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5 Beautiful UK Destinations Within An Hour's Drive Of London

London life is all about the hustle and bustle but all of us need to escape every so often. We’ve got some good news – you don’t have to drive for hours and hours to get to pretty little villages, picture postcard views and a totally different pace of life. Who knew that there are a National Park and four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty so close to Greater London? We certainly didn’t before we started our research, so here are five amazing slices of Great British countryside within an hour’s drive of London.

View cottages within a one hour drive of London

Surrey Hills - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Surrey Hills are an oasis of calm and only a short drive from London. This green and rolling landscape offer brilliant vantage points from which to admire your surroundings. It is understandably popular with cyclists, both off and on road, but you’ll find great walking here too. These hills are certainly worth the climb, just don’t forget your camera. With fresher air and a slower pace of life, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is just the tonic to destress from the demands of a busy week. It’s that much better for not having to travel for hours too!

Driving time from Greater London: 1 hour

High Weald – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The High Weald is made up of over 1400 square kilometres of wooded rolling hills in Kent, Sussex and Surrey. It is considered to be one of the best preserved medieval landscapes in Northern Europe. Happily, the AONB designation ensures that the area is conserved for the enjoyment of generations for years to come. We’re big fans, as was the French poet Hilaire Belloc, who famously said: “Unless a man understands the Weald, he cannot write about the beginnings of England.”. When exploring you’ll find lots of 17th-century houses, ancient routeways and irregular fields.

Driving time from Greater London: 45 mins

The South Downs National Park

Even by our generous journey times, it would be pushing it to reach parts of the South Downs National Park within an hour but happily, the park extends as far north towards London as Godalming. The UK’s newest National Park is bursting with breathtaking panoramas, ancient landscapes and tranquil villages to while away the weekend. Fans of grape and grain are well catered for with scores of country pubs in which to enjoy a pint and flourishing vineyards producing award-winning wines.

Driving time from London: 55 minutes

Chiltern Hills – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Two-thirds of the Chilterns are covered in farmland and have been for centuries. In the remaining part of this AONB you’ll find woodland, pretty villages of brick and flint built cottages and chalk streams. The jewel in the crown of this beautiful area is the beechwoods, they change colour as the seasons do, the particular highlight being the carpet of bluebells in spring. The Chilterns are also one of the best places in the UK to see majestic red kites.

Driving time from London: 50 minutes

Kent Downs – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Kent Downs AONB stretches from the iconic White Cliffs of Dover to the Surrey border. You’ll find secluded chalk valleys a maze of tiny lanes, isolated farmsteads, churches, castles, oast houses, orchards, ancient woodlands and chalk grassland. The Kent Downs are particularly rich in wildlife; there are several species which uniquely found in AONBs.

Driving time from London: 45 minutes