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Calm places to stop on the motorway

View of house with views at Dyrham Park in winter, South Gloucestershire
The house and views in winter at Dyrham Park, South Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/Sarah Fox

Going on a long drive? Swap the busy service stations for a calmer alternative. Many of the places we care for are located near motorways, A roads and other main routes, so you can stretch your legs somewhere with a view. You’ll find cafés and picnic tables, so you can eat and drink while listening to birdsong in historic surroundings.

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire
Baddesley Clinton's medieval-moated manor house is a convenient place to stop just outside Birmingham. Have tea in the Barn Restaurant and then browse the second-hand bookshop. Find Baddesley Clinton off M42 exit 5 – approximately 6 miles/7 minutes south; or off M40 exit 15 – approximately 10 miles/18 minutes north.Stop at Baddesley Clinton
Basildon Park, Berkshire
With more than 400 acres of parkland to explore, Basildon Park is the ideal spot for a leg stretch. Built in the 18th century and restored to its full glory in the 1950s, wander through grand rooms filled with paintings, explore the gardens or run wild in the parkland with its year-round seasonal colour. Find Basildon Park off M4 J12 – approximately 7 miles/15 minutes.Stop at Basildon Park
Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire
From the wealthy teenager who built the mansion to its occupation by the RAF in the Second World War, Beningbrough is full of intriguing stories. If you have enough time, check out the the ornate 18th-century portraits in the gallery, borrow a bike to scout out the grounds or find a tranquil spot for a mid-drive picnic. Find Beningbrough Hall off A19 – approximately 2.9 miles/8 minutes.Stop at Beningbrough Hall
Crom, County Fermanagh
Located on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, Crom is one of the most peaceful places in Northern Ireland. This 2,000-acre estate 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. Find Crom off A4 – approximately 13 miles/25 minutes.Stop at Crom
Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire
The lavish collections inside Dyrham's grand country house reflect the fashion in the 17th century for all things Dutch. Set in extensive parkland and situated between Bath and Bristol, the sloping parkland is full of far-reaching views and ancient trees. Find Dyrham Park off M4 exit 18 – approximately 3 miles/4 minutes.Stop at Dyrham Park
Winter sunrise over a frosty landscape at Crom estate in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Winter sunrise at Crom, County Fermanagh | © National Trust Images
Gibside, Tyne & Wear
The extensive 18th-century landscape park and nature reserve of Gibside offers a taste of the country on the edge of the city. Discover sweeping Derwent Valley views, winding paths and refreshing open spaces to stretch tired legs. Find Gibside off A1– approximately 4.5 miles/9 minutes.Stop at Gibside
Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire
A tranquil setting off the busy M5, the country retreat of Hanbury Hall features an orangery, ice-house, pavilions and even a working mushroom house. There's also a recreated 18th-century crown bowling green available to play on. Find Hanbury Hall off M5 exit 5 – approximately 4 miles/5 minutes.Stop at Hanbury Hall
Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Between Nottingham and Sheffield is the extravagant Hardwick Hall, where powerful Elizabethan figure Bess of Hardwick once showed off her wealth. Explore the fragrant herb garden, orchards and parkland or see historic tapestries up close in the house. Find Hardwick Hall off M1 exit 29 – approximately 1 mile/2 minutes.Stop at Hardwick Hall
Knightshayes, Devon
With acres of gardens and parkland surrounding a Gothic Revival house, there's plenty to see at Knightshayes. Stretch your legs with a wander around the woodlands, and banish boredom with games in the wild play area. Have a cup of tea at the Stables Café before you’re back on the road again. Find Knightshayes off M5 exit 27 – approximately 8 miles/12 minutes.Stop at Knightshayes
Quarry Bank, Cheshire
Quarry Bank was once home to a complete industrial community. See inside the home of the Greg family who once owned the mill, or go on a guided tour of the Apprentice House to learn about the pauper children who worked in the mill. Don’t forget to grab a refreshment from the Garden Café to refuel for the rest of the journey. Find Quarry Bank off M56 exit 5 – approximately 5 miles/13 minutes.Stop at Quarry Bank
The Jurors, by artist Hew Locke at Runnymede and Ankerwycke, Surrey. On a grassy meadow, a sculpture of 12 high-backed bronze chairs facing inwards.
The Jurors, by artist Hew Locke at Runnymede and Ankerwycke | © National Trust Images/John Miller
Runnymede and Ankerwycke, Surrey
Within easy reach of the M25 is Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was sealed over 800 years ago. Along with a café, explore the art installations and historical monuments that are dotted around the open meadows and tranquil woodland. It's also close to Windsor and Heathrow, making it a useful place to pause during a long journey. Find Runnymede off M25 exit 13 – approximately 2 miles/4 minutes.Stop at Runnymede
Sizergh, Cumbria
At the gateway to the Lake District, Sizergh Castle is surrounded by lush gardens, wetlands, woodlands and even an orchard. The imposing house has many tales to tell, while the grounds include the largest limestone rock garden in our care. Find Sizergh off M6 exit 36 – approximately 5 miles/8 minutes.Stop at Sizergh
Stourhead, Wiltshire
Described as a 'living work of art', Stourhead's historic garden with classical temples is set around a central lake. An ever-changing series of vistas will greet you as you stroll along the winding paths. Find Stourhead off A303 – approximately 3 miles/4 minutes.Stop at Stourhead
Tredegar House, Newport
Tredegar's 17th-century house and garden sits just off the M4 as you enter Wales. Outdoors, 90 acres of parkland, including the lake and three walled gardens, provide plenty of room to let off steam. Find Tredegar House off M4 exit 28 – approximately 1 mile/2 minutes.Stop at Tredegar House
Wallington, Northumberland
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. Find Wallington off A696 – approximately 1.8 miles/4 minutes.Stop at Wallington
Family walking down the main drive with lady in a tramper at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire - CTA crop only

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