JOHN STUTTARD, Lord Mayor of the City of London Wharfedale, North Yorkshire Wharfedale not far from my home town of Burnley is wonderful for walking and enjoying nature. Walk up from Bolton Abbey to Grassington and beyond, and stay in either the Devonshire Arms hotel near the abbey estate or the Red Lion pub at Burnsall. Burnsall is a gem of a village and the walk through Bolton Woods along the River Wharfe is one of the best in Britain. Don’t be tempted to jump over the river at the narrow point known as ‘the Strid’, however. It’s a beautiful but deadly spot for the over-ambitious athlete.
DAVID FURSDON, former President of the CLA Cadbury Castle, Devon Cadbury Castle, between Bickleigh and Crediton, is a magical place. Home to the legendary treasure guarding dragon in Risdon’s 1630 Survey of Devon; site of an Iron Age and Roman hill fort with an enviable defensive position; and commanding wonderful views over the undulating mid-Devon countryside with its patchwork of fields in a variety of hues, it’s at once a place to farm and a place to dream. For more than 700 years, my family has cared for it, so its not difficult for me to nominate it.
JODIE KIDD, model South Downs My favourite place is the South Downs, from glorious Goodwood, which offers a wonderful golf course, racetrack and farm shop, to Pulborough, which is lined with beautiful country pubs and exquisite views. This stretch of the South Downs is where I can do all the things I love golf, riding, motor racing and catching up with my friends in a cosy pub for a Sunday lunch.
SIMON JENKINS, journalist and judge of Country Life’s Genius of the Place award Llangelynin Church, Gwynedd Llangelynin Church, near Towyn, crouches low, half-buried in a field on the steep shore of Cardigan Bay, looking over the sea to Bardsey Island. It is utterly alone and utterly old, its walls part 9th-century, part 12th. The inside has no electric light and a flagstone floor. The pew names dimly record ancient tenants, many of still-existing farms. Nothing moves. Little has moved for a millennium. This is a Britain of hermits, wanderers and pilgrims; of life, death and faith. It is a place at peace with both history and nature and incomparably precious.
OLIVIA INGE, model and former Frontispiece girl Wilkins Cider Farm, Somerset Every Sunday after church, my family makes a pilgrimage to this charming farm, framed by wonderful views across the Levels. As you duck into one of the outhouses, a delicious smell of rough cider hits you. My grandparents had 40 acres of cider apples, and, come harvest time, everyone had to chip in with the apple picking. The smell has stayed with me and I love it.
ALEX JAMES, writer and bassist with Blur Brandy Bay, Dorset A timeless, almost melancholy, deserted beach. Fossils drip from the crumbling cliffs and strange creatures make their home in endless rock pools. The best views of eternity on the whole planet.
LIBBY PURVES, radio presenter and writer South-West rock harbours Living in flat Suffolk, sailing amid the shifting sandbanks, I love the rock harbours of the West. There is a clarity, a rugged honesty about them. Once you’re west of Anvil Point, the ocean swell grows longer and smoother and the coastline opens. As Frank Cowper wrote: ‘Promontory on promontory, peak on peak, the coastline wanders away to the golden west. Headlands of many shapes, tossing their summits to the sea like wild waves before the roaring blast, grow fainter and fainter in the mellow light.’ So I place my favourite spot somewhere at sea, pointing west, at sunset, looking past the headlands towards the crocodile snout of Portland in the far distance.
FIONA REYNOLDS, director general, National Trust Llandanwg beach, North Wales I used to go to Llandanwg beach, near Harlech, as a child on family holidays, and I loved every moment the beautiful walks, exploring the rock pools, and the magnificent backdrop of the Rhinog mountain range. There’s a small church there, set amid the dunes, with a simple, but delightful, interior.
FREDERICK FORSYTH, author Hertfordshire ‘I have been around this world until my old bones creak. I’ve seen most parts of this country. But there is a spot that has a special place in my heart. It’s a small farm in Hertfordshire; a Queen Anne house, warm and snug in winter, where a log fire blazes in a brick hearth. There’s vintage claret in the cellar, and, beyond the library windows, donkeys, alpacas, goats, bantams and laying hens strut in the paddock. There’s always a welcome from two Jack Russells and a haughty Burmese cat, magnificent food on the table and the embrace of the worlds best wife. It’s a place called hom.
ALICE BEER, television presenter Lyme Regis, Dorset It’s a place I’ve been going to with my family for years, and have returned to as an adult, then as a mother, and although my life changes so fast, Lyme is gloriously constant. I love windy walks along the Cob, scrambling with my little ones over the stones and sitting in the salty air with delicious ice-cream cornets. It’s an escape from London and the rushing lives that drag us down. I find it uplifting and healing a very happy place.
ROBERT HOLMES TUTTLE, American Ambassador Winfield House, London NW1 Sitting on the terrace of Winfield House, looking out at the gardens. In addition to the beauty and peacefulness, the history of the house reminds me of the extraordinary and enduring relationship of the United Kingdom and the United States.
SIMON HART, chief executive, Countryside Alliance Cresselly Arms, Pembrokeshire The Cresselly Arms, on the banks of the Cleddau Estuary, is one of west Waless most famous spots. Its a privately owned pub, which resolutely refuses to sell food, the landlord believing that pubs are for drinking in. Every night in ‘the Quay’ is like a private party of all your best friends. It’s a centre for farmers, hunting, and cricket, with some sailing thrown in when the tide is right. I have never had a bad night there, and if I had to spend my last hours anywhere, it would be at the Quay. The pub walls consist of old cricketing and hunting photos of the past 100 years. There’s no carpet, and the place has that yellowed look of all decent drinkeries before the smoking ban. The landlord is a local hero, occupying a special place at the heart of this community, and owner Hugh Harrison-Allen is the local MFH, landowner, president of the Cricket Club and character (and friend!).
JULIAN FELLOWES, actor and Oscar-winning writer Dorset I have so many favourites: driving through the Cairngorms for Monarch of the Glen; the Yorkshire moors; Lake Windermere; Caldey Island off the Welsh coast. But in the end, I return to my home county, Dorset. The beach at Burton Bradstock, with amazing rock formations like a giant piece of Battenberg cake, or Wimborne St Giles, misty like a setting for the Lady of Shalott, or the sweeping landscape near Dorchester, celebrated in Thomas Hardy’s novels, all take your breath away. How lucky we are to live in a country that makes you glad to be alive.
HILARY BENN, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Labour MP The River Blackwater, Essex
TOM AIKENS, chef Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo, Devon The twin villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo in Devon take up a tiny little place on the coast that’s a must for families and couples. They’re very much quintessential English villages, and I have some very fond memories of going there every summer as a child. I remember the races from each pub in the villages, the endless walks along the beaches, and fishing for crabs with bacon at the end of the quay.
PHIL SPENCER, television presenter and property buyer Babington House hotel, Somerset My favourite spot is Babington House hotel in Frome, Somerset. During the past eight years, through the travel involved in my work, I’ve stayed in at least three or four hotels each month Babington is the hotel all hotels are judged against. There are so many elements involved in a memorable place to stay, and they just get everything right. It’s a beautiful Georgian property, and not too big or ostentatious (so if you close your eyes while lying in a hammock down by the lake, it’s not completely out of the question to dream about living there). It’s very secluded, the grounds are lovely, the rooms are romantic, the bathrooms out of this world, the food is spectacular, the gym and spa are spot on and the bar is very cool. It even has a private church and its own cricket pitch, so if you didn’t have to work for a living (or pay the bill), there wouldn’t be a reason to ever leave. It really is the ultimate location for me.
SUSAN GEORGE, actress and Arabian horse breeder Fontygary Bay, South Wales, and Hotel Tresanton, Cornwall I have two places that I love especially one for its natural beauty and memories; the other as a place of luxury. Fontygary Bay in South Wales is where I had many caravan holidays as a child. The beach is rocky, flat rocks mostly, that have been made so by the rising tide. I used to spend hours sitting on these rocks as the sun went down, dreaming with one of my best friends. We would watch the waves crash against the cliff edge and often go back to the caravan soaked to the skin. It was for me, as a child, the most romantic place in the world. I revisited it with my husband not long ago and remarkably little has changed. A few years ago, I made a documentary about the making of Straw Dogs, and we went back to the location of St Ives. On our car journey home along the Cornish coast, my husband and I found the Hotel Tresanton in the little fishing village of St Mawes. Its simply stylish, and although contemporary in design, the ambience feels as if one is stepping back in time.
LUCINDA LAMBTON, writer and photographer Historic sites surrounding Heathrow Airport, London I am bewitched by the historic survivals that surround Heathrow Airport, relishing only feet from the runways such marvels as Harmondsworth’s great cathedral of an oak tithe barn, built by John Atte Oke in 1424, or St Mary’s in Stanwell’s translucent alabaster monument to Lord Knevytt, who foiled the Gunpowder Plot. ‘To be in Heathrow is to be in the historic bosom of historic Britain; the area still exudes the pure sweet air of antiquity.’ So wrote a local historian in 1930, and it’s jaw-droppingly extraordinary that the same can be said today. But for how long? The expansion of Terminal 5 will annihilate the grave of Richard Cox, who propagated Coxs Orange Pippin.
TOBY FLOOD, rugby player Long Sands Beach, Northumbria I think my favourite place would have to be Long Sands Beach in Tynemouth, as I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. I used to surf and hang out with friends there in the summer, chucking or kicking a ball around. It’s also the destination for walks, as the family home is nearby, with the Christmas Day after lunch walk always being a nice occasion.
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon RICHARD CHARTRES, Bishop of London Worth Matravers, Dorset Take the bus to Worth Matravers and walk through the valley to where Romans quarried Purbeck marble and medieval miners burrowed into the side of the cliff. Seacombe is miles from the nearest road an elemental place of wind, rock and tide which never fails to evoke feelings of gratitude and humility. place.
so Whats yours? Country Life would like you to nominate your favourite places in Britain. Please send a postcard nominating your favourite place, and stating the reasons behind your choice, to Rebecca Pearson, Country Life, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU; or go online and tell us at www.countrylife.co.uk/favouriteplace, where you can also find out the Country Life staff’s favourite places in the country