Want to escape to the country without uprooting your urban life? You’re not alone. Per year, UK residents make around 358 million day trips to the countryside and, in some areas, more money is made from farm tourism than traditional farming.
But where should you plan your next rural staycation for an authentic experience of country life? Whether you want to roll up your sleeves and muck into farming, or you’re a fashionista looking to jump onto the ‘cottagecore’ trend and take some snaps for the gram in your barbour jacket or floaty summer dress, we’ve got you covered.
Our agritourism index assesses the number of farm stays, farm shops, country shows and events and local walking routes across UK counties to reveal the best places to slip on your wellies and enjoy the ‘simpler life’.
The top spots
Considering all factors, Devon is officially the best place to taste country life, ranking in the top 10 for all factors. Devon performed particularly well for the number of farm stays, with an incredible 187 listed choices. Devon also placed 2nd for the number of farm shops and 3rd for country shows and events (but get in early, last year advance ticket sales for The Devon County Show boomed by 600%!).
Across the other side of England, North Yorkshire claimed 2nd place. In God’s own county you can expect to find a great selection of country shows and events, with over 33 listed events – more than anywhere else in the UK. Completing the top three is neighboring county Cumbria, which came top for the number of hiking trails (the only place with over a 1,000 walks listed).
Nationally, the Highlands are the top destination for agritourism in Scotland, Powys the best spot in Wales and County Down the ideal rural retreat in Northern Ireland (with the breathtaking Mourne Mountains as a backdrop, it’s no surprise).
Where to head for a farm stay
Whether you have a love for farmyard animals or a passion for growing your own fresh produce, a working farm holiday is a rewarding break from the 9-5 without the long-term commitment. As mentioned previously, Devon offers holiday-makers the most choice, but not far behind is neighboring Cornwall with at least 140 listed farm stays. In third place is Powys in Wales with 104 – which also has many local castles, lakes and waterfalls to explore.
The best places to taste (and drink!) rural life
The pandemic has made us all more health conscious, and eating fresh, local produce is one way to take better care of our bodies. In fact, UK farm shops have seen an 89% increase in sales since 2019 and generate a massive £1.4 billion in annual sales.
The top county to taste the best that rural living has to offer might surprise you. Perhaps thanks to the trend in organic living and great transport links to the surrounding countryside, London has 30 farm shops to source produce from. Devon placed 2nd with 22 and North Yorkshire in third with 21.
Our top tips for a rural getaway
The top spots for country shows and events
Country fayres and events make for a great family day out: bunting, cakes, sheep-dog trials and alarmingly humongous vegetables, there’s an event (and a prize) for everyone and everything. But which counties were best in show? North Yorkshire pipped all rivals to the post, followed by Cumbria and in 3rd place, bringing the best of the countryside to the city, is London. Events like the Lambeth Country Show and Country Living Annual Fair mean that you don’t need to venture out of the city to have an immersive rural experience.
The best counties to explore the great outdoors
No rural getaway would be complete without a few brisk country walks. Using an established walking route is a great way to avoid getting lost and take in the best the county has to offer.
Encompassing the Lake District but also the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines, the Cumbrian landscape has inspired Beatrix Potter, Wordsworth and Ruskin (to name a few creatives) and ranks top for this factor. Coming in 2nd with 804 listed routes is Derbyshire and placing close behind is Hampshire with 801.
Here at Bower we’re all about promoting a more sustainable way of living. One way to remind ourselves why caring for our planet is so important is slowing down the pace of life and reconnecting with nature. We hope this tool inspires you to consider booking a staycation, support the rural economy and celebrate the natural beauty of our islands.