After we wrote about some of the UK’s most beautiful villages, we thought it only fair that our readers (that’s you guys) should have a say and tell us which places deserved to make the cut. Stretching the length and breadth of the country, here are our readers’ favourite coastal and countryside spots, perfect for a weekend escape or a romantic retreat for two.
Look out for your favourite village on the list and if we’ve not included it let us know in the comment box below.
1. Pittenweem, Fife
Tucked away in scenic Fife is one of the most active fishing ports in Scotland. With a bustling harbour area, you can enjoy watching the fishermen bring their trawl in or ambling along the shore throughout most of the year. But arguably the best time to visit Pittenweem is during its annual and well-renowned Arts Festival which this year will be held August 6th-14th. Boasting over 100 exhibitions, there’s a lot of brilliant local art to see, and some fantastic seafront cafés in which to sip tea and sample the catch of the day. The sweet-toothed should head to the Pittenweem Chocolate Company Café, on the village high street, for Belgian chocolate brownies and their signature hot chocolate.
Not to be outdone on coastal beauty, Elie and Crail in Fife were also firm favourites with our readers. Just a stone’s throw away from Pittenweem, they make the perfect day trips if you are looking to explore the area and there are no shortage of vantage points from which to enjoy views up and down the coast – plus lot of places for some of Britain’s freshest fish and chips!
2. Kyle of Lochalsh, Highlands
Lochs also proved popular, and Kyle of Lochalsh comes highly recommended from reader Mark McLoughlin, who was lucky enough to work there in his youth. Located west of Inverness, there are three main reasons to visit this charming west coast village: the wildlife, the landscape and the laid-back lifestyle. Do a spot of fishing (the area is known for its salmon) or take a stroll through the softly undulating hills of the Balmacara estate to really see the rural attraction of this quaint spot.
But it’s not just Scotland that’s claiming all the glory…
3. Villages of Cornwall
500 miles south of Kyle of Lochalsh and you’re at Land’s End in Cornwall. Our readers voted for Cornwall (and debated whether or not it was even part of the UK) on many occasions, so we thought it deserved a mention. Thank you Jacky Evans for bringing pretty Polperro to our attention, and Robert Lambert for suggesting Port Isaac, with their strong fishing traditions and quaint harbours; where better to take in the sea air with a 99 Flake in hand. If pretty Port Isaac seems familiar then it may be that you recognise it from the hit TV series Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes. Find out more about these villages and 15 other stunning places in Cornwall with our guide.
4. Castle Combe, Wiltshire
Castle Combe has also had its fair share of stardom, featuring in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. Wander around the stone-clad shop fronts and twelfth century St Andrew’s Church to get an idea of why it’s thought to be one of the loveliest villages in Britain. Visit nearby Lacock, and you might come over all things Austen (2005’s Pride and Prejudice was filmed here), so pause for a dainty afternoon tea at the High Street’s Old Stable Cafe to complete the experience. Harry Potter fans should stop by at Lacock Abbey to spot backdrops from Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, and take a turn about the Victorian wooded garden (£9.90 for adults, £4.90 for children, see the National Trust website for opening times).
5. Porlock Weir, Somerset
Another one of your favourites was Porlock Weir in Somerset (fly to Bristol and drive the last 90 minutes via Bridgewater and the rugged countryside of Exmoor). With cottages dating back to the seventeenth century, photo spots aplenty off the old stone jetty and walking routes around Porlock Bay on the doorstep it’s no surprise its absence from our list was noted. For the literary fans among you, check in to the Lorna Doone Hotel at Minehead and channel R D Blackamore’s spirited heroine with some romantic walks in nearby Exmoor National Park.
6. Edensor, Derbyshire
Thank you to Colin Allen for introducing us to Edensor, described as “a little known spot on the Chatsworth Estate" and pronounced "Ensor". A fascinating collection of architectural styles from different periods makes the Edensor Village Trail worth a look, and hikes along the Derwent River and the Peak District beckon beyond. For those with a taste for the finer things in life a trip to Chatsworth House will not disappoint, with its extensive parklands, priceless paintings and rare antiques (open March to December, 11am to 5.30pm).
7. Bourton-on-the-water, Gloucestershire
Four miles from Stow-on-the-Wold and known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”, Bourton-on-the-water packs a lot in for a small place, with 117 listed buildings, a miniature model village and its very own wildlife park with over 500 birds. Take a short stroll up the High Street to The Mousetrap Inn for craft beers and belly-warming meals – there are rooms for the night upstairs if you don’t fancy the walk back. Did you know that Bourton also appeared in Die Another Day back in 2002? Check out our round-up of other famous Bond locations to see if you can spot any more familiar places!
8. Bainbridge, North Yorkshire
Situated in the renowned Yorkshire Dales National Park, Bainbridge is a great stop off on any road trip or even if you’re just looking for a base to explore the rolling countryside on foot. There’s a Roman fort and fishing in the shortest river in England (the River Bain) in the village, not to mention traditional drinking venues like the Rose and Crown for those who like their ale. Bainbridge is found in the home of Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese, Wensleydale, and for dairy fans, sampling the wares at the Wensleydale Creamery is a must (the ‘cheese experience’ is open daily, 10am to 3pm).
9. Milton Abbas, Dorset
If village charm is built on thatched cottages then Milton Abbas, just outside of Dorchester, is your place. Every year locals recreate an eighteenth century fair with Morris dancing – complete with all bells and whistles – crafts and local produce so if you’re looking for that traditional British village experience, visit in late July (see website for 2016 dates). Dorset also made our reader’s pick of the top British beaches – check out the full list to see if your favourites are there.
From villages to towns…
Ok, there were a few nominations that aren’t strictly villages, but let’s face it, if these towns have an abundance of quaint shops and a cosy pub, we want to know about it.
10. Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Located on the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides and perhaps better known for playing host to children’s TV show Balamory, the town of Tobermory won an honorary place on our village list, with its colourful waterfront straight out of a picture book. Home to its own distillery where you can enjoy a dram of whisky or two (call in advance to book your place on a tour) and a host of shops with locally-produced arts and crafts, it’s well worth the trip to this pretty port. The most popular route to Mull is to take the ferry from Oban, and those who live further afield can fly into Glasgow and hire a car for the scenic west coast trip.
Holmfirth in Yorkshire, Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale and Rye, East Sussex also made our reader’s shortlist but what do you think, where are the UK’s most scenic towns? Let us know!
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