Seven of our Favourite Books Set in the English Countryside

Wondering what books to stash into your staycation suitcase? We've picked our all-time favourites set in the blissful British countryside, from cult-classic novels to timeless travelogues and the children's adventure story we still can't put down.

Wuthering Heights, Wind in the Willows and Watership Down may steal the top prizes for the most well-loved tomes set in England's green and pleasant pastures, but rifle through the shelves and you'll find lesser-known but equally evocative English literary heroes.

We've pulled together a shortlist of our favourite books set in the blissful British countryside. From cult-classic novels to timeless travelogues and a children's adventure story we still can't put down, these titles are as good for armchair adventures as they are stashing in a weekend bag for a staycation.

Your staycation reading list, sorted: seven of our favourite books set in the English countryside

The Old Ways

Robert Macfarlane

They say that writing and walking are the best companions, and Macfarlane's genre-defining book proves this with a punch. Follow in his footsteps as he walks the tracks, drove-roads and sea paths that form an ancient network of routes zig-zagging across Britain, discovering a lost world of pilgrimage and ritual along the road. Weaving stories of landscape with tales of the heart and mind, the book captures the sacred journeys that inspire our imaginations and draws on Britain's wildly underappreciated landscape with a strong sense of place and purpose.



Isabella Tree

When Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell took a leap of faith and decided to give back their clay farmland to nature, the move sparked a first-of-its-kind rewilding experiment that introduced free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer to their 3,500-acre ecology project. Part memoir, part gripping account of the natural wonders of our countryside, this timely book tells an inspirational story of conservation and courage, and reminds us what can happen when we let nature take its course.


The Shepherd's Life

James Rebanks

For fans of Ronald Blythe's Akenfield, a picture-perfect portrait of the English countryside and its people, James Rebanks' first memoir gives a similarly lyrical account of British rural life through the lens of a 21st-century shepherd. At once gentle and angry, the story is a compelling document of this rapidly disappearing way of life, and a testament to the importance of connecting to the land.


London is a Forest

Paul Wood

Who knew that London was the world's largest urban forest? Walk alongside Paul Wood as he journeys the paths that meander through the beating heart of London, exploring the forest's past and future and uncovering a few of its lesser-known inhabitants along the way. Subverting the idea that a forest needs to be dense, desolate and impenetrable, the book takes us through a series of six urban "forest trails", examining our relationship and attitudes towards them and revealing legends and anecdotes along the way.


A Month in the Country

J.L. Carr

Battling with shell shock from the First World War, Tom Birkin finds refuge in the sleepy pace of Yorkshire village life by restoring a medieval mural he comes across in the local church in Oxgodby. The painstaking renovation is accompanied by the war veteran's own healing of spirit. It's an elegant and tender account of his memories from that time, an uplifting tale of salvation in the midst of emotional trauma, and a very apt read for our current times.


Swallows and Amazons

Arthur Ransome

English literature's answer to Huckleberry Finn, Swallows and Amazons is Arthur Ransome's charming children's tale of the Walker family's summer holidays spent sailing in the Lake District, hunting for stolen treasures and camping under the open skies of Wild Cat Island. A classic children's adventure story, the novel is a delicate portrayal of juvenile friendships and a mesmerising depiction of the Lakes' landscape.


Jamaica Inn

Daphne du Maurier

A chilling and evocative portrayal of the Cornish moors and coast, Daphne du Maurier's fourth novel tells the story of young Mary Yellan as she honours her mother's dying request to join her aunt and uncle at the isolated, foreboding Jamaica Inn. As Mary is unwillingly dragged into the lawless world of a gang of criminals, du Maurier explores evil in its purest form with a sharp feel for landscape, character and plot.


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