Calm places to pause

If you’re out and about in the car and are in need of a break, why not drop in on one of our special places? Lots of our places are close to main routes, but a million miles away from the rush of motorways. So sit back, relax and watch the world go by in a peaceful setting.

Man relaxing on a bench overlooking Lanhydrock gardens

Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Off A38 - approximately 1 mile/2 minutes

Going to or from Cornwall, this is a real treat. One of the most fascinating and complete late 19th-century houses in England, Lanhydrock is full of period atmosphere. There's also an adventure playground and animal sculptures to keep the kids entertained.

South view of Knightshayes house in sunshine

Knightshayes, Devon

Off M5 exit 27 - approximately 8 miles/12 minutes

With acres of glorious gardens and parkland surrounding a spectacular Gothic Revival house, Knightshayes is the complete country gentleman's dream. It’s also the perfect place to take a break on a long journey; stretch your legs with a wander round the woodlands, and banish boredom with games in the wild play area. Then there’s just time for a cup of tea at the Stables café before you’re back on the road again.

Family enjoying the scenery at Stourhead

Stourhead, Wiltshire

Off A303 - approximately 3 miles/4 minutes

An outstanding example of the English landscape style, this splendid garden with classical temples is set around a central lake. An ever-changing series of vistas will greet you as you move around the paths.

Tyntesfield meadows

Tyntesfield, North Somerset

Off exit 29 of M5 - approximately 4 miles/10 minutes

Restored to its Victorian glory after major renovations, Tyntesfield’s house, chapel, gardens and woodland make for an inspiring break filled with fresh air and discovery.

 Visitors on the scenic drive down to the east front at Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire.

Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire

Off exit 18 M4 - approximately 3 miles/4 minutes

The lavish collections inside this beautiful country house set in extensive parkland reflect the fashion in the 17th-century for all things Dutch. Situated between Bath and Bristol, you would never believe you were just off the M4.

The view of Hanbury Hall from across the parterre garden, Worcestershire

Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire

Off exit 5 M5 - approximately 4 miles/5 minutes

A tranquil setting off the busy M5, this fascinating house has features including an orangery, ice-house, pavilions and even a working mushroom house. There is also a recreated 18th-century crown bowling green available to play on.

Hardwick Hall viewed from the herb garden

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Off exit 29 of M1 - approximately 1 mile/2 minutes

Between Nottingham and Sheffield, a powerful Elizabethan lady - Bess of Hardwick - still shows off her wealth at this spectacular hall with huge windows and towers. Explore the fragrant herb garden, orchards and parkland which provide food for the tables.

A couple walking at Baddesley Clinton

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire

Off M42 exit 5 - approximately 6 miles/7 minutes south; Off M40 exit 15 - approximately 10 miles/18 minutes north.

This picturesque medieval-moated manor house is a great place to stop just outside Birmingham. Have tea in the Barn restaurant and then browse the second-hand bookshop – you never know what you might find.

Bluebells in the garden at Stoneywell

Stoneywell, Leicestershire

Off M1 exit 22 - approximately 2.5 miles/5 minutes

Built into a rocky outcrop, Stoneywell is the realisation of one man's Arts and Crafts vision. Discover quirky rooms full of treasures, explore the twists and turns of the woodland pathways, or head up to the stone fort with its beautiful views over Leicester. N.B. access to Stoneywell is by pre-booking only, at least 24 hours in advance. Book online or phone: 01530 248048.

Five fawns in Dunham Massey Park

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Off M6 exit 19 - approximately 4.6 miles/13 minutes

Dunham Massey is a green oasis nestled between the urban sprawl of Manchester and the Cheshire countryside. On a ramble around the park you might see Dunham’s resident deer herd, woodpeckers and maybe even owls. Afterwards you can treat yourself to some tasty homemade food at the Stables restaurant, or pay a visit to the ice cream parlour.

A couple walk in the grounds at Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

Sizergh, Cumbria

Off exit 36 of M6 - approximately 5 miles/8 minutes

At the gateway to the Lake District, Sizergh Castle sits in glorious gardens and a magnificent estate. The imposing house has many tales to tell, while the herbaceous borders in the garden are stunning and include our largest limestone rock garden.

Visitors looking towards the Column to Liberty at Gibside, Tyne & Wear

Gibside, Tyne & Wear

Off A1 - approximately 4.5 miles/9 minutes

This stunning 18th-century landscape park and nature reserve offers a taste of the country on the edge of the city. Discover fine Derwent Valley views, winding paths and refreshing open spaces to stretch tired legs.

Boy on a trike in the walled garden at Beningbrough hall

Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire

Off A19 – approximately 2.9 miles/8 minutes

From the wealthy teenager who built the mansion to its occupation by the RAF in the Second World War, Beningbrough is full of intriguing tales to tell. Art buffs will love seeing the beautiful 18th-century portraits in the gallery, while active types can borrow a bike to scout out the grounds, or find the perfect spot for a picnic.

Nelly's Moss South, Cragside

Cragside, Northumberland

Off A697 - approximately 0.2 miles/4 minutes

There's much to see in the dramatic garden that surrounds Cragside. Discover one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, a vast woodland garden, as well as lakeside walks, an adventure play area and labyrinth.

Codgers Fort on Wallington Estate

Wallington, Northumberland

Off A696 – approximately 1.8 miles / 4 minutes

From open moorland and wooded streams to lakes and mires – there’s plenty to discover at Wallington. Follow winding paths through the estate, explore the quirky curiosities inside the house, or have a cup of tea at the Clocktower Café. Whatever you get up to, you’re sure to leave feeling refreshed.

Visitors enjoying the lakeside walks in the parkland at Tredegar House

Tredegar House, Newport

Off exit 28 of M4 - approximately 1 mile/2 minutes

This fascinating house and garden sits just off the M4 as you enter Wales. The house is a treasure trove of colourful stories. Outdoors, 90 acres of parkland including the great lake and three walled gardens mean there is plenty of room to let off steam. N.B there may be major roadworks on the M4 J28 from June 2017 - please plan your journey ahead of time.

Falling cascades of Aberdulais

Aberdulais Tinworks and Waterfall, Neath

M4 exit 43 - approximately 4 miles/7 minutes

Pay a visit to Aberdulais and discover how a small village in the Welsh valleys established itself as a pioneering centre of industry. This is the perfect place to break up your journey to west Wales, with the Victorian school-house tea-room on hand to provide tea and cake.

Summer Adventures at Rowallane

Rowallane, County Down

Let your imagination run riot among the unusual plants, colours and sculptures in one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful gardens. Rowallane is the ideal place for leisurely walks, afternoon teas in the cafe or just simply relaxing on a seat in the walled garden.

Man with dog on Divis Mountain

Divis and the Black Mountain, Belfast

Off M1 exit 2 or 3 - approximately 6 miles/15 minutes

With spectacular panoramic views over Belfast, these hills are a haven for those seeking the wild countryside experience. Escape the car and head off on one of the walking trails, keeping an eye out for wildlife as you go. If you’ve got the energy then it’s worth heading up Divis itself - at 478m high it’s the perfect vantage point, and on a clear day you can see as far as the Lake District and southern Scotland.