The amazing variety of ways Britain defines “picturesque”
From the tip of Cornwall to John O’Groats the British landscape changes every 50 miles or so. Scenic landscapes abound in variety and intensity across our island. Here are our admittedly subjective favorites.
1 THE WEST HIGHLAND LINE
Long recognized as one of the great scenic train rides in the world. Take the train from Glasgow to Fort William and Mallaig through the mountains. Even better when the heather is in bloom. Your heart will stay in the Highlands.
2 THE HEART OF THE LAKES
The Lake District is breathtakingly beautiful. Try the drive from Bowness-on-Windermere to Grasmere and Keswick; then follow the A66 along Bassenthwaite Lake to Wordsworth’s hometown of Cockermouth. You’ll start quoting poetry yourself.
3 CHESIL BEACH
Begin on the Isle of Portland and follow the arc of Chesil Beach west along the Jurassic Coast. Detour for the swannery at Abbotsford, and explore the coastal route to Lyme Regis. Walk the Cobb with Meryl Streep and Jane Austen.
4 THE EXMOOR COAST
Follow the A39 west from Minehead—the northern route across Exmoor, through the heart of Lorna Doone Country. Heart-stopping coastal vistas line the route to Lynton/Lynmouth and on to Ilfracombe before you arrive at Barnstable.
5 THE PEAK DISTRICT
From the elegant old spa town of Buxton take the A6 to Bakewell, then thread north through the hills to Castleton. Wander around the famous caverns in the neighborhood, or visit Haddon Hall or Chatsworth on the way. Hike the High Peak, or take the country tracks back to Chapel-en-le-Frith.
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6 THE NEW FOREST
From a base in Lyndhurst or Brockenhurst, explore the moors and woodlands of the New Forest, with wild ponies, ancient oak groves, wellingtonias and rhododendron reaching 40 feet in the air. Perhaps most impressive in the late spring, but unforgettable in any season.
Conwy’s a great jumping off point for majestic Snowdonia. Drive down the Vale of Conwy to Betws-y-Coed (with a stop at Bodnant Garden). Turn west to Capel Curig and then take the A4086 over Llanberis Pass under Mount Snowdon to Caernarfon.
8 THE NORFOLK BROADS
From Norwich, head to Wrexham, “capital of the Broads,” then wend east through the waterscape of the Norfolk Broads to Ranworth and on to Great Yarmouth. Riverside pubs pepper the landscape. Or pick up a Broads cruiser in Wrexham and do it by river at 4 mph.
9 THE SCOTTISH BORDERS
Follow in Jim Hargan’s footsteps (see his feature last issue) and explore the beauty of the Scottish borders. From Berwick, just follow the River Tweed west, to Coldstream, Kelso and Melrose. Take in Scott’s View of the Eildon Hills. Visit Dryburgh Abbey on the way.
10 YORKSHIRE MOORS AND DALES
North Yorkshire boasts two very different magical landscapes. Head west from the A1 at Bedale into Wensleydale and sumptuous farmland. Or turn east into the North York Moors at Thirsk and follow the A169 from Pickering over the moors to Whitby.