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.

The Aberdulais waterfall

Aberdulais Tinworks and Waterfall, Neath 

Off 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.

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.

View of the house at Basildon Park from the parkland

Basildon Park, Berkshire 

Off M4 J12 - approximately 7 miles/15 minutes

With over 400 acres of parkland to explore, Basildon Park is the ideal spot for a leg stretch. First built in the 18th century, the house passed through the hands of several owners and was requisitioned during both World Wars, until the 1950s brought about a change of fortune. The estate was purchased by Lord and Lady Iliffe, who set about restoring Basildon to its full glory. Today you can wander through the beautiful rooms admiring Old Masters paintings, explore the pleasure gardens or run wild in the parkland with its year-round seasonal colour.

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.

A family enjoying a boat ride at Lough Erne, Crom

Crom, County Fermanagh 

Off A4 - approximately 13 miles/25 minutes

Located on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, Crom is one of the most romantic and peaceful places in Northern Ireland. This 2,000 acre demesne is surrounded by tranquil islands and ancient woodlands, and home to a wealth of wildlife including otters, red squirrels and pine martens. To really escape the road for a while you can even hire a boat and paddle out onto the lake to see Crom from a new angle.

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

Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire 

Off M4 exit 18 - approximately 3 miles/4 minutes

The lavish collections inside this beautiful country house reflect the fashion in the 17th-century for all things Dutch. Set in extensive parkland and situated between Bath and Bristol, you'd never believe you were just off the motorway.

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.

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

Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire 

Off M5 exit 5 - 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 M1 exit 29 - 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.

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.

Man relaxing on a bench overlooking Lanhydrock garden

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.

Family walking in the garden at Paycocke's

Paycocke's House and Garden, Essex 

Off M11 exit 8 - approximately 24 miles/28 minutes

Tucked away in the quiet town of Coggeshall, Paycocke’s House is a real hidden gem. Built around 1500 for Thomas Paycocke, the house is a grand example of the wealth generated in East Anglia by the cloth trade during the Tudor period. Wander round the house to piece together the story of its riches to rags decline and Edwardian restoration, or find a bit of peace and quiet in the tranquil gardens.

A view of Quarry Bank House

Quarry Bank, Cheshire 

Off M56 exit 5 - approximately 5 miles/13 minutes

Quarry Bank was once home to a complete industrial community. Today you can take a peek inside the home of the Greg family who once owned the mill, or go on a guided tour of the Apprentice House to step into the lives of the pauper children who worked in the mill. For a longer leg stretch you can stroll to Styal village where many of the other workers once lived, or wander through the picturesque gardens to find a bit of peace and see the newly restored glasshouse. Don’t forget to grab a cuppa from the garden café to refuel for the rest of the journey.

Rowallane, County Down 

Off A7 - approximately 0.4 miles/3 minutes

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 café or just simply relaxing on a seat in the walled garden.

A couple walk in the grounds at Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

Sizergh, Cumbria 

Off M6 exit 36 - 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.

A view of the garden and house at Shaw's Corner

Shaw's Corner, Hertfordshire 

Off A1(M) exit 6 - approximately 5 miles/15 minutes

If you'd been walking up the drive at Shaw’s Corner 70 years ago, you would have been coming to visit one of the most famous, most photographed and most quoted men in the world. Playwright, politician, philosopher and wit George Bernard Shaw lived in this Edwardian villa for over 40 years, and today his home remains much as he left it. Wander from room to room enjoying the beautiful Arts and Crafts interiors, or head for the gardens and find a quiet corner where you can relax and reflect. Maybe you’ll find the inspiration to write a masterpiece of your own?

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. Please note: access to Stoneywell is by pre-booking only, at least 24 hours in advance. Book online or phone: 01530 248048.

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.

Visitors enjoying the lakeside walks in the parkland at Tredegar House

Tredegar House, Newport 

Off M4 exit 28 - 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. Please note: there may be roadworks on the M4 J28 - please plan your journey ahead of time.

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.