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The best countryside breaks in Northern England

Posted on June 27, 2019 by Paula

Great Little Breaks Blog

The countryside in the north of England is considered a haven, where so many people head to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The northern counties have something to offer everyone no matter what kind of outdoor activities you enjoy. There are plenty of peaceful rivers to admire, acres of leafy green woodland to explore and some gorgeous flora and fauna to see.

In this article, we spoke to bloggers who told us all about the best places to enjoy a countryside break in Northern England.

The Lake District

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If you are longing to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then a countryside break in the Lake District is one way to help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

It’s easy to see why the Lake District is a popular place; with miles of luscious rolling hills and tranquil lakes and rivers, it really is a sight to behold as Jen from Mighty Mama Bear told us: “I feel lucky to live in the North West of England where there are so many beautiful and scenic locations to explore.

“However, my favourite place to visit has to be the Lake District. We have visited Lake Windermere countless times both as a couple and as a family and it never fails to take my breath away. From the mountain backdrop, blue lakes and stunning greenery, it’s easy to see why Beatrix Potter felt so inspired to write her famous stories there.

“The Lake District is one of the few places in the UK where I feel truly at peace. Even during busier times, there’s an element of tranquillity that appeals to me. There’s so much to see and do if you choose to do so but I could never get bored of simply sitting down and taking in the scenery.”

Emma-Louise from Even Angels Fall echoes Jen’s sentiments about the Lake District. Many of her most treasured childhood memories involve exploring the “absolutely stunning scenery”. She further explained: “You can spend days simply driving and walking around exploring, finding new places to explore all the time.

“On our most recent trip, we stayed near Keswick and had an amazing break visiting the wildlife park, waterfalls and a stone circle, as well as the Beatrix Potter attraction in Windermere. It is the most magical place to visit in the UK.”

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Did you know?

  • The Lake District National Park is England’s largest national park and covers 2,362 square kilometres.
  • The deepest lake in the country is Wastwater in the Lake District and is 74 metres deep.
  • The Lake District is linked to the writings of William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.

County Durham 

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County Durham is in the North East of England and is well-known for its gorgeous architecture, rich history and wild countryside.

Durham is the county town and visitors can marvel at the cathedral which stands proud against the green backdrop of the trees and fields of the countryside beyond. Building work of the current cathedral started in 1093, replacing the Saxon White Church and is hailed as one of the best examples of Norman architecture in Europe.

Emma-Louise has visited County Durham and the areas around the town of Chester-le-Street many times to visit her family: “We especially like visiting Beamish as it is just so beautiful. I love exploring the area and finding new places every time we visit. County Durham can be overshadowed by nearby Newcastle, but personally, I think the area is more rural and a lovely location for a countryside break.”

If you decide to head to the area, be sure to sample one of the many local culinary delights including Bacon Floddies which consists of grated potato, onion, bacon, flour and egg. It is shaped into a small patty and enjoyed fresh and warm.

Once you have satisfied your appetite pull on your walking boots and take a stroll in the great outdoors of County Durham. Whether it’s a leisurely walk along the banks of the River Wear or a more energetic and challenging hike over Middleton in Teesdale, you are sure to fall in love with the area and want to return again and again.

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Did you know?

  • This is the only English county to have a prefix of “county” for its name.
  • Durham Regatta has been held on the River Wear in Durham since 1834 and is the second oldest regatta in Britain.
  • Durham is the birthplace of Neil Fingleton who was crowned Britain’s tallest man in 2007 with a lofty height of 7ft 7 inches. He has since appeared in many popular movies and television series including Game of Thrones where he played the character Mag. Sadly, Neil died in 2017 at the age of 37.

The Yorkshire Dales

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The Yorkshire Dales has many moods; it can be wild and windswept, or peaceful and calm. No matter what time of year you decide to visit, you are sure to be in awe of the area’s natural beauty.

The dales include a labyrinth of mysterious caves as well as expansive moorland which is full of heather and other hardy plants. You can also marvel at the spectacular waterfalls and ancient woodlands which can be found throughout the Yorkshire Dales.

Tasmin from Grandiose Days said: “Yorkshire is my favourite place in the North of England, despite being a Lancashire girl! The Yorkshire Dales really has my heart. The Yorkshire Dales is the perfect spot for a countryside break. There's an incredible choice of things to do from afternoon tea and drinks in Platelet Bridge to exploring Brimham Rocks or getting a slice of history at Fountains Abbey. You'll be spoilt for choice with activities and the scenic views of rolling hills and green spaces are absolutely breath-taking.”

Venturing out for some wholesome and filling food is also a must, said Tasmin: “You absolutely can't go wrong with treating yourself to a hearty Yorkshire pub grub and thankfully, the Yorkshire Dales is overflowing with high-quality, cosy country pubs to satisfy your appetite. If you're thinking of planning a trip in the North of England, then make sure you pop the Yorkshire Dales at the top of your must-visit list.”

Sarah from Sunshine Sarah XO also told us she “absolutely adores” the North of England because it has everything you could possibly want for a countryside break: “From lush green hills and dales to gorgeous coastlines like Whitby and Scarborough. The towns and villages around the Yorkshire Dales and beyond haven't lost their quirkiness or rural charm. Everybody who visits instantly falls in love with them and always wants to return.”

Sarah further explained why getting out and about to enjoy the fresh air is important for your overall health and wellbeing: “There's nothing quite like looking out of your window to a sea of green hills. It has been proven that being outside in nature is so good for your mind, body and soul, mental health advocates talk about going for a walk as a simple way to improve your own mental health. I for one know how putting my boots on and heading out for a walk helps to clear my head, which is vitally important if I have been suffering from late nights and bad sleep due to working long hours.”

The Yorkshire Dales is the perfect spot to get away from it all said Sarah: “It’s a great location for a countryside break because there is everything you could ever need in a location which is bound to make your heart burst.

“I recently stayed in a cottage which was in the middle of a field of sheep. Looking out at the lambs every morning helped me de-stress. The fact I could go for walks from the cottage itself just lends itself perfectly to the most idyllic of holidays. Whenever you come to the Dales, whatever worries you had just disappear and you can't help but feel completely re-energised after being out in the country air.”

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Did you know?

  • Yorkshire has many food-inspired events throughout the year including a rhubarb festival and a Pontefract liquorice festival.
  • The Yorkshire Dales is home to more than 1,000 species of moths, 100 species of nesting birds and more than 25 types of butterflies.
  • Yorkshire is home to The Bingley Arms which is the oldest pub in Britain and dates back more than 1,000 years ago.

Knaresborough

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Knaresborough is a market town in North Yorkshire and is full of surprises; from warrens of medieval streets and stunning architecture to countryside scenery which will take your breath away.

The town is steeped in history and remnants of its ancient past can be seen dotted throughout. Knaresborough Castle a proudly dominant feature over the River Nidd. It was a royal residence and legend has it that Richard II was once imprisoned in the keep. Visitors can marvel at the structure, discover the dungeon and secret passageways as well as admiring the awe-inspiring views.

Sarah from A Northern Explorer told us why Knaresborough holds fond memories for her: “I visited with my family throughout my childhood years and there are so many things to do. A highlight for me was visiting Mother Shipton’s Cave, one of England’s oldest tourist attractions, which involves walking through a huge cave and learning about the legend of Mother Shipton and the magic behind the well.

“During the summer you can sit by the river and watch the world go by, hire a boat and go rowing while taking in the amazing scenery, or grab fish and chips and enjoy them on a bench while enjoying the stunning views.”

If you want to venture to a larger area then the spa town of Harrogate is around a ten-minute drive and a stone’s throw from the Yorkshire Dales. 

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Did you know?

  • The Petrifying Well of Knaresborough is England’s oldest visitor attraction and was first recorded by the king’s antiquary in 1538. People have been placing items near the well for years, the result is rather creepy because the items take on a stone-like appearance after a few months.
  • The oldest pharmacy in England can be found on Knaresborough Market Place. According to records, Mr John Beckwith ran a chemist shop here in 1720, but historians believe the shop might be much older.
  • The Great Knaresborough Bed Race is an eccentric tradition that locals love to participate in. The race takes place in June and teams pull a bed across a gruelling 2.4 mile course.

Cheshire

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Cheshire is in the North West of England and boasts a mixture of sleepy villages, metropolitan cities and peaceful countryside.

It is an area bursting with things to see and do, from amazing attractions to beautiful gardens, stunning stately homes to fabulous spa hotels, there really is something to suit everyone.

Tatton Park is the perfect choice for a countryside break, it is brimming with collections of antiques which means visitors get a glimpse of lavish 18th century life. What’s more, the stunning gardens which surround the mansion are exquisite.

Cheshire’s great outdoors is also something you must experience during your visit including the many miles of marvellous walking trails, and beautiful nature reserves and parks. Delamere Forest is the county’s largest area of woodland and is a haven for people wanting to switch off and enjoy their surroundings. It’s an ideal place to go for a casual stroll because of the easy-going trails which are suitable for all abilities, or if you are feeling adventurous, try the orienteering course and test out your navigation skills.

Forestry England states that Delamere Forest is a great place to “escape the crowds and find peace in the heart of the forest”.

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Did you know?

  • The village of Rowton in Cheshire was the scene of a historic clash between the Parliamentarians and Royalists 500 years ago.
  • The village of Willaston in Cheshire is home to the World Worm Charming Championships. This interesting pastime was created in 1980 when a local farmer’s son charmed more than 500 worms out of the ground in half an hour. The village has held annual championships ever since.
  • Cuckooland Museum in Tabley, Knutsford has an impressive collection of antique cuckoo clocks which will leave visitors amazed at the “quality and ingenuity associated with this ancient craft”.

No matter which location takes your fancy, last minute UK breaks are a great way to relax, unwind and explore everything the countryside Northern England has to offer.

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