Northamptonshire - The Rose of the Shires

The county of Northamptonshire is often described as the Rose of the Shires and it is a county that offers something for everyone who visits here. Lots to discover and uncover in the Rose of the Shires

It has also been known as The County of Spires and Squires given that it lays claim to more historic houses than any other county. Northamptonshire's strong links with the nobility mean that stately homes and ancestral seats, including that of the Spencer family at Althorp, are all part of the landscape. The likes of the wonderful Cottesbrooke Hall and Gardens, majestic Deene Park and historic Delapre Abbey are just a few of so many elegant and interesting heritage places to choose from to visit.

These treasures, many with stunning gardens and parkland, have witnessed some remarkable moments in history, evidence of which you will find cropping right across Northamptonshire. The county town of Northampton has been an important site since early Saxon times and grew in prosperity in the late 18th and 19th century thanks to shoe and boot manufacturing. Jeyes of Earls Barton, a historic family run business in the heart of Northamptonshire and now also a small visitor attraction is now also home to the Kinky Boots Exhibition which is quite a story!

In and around the county's main market towns there are great shops, restaurants, museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas. Towcester - the Roman town of Lactodorum, standing on Watling Street, developed into a Saxon town and was once one of the principal coaching towns to and from London. Today the centre of the town retains its market square, along with a wealth of handsome Georgian buildings. In addition the towns of Oundle, Daventry and Brackley are just a few other historic market towns with their own unique charm and attraction to visitors.

You will find these great attractions in and around Northamptonshire's beautiful countryside which ranks amongst some of the finest you are likely to find across England. There are miles of walks, beautiful country parks, sweeping canals and rivers and areas of ancient woodland just waiting to be explored. For lovers of pedal power and two wheels, there are also miles of cycle paths which follow the landscape of the Brampton Valley Way.

Expect within all this idyllic countryside to stumble upon numerous pretty villages with their thatched cottages, country lanes and parish churches. It really is rural England at its best. The network of canals that interweave the county are also perfect for exploring, with towpaths providing a great way for walkers to see the rural delights of the county.

Alternatively if you prefer to meander along by water, canal narrow boat cruisers are the ideal way see life at a slower pace. LNBP Community Boating offer day trips and longer holidays for groups from their moorings at the historic junction of the Oxford and Grand Union Canals at Braunston and they even provide qualified skippers to steer and guide you through the elegant countryside!

In recent years Northamptonshire has emerged as something of a food and drink destination due to the popularity of its award-winning restaurants, pubs, chefs, cafés and food and drink producers; so much so there are a variety of food and drink festivals across summer, autumn and winter which really showcase the wide variety of local talent and fabulous produce on offer.

A day visit is certainly manageable, but with so much to consider to see, do and experience, an overnight stay or short break will give you the time to explore Northamptonshire to the full. Accommodation-wise, there is something to suit all groups and their budgets, from the intimate elegance of a country hotel, the character and charm of a coaching inn or the amenities offered by a modern hotel

And getting there is no problem and easier than what you may think, with excellent road and rail links from all corners of the UK and being less than an hour from London.

So if you are looking to really get away from it all, to relax and unwind, and experience the traditional qualities of rural England, the undiscovered Rose of the Shires is much closer than you think and certainly worth visiting.