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14 Incredible Places In England That Will Feed And Satisfy Your Wanderlust

Craving a magical woodland escape or charming landscaped gardens straight out of a storybook? England has you covered.

We're still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so before travelling please know before you go and check the latest government advice and local guidance relevant to your destination. When you're there, please be mindful of locals, keep to social distancing rules, and respect the surroundings around you.

1. If you're yearning for the gold and russet colours of autumn, then Sussex’s many forests will have you believing you're in a magical realm.

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Like the famed fall of the New England region of the United States, the forests of Old England in Sussex burst into colour every autumn. Visitors are spoilt for choice, with a glowing array of reds and bronzes in the maple trees in the botanic gardens at Wakehurst, the beech avenue at Kilndown near Scotney Castle, and Ashdown Forest.

“I went to school in Ashdown as a child and I first saw the beautiful autumn colours of the forest there. I still love doing the short drive across Kent county lines back to Sussex to walk in the forests, especially when the leaves are all gold and red.” – Alex Blessley, Tonbridge

2. And if you want the charm of a seaside resort and the natural beauty of the English countryside, then exploring Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, will not disappoint.

3. If you've ever wanted to explore a gothic castle with a library that looks like it was plucked from a fairy tale, then a visit to the sweetly named Strawberry Hill House in London might just help you tick that off your bucket list.

4. The mist-shrouded delight that is the Surrey Hills feels ancient and mythical, and will be a satisfying reward for early risers.

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Few travel pleasures are as satisfying as waking up early to watch the sunrise over a natural sight. The Surrey Hills hold similar charms for those waking early to look out across this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Watch fog swirl over the 13th century Frensham Ponds, or take in the glorious view of the Devil's Punchbowl, a stunning storied valley.

“The Surrey Hills are the perfect country escape, and were always a short drive away whenever I needed to escape from the hustle and bustle of London," says Zanna van Dijk, who recently moved to Surrey from the capital. "They’re packed full of natural beauty and winding walking trails — the ideal spot for a picnic.”

5. And beautiful Mersea Island, Essex, has everything a traveller could want: colourful and quaint houses, a rich history, and clean, smooth beaches. And if that wasn't enough, it also has some of the best oysters in England.

6. If you've always found deer to be beautiful, magical creatures, then you may find yourself walking amongst them in Richmond Park.

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Animal lovers are right at home in Richmond Park, which as well as being a beloved London park is also a National Nature Reserve, with a protected status due to the manifold wildlife living among its great swathes of grasslands. The most important wildlife? Undoubtedly the park’s iconic deer, who can be seen from nearly everywhere within the park, roaming freely among walkers.

“I feel so lucky to have Richmond Park on my doorstep. There's so much to explore — you can find views of the whole city, magical copses, and, of course, the adorable deer. I've spent a lot of lockdown cycling, picnicking and running here, but I like it best when I simply lie down with a good book and lose a few hours in this gorgeous green space.” — Niamh O’Brien, London

7. And if stories of ancient Rome have you enthralled, then seeing Hadrian’s Wall within the magnificent landscape of Northern England will be just as compelling.

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Also known as Vallum Hadriani in Latin, Hadrian’s Wall winds its way across 100 miles of Northern England, with an incredible number of heritage sites (and activities) to discover along its snaking journey over the countryside. “This incredible, historic landmark is my favourite place to hike, cycle, and even stargaze,” says Cris Brown (Northumberland), “as it spans our National Park and covers some incredible landscapes.”

Turrets, bath houses, shrines, museums, and even live excavations all speckle the nearly 2,000-year-old wall, which was built in 128 AD as a protective barrier of the Roman province of Britannia.

8. Northumberland is a wonderland of rushing waters, if you want to behold the majestic beauty of some of England's finest hidden waterfalls.

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Northumberland gets a lot of attention for its incredible coastline, but head inland, and you’ll find a magical world inside the county’s National Park. All of Northumberland’s countryside seems scattered with hidden waterfalls, tucked away amongst every bit of greenery: Linhope Spout, the Linns of Crammel, and Hareshaw are three of the most spectacular. Dilston waterfall, or the "Devil’s Water," and Routin Linn are another two deliciously fairy-tale–like places to seek out.

“Linhope Spout feels like my secret spot, and it’s the perfect getaway place for when I fancy some peace and quiet, as well as a long walk.” — Jenni Meikle, Northumberland

9. And if you enjoy a warming Sunday stroll, a meander down the green, leafy paths of the River Lee Navigation will fill you with a soothing ease.

10. The Conservatory at the Barbican in London is filled with over 1,500 species of plants and trees — a lush oasis for city dwellers and visitors alike.

11. And Tatton Park in Cheshire, is a wonderful place to visit if you want to witness the exquisite combination of a Japanese garden in an English stately home.

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“My grandfather is buried in the ‘English Garden’ of Jomyoji Temple (Kamakura), and whenever I visit the Japanese garden in Tatton Park — only 30 minutes outside Manchester city — I'm always struck by the similarities,” says Erin Niimi Longhurst (Manchester) of this historic estate. “The little pocket of each culture in another country is really lovely. Tatton Park’s garden has a little Shinto shrine, and thoughtfully placed rock formations and trees to re-create a Japanese garden in the English countryside, as part of a stately home.

The park can be found in the English town of Knutsford in Cheshire. Believed to be the result of the former estate owner, Alan de Tatton's visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910, the garden is an homage to the beauty of Japan’s temples. The wider estate also has a stunning old Tudor hall, Neo-Classical mansion, and a whopping 50 landscaped gardens to explore.

12. There are so many delights that await visitors to Painshill Park, Surrey, and a full day spent exploring its grounds will unearth all kinds of special treasures — including an otherworldly crystal cave.

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“I seem to discover something new with every trip to this glorious park,” says Lindsay Foley (Surrey). “It’s ideal for a visit when I’m in the mood for exploring and admiring beautifully crafted works of art on a monumental scale.” One of the more naturalistic art pieces within Painshill, a 158-acre, 18th-century landscaped garden full of follies and vineyards, is the "Crystal Grotto." This unbelievable sight was built by grotto-maker Joseph Lane of Tisbury in the 1700s, and is believed to have been designed by Charles Hamilton.

Beyond an entrance hidden by rocks lie stalactites coated in calcite, quartz, and fluorite, and sunlight is captured and refracted off the thousands of crystals. “I absolutely love wandering through the crystal-walled caves. Admiring the sparkles of the crystalline rock in different lighting is always so special!”

13. And if you crave the taste of ultra fresh fish reeled straight out of the water, and the cool serenity of a blue and pink sunset, just travel along the coast to Selsey.

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“For me, Selsey seafront is my soul space to pause, reset and take a breath,” says Caroline Taylor (West Sussex). The seaside town sits on the point of the Manhood Peninsula, jutting out into the English Channel. The world’s colder beaches have a beauty all their own, and Selsey is no different. Wind-whipped hair and bracing walks are the order of the day here from September onward (unless you’re very lucky with the weather), but this only makes heading indoors to sample some of the catch of the day all the more delicious.

“If I ever need a little pick-me-up, no matter where I am, I imagine that I’m back on my local beach, listening to the sounds of waves and letting the vibrant sea air wash over me,” Caroline says.

14. Finally, the village of Lavenham in Suffolk belongs on every book lover's bucket list, and is every bit as picturesque and historical as literary villages you may find across the Atlantic.

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“I think people might go and visit these villages on either side of the pond for the same reasons: to get a flavour of small town life steeped in each nation's history," Erin says. "Sleepy Hollow used to be local to me when I lived in New York — and Lavenham was on my doorstep when I lived in London. I'm an author and both were places of inspiration whenever I needed it.”

Literary heritage runs through the market town of Lavenham — Britain’s best preserved medieval village — and is the home of Lavenham Literary Festival and a pilgrimage for fantasy fans. However you don't need to be a literary buff to enjoy this quirky and colourful town, maybe just a lover of really cute houses!

Escape your everyday and plan a trip to one of these incredible places right on your doorstep! Go to Visit England to learn more.