Head down into the rugged southwest of England and you’ll find a landscape dotted with fishing villages, secret coves and beautiful beaches. There’s no better way to explore this region than on a road trip, with plenty of stops for wandering through towns, national parks and along windswept coasts.
Take to the dramatic coastline of Cornwall on foot or by bicycle, and breathe deeply from the salty sea air as you work up a hunger for the region’s hearty fare. Once you’ve got a roaring appetite, dig into traditional Cornish pasties and be sure to indulge in afternoon tea with scones and lashings of heavenly clotted cream. This close to water you can expect superb seafood too, and there’s nothing quite like watching moody clouds roll over the Channel as you tuck into a meal at a restaurant on Plymouth Harbour. You’ll find delicious local drinks to sample in the southwest. The world’s first true English tea is grown in Cornwall and in Somerset there’s no better way to round out a day of exploration than with a bubbly glass of local cider.
Thrust yourself way back in time on a trip to marvel the geology in Dartmoor National Park, where the incredible granite tors formed 280 million years ago. Move a little closer to the current era and watch the sun rise over Stonehenge, while imagining what life was like back when these ancient stones were first placed in the earth. Progress to Roman times with a visit to the historic Roman Baths in the aptly named city of Bath, and watch steam rise from the emerald spring water while picturing yourself sinking into its warm embrace.
While in Bath, Pride and Prejudice fans can discover the world that Jane Austen inhabited at the Jane Austen Centre. Legends, of the historic type – as well as rock and roll – abound in Glastonbury, which forms the spiritual heart of England. The Glastonbury Abbey is the earliest Christian monastic site in the country and said to be the final resting place of King Arthur. Follow folklore across the water, to the island of St Michael’s Mount; the fabled home of Cornish giant Cormoran. At low tide it’s possible to stroll to this little isle, which is topped by a fairy-tale castle, or arrive by boat when the ocean laps at the rocky shores.
Once you’ve appeased your spiritual side, tap into your creative one, as you delve to the very south-western tip of the country, where you’ll find creative communities thriving in little fishing towns, like that of St Ives. With scores of fine cuisine, outstanding nature and creative culture, there’s no surprise the southwest is the most visited region in England.