Self-drive UK tour (10 nights)
The British countryside is famous for its rolling green hills, picturesque villages, wild moorland, glistening lakes and dramatic coastline. Hiking on the myriad of footpaths that criss-cross the landscape and cycling the winding country lanes are hugely popular activities in the UK, and great ways to discover the country.
The many other options for outdoor enthusiasts include coasteering on the spectacular Cornish Coast, caving in the depths of the Peak District, ghyll scrambling in the pristine rivers of the Lake District and sea-kayaking off remote Scottish Islands.
For those who prefer a more relaxed pace of life, stunning scenery can be enjoyed just as easily from a gentle lakeside stroll or a relaxing boat ride.
This itinerary takes you to some of Britain’s most beautiful areas with the best opportunities for outdoor activities. Suggested extensions and alternatives are included at the end of the itinerary but please feel free to contact us to discuss other options.
Days 1 and 2: The Cotswolds
Spend your first couple of days in the quintessential English countryside of the Cotswolds (which is easily accessible from most London airports).
Hike over gentle hills or cycle the undulating country lanes to stumble upon honey-coloured villages complete with babbling streams, historic churches and cosy country pubs.
If you aren’t feeling so energetic, the beautiful villages and towns can easily be explored by car. Try sophisticated Chipping Campden, picture perfect Lower Slaughter, bustling Burford or peaceful and idyllic Stanton and Stanway, amongst many others.
Accommodation: Choose a traditional Village Inn, complete with flagstone floor, open fire and oak beams, or a 17th century boutique country house hotel set in beautiful gardens, perfect for afternoon tea on a sunny day.
Days 3 and 4: The Peak District
Head North to England’s first National Park and still one of the most popular: the Peak District.
An area combining the deep river valleys and dales of the White Peak and the dramatic ‘tors’ (rocky outcrops) and moorland of the Dark Peak, the Peak District provides a huge variety of stunning scenery.
An excellent range of activities are available. Whether you’re interested in walking, cycling, horse-riding, rock climbing, caving or water sports, you will not be short of options. If you would prefer a day of culture, you are a stone’s throw from Chatsworth House, one of England’s most impressive stately homes.
Accommodation: Stay in an ‘Arts and Crafts’ style luxury hotel and spa set in beautiful countryside or a traditional village inn on the Chatsworth Estate.
Days 5 and 6: The Yorkshire Dales
The hills and dales of North Yorkshire await you at your next stop. Here you will find some of England’s most beautiful ancient ruins, most traditional villages (think dry stone walls and sheep grazing on the village green) and finest walking and cycling country.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park offers stunning walking through dramatic limestone country, littered with abbey and castle ruins and welcoming villages. Alternatively, venture further afield to the wild beauty of the North York Moors or the lively Yorkshire coast, from where Captain Cook set sail on the Endeavour.
Alternatively, take a trip to the fascinating city of York to see the breath-taking medieval York Minster and to wander the network of ancient ‘snickelways’.
Accommodation: Try a luxury country house hotel on the edge of an unspoilt village or in a converted watermill in the heart of the Dales.
Days 7 and 8: Lake District
The towering hills and mountains, sparkling lakes and pretty villages of the Lake District await you at your next stop.
Home to England’s most striking scenery and an area whose beauty has inspired many poets and artists, the Lake District provides endless options for enjoying the great outdoors.
Walks of all levels provide the perfect way to absorb the beautiful surroundings. Water based activities are also plentiful: try kayaking, windsurfing or rowing, or relax on a sunset lake cruise. For those seeking more adventure, there are plenty of opportunities for rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, horse riding and quad biking.
Whatever you decide to do, there will always be a pretty Lakeland village with a cosy tea room and traditional English pub to welcome you at the end of the day.
Accommodation: Choose a Tudor Inn nestled amongst the high fells of the Northern Lakes or a fine country house on the edge of a small lake in the beautiful Langdale Valley.
Days 9 and 10: The Highlands
The grand landscape of the Scottish Highlands is a playground for lovers of the great outdoors. With mountains to tackle, glens to meander through, whisky to sample, islands to explore and shorelines filled with sea life to kayak, you will be hard pushed to decide what to do.
Explore beautiful Glen Nevis, hike to the summit of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, or admire gorgeous Glen Coe, the setting of many big-budget movies including Brave Heart and Harry Potter.
Alternatively, head for the coast and hop on a ferry to one of the many nearby islands: the craggy peaks of Skye, the castles and beaches of Mull and the distilleries of Islay are all in easy reach.
Whatever you choose, the famous Scottish hospitality will be waiting for you at the end of the day, whether you decide to settle in to a country pub with a dram of whisky or a local ale, or to try some Scottish seafood straight from the ocean at one of the many fine restaurants that line the coast.
On your last day, drop your car in Edinburgh before catching a flight home, a connecting flight or boarding the train back to London.
Accommodation: Stay in an 18th century farmhouse converted into a luxury boutique hotel on the edge of a quiet loch or in an ‘art gallery and restaurant with rooms’ in bustling Fort William.
Extra time: If you have the time to extend your holiday, consider:
- Spending a couple days seeing the sights in London; a world away from the rural villages and rolling hills that you have been enjoying for the last 10 days.
- Spending longer in Scotland, either continuing north to the stunning and remote northern highlands and islands or exploring fascinating and historic Edinburgh.
- Heading out into the wilds of Exmoor and Dartmoor in the far South West of England.
- Crossing into Wales and hike some of the stunning Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.
- Making your first stop the New Forest, an ancient royal hunting ground and recently designated National Park, made up of gentle countryside, peaceful villages, roaming deer, wild ponies and many walking and cycle routes.
If you have been inspired by this example itinerary, why not request your own tailor-made holiday itinerary.