5 Weekend Trips and Getaways from London

Great Gable, Lingmell and Scafell Pike from Wast Water in the Lake District, Cumbria
Great Gable, Lingmell and Scafell Pike from Wast Water in the Lake District, Cumbria | © darryl gill / Alamy Stock Photo
As the nerve centre of England, London is a dense maze of glitzy fine dining, electrifying nightlife and dynamic culture. It’s a far cry from the Edenic landscapes that lie just a short train or car journey away, the size of the country making all of them easily accessible. As you leave the capital, tarmac and tower blocks morph into rural roads and patchwork fields – disarmingly beautiful settings that inspired the famous works of writers like Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and William Wordsworth. Escape to charming villages and wild countryside on these easy weekend trips from the capital.

Cotswolds

The land of rolling hills and thatched cottages, the Cotswolds is the classic English countryside we imagine from flowery storybook descriptions and idyllic romance films like The Holiday. Its rural landscape was officially declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it’s no wonder with its cobblestone medieval villages and fields blanketed by honey-coloured crops. Stay in a traditional Cotswolds cottage and spend the weekend explore the surrounding walking trails, traditional 17th-century boozers and royal real estate.

ToursCotswolds Distillery Tour and Tasting
From $12 per person
1 hour 30 minutes

There is always a story behind your favourite spirit. This tour will lead through the 2500-litre copper pots and oak casks of Cotswolds’ first full-scale distillery, where you’ll be enlightened on their methods of making single-malt whiskey and award-winning dry gin. Following the journey from field to bottle will no doubt mean you work up a thirst for the final product. An expert will lead you through tasting different samples of spirits and explain why each have their own distinct taste. If one particularly takes your fancy, you can pick it up in the gift shop.

Woolacombe, Devon

Woolacombe is no stranger to the top spot on Best Beach of Britain polls. Set in the mouth of a valley on the coast of North Devon, its crescent-shaped shores are the star of the show, backed by creeping plant life that merges the surrounding countryside with undulating sand dunes. The sugar-fine sands and rolling waves are regularly dotted with sun-seekers looking to surf, swim or sunbathe, while further inland you’ll find a charming traditional inn and 100-year-old café. To spend the weekend waking up to restorative sea views, book this beautifully restored Georgian townhouse.

ActivitiesWoolacombe Surf Lesson
From $43 per person
2 hours

If you’ve ever had dreams of riding waves in the style of Point Break’s Bodhi, then this might be a good place to start. All you need to do is show up in your swimwear (don’t worry, wetsuits are provided) and the friendly instructor will talk you through the safety rules and lay the foundations with an on-shore practice before you plunge into the waters. Learn to navigate the waves with an abundance of tips from your instructor and channel surfer dude swagger that will have you standing up by its end.

Brecon Beacons

Named after the ancient practice of lighting signal fires to warn of incoming invaders, the Brecon Beacons are strewn with the relics of bygone eras. The outskirts are full of converted barns and snug studios that make it easy to explore waterfall country, where clandestine neolithic tombs, menhirs (standing stones from the Bronze Age) and Iron Age Celtic hill forts puncture the grassy mountain range. Its highest point lies at the summit of Pen y Fan where you are treated to 360-degree views of the flourishing green landscape.

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ToursWalk the Iconic Four Waterfalls Valley
From $71 per person
6 hours
5 (1)

Be sure to seize this chance to explore the spellbinding wilderness of waterfall country. Setting off from the corner of Brecon Beacons National Park, your guide will lead you through steep valleys, past craggy cliff edges and down stony paths canopied by tangled thickets. Along the trail are four waterfalls that flow from mossy rocks and collect in pools where (weather permitting) you can take a dip. At the pinnacle sits the Sgwd yr Eira (fall of the snow) waterfall, its curtain of water cascading far enough from the rock face for you to walk underneath.

Yorkshire

Yorkshire is a charming and historic northern county with storied roots that stretch back to a Roman and Viking heritage. Medieval ruins and stone monuments paint a picture of the area’s ancient beginnings while throughout the towns and villages you’ll find Gothic cathedrals, 12th-century abbeys and Victorian churches that fill in the gaps on the timeline. Base yourself near the city of York – such as at this renovated farm building – for the perfect balance of countryside and culture. Now, affectionately referred to as ‘God’s Own County’, Yorkshire offers a wealth of stunning countryside, fascinating museums and unmissable signature puddings for you to enjoy.

ToursYork City Walls Private Walking Tour
From $74 per person
3 hours
5 (10)

Digging into York’s rich and bloodthirsty past, this walking tour takes you back nearly 2000 years to discover the history of the city and its ancient walls. As you admire the Gothic spires and rebrick pubs, your guide will stop at pivotal parts of the turreted facade, chronicling the events surrounding each section. You will be introduced to the ivy-sprouting stonework of Multangular tower, spooked by the ghostly tales of Treasurers House and intrigued by the dark history of Shambles Street.

Lake District

Fit for fairytales, the vast Lake District with its glacial bodies of water, storybook woodland and cobblestone market towns have enticed many travellers. The enchanting setting was the home of many prestigious writers, with the likes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter drawing inspiration from its rugged fells and ribbon lakes. A trip to the mountainous region promises traditional rustic fare, native fell ponies and plenty of watery landscapes. All the better enjoyed from the cosy confines of an atmospheric and remote log cabin.

ActivitiesFull-Day Guided Mountain Walk on Scafell Pike
From $34 per person
7 hours
3 (4)

You can check ‘climbing to the summit of Britain’s highest mountain’ off your bucket list when you embark on this day-long trek. Led by a friendly and qualified mountain guide, this walk is tailored to the adventurous. While you traverse rocky terrain and admire the looming fells rising from the earth like subterranean Goliaths, your leader will take you up the Corridor Route and offer helpful pointers along the way. At Scafell Pike’s summit is the chance to marvel at dramatic and far-reaching views of the before you descend one more. Be sure to come prepared with suitable walking gear to suit the nine-mile distance.