We all love the city, but sometimes it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle and explore what Britain is probably most famous for; quaint, country villages. Nothing beats being surrounded by fresh, clean air, cute cottages and rolling hills. And despite being right in the middle of the action at the Piccadilly London West End, we know some of the best places to escape if you want to relax.
Sat just 35 miles south west of Central London, Shire offers the ideal escape for city dwellers who want a change. Set on the river, Tilling Bourne, and coming with some super-cute cottages, Shire is as characteristically English as you’ll find. With pretty churches, manor houses, including Manor House Lodge, historic pubs that date back centuries, and a famous past that keen eyed fans will recognise from ‘Bridget Jones – the Edge of Reason’ and ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, there’s no sweeter village within an hour of London.
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
The home and workplace of Roald Dahl, Great Missenden may not be the same as it was when the great writer lived there, but it still retains its quirky charm. Sat just to the north west of the city, its cobbled lanes and charming high street still attract visitors in their thousands. Gipsy House, where Dahl lived is a popular attraction, as are the many areas that inspired his great stories. A wholly relaxed area, it sits on the attractive Misbourne river valley so is popular with all age groups.
Located to the west of London, Cookham is just 30 miles from the heart of London. The residence of Sir Stanley Spencer for many years, he documented many of the village’s notable areas and features. With several attractive features to explore, such as the church of the Holy Trinity, which boasts Norman details, the cherry orchards at Cookham Dean, and Enid Blyton’s childhood home close by at Bourne End, the village is a world away from busy London.
Many a city commuter resides in Hertfordshire. And it’s clear to see why when you look at Ashwell. 45 miles from the centre of the city, its history dates back around 4000 years. With picnic spots aplenty, including the exquisite Ashwell Springs which consists of a series of freshwater springs that form a source for the River Cam, the village is as pretty as they come. Culture vultures can take advantage of the fourteenth and fifteenth century Forester Cottages dotted around the high street, and the sixteenth century timber-framed cottages that sit on junctions and remind modern life of the history of the village.
36 miles from busy London, Yalding sits in the borough of Maidstone. With three small bridges set in the village, it really shines British village quality through and through. Picture-perfect, its icing on the cake is St Peter’s and St Paul’s church. A Grade l listed building, it is built from ragstone and thought to be from the 13th century. Other highlights include the quaint cricket pitch, Yalding Organic Garden, and The Vicar’s Picnic festival which takes place every July.
If you’re thinking of visiting some of these stunning locations while staying in hotels in West End London, England, they are all easily-accessible by road and rail.