Britain is known for its effervescent cities, glorious castles and stately palaces, iconic landmarks and a grand literary lineage. Besides this, Britain is also proud to boast some spectacular natural landscapes across its isles. With sandy coves, vertigo-inducing mountains, dense forests, crystal clear lakes and an abundance of rolling hills – there’s so much to explore.
Strap on your hiking boots and tap on a few days to explore the wilder side of Britain after your city break at The Chilworth London Paddington.
The Lake District
Britain’s mecca for hikers, the Lake District is a World Heritage Site and a true national treasure beloved by Brits and overseas tourists alike. Within the National Park you can find both the tallest mountain (Scafell Pike) and the deepest lake (Wastwater) in England. Follow tramping trails that crisscross through glens, alight your senses with cascading waterfalls and scale the majestic peaks. Cyclists can hire some wheels and tackle the mountain bike trails through Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests, or opt to explore the more leisurely Lowther Castle. If your feet need a break, you can hire a boat and sail across the lakes of Windermere, Ulswater and Derwent Water and relax in the quaint Lakeland village.
Hampstead Heath, London
You don’t need to stray too far from your accommodation in Paddington to find a hefty dose of woodland peeking out from behind the concrete and high-rises. Hampstead Heath is only a short tube ride away, and provides 320 hectares of hills, ancient forestry and natural swimming ponds which form the lungs of London. This rural sanctuary inspired C. S. Lewis to write the Chronicles of Narnia, and even today the residences surrounding the heath are the pads of writers, painters and poets. One of London’s only natural bogs can be found on the heath, and some of the trees are over 500 years old. Deer, foxes, bats and hedgehog call the heath home, and the eagle-eyed might spot the grass snakes that breed here!
The Jurassic Coast
If the beach is calling out to you, then answer it with a trip to the breathtaking southern coast of England. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stretches from Devon to Dorset and is famed for being one of the richest sites for fossils and prehistoric remains. You can’t miss the chance to check out the views of Durdle Door, a huge natural limestone arch that juts out amid the blue waters of Lulworth Cove. Another stunning natural delight is the three gleaming white chalk formations that form Old Harry’s Rocks. Visit during summer and it might be warm enough to take a dip in the English Channel.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Another London-based option that any flora fanatic shouldn’t miss is the chance to discover the 50,000 different types of plants from around the world which bloom at Kew Gardens. You can easily spend a whole day here. Wander the arboretum of over 14,000 trees shaped by the seasons, travel from the desert to the tropics in Victorian greenhouses and take a mindful moment in the traditional Japanese gardens. Budding botanists can chew on the science behind the plants whilst children can burn off their energy in the dedicated children’s garden. After a feasting your senses on the scents and colours, make dinner reservations at one of the nourishing restaurants in Paddington.
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia is a region in northwest Wales where you can find the highest mountain in Wales and England, Mount Snowdon, at 3,560 feet. These glacier carved valleys are home to mountains which offer sweeping views across the Welsh countryside, and the journey to Snowden’s summit can be achieved by anyone in decent health. After eight hours of hiking you’ll be needing those spa deals in Paddington afterwards!
The Isle of Arran
You’ll soon discover why this picturesque island on the west coast is nicknamed Scotland in miniature. You can hike up the tallest peak on the island, Goat Fell, lounge on sandy beaches, explore ancient castles and roam through rugged glens. The island is a haven for wildlife, and sightings of red squirrels, otter, red deer, common seals, basking sharks and golden eagles are not uncommon. Arran is only a one hour ferry crossing from Ardrossan on the mainland.
Every outdoors enthusiast must visit the Cotswolds to discover for themselves why these gently rolling hills and lush meadows were declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From your accommodation in Paddington you can connect to the Cotswolds by train, and from there it is advised to hire a car to get around the network of villages and access the hiking trails. The Cotswolds is bucolic Britain at its finest, and is a destination adored by families both locally and internationally.
In the heart of the Scottish Highlands, the Cairngorns is a boundless playground of mountains, forests, lochs, rivers and wildlife habitats. You can visit Britain’s only free-grazing herd of reindeer at Glen More and discover the 13th-century castle in the centre of the Loch an Eilein. On the Cairngorn plateau, patches of snow from the ski season still linger during the summer months. Keep your eyes peeled here for the chance to spot a mountain hare, golden eagle or wild cat! Besides all the fresh air and bonny sights, the Cairngorns are home to a number of distilleries if you fancy picking up a bottle of single malt to saviour once you’re back at The Chilworth Paddington!
The Mountains of Mourne
The Mournes are the highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, as well as the nation’s favourite walking destination. This ring of 12 mountains is crowned by imposing granite tors. Rise to the challenge of reaching the summit of the tallest, Slieve Donard, and you’ll be rewarded with views across the whole region of Ulster and the Irish Sea. Head southwest to the volcanic Ring of Guillion which has a rich mythological ancestry and is also home to read squirrels!