Are these the prettiest streets in Britain? Get the cameras ready because we think these are among the most picturesque areas in the country.
Hundreds of seriously pretty streets line Britain’s villages, give character to its market towns and lie scattered in its cities. Their discovery is always a pleasure and a delight. Here is a selection of well-known, easily accessible scenes (much photographed by visitors) that represents all the other serious contenders.
Golds Hill, Shaftesbury
Made famous by a Hovis bread commercial several decades ago, the views of Blackmore Vale from Dorset’s hilltop town spread out below the thatched and brick cottages tumbling down the street. Flowers decorate the stoops and windows, adding color to the scene. Folks travel to Shaftesbury just to take their own pictures of Golds Hill.
Broad Street, Ludlow
There’s not much to dislike about charming Ludlow, tumbling down to the River Teme from Ludlow Castle. Follow Broad Street downhill from the marketplace, lined with the colorful eateries and food shops that give the Shropshire town its reputation, and dotted with flower-festooned doorways.
The Shambles, York
Many of the “gates” of old York fit this category, but The Shambles is York’s famous archetypal quaint thoroughfare. Often thronged with camera-laden visitors, The Shambles hardly resembles the medieval butchers’ row that gave the narrow alley its name. Nowadays the cobblestones and pavement throb with upscale shops and eateries.
Rissington Road, Bourton-on-the-water
The placid River Windrush flows along the main street of this popular Cotswold town. Ducks, swans and assorted waterfowl share the broad grassy verges with day visitors. Tidy footbridges and broad lawns form the backdrop for souvenir shops and tearooms, the Cotswold Motor Museum, a don’t-miss model village and a perfume factory.
Mermaid Street, Rye
The steep, cobbled street leading up from the harbor is lined with historic Georgian and pristine 16th-century half-timbered houses, and the famous Mermaid Inn. Smugglers and pirates, Henry James and E.F. Benson (who set Mapp & Lucia in Rye) have all been at home here.
Lower Gate Street, Conway
Quayside on the estuary of the River Conwy, beneath the battlements of Conwy Castle, this pretty row includes the smallest house in Wales (do take a peek), old fishermen’s cottages, views toward Llandudno and Great Orme, and boats on the quay across the pavement. Photograph the scene against its dramatic backdrop from the walls of the castle above.
The Street, Castle Combe
Take the B4039 a few miles from Chippenham. There’s not much to Castle Combe, but it is instantly recognizable for The Street. The village thoroughfare gained fame when Dr. Dolittle (Rex Harrison) led his talking animals here in the 1967 movie. Ever since, the avenue of picturesque limestone cottages has provided a backdrop for many films and promotions and many visitors.
Arlington Row, Bibury
Finding pretty streets in the Cotswolds is just a matter of looking around. Britain’s most photographed street, however, is a terrace of 14th-century cottages owned by the National Trust—the country’s oldest inhabited houses. This Northern Cotswolds’ village scene is well-traveled indeed, gracing the inside cover of British passports.
The Circus, Bath
Even in a city rich with stunning avenues and alleys, a completely circular street is a novelty in itself. Inspired by Rome’s Colosseum, the elegant townhouses of The Circus surround a grassy central park. They designed by John Wood the Elder and his son during their classically-inspired rebuild of the Georgian city in the mid-1700s, and have had a variety of famous residents.
High Street, Arundel
With magnificent Arundel Castle, seat of the Duke of Norfolk, hovering over it, and the pastoral River Arun at its feet, Arundel’s tidy High Street is a photo-op from every angle. The scene is beloved by residents and visitors alike for its eclectic shops, pubs and restaurants—and views. Just down an adjacent tree-line boulevard lies the Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
* Originally published in June 2015.