The 9 Prettiest Villages for a Cosy Winter Getaway
From Bibury and St Abbs to Tintern and Solva, here are our picks for a wonderful winter escape
The days may well be short, dark and cold, but winter in Britain is still as good a season as the rest of them. Think landscapes transformed into winter wonderlands, evenings lit up with fireworks and festive lights, hot beverages by the fireplace, and steaming comfort food the order of the day.
Needless to say, it’s a great time to book in a welcome escape, especially to the British countryside where some of the prettiest villages in the world can be found – and all seemingly made for a perfect cosy winter getaway. We’ve picked 9 for your perusal below.
And if you’re travelling by train, be sure to book your tickets with a Railcard to benefit from 1/3 off your rail fare.
Villages in England
Set deep in the Cotswolds – an area of outstanding beauty no less – Bibury has long enchanted visitors with its picturesque surroundings, with the designer William Morris describing it as “the most beautiful village in England” in the 19th century.
Today, that beauty endures. You’ll see it in the charming Arlington Row cottages along the River Coln – one of which you can stay in – and around the stunning Bibury Trout Farm and Gardens where you can catch your own fish.
Spend comfy nights in the nearby and luxurious Barnsley House(external link, opens in a new tab) and enjoy a pint and some hearty grub in the Catherine Wheel(external link, opens in a new tab).
Nearest station: Kemble
Head to the almost southern fringes of the New Forest for a quiet slice of New Hampshire tranquillity in Beaulieu, which sits at the head of its namesake river. This small quintessentially English village is an absolute gem.
Spend your winter days outside exploring the grounds and ruins of Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House – which is 1 of 10 Treasure Houses of England – and when you fancy a bit of warmth, venture indoors to see the impressive collection of cars at the National Motor Museum(external link, opens in a new tab).
Base yourself in the throwback Montagu Arms Hotel(external link, opens in a new tab) and treat yourself to afternoon tea at Captain’s Table at Buckler’s Hard(external link, opens in a new tab).
Up North, about an hour or so drive from Newcastle – and in another area of outstanding natural beauty in England to boot – you’ll find the coastal village of Alnmouth.
We’re talking golden sand beaches perfect for a fresh winter’s morning amble, the pastel-coloured houses of Lovaine Terrace – a delightful quirk of the village – and wildlife from sand dune birds to grey seals.
For laidback accommodation that serves up food and drink, consider a room at The Whittling House(external link, opens in a new tab). After a crisp morning or afternoon out, tuck into something warm at The Red Lion Inn(external link, opens in a new tab).
Nearest station: Alnmouth
Villages in Scotland
4. St Abbs
Located on the rugged south-eastern shores of Scotland, the fishing village of St Abbs is perfect for a scenic and seaside-themed winter escape. And if it looks somewhat familiar, that’s because it featured as New Asgard in Avengers: Endgame.
One of the main highlights here is the St Abb’s Head National Reserve, a wonderland of dramatic cliffs, epic views of the North Sea and a plethora of seabirds. It’s a great place for a walk, too – try the Mire Loch Loop.
For lunch, Ebbcarrs Cafe(external link, opens in a new tab) serves up sandwiches, seafood, sweet treats and plenty of hot drinks.
Nearest station: Berwick-upon-Tweed
5. Fort Augustus
With glistening reflective lochs, frost-tipped forests and snow-dusted peaks, winter in the Scottish Highlands is something special. And Fort Augustus is an especially captivating place for a getaway.
Sat at the southern end of Loch Ness – yes, the home of the Loch Ness Monster – and surrounded by majestic countryside, the village is as picture postcard perfect as they come. Explore the Great Glen Way to see it at its best.
Fancy views, crackling fires and more during your time here? Check out The Lovat(external link, opens in a new tab). Keen on Scottish fare and drinks? You’ll get both at The Bothy Restaurant & Bar.
Nearest station: Spean Bridge
Picture the scene: snow-covered mountains, frosty branches on woodland trees and moorland transformed by a blanket of white… that’s just a small taste of what you can expect during your winter break in Braemer.
Just remember to wrap up warm. The village, which is based in the Cairngorms National Park, can get chilly during the winter. It even has the record for the coldest ever temperature in Britain!
For a bit of quiet, the family-run Craiglea B&B(external link, opens in a new tab) is a good shout. Meanwhile, spend warm nights at the Fife Arms(external link, opens in a new tab), which serves up seasonal Scottish meals and local whiskies that will send those shivers away.
Nearest station: Aberdeen
Villages in Wales
Another welcome option for those of you wanting to escape to the coast in the winter is the wonderful village of Solva, something of a hidden treasure in the south-western Welsh county of Pembrokeshire.
Standout attractions and experiences here include the historic Solva Woollen Mill(external link, opens in a new tab), which still uses a warping mill from 1899, Dr. Beynon’s Bug Farm, and the circular trail that is Solva to Pointz Castle.
Book a room at the Cambrian Inn(external link, opens in a new tab) for a snug stay and a table at the Farmers Arms(external link, opens in a new tab) in nearby St. Davids for its open fire, seasonal Welsh dishes and plenty of beer.
Nearest station: Haverfordwest
Tucked away in a valley in the idyllic northwestern lands of Eryri – which is still better known as Snowdonia – Beddgelert is a quiet, quaint village that feels like it belongs to a bygone era. And that makes it more than ideal for a winter hideaway.
From here you can walk up the mountain Moel Hebog, explore Sygun Copper Mine and visit Gelert’s Grave (a legendary hound whose name has been immortalised by the village).
If you’re keen on central location lodgings, Coach House(external link, opens in a new tab) places you in the heart of Beddgelert. And when you want to fuel up or replenish before or after a stroll, do it at Caffi Gwynant(external link, opens in a new tab).
Nearest station: Porthmadog
The village of Tintern can be found not far from the English border in Wye Valley, which is 1 of the 5 areas of outstanding natural beauty in Wales. Needless to say, it’s as serene and rural as pastoral winter retreats get.
Sign yourself up for pleasant River Wye walks or swap the river for the woodland (Tintern’s Hidden History trail is recommended) and wander around the ruins of Tintern Abbey. In the evenings, wrapped up very warmly, look up and marvel at the night sky – with low light pollution, a sea of stars will temper the cold air on a clear night.
Stay in one of The Hop Garden’s(external link, opens in a new tab) cosy cabins for an even more memorable getaway and relax with classic, locally sourced pub food at The Anchor Inn(external link, opens in a new tab).
Nearest station: Chepstow
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