View of the Cotswold countryside, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Cotswolds

Cotswold AONB

Countryside

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With over 3 million acres of countryside to explore in South East England, it's the perfect place to escape the four walls and enjoy some great open spaces, fresh air and exercise. Discover the National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, country parks, nature reserves, glorious gardens, waymarked walks of the South East.... there's no better place to fall in love with the great outdoors.

South East England is home to two National Parks covering over 2,193km2 between them. New Forest National Park in Hampshire, famous for its colourful heather, and ponies that wander through the villages and across its large open expanses and forest trails, and South Downs National Park which stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne, through the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex, and is the newest National Park in the UK. One of the many iconic images of the South, is the white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head which is part of the South Downs, along with the famous Devils Dyke, Blackdown and ancient forests of Kingsley Vale, all providing some of the best countryside in the UK. Don't miss the chance to visit both parks when you are here in South East England, they have very different landscapes and experiences to enjoy.

The Countryside Code

We encourage you to explore the countryside at every opportunity, it is so good for your well-being and mental health. However, whilst you are out and about remember to follow the Countryside Code - RESPECT - PROTECT - ENJOY. This countryside code contains advice for the public and landowners, making it easier for visitors to help respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors

Beautiful Places Near Me

There are an amazing nine Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in South East England. These have been recognised for their exceptional landscape, character, and natural beauty, and are prized enough to be protected for all to enjoy. Whether you choose to hunt for dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Wight, follow in the path of Olympians in the Surrey Hills or be charmed by the space and beauty of Chichester Harbour, these areas offer the chance to explore the beautiful English countryside easily. Reaching into every county in the South East it doesn't matter where you stay or visit, it is easy to head out and explore these stunning rural areas with the Kent Downs, Surrey Hills, North Wessex Downs and Chiltern Hills providing the easiest access to countryside near London.

  • The Cotswolds, Oxfordshire
  • North Wessex Downs AONB, Berkshire
  • Chiltern Hills AONB, Buckinghamshire
  • High Weald AONB, Sussex
  • Kent Downs AONB
  • Surrey Hills AONB
  • Chichester Harbour AONB, Sussex
  • Dorset AONB
  • Isle of Wight AONB

Half the Isle of Wight is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it an ideal escape to the country.  A varied terrain includes dramatic coastlines with heritage status, nature reserves, woodlands, chalk hills and stunning views that'll test the memory of any smartphone camera.

There are approximately 50 chalk carved figures in the UK countryside, the most famous is the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire, which is located 25 miles outside of Oxford and is believed to date back to the bronze age. It can be found in the aptly named Vale of the White Horse and can be seen for miles dancing over the Ridgeway hills. Head to Eastbourne and walk to the bottom or top of the Long Man of Wilmington, a giant etched out in slopes of Windover Hill.

Don't miss the ever changing seasons that bring yearly change to the countryside, from carpets of white snowdrops in winter (January - February) the stunning bluebells walks that follow (April - May) or the rich colours of Autumm that signal the end of summer.

Best Views Near Me

  • Don't miss the chance to take in the stunning views of Newlands Corner, Box Hill, Devils Punchbowl and Leith Hill in the Surrey Hills.
  • Take a wander up St Catherines Hill, on the outskirts of Winchester for breath-taking views over the city. 
  • Make some time when visiting Brighton to head out to Devils Dyke, just 5 miles north-west of of the city, with its deep V-shaped valley and selection of walking trails on offer. 
  • Head to Cissbury Ring, near Worthing, the largest hill fort in Sussex dating back some 5,000 years and offering stunning views over Brighton and beyond from its ramparts. 
  • Explore Beachy Head and some of the best views of the Seven Sisters near Eastbourne, with its dramatic scenery and amazing views, the highest chalk cliff in the South East. 
  • Head to Butser Hill the highest point in Hampshire, part of the world's newest International Dark Sky Reserve - a stargazing delight.  Dont miss the chance to visit Butser Ancient Farm whilst you are here, an archaeology site where you can step back in time. 
  • Wander through the beautiful archway of trees and head up to the Halnakar Windmill to enjoy views over Sussex, Goodwood and the South Coast beyond.
  • Explore the ancient forest of Kingley Vale, full of twisted branches and an air of mystery. Head to the top and enjoy stunning views over West Sussex countryside.
  • Visit Hengistbury Head to the south of Christchurch Harbour, a wind sweep headland offering beautiful views over Isle of Wight, New Forest and Purbecks.

The Test Valley runs from the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty right down to the New Forest National Park in the south, with walkers and cyclists being able to enjoy parts of the 44 mile Test Way, nestling between Winchester, Salisbury and the New Forest.  

Most of the world's chalk streams are found here in the southeast of England. The crystal-clear water provides a unique habit for wildlife, and is one of most biodiverse types of rivers in the UK, they provide a beautiful place to walk and lookout for wildlife. The rivers wander through some of the most beautiful British countryside with tranquil water meadows and rolling chalk hills. The River Test, Itchen and Meon are the three main chalk rivers in Hampshire.

You may not know that the South East is also home to two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves at Brighton and the Isle of Wight - there are only 7 sites in the UK. These Biospheres bring together rural, marine and urban environments, to take care of these special places for both nature and people. 

Our extensive list below will help you find a host of ideas and countryside near me to visit when next in South East England. 

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Number of results: 228

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  1. Arundel Wetland Centre

    Type

    Type:

    Nature Reserve

    ARUNDEL

    A stunning nature reserve with guided boat trips through reedbeds, secluded spots to watch wildlife and a collection wildfowl from around the world.

  2. Friars Cliff Beach

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Christchurch

    Friars Cliff beach is an award-winning blue flag beach just a mile from Mudeford Quay in Christchurch. This beach has magnificent views of the Isle of Wight and Christchurch Bay.

  3. Highdown Gardens

    Type

    Type:

    Parkland / Woodland Garden

    Worthing

    A unique and beautiful garden on downland countryside overlooking the sea. The Chalk Garden is the achievement of Sir Frederick and Lady Stern who worked for 50 years to prove that plants would grow on chalk. Green Flag Award winner.

  4. Staunton Country Park

    Type

    Type:

    Country / Royal Park

    Havant

    With a farm full of friendly animals, the south coast’s largest ornamental glasshouses, beautiful gardens and 1,000 acres of country park to explore there’s something for everyone.

  5. Louisa Bay

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Broadstairs

    A small popular tucked away bay that is great for rock pooling with a promenade café

  6. Colwell Bay

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Freshwater

    Colwell Bay is one of many picturesque beaches in West Wight, offer spectacular views back across the Solent to mainland England.

  7. One Garden Brighton

    Type

    Type:

    Garden

    Brighton & Hove

    Proudly presented and managed by Plumpton College, One Garden Brighton is a free to enter destination garden, a place to connect with nature and discover something different every day.

  8. West Bay

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Westgate-on-Sea

    A completely tidal bay, with a long stretch of sand when the tide is out.

  9. Joss Bay

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Broadstairs

    A surfer’s paradise, this popular 200-metre long bay is known as the best surfing beach in Thanet.

  10. Fairytale Farm

    Type

    Type:

    Animal Collection / Zoo

    Chipping Norton, Chipping Norton

    Mixing classic fairy tales, animals and adventure play, children will love Fairytale Farm. With our exciting adventure playground, an enchanted walk with a surprise around every corner and a chance to meet our amazing animals, there is so much to…

  11. Stansted Park

    Type

    Type:

    Historic House / Palace

    Stansted Park is home to stunning weddings, forest walks, afternoon teas and some of the best events in the south! Visit the Mansion for a real sense of a bygone era.

  12. Yateley Common Country Park

    Type

    Type:

    Country / Royal Park

    Yateley

    476 acres of heathland, woodland, grassland and ponds providing walking, cycling and fishing in natural surroundings.

  13. Yaverland Beach

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    SANDOWN

    Yaverland Beach is one of the Isle of Wight’s best beaches, providing a long stretch of sand and great swimming waters for children and families.

  14. Staunton Farm

    Type

    Type:

    Country / Royal Park

    Havant

    A farm full of friendly animals.

  15. Lepe Country Park

    Type

    Type:

    Country / Royal Park

    Beaulieu

    Lepe Country Park has something for everyone. The long stretch of shingle beach is popular with kite surfers and wind surfers, families and holidaymakers. From the shoreline you can look across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Watch yachts, ferries…

  16. Brighton Beach Bikes

    Type

    Type:

    Cycle/Vehicle Hire

    Brighton

    Brighton & Hove bike hire allows you to ride a bike safely for 15 miles without crossing any busy roads as we’re the only cycle hire service right on the seafront cycle lane.

  17. Reculver Beach

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Herne Bay

    Reculver's shingle beach is a haven for those looking for a peaceful hideaway in the rural setting of the Reculver Country Park, where people come to relax and admire the stunning Kent coastline.

  18. Marwell Zoo

    Type

    Type:

    Animal Collection / Zoo

    Winchester

    Embrace your wild side at Marwell Zoo! Home to hundreds of endangered and exotic species in 140 acres of beautiful parkland, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy and admire. From Amur tigers to brilliant birds, Marwell offers you the chance…

  19. Dumpton Gap

    Type

    Type:

    Beach

    Broadstairs

    Dumpton Gap offers one of the best low tide walking routes to Ramsgate during low tide.

  20. Kilkenny Lane Country Park

    Type

    Type:

    Country / Royal Park

    Carterton

    Set within 50 acres Kilkenny Lane Country Park is an ideal location for playing, walking, jogging, or simply relaxing with a picnic. There are 2.5km of paths (suitable for wheelchair access) and bridleways, as well as an adventure play area