England’s countryside is full of great things to see and do in the summer months.
Whatever your tastes, and however active you want to be, summer is great time to see the countryside at its most lively and vibrant.
Whether you love hiking, or just going to the pub, there’s something for you.
Here are some of the best, and varied, ways to experience the English summer.
Go For A Walk
Walking and, for the more serious, hiking are popular summer pastimes in England.
Unlike many countries, the English enjoy right of way on many public footpaths which criss-cross the countryside on tracks first made available to the public hundreds of years ago.
There are therefore lots of places you can go for a stroll – here are some ideas for where to go: English Country Walks
Go To The Pub
If all that sounds too energetic, why not choose one of the many fine English country pubs for a drink or bite to eat? Or combine it with a stroll?
Many of these rural taverns were inns used by travellers in years gone by, but are now wonderful places to relax.
We could fill several pages with great rural pub, but here are three of the finest as a taster…
The George, Hubberholme, Upper Wharfedale
The George in Hubberholme is our first choice. This ancient inn in Upper Wharfedale was a favourite of the playwright JB Priestly and remains a favourite watering hole for visitors to the Yorkshire Dales.
Top Tip: Combine a visit to the George with a walk between Kettlewell and Buckden.
The Crooked Billet, Stoke Row, Berkshire
This gorgeous pub in rural Berkshire is both a wonderful example of a great country pub, but also a well known food haunt too. It specialises in well cooked local produce and is a particularly popular Sunday lunch destination.
It’s also proud of the fact local girl Kate Winslet chose the pub as the venue for her wedding reception, serving bankers (sausages) and mash to her guests.
The Anchor, Pyrford Lock, Surrey
Many of the best pubs in England are near or next to water.
The Anchor, an old riverside inn on the river Wey to the south of London, is a great example. Once a stopping point for river workers, it is now a popular place for visitors to the local area.
Top Tip: Combine a visit to The Anchor with a trip to nearby Royal Horticultural Society garden at Wisley.
NB There are more great country pubs here: English Country Pubs
Explore The Coastline
Summer and the coast go hand in hand. The English have been going to the ‘seaside’ since Roman times – and especially since the Victorian era at places such Brighton and Blackpool.
However here are some less well known, more rural, stretches of coastline away from the crowded resorts.
Durdle Door, Dorset
Part of the south coast in Dorset known as the Jurassic Coast due to the age of its limestone cliffs. This limestone has often been worn away by sea and wind to form beautiful or interesting rock formations, such as Durdle Door near Lulworth Cove.
Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall
If you’re into waves crashing onto rocks beneath towering cliffs, Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall could be for you. Close to the popular tourist spot of Newquay, it’s a good day trip away from the crowds.
The rocky outcrops in the sea are, by legend, used by the giant Bedruthan as a short cut across the bay.
The appropriately named Cley Next The Sea sits on the north Norfolk coast in East Anglia. Its location means its exposed to everything the north sea has to throw at this exposed part of the country, and is often pretty blustery.
Its most famous feature – its nature reserve – is a result of this exposure. Migrating birds are often blown onshore to the reserve’s wetland habitats, making this on the best spots to birdwatch in England, especially during the spring and autumn migration seasons.
Visit Stately Home Gardens
The English countryside is blessed with (literally) hundreds of fine stately homes and country manors, many of which boast amazing grounds and gardens. Thankfully many of these wonderful places are open to the public – especially those owned by the National Trust – and are at their finest during the summer months.
We could choose several great examples, but here are the three we recommend:
Cliveden in Buckinghamshire
Cliveden, formally home to the very well connect Astor family, has been the centre of high society for the past 150 years. Dukes, Princes and Earls visited the imposing House to see and be seen. It’s a place of intrigue and scandal – including the notorious Profumo Scandal of the 1960s.
It’s also home to one of England’s loveliest set of formal gardens which includes a Rose Garden, a Maze and several Garden Sculptures.
Cliveden is just to the West of London, making it a lovely day trip from the crowds of the Capital.
Castle Howard in Yorkshire
Castle Howard is the ancestral home of another great family, the Howards (the family of Catherine Howard, one of Henry VIII’s wives).
It became famous in more recent times as the setting for the BBC’s adaptation of Brideshead Revisited which used the House and splendid gardens as the backdrop to Waugh’s tale of 1930s aristocracy.
The 1000 acres of gardens can be visited anytime during daylight hours.
Stowe in Wiltshire
Capability Brown, the famous Georgian landscape gardener designed these grounds in the 18th century. They contain everything from lakes, woods (including the enchanted ‘Sleeping Wood’) and the famous Palladium Bridge.
Lakeside walks and temples make this a wonderful place to lose yourself for a morning.
NB Here are some more great country houses to visit: English Stately Homes