Scenic drives an hour from London

An easy stretch from London, this scenic drive takes you through the Chilterns and the Cotswolds

When lockdown is lifted, head out from London for a short road trip that combines stunning countryside, incredible history and beautiful hotels.

From London, it is an easy trip to the starting point in Buckinghamshire, from which you will follow a 200-mile stretch that brings you back to Berkshire – also an easy trip back home to London.

The first place on the itinerary should be Waddesdon Manor – a grand 19th century castle inspired the chateaux of the Loire Valley. If it’s a sunny day, you can stretch your legs with a stroll around Coombe Hill, with views of the Vale of Aylesbury and the Chilterns.

Drive on, heading north, to Warwick Castle – a looming medieval fortress that kids will love. Next stop is Shakespeare’s birthplace – Stratford Upon Avon, which is full of fabulous half-timbered houses and many buildings associated with the Bard.

Heading back south, you’ll take in the glorious countryside and honey-hued buildings of the Cotswolds. Chipping Campden is a quintessential example, with a handsome high street and Market Building. Next, head on over to the grand Sudeley Castle. Packed with Tudor history, it is the final resting place of Catherine Parr. While you’re in the area, there’s an energetic climb to the top of Broadway Tower with glorious views to reward you from the top.

A 70-mile-drive will then take you on to the stunning spa town of Bath. As well as the famous attractions such as the well-preserved Roman Bath House and the literary connections of Jane Austen, there are lesser known spots too nearby such as the Baroque Manor House of Dyrham Park and the American Museum & Gardens.

Your final stop is Highclere Castle, which was the location for Downton Abbey. There’s also beautiful parkland to explore.

The drive is best spread over several days, with plenty of time to enjoy the charms of each area. There are some glorious places to stay en-route, including Hartwell House, with a fascinating history behind the Jacobean facade. There’s Buckland Manor in the Cotswolds where you can burn off some energy on the tennis court then relax by the crackling fire, then stop for the night at The Vineyard – a temple to Californian wine and with a spa too  – and it’s just an hour back to London. (all Relais & Châteaux)

For the full map of the route, click here:

(Pictured top: Waddesdon Manor © VisitBritain Robert Radlinski)


UK Family holidays 2021