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Seeking Rustic UK Holiday with Good Walking

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We're thinking of returning to the U.K. this spring, and thought that after a few days in London we'd head off into the country. We'd like to do some walking, with paths that lead to ruined abbeys, castles, small villages and sometimes run alongside streams -- extra credit if there's some fishing nearby. I'm particularly interested in ancient ways with an intense sense of history. (Yes, I've been reading too much Macfarlane.)

I've been to the Cotswolds a number of times and would enjoy a return trip, but I thought we'd look for someplace we are less familiar with. When we lived in England we crossed Dartmoor once (by car) and I've always wanted to return. We've been to the Lake District but I think the hiking may have grown too difficult -- or my legs may have weakened. We have never been to the Yorkshire Dales.

We'd like to stay in a village or small town with a few dining options -- pubs are fine. I wouldn't mind staying at a good, historic inn, but might even prefer renting an old stone cottage (with all mod cons). Any chance for a thatched roof?

So, that's my plea. I'd welcome any suggestions that can start me towards further research. Thanks!

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