Hiring a motorhome gives the driver unparallel freedom of movement, without the logistical hassle of having to arrange hotel accommodation. This means that no part of the natural landscape is off limits. There is perhaps no better way of making the most of this freedom than heading for official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), which are designated as areas of high scenic beauty and have official protection from development.
In England, AONBs are recognized as such by Natural England, an independent public body with the task of protecting and improving the country's natural environment. This organization encourages the public to visit the countryside and get more involved in their surroundings.
If you are a motorhome enthusiast and are planning to hire a motorhome this summer to visit the English countryside, here are five great ideas for destinations. All are official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
1. The Cotswolds
Often cited to as the 'heart of England', the Cotswold Hills run from south-east to north-west through six counties, including Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. Famous for its quaint towns and villages, constructed from the local yellow limestone, the Cotswolds is the largest AONB in England and joins visitors from across the world.
2. The Malvern Hills
The most popular free tourist attraction in the West Midlands are the Malvern Hills, which straddle the counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Hereforshire. The area offers stunning views towards the Welsh Mountains and across the Bristol Channel and is ideal motorhome country, with plenty of campsite facilities and areas to park. As well as the countryside, the historic cathedral cities of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester are all within easy reach.
3. The Northumberland Coast
Stretching from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Amble, this AONB is arguably the most stunning coastline in all of the British Isles. The windswept Northumberland coast is an ambler's and beachcomber's heaven, with mile upon mile of dramatic beaches and rocky coves.
4. The North Wessex Downs
Encompassing the uplands of the Berkshire, North Hampshire and Marlborough Downs, this entire area offers tranquil English countryside in its most untouched state of nature. Upland habitat abuts downland and dramatic ancient forests. The area is sprinkled by charming rustic villas and farmhouses and offers the nature-lover an incredible wealth of lovely walks. A birdspotter's paradise.
5. The Tamar Valley
One of England's last unspoilt drowned river systems, the Tamar Valley draws nature lovers from around the world to the confluence of the Tamar, Lynher and Tavy rivers on the Devon-Cornwall borderlands. The area has been farmed for centuries and the ancient remnants of agricultural practice through the ages dot the landscape. Abandoned tin mines are scattered through the valley and are well worth a visit.