot air balloon excursions, which will allow you to take in the countryside as never before. A train from London St. Pancras to Biggleswade will take around three-quarters of an hour.
Few locations in Britain can summon the same sense of history and wonder as this iconic ruin in the middle of Salisbury plain. The precise purpose for which Stonehenge was constructed is a matter of some debate, but it’s thought to have been significant to our pagan forebears. Primal and simple, it’s a potent antidote to life in a busy urban centre. Be sure to check out the visitor centre while you’re there.
Brighton is a particular draw for those looking to get away from London, mostly thanks to its winning combination of convenience and seaside charm. Culture-wise, you’ll find quite a lot of what makes London great squeezed into this little city. There are also Victoria-era hotels on the seafront, quirky little businesses in the famous lanes, and the Royal Pavilion to explore. If you’re taking the kids, then be sure to pay a visit to the sea life centre.
As areas of outstanding natural beauty go, Surrey Hills couldn’t be more conveniently placed. It’s just to the south of the capital, and offers dozens of exciting landmarks and viewpoints, many of which are documented here. Those looking for a brisk stroll through beautiful countryside should look no further.
Fans of Downton Abbey don’t need to travel far to get a look at the show’s real-life counterpart. Highclere Castle is to be found just west of Reading, nestled just within the North Wessex Downs (and just off the M3 and M4). The grounds can trace their history back to 749, when the estate was granted to the bishops of Winchester. The famous house came to be much later, in the 19th century.