Selworthy, Exmoor, Somerset
With sweeping views to Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor – Selworthy is a glorious place to visit. Sunshine-yellow thatched cottages, many owned by the National Trust, light up the village green. The Periwinkle tearoom serves cake and cream teas, and the gift shop is packed with local crafts. Outside the village you’ll find epic walks through the 12,000-acre Holnicote Estate: woodland behind the medieval church takes you over streams, through wooded combes, past Exmoor ponies to Selworthy Beacon. From there you’ll have commanding views of Exmoor on one side and on the other the slopes of south Wales across the Bristol Channel. Stay in the heart of the village at the 19th-century Selworthy Farmhouse: it sleeps nine, perfect for large family groups.
From £1,399 for seven nights; nationaltrust.org.uk. For somewhere smaller, there’s Ivy’s Cottage, which sleeps two and is right on the village green. From £599 for seven nights; nationaltrust.org.uk
Altarnun, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
A small village on the northern edge of Bodmin Moor – one of Cornwall’s wildest landscapes – Altarnun is steeped in history, with a medieval packhorse bridge and the beautiful, 15th-century church of St Nonna, known as the Cathedral of the Moors. This is wonderful walking country, with several circular routes from the village out on to open moorland, taking in the relics of medieval tin workings and prehistoric roundhouses. The Rising Sun offers hearty sandwiches and Sunday roasts, and the Old Dairy – a charming self-catering cottage sleeping four – makes an ideal base.
One week from £686; classic.co.uk
Downham, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
In spite of its name, the Forest of Bowland is an area of peat moorland and gritstone fells, with Pendle Hill rising up like a giant wave. Tucked beneath Pendle, the pretty village of Downham is an unspoilt gem, with a bubbling brook running through the centre and past the green, flanked by picturesque, stone-built cottages. Pop into the information centre for maps of local walking trails to Clitheroe Castle, Sawley Abbey and up on to Pendle Hill itself, and reward yourself post-walk with a visit to the Downham Ice Cream Shop. Stay at Greendale Glamping, which offers B&B and glamping pods.
Doubles from £110 B&B; glampingatgreendale.co.uk
Thornton le Dale, North York Moors
The old market cross – complete with stocks – forms the heart of this picture-perfect village, which is best accessed along a lovely woodland footpath from the main car park. Children will love the nature trail that runs through the streets, and features tree carvings, hedgehog and bird boxes and a bug hotel. The Lavender Tea Rooms are a great place to stop for tea and cake. Alternatively, pick up a picnic hamper and follow the route across the valley to the tiny hamlet of Ellerburn and its ancient Saxon church. Stay at the Grange Guesthouse, a charming family-run B&B.
Doubles from £105 B&B; thegrangeguesthouse.com
Castleton, Peak District
The historic village of Castleton makes an ideal base for exploring both sides of the Peak District – the rugged moorland plateaux of the northern Dark Peak and the softer, rolling hills of the southern White Peak. The village is most famous for its show caves, which glitter with stalactites and Blue John – a teal-blue, semi-precious stone. Above ground, the lattice of streets is dotted with gift shops and tearooms, with the imposing ruins of Peveril Castle looming down from the hillside above. Stay at the Cheshire Cheese Inn, a traditional pub with rooms in the heart of the village.
Doubles from £100 B&B, cheshirecheeseinn.co.uk
Lustleigh village, Dartmoor
Often called Dartmoor’s prettiest village, Lustleigh is a chocolate-box confection of thatched- roof cottages set around a triangular village green. The disused railway line has been converted into walking trails, with several other footpaths leading straight from the village up on to the moors. To the west, the ridge of Lustleigh Cleave offers spectacular views over Dartmoor, with the iron age fort of Hunter’s Tor at the northern end. For a post-walk pint, retire to the Cleave Inn, a charming 15th-century inn offering simple but comfortable rooms.
Two-night breaks from £150 B&B; thecleavelustleigh.co.uk
Monksilver, Exmoor, Somerset
Set on the eastern edge of the national park, Monksilver is a charming small village – home to the smallest parish council in the country – that makes an excellent base for discovering the moors on foot or bike. The long-distance Coleridge Way runs through the village, while Cleeve Abbey and the West Somerset Railway, which runs through 20 miles of glorious countryside, are close by. Village life centres on the classic, thatched-roof pub, the Notley, which also offers six comfortable, dog-friendly rooms and dinners that make the most of Exmoor’s rich local produce.
Doubles from £157 B&B; notleyarmsinn.co.uk
Hutton le Hole, North York Moors
Hutton owes its name to its location – the picturesque clutch of stone cottages is set in a natural hollow between the limestone headlands of the Tabular Hills, surrounded by delightful walking and cycling trails. The village itself has plenty to offer – the open- air Ryedale Folk Museum houses more than 20 reconstructed historic buildings, while the craft workshops offer the chance to watch local artisans creating everything from glassware and ceramics to chocolate and candles. Drop in for lunch at the Forge Tea Room, and stay at The Crown, which has three chic rooms, each with a kitchen and private terrace.
Doubles from £110 room-only, crownhuttonlehole.com
North Bovey, Dartmoor
In spite of being one of Dartmoor’s most picturesque villages, North Bovey remains relatively quiet, thanks to the narrow, twisty roads that lead to it. This is a place to escape the crowds, with lovely walking trails and bridle paths nearby, while kids will love the miniature pony centre, just a short drive away. Golfers can test their skills on the challenging 18-hole course on the Bovey Castle estate (which also offers a world-class spa at the Bovey Castle hotel), but keep the rustic Dartmoor feel by staying at the Ring of Bells, a classic country pub.
Doubles from £170 B&B including £35 dinner allowance, ringofbells.net)
Kinloch Rannoch, Perth and Kinross
One of the wildest corners of the UK, Rannoch Moor is a brooding swathe of blanket bog, lochans, rivers and rocky outcrops, land that offers an extraordinary feeling of escape. Kinloch Rannoch lies at the eastern end of Loch Rannoch, providing the chance to get out on the water, as well as on to the dramatic moorland. Rannoch station – one of the most remote in the UK – is 18 miles’ drive, and makes an excellent central spot for a day’s exploring, with a tea room on site. Or stay at the luxurious Loch Rannoch hotel, with a top-notch spa.
Doubles from £157.50; lochrannochhotel.com