London can be an incredibly stressful place to live on even the best of days. Whether you’re commuting halfway across the city every day for work or taking the tube on the weekend to find some small piece of city centre solitude for your family, London is certainly an exciting place but it’s very rarely relaxing and it’s very rarely pretty.
However, it is blessed with one of the best rail networks in the world and there are many places within an hour of the Capital by train that are amongst the prettiest in the country. Each of the locations below represents an idyllic destination for your family that should give you some much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Great Missenden – Who doesn’t love a good walk in the woods? Known as the home of renowned children’s author Roald Dhal, this tiny little hidden gem of a village is surrounded by some of the most peaceful woodlands in the Southeast. The village itself is also littered with references to the famous author’s work, so it’s something of a pilgrimage site for fans.
Welwyn Garden City – Travelling to Welwyn Garden City takes less than an hour and when you step off the train at the other end of the line you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back in time. This green and vibrant utopia is a true delight – it’s streets lined with Neo-Georgian cottage and elaborate flower displays adorning every corner. There’s even a John Lewis!
Mayfield’s Lavender Farm – Less than 50 minutes from London Bridge, this glorious farm is alive with colour in the summer months. When the lavender fields are in bloom, you’ll be greeted by one of the most Instagram-worthy sights south of the Thames. The farm itself is family-run too and sells a range of scented soaps, candles and even fudge and ice cream infused with lavender!
St Albans – Just 20 minutes from the city, you’ll find yourself luxuriating in one of the most typically ‘British’ towns in the world. St Albans is more than just a home for the famous cathedral – it’s absolutely bristling with London day out potential. The farmers market is certainly worth a visit and the town is blessed with some of the best ‘classic’ pubs in the country.
Hever Castle – The childhood home of Anne Boleyn is also home to a famous water maze and a truly outstanding landscaped garden. There is no shortage of stately homes in the area surrounding London, but this is truly a cut above the rest.
We’ve only scratched the surface here as there are plenty of other beautiful London locations worth mentioning – from Cambridge and Royal Tunbridge Wells to Brighton and Colchester. It just goes to show that London isn’t just a rat race. Looks a little closer (and a little further afield) and the area has so much more to offer.