Eight reasons Great Britain is best

Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes

Despite its size, Britain rewards with some of the most varied landscapes on the planet. An island that’s ‘Great’ because it’s the largest in the British Isles, it draws visitors back time and again for its geographical wonders, historical monuments, and sightseeing sensations – all within reasonably short distances of each other. 

Chocolate-box villages, retro seaside resorts, impressive national parks, open-air theatres, large expanses of countryside and royal connections – it’s all right here on our doorstep and just a skip away from our characterful country houses.  

Here’s just some of the reasons why you should be tempted to visit our shores. 

Old-fashioned seaside charm

From the wild shorelines of Northumberland to the glittering sands of St. Ives, Britain is blessed with the most stunning of coastlines. There’s also plenty of atmospheric seaside towns – many of which are having a renaissance right now for their old-fashioned sensibilities. Expect clichéd attractions and activities galore, including donkey rides, fairgrounds, traditional ice cream parlours, fish and chip shops, games arcades, quaint harbours, and lashings of bucket-and-spade fun. For somewhere lovely to sleep, our Grade II-listed Larpool Hall in the traditional Yorkshire village town of Whitby is ideally placed for the beach, the 13th century abbey, and several visit-worthy Dracula locations (Irish author Bram Stoker drew his inspiration for his Gothic novel when holidaying here in 1890).

Pretty chocolate-box villages

Timeless English villages don’t get better than those in the impossibly pretty Cotswolds – an area covering nearly 800 square miles of countryside over six different counties (Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Somerset).  Complete with honey-hued stone cottages, thatched roofs, cobbled streets, historic pubs, low-arched bridges, and lovely tearooms, this part of England always has plenty to please. For a touch of Georgian splendour just a short hop from the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water, Harrington House is perfect. It also appeals to those keen to explore the well-trodden trails and paths around the Windrush Valley, Lower and Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire Way, Cotswold Way, and Monarch Way.

Impressive royal connections

There’s no shortage of landmarks and locations that make up Britain's royal heritage. Many of our villages, towns, and cities have a longstanding relationship with the Crown – mostly by way of castles, country manors, royal warrants, and more castles. And you’ll find we do pomp and pageantry rather well, too. Our own centenary year in 2013 was royally marked by King Charles III’s visit to Thorns Hall, our Grade II-listed country house in Sedbergh – the Cumbrian market town treasured for its cobbled streets, public school, artisan shops, and bookshops (it’s known as England’s official book town for good reason). Not only was His Majesty, then the Prince of Wales, briefed about the history of HF Holidays, but he was invited to cut a special 100-year anniversary cake. He also chatted to our guests and kindly signed a commemorative copy of The Story of HF Holidays. It goes without saying that thousands will be flocking to London and lining the streets to catch a glimpse of Britain's new king when he is crowned at Westminster Abbey on 6 May 2023, but there will be plenty of coronation celebrations throughout Britain during this time.

Peaceful countryside

We never tire of exploring the most remote and beautiful landscapes in Britain. It really is as romantic as you’d imagine; think low-lying wetlands, wildlife-filled moorlands, and gentle rolling hills as far as the eye can see. For mountains and Munros, coastal paths, heather-covered glens, and a couple of fabulous national parks, the bonnie nation of Scotland has long inspired a line-up of artists, writers, and poets to muse about its Highlands and islands. Everything here warrants your attention, especially along the long-distance West Highland Way. A stay at our stately country house, Alltshellach, assures an enviable setting right on the shores of Loch Leven as well as wonderful walking opportunities around Glen Coe, the Mamores, Kinlochleven, Bidean nam Bian, and Ben Nevis.

Glistening lakes

Located in the heart of Cumbria, the Lake District delights with tumbling waterfalls, mighty peaks, shimmering bodies of water, and picture-perfect towns – all of which are perfect for window shopping, sampling craft ales, and stocking up on local delicacies such as gingerbread and sticky toffee pudding. For many, the show-stealer is Windermere – England’s largest watery wonder at 10.5 miles long, one mile wide, and 220 feet deep. Following the Beatrix Potter trail at Hill Top, hiking to Castlerigg Stone Circle, and renting a boat at Bowness-on-Windermere are all activities within easy driving distance from Monk Coniston – our characterful Grade II-listed house with a desirable address overlooking Coniston Water (the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s 1930 novel, Swallows and Amazons).

Open-air theatres (even in the rain)

While it may seem slightly peculiar to watch plays, music, and comedy in an outdoor setting given the unpredictable weather, open-air theatres are a British staple. And it’s hard to find a backdrop more spectacular than Minack Theatre – the amphitheatre-inspired venue perched on the craggy granite cliffs overlooking Porthcurno Bay. Complete with seating and a stage shaped in the rocks, this world-famous site first premiered Shakespeare’s The Tempest in 1932. Our Grade II-listed country house, Chy Morvah, is just a 45-minute drive away in St. Ives – the seaside hub that has inspired generations of artists with its working harbour, historic fishing communities, white-sand beaches, and surrounding Cornish landscape. The setting couldn’t be more idyllic, either; the house is in strolling distance of the town’s cobbled streets, art galleries, and great beaches of Porthmeor, Porthminster, Harbour, and Porthgwidden.

Historic towns & cities

You’ll find some of the most fascinating towns and cities in the world right here in Britain, many of which are just a short drive from our country houses. Newfield Hall is just under an hour’s drive from Harrogate - the charming spa town adored for its fabulous shopping and glorious gardens (the annual Harrogate Spring Flower Show held in April is one of the nation’s best gardening events). Must-dos include spending time at the Royal Pump Room Museum, visiting the Harrogate Turkish Baths, and queuing for tea at Betty’s Tea Room (it’s worth the wait). You’ll also be just 90-minutes by car from York - the ancient walled city most famous for its magnificent York Minster, National Railway Museum, Jorvik Viking Centre, York Dungeon, and Yorkshire Museum & Gardens. 

Amazing national parks

Given our landscape, it’s little wonder that our national parks are something special. And while we cherish them in equal measure, Snowdonia (Eryri) National Park is the most synonymous with the loftiest and loveliest of mountains (it’s home the 1,085-metre-high Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) – the tallest peak in Wales). For arresting countryside views, Dolserau Hall is our 17th century manor house located at the park’s southern end. Not only will you be close to the small market town of Dolgellau, you’ll be in reach of ancient woods and craggy uplands in all directions (parts of the park served as the inspiration for Middle Earth in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings). There’s no shortage of things to do here, either, including following the Mawddach Trail along the edge of the Mawddach Estuary, discovering the compact range of hills known as the Rhinogs, and climbing the rugged foothills of Cader Idris.

Our travel styles

Signature guided walking

Signature Guided Walking

Accommodation: Any of our 16 country houses

Departuring: Jan-Dec 2023, choice of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 night breaks

Price from: £279pp

Call 020 3974 8865 or click here to view all our guided holidays

Self-guided walking

Self-guided walking

Accommodation: Any of our 16 country houses

Departuring: Jan-Dec 2023, choice of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 night breaks

Price from: £295pp

Call 020 3974 8865 or click here to view all our self-guided holidays