For anyone who has visited the UK before, you should know how important the country’s thriving small villages are to anyone looking to experience the UK in all its entirety. Always situated near to a city due to the UK’s size, these smaller settlements often feature the countryside charm and beauty the UK is so often portraited as having.
From the southern heathland to the northern hills, the UK is more than it often lets on – beyond the popular destinations like Snowdonia – if you know where to look. Here are just a couple of villages in the UK you have to visit the next time you’re there. Just make sure to pack a picnic, because we can guarantee you that you’ll find the perfect spot to enjoy one regardless of which village you pick.
Located right next to Europe’s largest unenclosed heathland – the New Forest – Beaulieu is often sought out as the main ‘base of operations’ for anyone looking to explore the area in much detail. And why wouldn’t it be? Beaulieu is also home to the Beaulieu Motor Museum (one of the best for old cars in the UK) and the Beaulieu Palace House.
The nearby New Forest is incredible, and definitely worth the time spent exploring it. There are over 1,500 ancient trees located in the park – many of them over 1,500 years old. You’ll also have access to an almost untamed natural fauna, which has grown without much direction since around 1000 AD, when William the Conqueror designated the grounds his personal hunting area. All this makes sure that Beaulieu is definitely towards the top of our list of favorite villages in the UK.
Taking things up a notch now, we’re going to start moving into places that have a little bit of spooky history. Burley is just one such place. Located in Hampshire, and again right next to the New Forest, Burley has long been associated with witches in the area. To this day, that belief has persisted and the streets are lined with small stores for buying witch crafting merchandise and magical gifts.
A walk through the village is an enjoyable day out. Besides the witch-themed shops, you’ll also find many different cafes and small restaurants. All of which offer the South’s favorite snack of a Cream Tea.
Often featured on lists of picturesque villages in the UK, it’s not hard to see why. Castle Combe is comprised of beautiful stone houses that work their way up narrow lanes and over beautiful streams. Flowers hang from every porch. There’s a reason that Castle Combe is consistently rated the ‘prettiest village in England’. The Village has actually featured in multiple famous films, including War Horse and Stardust. It was even the setting for a scene in Dr. Dolittle at one point.
Castle Combe is just 12 miles from the UK city of Bath, making it a great destination for a day out and one of the most convenient villages in the UK. You’ll also be nearby to some other pretty great places such as Stonehenge and several beautiful walking paths through the countryside.
This picturesque village is known for its famous private school, attended by the rich and famous from around the world. However, it also doubles up as a nice little village was walking through – especially if you’re interested in visiting small, authentic shops.
The Village is also home to several small cafés, where you can pick up a nice cup of tea and a little bit to eat. Moreover, just over the river, you’ll be right in Windsor, which is where you’ll be able to visit Windsor Castle, or simply just walk along the water’s edge.
Often regarded as a hidden gem when it comes to villages in the UK, Staithes is an incredible village that has to be seen to be believed. Located just along the coastline, the charming houses look out upon the sea as the sun bounces off of their colorful walls. The annual Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage which takes place in the village each year is usually the reason most people come here, but it’s really worth visiting all year round.
Make sure to try the fish at one of the local pubs here. It’s freshly caught and due to the village’s distance from any large cities, tastes amazing.
Make sure to visit the seaside here, known as Runswick Bay. It is a perfectly British Sand beach, dotted with several rock pools. You’ll notice several walkers in the area and a couple of fishing boats. And of course, if it’s summer, you’re always able to go for a dip in the water yourself.
Located to the north of England, Hawkshead is surrounded by rolling hills and majestic greenery. Of course, being in Cumbria, it’s also right next door to the Lake District. That means that within just a short car or bus journey, you’ll have access to some of Britain’s most visually amazing sights. Make sure to check out the Langdale Pikes whilst you’re there. Also of interest might be one of the many actual lakes located in the area.
Hawkshead itself is home to tons of 17th-century architecture. That includes a church that dates all the way back to the 1300s. The village is also well known for its local pubs. The Drunken Duck is of particular note, although they don’t often actually serve duck.
When you’re exploring the villages, make sure to check out more than just the village itself. Often what makes these places so charming is their location. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be walking paths for you to travel back into the wilderness. This makes the UK villages perfect for anyone looking to get a true piece of the UK countryside.
Once you’ve finished with the UK, you can always go and visit nearby Ireland, where you’ll find a whole new countryside to explore.