A chance to unwind and explore away from the hustle and bustle of city life

Words Helen Brown

With the exciting yet exhausting festive season well and truly a ghost of the past, many will indeed be in need of a January pick me up. Thankfully, there are a number of great day trips just a hop, skip and a jump from the Capital for frazzled Londoners to escape city life.

Osea Island

Quite the adventure outside of London, Osea Island is a semi-deserted, luxury holiday resort that has had the likes of Sienna Miller and Poppy Delevigne grace its seashores. The privately owned island is accessible twice a day at low tide via a mile-long causeway emerging from the Blackwater Estuary in Essex. With its quaint wooden jetties, rugged sand dunes, verdant fields and miles of coastline, Osea feels a million miles from London.

Travel: By car in about two hours from central London, or by train from either Liverpool St to Witham, or Victoria to Colchester.
oseaisland.co.uk

Hever Castle

Famous as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle is a gorgeously romantic thirteenth century castle situated 30 miles from London in West Kent. Explore its magnificent Italian Garden and topiary, take a lakeside meander, challenge yourself in the Yew Maze and spend hours admiring exquisite historic interiors. Hever Castle is the perfect setting for a day trip, however a night’s stay is also available. Chose between the five star Luxury Bed and Breakfast, located in the Astor Wing and the Anne Boleyn Wing, an Edwardian Wing attached to Hever Castle, or Medley Court, a ‘five star gold’ rated holiday cottage.

Travel: By car in about 1 hour 40 minutes from central London, or by train from London Victoria and London Bridge to Edenbridge Town Station, and then take a taxi for three miles to the castle.
hevercastle.co.uk

New Forest

Escape to a world a million miles from everyday life where ponies, cattle, donkeys and deer roam free. Having been a holiday destination throughout the ages, there is a huge selection of accommodation to suit all styles and budgets at the New Forest, as well as a wealth of places to visit and explore; from award winning gardens, museums, leisure and wildlife parks.

Travel: With South West Trains from Waterloo
thenewforest.co.uk

Mayfield Lavender Fields

25-acre organic lavender farm is a violaceous feast for the eyes.  The fields are situated on an original Victorian site on the North Surrey Downs and yield two varieties of English lavender. Wander the field and enjoy its scent, before heading to the alfresco tea shop.

Travel: By car in about 1 hour 40 minutes from central London, or by train to West Croydon from Victoria and then by 166 bus.
mayfieldlavender.com

Cambridge

Counteract the fast past of the Capital with a trip to the historic city of Cambridge. Besides its world famous university colleges, there are plenty of things to see and do. Most of Cambridge’s iconic sights can be seen from the river, so punting is a must. Hop on-hop off bus tickets are a great way to get a quick overview of the city.

Travel: By train from London King’s Cross or London Liverpool Street through to Cambridge.

Whitstable

Whitstable stands for your classic retro seaside destination. This calm harbour town was founded on fishing and is now making a name for its creative community, kitsch shops and community spirit. To best enjoy this quaint seaside town, enjoy high tea at Whitstable castle, hire a bike and take it for a tranquil jaunt along the promenade and chow down a dish of some of the UK’s best oysters.

Travel: By train from London Victoria through to Whitstable.

Highclere Castle

Located in the rolling green hills of Hampshire lies the impressive Highclere Castle. Perhaps better known as its starring role in the eponymous, Downton Abbey, the great Victorian Castle sits within a 5,000 acre estate complete with forests, lakes and decorative gardens. Frolic in the footsteps of the Crawley Family and marvel at the castle’s spectacular interiors. Away from Downton, Highclere was the seat of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who famously discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun. The cellars of the castle house an Egyptian Exhibition, open to visitors, to celebrate the 5th Earl’s achievements.

Travel: By car in about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or by train from from London Paddington to Newbury or London Waterloo to Whitchurch.
highclerecastle.co.uk

Brighton

Who doesn’t love to be beside the seaside? For a touch of sun, sea and salty air, Brighton is one of the easiest day trips from London. Explore its vibrant colours, discover a treasure trove of fudge shops, boutiques, and cool cafes and revel in the opulence of the 18th-century pleasure palace that is The Royal Pavilion. The seaside is the geographical main event on which there is a sensory overload of bright tents, attractions, seafront shops and beachside cheer.

Travel: By train from from Victoria or London Bridge straight through to Brighton.  

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