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Visit England’s countryside

Inspiration for countryside breaks beyond London: breathtaking landscapes, charming pubs and exquisite local cuisine

All images courtesy of VisitEngland and partner destinations as detailed below
England’s gorgeous countryside is waiting for you – south coast beaches to relax on, northern night skies to gaze at, valleys to cycle through, lakes to row across and mountains to stride over. And the great thing is, these pleasures are all easily reachable from any city, so you could be enjoying everything the English countryside has to offer this weekend.

Get inspired: short hop

Isle of Wight

With a magnificent landscape, a stunning coastline and a climate two or three degrees warmer than the mainland, the Isle of Wight has been a favourite with writers and artists for centuries. As well as beaches perfect for surfing, cycle routes that take you on a taste tour of the island’s best eateries, and dinosaur-themed attractions, the Isle of Wight has a great contemporary arts scene. Galleries exhibit and sell local art, in May there’s the Isle of Arts festival and every summer there’s an Open Studios month. And that’s before you even rock into the Isle of Wight’s legendary music festival season...

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Easy escape

Shakespeare’s England

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the patch of Warwickshire where William Shakespeare grew up should be such an inspiring corner of our countryside. From Stratford-upon-Avon it’s easy to explore this beautiful region. It doesn’t get more picture-perfect than the place where his mother grew up – Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, a working farm where you can get a sense of Tudor country life and try your hand at traditional crafts and farm skills. You can also take to the River Avon and float along in blissful tranquility, and, of course, you can’t leave without seeing a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

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Road trip

East Lincolnshire

Are those boots made for walking? Head for East Lincolnshire. In fact, it’s easy to get around by bike and on horseback, too, but the annual Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival each May is one of the country’s largest walking events. For 2014 the festival also includes cycle routes, but you don’t have to join festivalgoers to see the splendour of the Wolds. Try the 21-mile Poacher Country Cycle Route in any season, then improvise a route through the wonderful market towns – Alford for arts and crafts, or Woodhall Spa for a peaceful Edwardian gentility, and its quirky little movie house the Kinema in the Woods.

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All the way up

Yorkshire Wolds

Stretching from the Humber to the wild promontory of Flamborough Head near Bridlington, the Yorkshire Wolds takes in rolling hills, sprawling dales and sleepy villages. The undulating landscape is a great place for walkers to stretch their legs or for cyclists to work up a sweat, without needing to be Bradley Wiggins to get through the climbs. It’s also home to some of the country’s best birdwatching, on the rugged North Sea Heritage Coast. For a lazier time, visit beautiful market towns such as Malton, Pocklington and Beverley for browsing, wandering through galleries and tasting the region’s best food, some of it Michelin-starred.

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The Man on the Street
The Man on the Street

Loving these ideas. 

I have to add my weekend retreat of Stamford (also in Lincolnshire)

The George is the place to stay

The Tobie Norris is the place to drink

There are so many good restaurants - my favourite is The Bombay Cottage (no ordinary Indian)

Live gigs at The London Inn or Mamma Lizzies

and a refreshing walk around Rutland Water to blow the cobwebs away 

I love my weekends - I love Stamford