The Weekends 1-26

52 Weekends in the Country begins in the breathtaking and extraordinary landscape of the Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve in Caithness and Sutherland. From here we journey through Scotland and the north of England to reach beautiful limestone valley of Lathkill Dale in Derbyshire in Weekend 26.

The Weekends 27-52

From Weekend 27, a celebration of the RAF 617 squadron aka The Dambusters at the genteel resort of Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire, where they were based, we wing our way across south and west England and through Wales to complete the adventure at vibrant Narberth in Pembrokeshire to see the sun set over the Preseli Hills.

 

Go with the Flow

  • Peatlands
  • Fishing
  • Burnings
Welcome to a far-flung weekend in the extraordinary landscape of the Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve. Here you’ll find the largest expanse of blanket bog in the world and the largest UK nature reserve managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) with the local crofting community. The scale of this wild territory is breathtaking; covering almost one million acres, fifty per cent of Caithness and Sutherland.

Leap of Faith

  • Sheep
  • Salmon
  • Ravens
The crossroads of the north at Lairg, or An Luirg, on Loch Shin have been an important meeting place for centuries; Neolithic people, Gaels and Vikings have left their marks and names here. This weekend explores the heritage of one of the oldest communities in Scotland.

A Road Less Travelled

  • Forest
  • Falls
  • Grebes
Slip away to the secret side of Loch Ness. Walk through ancient woods to the spectacular Eas na Smudh, or waterfall of smoke, seek out rare Slavenian grebe and try a spot of monster hunting.

The Angel's Share

  • Cask strength
  • Mitherless bairns
  • Whisky Galore
Ready for a long weekend in Speyside? Brooding hills, heather moorland and peaty rivers tell the story of a simple drink that became a worldwide phenomenon. Discover the history of uisige beatha, water of life, or whisky, Scotland’s signature tipple.

Waterworld

  • Boot
  • Boat
  • Bike
The Caledonian Canal, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and an extraordinary shortcut is one of four ways to explore the Great Glen, alongside the Great Glen Long Distance Footpath, the Great Glen Mountain Bike Trails and the new Great Glen Canoe Trail.

Station to Station

  • Mountains
  • Moor
  • Wilderness
Take the train this weekend for an unforgettable journey through scenic Scottish landscape. Moody mountains, soggy bog, ancient forests and outstanding feats of engineering are all part of this magnificent trip.

Bonnie lassie, will ye go?

  • White water
  • Big trees
  • Fairy Hill
Entranced by birch trees in a lush woodland gorge, Robert Burns was inspired to write one of his most famous songs ‘The Birks of Aberfeldy’. This weekend takes you to the poetic birks and the small town at the geographic centre of Scotland where the rapids on the Tay, Scotland’s longest river, provide white water thrills for adrenaline junkies.

Neverland

  • Angus Glens
  • Captain Scott
  • JM Barrie
This weekend in the north east of Scotland combines the remote Angus glens with a sprinkling of the South Pole and a handful of pixie dust; discover the wild landscape of Glen Clova, Glen Doll and Glen Prosen, beloved by Captain Scott, and rekindle childhood magic in Kirriemuir, birthplace of Sir JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan.

Walk This Way

  • A writer’s haunts
  • Country pursuits
  • Hidden treasures
Elegant Peebles is beautifully situated on the River Tweed; salmon and trout fishing is world class and the independent shops are among the best in Scotland but, for me, further delights include the extraordinary war memorial, an astonishing plasterwork frieze and the John Buchan Story.

Treasure Hunt

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Mines
Scottish gold is among the purest in the world and in the late eighteenth century there was high demand for flakes and nuggets of the precious metal found in the burns and rivers of the Lowther Hills. Known as ‘God’s Treasure House’, the Southern Uplands were also mined for rich deposits of lead, zinc, copper and silver. This weekend is a treasure hunt, exploring the rich heritage of Leadhills, Wanlockhead and Sanquhar.

Siege Mentality

  • Island Castle
  • Ospreys
  • Food Town
Travel to Galloway in southwest Scotland to discover a masterpiece of military architecture, the lively market town of Castle Douglas and the colourful gardens of Threave Estate.

Starstruck

  • Dark skies
  • Ancient woods
  • Mountain bikes
There’s magic in the heavens above the Galloway Hills of southwest Scotland. Far from the artificial light pollution of our densely populated cities a stargazing weekend in the UK’s first Dark Sky Park is awe-inspiring and life affirming.

Theatre of War

  • Soldiers
  • Smugglers
  • Sausages
Now for something completely different. Covering over ninety square miles, Otterburn Range in Northumberland National Park is the second largest live firing range in the country. This extraordinary weekend is an invitation to discover the dramatic remote landscape where British and NATO soldiers train with infantry weapons, artillery and helicopters.

Empire Building

  • Forts
  • Pre-Raphaelites
  • Countrymen
When Hadrian commissioned a mighty structure of 80 Roman miles along the northern frontier of the Roman empire little did he know that his project, instigated around AD122, would be declared a World Heritage Site (WHS) in 1987 due its the outstanding universal importance to mankind. To explore the full extent of the Emperor’s wall, forts, milecastles and turrets in a couple of days is impossible. This weekend of history and culture in outstanding natural landscape should whet the appetite for more.

Tranquility

  • Starry skies
  • Hay meadows
  • Waterfalls
Teesdale, the most southerly of the Durham dales, is one of England’s most tranquil places. Escape the hurly burly and spend a weekend discovering remote moors, powerful waterfalls and clear, starry skies.

Return to Eden

  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Walking
Nestling between the Pennines to the east and the Lake District to the west is the heavenly Eden valley, discover just a pocket of this unspoiled paradise and it’s likely to whet your appetite for more.

From High Fell to Gentle Shore

  • Skiddaw
  • Ospreys
  • Musical Stones
Travel to the shores of Bassenthwaite lake for a weekend in the company of fishing ospreys and majestic Skiddaw, England’s fourth highest mountain. Whether you retreat to the luxury of an lakeside country house or more rustic accommodation on the fell, the breathtaking north lakeland will soon have you under its spell.

Show and Shine

  • Fells
  • Romans
  • Crag rats
A weekend at a traditional western Lake District country show is a great escape, with the bonus of a stupendous waterfall, crazy Romans, friendly country pubs, and breathtaking walks on low and high fells. Even if your boots weren’t made for walking, this is a weekend to savour.

Night at the Museum

  • Wildflowers
  • Sheep
  • Vikings
Fields of gold await in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Come summer Yorkshire’s most northerly valleys are a perfect pastoral vision; hay meadows enclosed by dry stone walls brim with swaying buttercups, violet-blue crane’s bill, purple melancholy thistles and ground nesting birds including lapwing and curlew.

Less is Moor

  • Purple heather
  • Green fields
  • Red roofs
Need an escape route? Then this weekend is for you. Take to the hills of the North York Moors National Park where remote Bransdale will refresh your spirit.

Grand Designs

  • Wharram Percy
  • Fossil Willy
  • Castle Howard
Discover the heart of Ryedale this weekend with a visit to Malton, a country town rich in Roman and medieval heritage and one of the top racehorse training centres in the UK. See the traditional livestock market, view impressive Roman finds in Malton Museum, follow the town trail and perhaps leave time for outstanding attractions further afield; Eden Camp, Scampston Hall, Castle Howard and Wharram Percy are all within reach of this stimulating country weekend.

Well Versed

  • Poets
  • Packhorses
  • Playtime
Welcome to the good life in West Yorkshire. Discover a vibrant community, breathtaking countryside, colourful independent shops, and a dynamic arts scene; all part of a bohemian weekend in the Pennines.

Tunnel Vision

  • Longest
  • Highest
  • Deepest
This weekend celebrates stupendous achievements in the moorland heart of Pennines; seize the opportunity to explore the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and experience a wonder of the waterways network; the longest canal tunnel, the highest canal summit and the deepest canal tunnel in the UK.

Bewitched

  • Moors
  • Fells
  • Food
The Ribble Valley promises enchantment in outstanding scenery, discover characterful Clitheroe, charming villages in the Forest of Bowland and Pendle Hill renowned for the witch trails of 1612 when ten men and women from the Forest of Pendle were hanged for the murder by witchcraft of seventeen people.

Watersmeet

  • Mills
  • Archie
  • Trespass
Before the arrival of mechanised mills, Britain’s textile centres were rural communities. This weekend in the beautiful Goyt and Sett valleys reveals how the geology and geography of a country landscape contributed to Britain’s industrial triumph.

A River runs through it

  • Limestone
  • Wildflowers
  • Well dressing
This walking weekend follows a circular route of eleven miles around Lathkil dale, a most beautiful yet little known limestone valley. Lovely Lathkil is one of five dales that make up the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve and this memorable ramble on good paths follows the crystal clear river through uplifting scenery.

Rest and Repose

  • Spa
  • Dambusters
  • Kinema
Fashionable Edwardians were attracted to the genteel inland resort of Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire by the promise of rest and repose. With a unique cinema, an outdoor swimming pool, the National Golf Centre and Dambuster connections, the refined retreat in the pinewoods still offers a spiffing weekend.

In the Drink

  • Horseshoes
  • Gallows
  • Gardens
Multum in Parvo, or Much in Little, is the boast of England’s smallest county Rutland and it is not wrong; great weekend pursuits on and around the reservoir-cum-playground of Rutland Water include miles of traffic free cycling and the finest still water fly fishing in Europe.

Along for the Ride

  • Lakeland
  • Crusaders
  • Races
Enjoy a watery weekend in the Shropshire lakelands; discover beautiful meres, tranquil canals and the magnificent river Dee in the borderland of England and Wales. Historic pubs ooze charm and character, inspirational gardens offer colour and you can have a flutter at country races in Bangor-on-Dee.

Deep Purple

  • Secret highlands
  • Great reads
  • Country curiosities
In late summer, when the hills are clothed with a thick shawl of deep purple heather, the unspoiled countryside of the Shropshire borders is especially wonderful. Make base camp near the market town of Church Stretton to discover the heights of the Long Mynd and Stiperstones, dramatic highland landscape that inspired thrilling tales by writers Malcolm Saville 1901-1982 and Mary Webb 1881- 1927.

After Apple Picking

  • Architecture
  • Battle
  • Orchards
Raise a glass to traditional cider and perry this weekend and discover the historic castles and churches of Mortimer Country. Here medieval villages of distinctive black and white timber framed houses nestle in rolling green hills surrounded by the apple and pear orchards of Herefordshire.

Avon Calling

  • Abbey
  • Orchards
  • Bridges
Easily reached by rail and road, the elegant Georgian market town of Pershore on the River Avon is cosseted by rolling hills, ancient woodlands and fruit orchards bearing plums, apples and pears. Follow riverside walks and country cycling routes to pretty villages and characterful inns for a great weekend in Worcestershire.

Fentastic!

  • Dragonflies
  • Ditches
  • Devil's Dyke
The drama of big skies over a flat watery landscape is the essence of this weekend. Discover the historic village of Burwell and the unique National Nature Reserve of Wicken Fen in East Anglia.

Broadly Speaking

  • Waterways
  • Wherries
  • Wildlife
The watery delights of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, Britain’s largest nationally protected wetland, promise a fascinating weekend whether you are afloat or not. Extraordinary habitats and abundant wildlife make the slow moving tidal waterways a pleasure to explore.

Dyed in the Wool

  • Friars
  • Peasants
  • Cloth
Amid farmers’ fields thick with poppies, the medieval market towns of East Anglia promise a dreamy weekend escape. Wander through historic lanes, stroll by the River Stour, explore secret gardens, take afternoon tea by the village green and prepared to be wowed.

‘Not on one strand are all life’s jewels strung’

  • William Morris
  • Old Father Thames
  • Chimney Meadows
Take it easy this weekend. Discover the youthful River Thames and meander by boat on foot, or by road from the medieval market town of Lechlade to a nationally important nature reserve on floodplain meadows near the hamlet of Chimney. Enjoy traditional country pubs, a wild swimming pool and the inspirational country retreat of Arts and Crafts guru William Morris who believed that ‘not on one strand are all life’s jewels strung.’

Standing on ceremony

  • Sacred sites
  • Millionaire's mission
  • White horses
This weekend explores ancient monuments and sacred sites around Avebury in Wiltshire. Here chalk white horses canter across the hills, Europe’s largest man made prehistoric mound rises defiantly above farmland and the world’s largest stone circle encompasses a pretty English village.

The Hills are Alive

  • Ancient woodland
  • Artistic inspiration
  • Paths & trails
There’s something quintessentially English about the Surrey Hills just thirty miles from London. EM Forster referred to it in his Edwardian comedy of manners A Room with a View. While holidaying in Florence Miss Lavish and Miss Honeychurch are keen to impress their English social connections upon each other; that both have smart connections in the Surrey Hills delights them and seals their friendship. EM Forster lived in Surrey for over forty years and was passionate about the landscape of wooded hills, open heath land, chalk downs and valleys. This weekend is an invitation to explore unexpected tranquillity and outstanding art in countryside close to the capital city.

Blooming Marvellous

  • Medieval romance
  • Railway obsession
  • Garden party
To Kent and East Sussex this weekend; discover an elegant country town, a moated medieval castle and explosive colour in an extraordinary garden. Throw in a ride on England’s finest light railway and some gentle boating on a reedy river to make this a glorious escape to remember.

Friends and Lovers

  • Bloomsbury set
  • Firle Beacon
  • Cider and Perry
Remember when your parents forbade you from drawing on the walls of the family home? Well, this inspirational weekend in Sussex shows what happens when grown ups allow their painterly imaginations to fly all over the walls, furniture and garden. One visit to Charleston farmhouse, the country retreat of Bloomsbury Group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and you may be inclined to get your paint box out.

Down Time

  • Walks and wildlife
  • Artistic inspiration
  • Pilgrims and vineyards
Think of this weekend as delicious hamper of English treats to enjoy in the chalky landscape of the South Downs, though you may not have time for all at the first attempt. Explore rolling hills with distant sea views, an Elizabethan manor house with a contemporary maze, a wildlife reserve with diverse and rare habitats, a vast museum in a chalk pit and an unexpected boutique vineyard.

Our Daily Bread

  • Artisan bakery
  • Grizzled skippers
  • Historic highways
Springtime is golden around the village of Long Crichel at the edge of Cranborne Chase in Dorset. The luminous bloom of acre upon acre of oilseed rape is extraordinary; King Midas would be right at home. While yellow fields illuminate the landscape, arable farms also grow barley for malt, peas for racing pigeons and wheat for bread.

Enchantment

  • Prehistory
  • Ponies
  • Tinners
Dartmoor National Park is a wild, natural landscape; vast bleak moors, lush river valleys, exposed granite tors, hut circles. standing stones and herds of roaming ponies are just part of the appeal.

On the Right Track

  • Viaduct
  • Victoriana
  • Views
Take a ride or walk over an astonishing piece of Victorian engineering this weekend and explore ancient woodlands where a deep ravine conceals an elegant waterfall and a favourite Victorian beauty spot.

Quay to Quay

  • Ships
  • Mines
  • Saints
This weekend explores the river Tamar, the border between Cornwall and Devon. For hundreds of years, while both counties were without a developed road network, the river provided transport. Saints, strawberries and manure, were all transported on this vital waterway.

On the Slate

  • Stories
  • Mountains
  • Power
This weekend explores the Caernafonshire mountain landscape beloved by Kate Roberts, quarryman’s daughter, Plaid Cymru nationalist, journalist and Queen of Welsh literature. Regarded as the most distinguished twentieth century writer of prose in Welsh, her stories of slate quarrying communities are critically acclaimed. She is often described as the Welsh Chekhov

Something about Mary

  • Extraordinary journeys
  • Extraordinary churches
This weekend retraces the extraordinary walk of a young Welsh girl in 1800 in search of a Welsh bible. Mary Jones’ twenty-five mile journey through the mountains of Gwynned to buy a bible in Bala inspired the formation of the Bible Society which aims to print bibles in all languages so that all may read it in their own language.

Gaslight

  • Wilderness
  • Drovers
  • Chapels
There is an especially remote Welsh landscape in the Cambrain Mountains that inspires me. It is the wilderness of Elenydd, between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, where few people venture. Largely undisturbed, this challenging and lonely hideaway is a place to be respected and explored with care.

Top Table

  • Caves
  • Locks
  • Tramroad
A weekend around the handsome Georgian town of Crug Hywel, or Crickhowell which takes its name from the mountain that rises above it, is a great introduction to the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Black Mountains and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Black Mountain Red Kite

  • Drama
  • Mystery
  • Magic
Escape to Y Myndd Du, or the Black Mountain, a remote landscape between the valleys of the Twyi, or Towy, and Tawe rivers. Rolling up and downhill, deep lanes criss cross the countryside. Without a map you’ll soon be lost. Here the majestic red kite is king and the sight of these graceful hunters patrolling their wild territory is inspirational. See them soar high above roaming mountain ponies and glide effortlessly over the ruins of dramatic Welsh castles.

Tales from a Riverbank

  • Canoes
  • Coracles
  • Cloth
From the Cambrian Mountains to Cardigan Bay, the River Teifi flows 122 kilometres traversing Welsh moorland, peat bog and deep gorges before reaching the west coast. Here seasonal high tides flush migratory Atlantic salmon and sewin, or sea trout into the spate river. To achieve their mission and spawn upstream they must face the Teifi’s challenge of fierce rapids and waterfalls. This weekend explores part of their journey.

Good Vibrations

  • Relax
  • Unwind
  • Indulge
It’s time for delicious food, stylish accommodation and inspired retail therapy in Narberth, the creative capital of west Wales. Relax, unwind and indulge.