Switching off from your everyday life and escaping into nature every once in a while is good for the mind and body.
Fresh air, exercise, and stunning scenery can lift your mood, and happily, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pretty spots in Cambridgeshire.
But if you want to venture further afield and really immerse yourself in the natural world, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) are the best places to go for a day trip or even a weekend.
There are 34 AONBs in England which are designated for conservation by Natural England, the public body that looks after the country’s flora and fauna.
These are the best spots you can drive to from Cambridgeshire.
Suffolk Coast & Heath
Suffolk Coast & Heath, which is around an hour-and-a-half drive from Cambridgeshire, has been named in the top 10 most popular AONBs in the UK in a survey run by Which?.
Visitors rated the gorgeous coastline’s scenery four stars for walking and five for wildlife, placing it at #9 in the rankings overall.
The coastline spans 60 miles and covers ancient woodland, heathland, and shingle beaches overlooked by cliffs.
Aldeburgh and Southwold are among Suffolk’s most beautiful beaches, but be aware that they take around two hours to reach from Cambridge.
Dedham Vale on the Essex-Suffolk border is also around an hour-and-a-half away from Cambridgeshire and its beauty has inspired paintings by Constable.
Arger Fen is one of the best places to visit in the area with ancient woodland, meadow, and fen to walk through.
Stour Valley, meanwhile, is teeming with wildlife and the River Stour is a great place for a beautiful stroll, especially in Flatford where you’ll spot Willy Lott’s Cottage.
Dedham Vale ranked 31st on Which?’s rankings with its scenery being rated one of its best features.
Norfolk’s idyllic seaside towns are around a two-hour drive from Cambridge, but quicker to access if you live in Ely or anywhere else further to the northeast of the county.
Holkham Beach is one of England’s most paradisiacal beaches and was even the filming location for the final scene in Shakespeare in Love.
Sheringham is also well worth a visit, not just for its beach but also for its quaint local town.
Norfolk Coast made Which?’s top 20, coming in at 19th in the rankings, beating out Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds.
Other highly-rated AONBs accessible from Cambridgeshire include the Chiltern Hills, Cannock Chase, and North Wessex.
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