Choosing just five locations to best spend a day in the English countryside is no easy task. Landscapes that have inspired the great poets and songwriters are found throughout England and, although much of this has changed over time, its magnificence still challenges avid photographers to do full justice to its diverse array of nature’s finest. Daytrips to some of the most spectacular countryside locations may include events that have grown in reputation to become eagerly anticipated tourist attractions.
Norfolk has some of the most acclaimed beaches in the UK. Together with the rivers and lakes that form the amazing patchwork of waterways known as the Norfolk Broads, it has lured many visitors to these parts for decades.
Norfolk is an area of enormous diversity. Heathland gives way to farmland, mudflats, wetland and ancient grassland, which can be explored on foot or on horseback. An extremely well attended annual event is the Royal Norfolk Show and if previous years are any yardstick, then this year’s festivities will thoroughly entertain more than 100,000 visitors over a two-day period with battlefield drills of old, military bands, show jumping, fashion, local crafts and the best of Norfolk agriculture.
For tranquil country surroundings that soothe the soul, Stourhead is a National Trust property where swans, geese and ducks glide effortlessly across glassy, blue waters to the sound of gentle bird song. Early morning strolls across this colourful landscape revives an enthusiasm for exploring nature in all of her splendour and diversity. The gardens of Stourhead house with its Temple of Apollo are a breath-taking example of man’s partnership with nature. Against this background, the pre-historic Stonehenge emits an even greater sense of other-worldliness. Wiltshire hosts many festivals, but visiting the riddle that is Stonehenge to witness the numerous forms of summer solstice celebrations conducted by groups and individuals is well worth the trip.
The sweeping gardens of Hidcote Manor have enjoyed the soul-felt appreciation of very many visitors for very many years. Their mass of dense foliage, themed gardens and profusion of old shrub roses brings to mind Jane Austen’s descriptions of the gardens through which many of her heroines strolled, while waiting for love to find them.
It is English countryside to the very roots of its rare and magnificent trees and shrubs. An event not to be missed is an evening tour of this majestic manor when its gardens and exterior have been artificially set ablaze with light.
For a trip back in time, a visit to Warwick Castle will thrill summer visitors with jousting, archery and falconry displays in the stunning grounds. The 1,000-year-old castle still has ramparts and towers which offer incredible views of the surrounding countryside as well as the castle’s beautifully tended gardens.
Built in 1611 by the 1st Earl of Salisbury and still occupied by his descendants, Hatfield house features a children’s adventure playground and breathtakingly beautiful gardens in which to picnic. A huge replica of the house and Lawn Farm where pigs, sheep and horses graze contentedly, bring a longing for more peaceful living to most city dwellers.
The English countryside is alive and well and will continue to inspire many future generations to commit its splendour to paper or film in a fitting tribute to its tranquil perfection.