Green and pleasant land: readers on six of the best places to visit in England

The Guardian Traveling 3 weeks ago

The timeless treasures of England’s natural and cultural heritage have an enduring appeal for travellers from far and wide. In a Lonely Planet list, England was named the second-best tourist destination in the world to visit in 2020, after Bhutan, earning its rank through “topicality, unique experiences and wow factor”. Here are some of our readers’ favourite undiscovered spots.

Sissinghurst Castle, Kent

The beautiful 20-hectacre estate, nestled in the Weald, boasts a plethora of woodland and renowned gardens, as well as an orchard, a nuttery and a moat, making it perfect for rambling and wildlife- watching all year round.

Sissinghurst Castle, the home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson. Photograph: Kay Ringwood/Alamy

Trough of Bowland, Lancashire

Whether you are a walker or a cyclist, you will find solace in this valley, tucked away in the Forest of Bowland (itself a designated area of outstanding beauty) – a dramatic, remote landscape of heather moorland, farms and quiet lanes. Known for fine local produce and breathtaking scenery, Bowland makes for a wild rural retreat and is only a stone’s throw from Preston and Lancaster.

Hareden valley in the Trough of Bowland, Lancashire. Photograph: Alamy

Helford estuary, Cornwall

Tucked between Falmouth and the Lizard peninsula, the scenic estuary is ideal for bird watching, spotting marine life and enjoying aquatic activities such as sailing, kayaking and snorkelling. There are shoreline villages brimming with pubs and quiet gardens, while the secluded beaches and wooded inland creeks can also be explored by boat.

The Helford estuary basks in the summer sun. Photograph: Alamy

Bridgnorth, Shropshire

Charles I is thought to have called the view from Bridgnorth the finest in the kingdom. Split in two by the River Severn, residents are transported from High Town to Low Town by the Cliff Railway, the oldest and steepest inland electrical funicular in England. The ruins of Bridgnorth Castle lean at an angle of 15 degrees – four times the lean of the leaning tower of Pisa.

An English idyll: Bridgnorth sits astride the River Severn. Photograph: Robin Weaver/Alamy

Painshill Park, Surrey

The 18th-century landscape garden, wildflower meadows and working vineyard scratch the surface of what Painshill has to offer. Throw a Turkish tent, a crystal grotto, a gothic tower and the stunning Serpentine lake into the mix and you have a gorgeous day out.

A view of Painshill Park, from the Turkish tent. Photograph: Peter Chiverton/Alamy

Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

The quaint, historic market town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales makes a great base for exploring the unspoiled surrounding countryside. Highlights include ancient monuments such as the triple-arched Devil’s Bridge and the famous Ruskin’s View, immortalised by JMW Turner.

The perfect end to a perfect day in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria. Photograph: Alamy

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