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The best of England’s natural beauty

Skim stones from the pretty pebble beaches of the Lake District or take a contemplative walk along the moodily romantic, wave-buffeted clifftops of Cornwall.

Here are the most highly rated destinations for nature in England, according to global travellers.*

Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire

Follow the Cotswold Way National Trail through sheep-filled meadows and honey-coloured stone villages

Follow the Cotswold Way National Trail through sheep-filled meadows and honey-coloured stone villages

Wotton-under-Edge is a quiet market town in the south of the Cotswolds, and is about as bucolic as they come. Its name refers to its sheltered position just below the Cotswold Edge, a limestone escarpment from which whimsical views of meadows and rolling hills reach all the way to the Severn Estuary and Wales. The town lies on the Cotswold Way National Trail, a path that zig-zags through floral woodlands and sheep-filled meadows from each honey-coloured stone village to the next; take it slowly, enjoying pints or long lunches in medieval pubs, or pick up the pace and cover as much of its 102 miles as you can each day. Stay upstairs in a typical English village pub at the Swan Hotel.

Shap, Cumbria

Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, was inspired by the landscapes of the Lake District

Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, was inspired by the landscapes of the Lake District

The village of Shap much consists of two rows of grey stone houses, amid the fells and dales (hills and valleys) of England’s cherished Lake District – the largest national park in England. This region's windswept scenery has served as the muse for several seminal writers, including Romantic poet, William Wordsworth (I wandered lonely as a cloud was inspired by a walk around Glencoyne Bay). There are 16 huge, rippling blue lakes in total, the most famous of which is Lake Windermere – also the largest lake anywhere in England. Start your visit in a town like Ambleside on the water’s edge, skimming stones on pretty pebble beaches, before setting off on a hike; the walk to Blelham Tarn past Windermere and the neo-Gothic, turreted Wray Castle (stop for jam and cream scones at the castle café) is a gentle route across low fells. Or try the path up to the summit of Langdale Pikes, rewarding you with some of the Lake District’s most sublime views. The home-cooked breakfast at New Ing Lodge is seriously good hiking fuel.

Sennen, Cornwall

The moodily romantic, wave-buffeted, natural arch of Enys Dodman Rock

The moodily romantic, wave-buffeted, natural arch of Enys Dodman Rock

Sennen is a small fishing village just eight miles southwest of the Cornish port of Penzance. And it's a stepping stone to miles of walks along wild and weathered coastal cliffs. Follow a circular trail from the golden sands and harbour of Sennen Cove, to Land’s End, the most westerly point of England. Here, you’ll understand why this moodily romantic stretch of England’s coastline served as the setting for several of Daphne du Maurier’s romantic novels. Spend a contemplative moment at the top of the old coastguard lookout and stare at the sea stacks, the grass-topped cliffs and the wave-buffeted, natural arch of Enys Dodman Rock. For anyone planning a longer trip, there's the rest of the Cornish section of the South West Coast Path to discover, running 268 miles around the county’s shore. Open your bay-facing bedroom window to wake up to a sea breeze while staying at The Old Success Inn in Sennen Cove.

Thirlmere, Cumbria

Hike up the slopes of Helvellyn, England's third highest peak

Hike up the slopes of Helvellyn, England's third highest peak

Another Lake District beauty spot, Thirlmere is a village built aside a reservoir of the same name. This human-made lake is bordered by 2,000 acres of Scandinavian-esque spruce and larch forest. And is sheltered by Helvellyn, a mountain whose snow-capped peak is the third highest point in England. Hike up its slopes past waterfalls, ridges and glacial coves for the best views of the brooding landscape. Or opt for an easier walk across the reservoir’s dam and up Raven Crag, a fell that serves as another great vantage point. Check into an old stone farmhouse dating back to the 1800s, Barn-Gill House.

John O'Groats, Highlands

See the crumbling ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe near John O'Groats

See the crumbling ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe near John O'Groats

The village of John O'Groats is mostly known as the finish line for hikers walking the length of Britain. But its remote location right on the northeastern tip of Scotland also makes it a handy launchpad for exploring the hauntingly beautiful landscape of the Highlands. Admire the views across the Pentland Firth (a strait that separates the mainland from the Orkney Islands) and keep your eyes peeled for killer whales, before setting off on a coastal hike. There are trails everywhere, from the cliffs of Dunnet Head to the path from John O’Groats to Duncansby Head, taking you past rock formations that rise out of angry waters. Or head towards Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, whose crumbling ruins form an eerie silhouette against a blushing pink sky at sunset. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a clifftop location make Natural Retreats John O'Groats a lovely place to stay while you're here.

**The data scientists at Booking.com dug into internal data to find the most highly rated destinations in England for ‘nature’.