Program 334: Pastoral Britain

Release Date: 08-03-2013

On Air Description

Expert guides from southern England chat with Rick, and take listener calls, about their favorite parts of rural Britain.  They'll recommend where to enjoy off-the-beaten-path pastoral landscapes, complete with thatched roof cottages, abbeys and castles, coastal lookouts, and even wild ponies. 

We'll hear about the charm you'll find in regions like Dorset and Sussex, Cornwall and the Cotswalds, and even the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides.  

Enjoy the comforts of pastoral Britain, on the next Travel with Rick Steves.


Tour guides Gillian Chadwick and Roy Nichols, based in southern England

Related Links

  • The South Downs is the region where Gillian lives, near the village of Ditchling, which is home to legendary singer Dame Vera Lynn
  • The Thomas Hardy Society defines Thomas Hardy Country as centering around Wessex in England.  Roy lives nearby in the region called Dorset
  • Rick writes about Bath, England as a good place to access Roman and Medieval history, and for excursions into the English countryside.
  • The Field Studies Council of the UK's National Trust  offers courses that are intended to preserve Britain's heritage and open spaces.   
  • John Constable was a 19th century painter who depicted the pastoral scenery of his home region of Suffolk.
  • James Harriot was a pen name of James Alfred Wight, who wrote popular fiction about the adventures of a North Yorkshire veterinarian, which were made into the popular BBC-TV series "All Creatures Great and Small" in the 1980s.   The region is getting to be known as "James Harriot Country."
  • The Lake District is also known as "Beatrix Potter Country," where the author of "Peter Rabbit" was inspired to create her characters around her farmhouse known as Hill Top.
  • "Wordsworth Country," where the 19th century poet William Wordsworth lived, is also in the Lake District of Cumbria.
  • "Downton Abbey" country centers on the Highclere Estate in Newbury, in the West Berkshires.  
  • The National Trust has photographs of the Ditchling Beacon that Gillian mentions as among her favorite places in Britain. 
  • Google has a large number of photographs of Bulbarrow Hill in Dorset, which Roy mentions as among his favorite places.
  • The British band, Half Man Half Biscuit, refers to Dorset's Bulbarrow Hill in their song, "Third Track Main Camera Four Minutes," on their 2000 album called "Trouble Over Bridgwater."
  • Caller Lisa took her family to Warwick Castle in Warwickshire. 
  • Caller Jennifer enjoyed listening to BBC Radio Scotland's Gaelic language station, Radio Nan Gaidheal, when driving in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.    She also endured an eight hour boat ride over rough seas to see the seabirds and wild sheep on the remote island of St. Kilda.
  • Caller Kate visited the Edradour whisky distillery, Scotland's smallest one, north of Pitlochry.


  • Looking for ideas on "less touristy, more remote, off the beaten track idyllic villages and pastoral areas" to visit in England.   (David in Knoxville, Tennessee)
  • "We visited the Cotswolds last Fall, and were amazed at the treatment of horses and dogs. Horses were given the right of way on country roads and dogs were taken to pubs and restaurants with their owners. Is this common throughout England, or is it peculiar to the Cotswolds?"   (Wayne in Columbus, Ohio)
  • "My husband likes to hike, while I like to bicycle.  Is there an area in Britain where we can do both during the day, and then stay in a small town with a great pub?"  (Barb in West Chester, Ohio)
  • Asks about Field Studies Council classes offered at National Trust properties throughout Britain.  "I favor their watercolor classes but there are many other subjects taught by passionate instructors."  Describes art classes at Flatford Mill.   Classes last one day to one week. "Good way to meet locals, learn about the environment or study local history."    (Kay in Walnut Creek, California)
  • "We will be traveling through England for a few weeks. We plan to spend approximately 5-6 days in the Cornwall and Devon areas.  Can you suggest one or two good “home-base” villages, preferably with train access?  What should not be missed?"   (Sue in Westlake Village, California) 
  • "Loved taking my family to the Cotswolds;  it's our favorite part of England.  We stayed at a family-owned B&B and my kids played with their kids.  Priceless."     (Lisa in Columbia, South Carolina)
  • Traveled to the Outer Hebrides.  "I made a 24-hour boat trip from London to Lewis and Harris/Outer Hebrides, struggled with rental vehicles and driving on the other side of the road, enjoyed the stunning, other-worldly beaches at Luskentyre on Harris, and endured 8 hours of North Atlantic swells to reach the island of St. Kilda - which is a trip almost no one takes because it is so arduous:  a once-in-a-lifetime event."   (Jennifer in Austin, Texas)
  • "During my first trip to Scotland in 2005, the owner of our B&B near Pitlochry heard that I didn’t like whisky – and proceeded to give me a thorough introduction to it, with numerous samples. Now I like it."    (Kate in Napa, California) 

Incidental Music

  • Edmonton Symphony, "John Field Suite:  Rondo  (Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty)," Orchestral Suites of the British Isles / CBC Enterprises 
  • Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, “Country Gardens,” Percy Grainger:  The Power of Love / Naxos
  • Vera Lynn, "The White Cliffs of Dover," Golden Voices / X5 Music Group
  • * Johnny Pearson Orchestra, “Theme from ‘All Creatures Great and Small,’” Classic Television Themes, vol. 2 (collection) / KPM Music (UK)
  • Susan Scott, “Early One Morning,” Variations on a Dream:  Music for the Celtic Harp / Horizon West Music
  • Mediaeval Baebes, "The World Fareth as a Fantasy," Mirabilis / Nettwerk
  • Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Gavin Sutherland, cond., "Renaissance Suite:  II-Pavana e gagliarda (Francis Chagrin)," English String Miniatures, 5 / Naxos
  • Half Man Half Biscuit, "Third Track Main Camera Four Minutes," Trouble Over Bridgwater / Probe Plus
  • * George Shearing, “Country Gardens,”  The Best of George Shearing, vol. 2 / Capitol 
  • New Philharmonia Orchestra, “Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves’  (R. V. Williams),” Reader’s Digest Music:  The Best of British Classical, vol. 1 / Reader’s Digest Music
  • 101 Strings, "London Bridge Is Falling Down," Songs of England / Madacy
  • Runrig, “Abhainn an t-sluaigh,” Celtic Heart (collection) / BMG Records (UK)

Dated References

Caller Wayne says he visited the Cotswold region "this past September" at 15:54.

Program Extras

Program 334 Extra - Roy Nichols and Gillian Chadwick talk with Rick about the ancient chalk hills that give a distinctive look to the southern coast of England, such as the “white cliffs of Dover” that Vera Lynn famously sang about during the World War Two era, and the many chalk figures that decorate the cliffs. (runs 2:29)