Talk of the town: Film & TV favourite Wells named UK’s top destination in Which? survey of the best inland towns and villages
Wells in Somerset – a favourite location for Hollywood film and TV producers – has been named as the UK’s favourite destination in a Which? survey of inland towns and villages.
The consumer champion surveyed over 9,000 Which? members, asking them to rate their experiences of visiting inland towns and villages in the last year. Criteria included scenery, food and drink, peace and quiet, tourist attractions, and value for money.
The South West dominated the top three, with Wells, one of the UK’s smallest cities, scoring 83 per cent and taking first place. Close behind were Avebury, Wiltshire (82%) and Corfe Castle, Dorset (80%).
A popular filming location, Wells has featured in major film and television productions including Hot Fuzz, Dungeons and Dragons and Wolf Hall. Visitors can imagine following in the footsteps of film stars including Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth, and Emily Blunt.
The medieval city scored a full five stars for attractiveness and tourist attractions, and boasts stunning architecture, including its famous cathedral. It also scored four stars for shopping, scenery, food and drink.
Close behind with a destination score of 82 per cent was 2022 top scorer Avebury, in Wiltshire. Scoring five stars for scenery and attractiveness, the village is perfect for history lovers – well-known for its 5,000 year old Neolithic stone circle, which is free for visitors to explore. Situated close to Stonehenge, Avebury also has picturesque thatched cottages, Georgian townhouses and a 19th-century pub.
Tying in third place with a destination score of 80 per cent were Port Sunlight, Merseyside and Dorset’s Corfe Castle. One of Enid Blyton’s favourite holiday destinations, Corfe Castle was built by William the Conqueror during the 11th century. The village was rated a full five stars for tourist attractions and scenery, with visitors able to enjoy ambling through the castle ruins, which boast spectacular views over the Purbeck Hills to Poole Harbour.
Much like Corfe Castle, Port Sunlight also offers visitors a unique glimpse into the past. The Merseyside village was built by William Hesketh Lever in 1888 to provide 900 homes to house the workers of his soap factory, and is named for his popular ‘Sunlight’ soap. The village scored four stars out of five for attractiveness, tourist attractions and value for money. It also scored a full five stars for peace and quiet.
Ludlow in Shropshire, Stamford in Lincolnshire, Lavenham in Suffolk, Grasmere in Cumbria, and Llangollen in Denbighshire tied in fourth position, each with a destination score of 79 per cent.
Top rated Welsh destination Llangollen (79%), nestled between the Berwyn, Ruabon, and Llantysilio mountains also scored five stars for scenery and attractiveness, as well as four stars for tourist attractions and food and drink. From canal boat cruises to horse-drawn boat trips, as well as its annual International Musical Eisteddfod festival, there’s plenty for visitors to enjoy.
Melrose was the highest rated Scottish destination, with a destination score of 78 per cent. Backed by the peaks of the Eildon Hills, once described as those ‘delectable mountains’ by author and historian Sir Walter Scott, the town unsurprisingly scored five stars for scenery and attractiveness. Melrose also scored four stars for its tourist attractions, which famously include Melrose Abbey, the final resting place of the heart of Robert the Bruce.
At the bottom of the list of favourite locations was popular wedding destination Gretna (49%), near the England-Scotland border, followed closely by Bodmin, Cornwall (50%). In spite of their lower destination scores, these two towns still have plenty for holidaymakers to enjoy.
Though Bodmin scored just two stars for tourist attractions and value for money, it did receive three stars for its scenery and peace and quiet. Situated on the edge of Bodmin moor, today visitors can explore its historic jail, which now hosts a museum and hotel, or visit the Bodmin Keep, which houses an army museum.
Steeped in history, Gretna’s sister village Gretna Green is famed as one of the most romantic locations in the UK. For hundreds of years English couples headed north of the border to elope in Gretna, with couples under 21 historically requiring their parents’ permission to marry – a law that didn’t apply in Scotland. While this law no longer stands, the town continues to be a well-loved destination for romantics, playing host to countless nuptials every year.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel said:
“From famed tourist towns to lesser known villages, this year’s survey has captured the range of unique destinations the UK has to offer.
“While the picturesque South West took the top spots, there are beautiful towns and villages in Scotland, Wales and from across England in the top ten – meaning there is a fantastic place to visit on your doorstep no matter where you live.”
Notes to editors:
- Which? surveyed 9,340 members in June 2023, and asked them to rate destinations on seven categories including food and drink, tourist attractions, scenery, attractiveness, shopping, peace and quiet, and value for money.
- A destination score is calculated by combining overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend. Where destination scores are the same, destinations are listed in alphabetical order.
- While Northern Ireland destinations were included in our survey, the sample size was too small to include any destinations.
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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