From stunning landscapes, seaside boltholes and ancient sites, let me introduce you to some of the prettiest villages in England. While Cadgwith in Cornwall is one of the prettiest seaside villages in England, you’ll find historical gems such as Bamburgh in Northumberland. Or perhaps you prefer to stroll along the meandering waterways of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds and sample a quintessential, English afternoon tea in the Lake District villages of Cartmel or Grasmere. Whether you want to experience the most beautiful villages in England with a pint in a traditional pub or mooching around the local shops, this collection of England’s prettiest villages guides you to all the best places.
Cartmel, Lake District
Brimming with heritage and history, Cartmel is a medieval village nuzzled into the stunning Lake District scenery. Foodies will love the selection of restaurants, traditional inns and tea rooms in the village and, of course, you can’t forget to pop into the village shop to buy some of the famous sticky toffee pudding. Cartmel Racecourse is another famous attraction worth visiting or explore the medieval Cartmel Priory which stands in the heart of the village.
Haworth, West Yorkshire
Home to the world-famous Bronte sisters, Haworth is a historic haven for literature lovers and walkers. The hillside village overlooks the Pennine Moors of West Yorkshire, and its sloping streets are filled with bakeries, gift shops and pubs. Take a guided tour through the lesser-known streets of the village and soak up the brooding atmosphere or hop on board the Keighley & Worth Valley steam train and take in the dramatic scenery.
Take a trip back in time as you step into the idyllic village of Broadway, thought to be one of the prettiest Cotswolds Villages. The high street offers an eclectic mix of historic buildings, from stone cottages to period houses. There’s plenty of places to eat and drink and you’re spoilt for choice with cosy tea shops. If you fancy a stroll through the surrounding countryside, head up to Broadway Tower and soak up the views of the 50-acre parkland estate and beyond.
Kettlewell, Yorkshire Dales
One of the prettiest villages in the Yorkshire Dales, the grey stone village of Kettlewell is the starting point for many Dale’s walks, including Great Whernside. Kettlewell may be small in size but it’s easy to fall in love with its friendly pubs, sprinkling of tearooms, and infinite sprawling views. While it might not be the obvious choice for many as being one of the prettiest villages in England, it has a natural Yorkshire charm that will win you over.
Hawkshead, Lake District
This beautiful Lake District village is located to the north of Esthwaite Water and is a true treasure trove of historic architecture and tourist treats. Hawkshead is synonymous with both William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, with the former attending school here, and the latter living at Hill Top House. Lining the squares and narrows streets, you’ll find independent shops, cafes, and good old fashioned pubs. History buffs should head to the Old Grammar School (look out for William Wordsworth’s name carved in a desk), and to the 17th century Beatrix Potter Gallery.
Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds
For one of the most pretty villages in the Cotswolds look no further than Lower Slaughter. This ancient village is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and retains many historic buildings. In fact, the 18th century mill is considered to be one of the village’s newer buildings, which goes to show just how historic many of the other buildings are! Learn all about traditional breadmaking and the history of the building when you visit the mill and pick up a few gifts for those back home at the craft and gift shop.
Grasmere, Lake District
Beloved by William Wordsworth, and indeed anyone who visits, Grasmere remains one of the prettiest villages in England. It lies to the north of the lake of the same name and is home to the 13th century St. Oswald Church where you’ll find the final resting place of William Wordsworth and his wife. Surrounded by Lake District fells and woodlands, Grasmere village has one of the finest settings for visiting independent shops, galleries and riverside cafes.
The chocolate-box village of Stanton in the Cotswolds has earned its place in my list of prettiest villages in England owing to it being devoid of all the usual tourist trappings. This isn’t to say it doesn’t boast several reasons to visit, including the chance to hone your skills at one of the craft workshops that take place at the Stanton Guildhouse. The historic village is the perfect pit-stop for hikers walking the Cotswold Way with the village’s solitary pub, The Mount, offering real ales and awe-inspiring views across to the Malvern Hills.
Castleton, Peak District
Founded after the completion of Peveril Castle in 1086, the vibrant village of Castleton lies right at the heart of the Peak District. The village is renowned for its shops, caves, history, and perhaps most famously for its Garland Ceremony on Oak Apple Day on 29th May. This ceremony attracts visitors from far and wide as it commemorates Charles II regaining his title of King. There are plenty of walks to enjoy in the area, including Mam Tor and Kinder Scout and a drive along the epic Winnats Pass is a must.
Malham, North Yorkshire
Wrapped in a landscape of dry limestone walls, Malham is a small, yet perfectly formed village at the base of the Yorkshire Dales. Must-see sites include Malham Cove, Gordale Scar, Janet’s Foss and Malham Tarn. Enjoy walks among the sensational views and be sure to keep a look out for the outlines of Bronze Age boundaries that can still be seen today.
Home to the impressive Snowshill Manor and gardens, Snowshill in the Cotswolds is without a doubt one of the prettiest villages in England. The National Trust owned manor is home to the varied collections of Sir Charles Wade which any history buff will enjoy. Take a stroll around the picture-perfect village or venture further afield to take in the exceptional vistas that surround the village.
Ambleside, Lake District
A thriving tourist spot, Ambleside is perfect for walkers, shoppers and foodies. The vibrant village is located right in the heart of the Lake District, at the north end of Lake Windemere. Take in the gorgeous scenery while on a walk, bike ride or river cruise, and enjoy a spot of lunch at one of the many cafes or gastro pubs in the village. Culture vultures can get their fix at The Armitt Museum and The Old Courthouse Gallery.
Owing to its picturesque, riverside setting with stone bridges that cross the River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water has been dubbed the “Venice of the Cotswolds”. The river is flanked by honey-hued Cotswold stone houses and lies beneath a leafy canopy of mature trees, making it a photographer’s dream location. Explore the quirky gift shops or stop for lunch at one of the chic cafes or traditional pubs that pepper one of the prettiest villages in England.
Prettiest Seaside Villages in England
Robins Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire
Perched on the rugged North Yorkshire Coast, Robin Hood’s Bay could well be considered the prettiest village in England. Translucent waves greet the golden sands on the shores of this beautiful bay as the cliffs clutch the picture-perfect coastline. Take a stroll through cobbled alleyways and discover the routes of 18th century smugglers who made their fortunes trading silk, tea and tobacco. Fascinated by fossils? Make sure you pop into the Old Coastguard Station and Visitor Centre to view their fantastic finds. And what better way to end the day than with a pint and some homecooked food at the famous Bay Hotel which boasts the best views over the bay.
Cornwall is renowned for its pristine beaches and azure waters, but for the ultimate Cornish experience, Cadgwith is the place to go. This sleepy fishing village embraces its traditions, and you’ll find colourful fishing boats moored on the shingle beach, ready to set off for the morning’s catch of the day. The local inn echoes the sea shanties of days gone by with Friday-night singalongs of traditional Cornish tunes and tales. Cadgwith Cove boasts two beaches, one used for fishing and the other for swimming.
Bamburgh is an ancient village located on the Northumberland Coast, in the county that boasts the most castles in England. No trip here would be complete without a visit to Bamburgh Castle. This historic fort stands proudly above the stunning coastline and is home to an incredible collection of artworks, ceramics and curios. Make time for a trip to the Grace Darling Museum which delves into the life of this courageous young woman who risked her life to save shipwrecked survivors of the Forfarshire steam ship. As well as its dramatic coastal setting drenched in history, there are plenty of English tea rooms where you can enjoy a cuppa and watch the world go by.
Staithes, North Yorkshire
Once a thriving fishing port, Staithes boasts an idyllic setting, once home to the famous Captain James Cook. The village celebrates this historic figure, and you can learn more about his travels at the Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre. The beautiful coastal backdrop of the village attracts artists and photographers from far and wide as they come to capture the rugged shoreline and colourful houses that cling to the cliffsides. Amble through the quaintly named cobbled alleyways lined with stone cottages and stop off at one of the cafes dotted along the streets of the Old Village.
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