ENGLAND – what to see and do

While most people coming to England head to London, there are many other places to see too. Whole books have been written on many about individual counties, towns and cities, but on these pages, we have tried to cover in just a few words some of the places that you might find interesting.

There are certainly tours that you can take – which vary according to how many places they go to, the amount of time you have to travel, your budget and interests, and in many ways this is the fastest way to see some of the best sights. (See tours section).

You can also travel independently either heading directly to a particular city or area, by either hiring a car, using trains and buses, or a combination of both – and in many ways the scenery along the way may be just as interesting as the destination you are heading to.

England is a criss-cross of Motorways and train lines that will get you to the main cities in the country the fastest way. There are also smaller roads that take you to smaller towns and villages, so depending on whether you are looking to see more of the countryside, or head to the bigger cities, either way the roads are there for you to travel on. You could also in some places travel by boat or even by hiring a Longboat to travel on a historic journey along a canal and through Locks.

NOTE: If you are hiring a car – make sure you get a GPS Satellite Navigation unit. The traffic on motorways can be fast and it is easy to miss a turn-off.

If you read the History of Britain on this website, you will see that England had a succession of invaders, like the Normans and Romans, who left their mark on the country. You also have the impact of monks, bishops and cardinals, as well as Royalty and also later the Agricultural, Industrial and Transport Revolutions that took place as Britain became industrialised and established an empire.

In the most recent century, the impact of World War One and World War Two also had an enormous impact on British society. Today there are still massive changes underway in transport, employment, politics, communications, banking, food, shopping, building and construction with Britain now very much a multi-cultural country, many immigrants having origins in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere.

The British Pub still exists and the food in Britain has improved dramatically in recent years, as has in most cases the accommodation options. Britain is however expensive to travel around and 100 pounds won't take you very far, but supermarket food is in most cases reasonably priced and if you use our website to search accommodation or tour options, you are bound to find some good deals.

One of the most special things about Britain is the architecture with many churches, homes, shops, pubs and other buildings dating back hundreds of years. There are many different styles to see and different materials used such as thatched roofs, fancy bricks, plain bricks, daub, cob, different timbers and stones, with many techniques and artistry expressed through their design and construction.

I have a particular passion for sandstone – and you will see thousands of sandstone and limestone buildings in England – used in Castles, Walls, Cathedrals, churches, houses, cottages and many other buildings.

Someone once said to me that the beauty of stone used in building is that it "links the architecture to the earth" – and I think it is true. Sandstone changes with the light and varies in hardness, colour and texture with the hardest and best stone used for intricate carvings and in and around cathedral and castle windows, while rough cut stone can be seen in broad walls and rubble stone fencing. In England you will see a lot of stonework, and marvel at the skill of the architects, designers, artisans and builders who worked to create these buildings. Limestone too looks beautiful in the light and has its own soft patina.

Enjoy your travels!


Stratford-upon-Avon – This is the home town of William Shakespeare and where he was born and grew up in the 1500's and also where he retired to in 1610, and where he died in 1616. The town, with the Avon River flowing through it has a number of buildings that relate to Shakespeare's life, the theatre, and other notable people – and while it is certainly a tourist town now, it still has lots of character and atmosphere, Tudor style homes with their oak beam framing and wattle and daub wall sections, thatched roof houses and great pubs too. Look for Anne Hathaway's cottage, Mary Arden's House and Upton House (outside of Stratford).There are also Barge homes, swans and ducks on the Avon, nice walks, gardens and open houses and museums – so a good place to spend a day or so here. Outside of Stratford there are other small villages too, and look for Compton Wynyates, said to be one of the most beautiful houses in England. Check with the Visitor Information Centre for details for this house and others that are open to see.

Stonehenge - dates back to circa 1250 BC, with the vertical massive stone pillars, set out in a circle with some of the stones being up to 21 feet high and weighing up to 36 tons. Stonehenge is located 2 miles west of Amesbury in Wiltshire, not far from Salisbury. The mystery behind the stones, as to their exact origin and purpose, and why they were set down here remains a mystery. If you plan to come here, you will find many other tourists too. Also head to Avebury, another village about 17 miles from Stonehenge, where you will find 3 massive stone circles that also date back to thousands of years. Avebury Manor – a National Trust property is here too on High Street in Avebury (see www.english-heritage.org.uk ) with tea rooms, museum, the Manor House, barn and stables to see.

Salisbury – The City of Salisbury (not far from Stonehenge) was founded in 1220 by Bishop Richard Poore and it is best known as the city where Salisbury Cathedral (dating back to 1220) is located here on the Salisbury Plain, where five river valleys come together. The Cathedral Spire is 123 metres high (404 feet), and there are 8 acres of lawns around it, so it stands tall against the skyline. The inside of the Cathedral is just as impressive as the outside, and everywhere you look there is something to see, from the chapels, altars, cloisters, vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and galleries.

Salisbury itself has lots of small and big shops, beautiful medieval streets and houses dating back hundreds of years. Also outside Salisbury to see Old Sarum, the original site of a Roman fortress and the original Cathedral that was here before they built Salisbury Cathedral. There also a number of small villages outside Salisbury too. Look for Chilmark, Dinton, Britford, Great Wishford, Steeple Langford, and Wilton that was the capital of Wessex in the days of the Saxons. Also look for www.longleat.co.uk – a manor house/hotel/lake which is in Longleat, not far from Salisbury and also has a Safari Park too.

Royal Pavilion – Brighton – Once you loved seeing Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, you also head to Brighton on the coast to see the Royal Pavilion. This is a MUST SEE destination, and there is a lot to see in Brighton too, which has been a favourite holiday destination for Brits for more than 100 years.

Work on the Royal Pavilion started in 1787, with the brief from the son of King George III, the Prince of Wales, who later was crowned King George IV to build a classical Pavilion with a Chinese interior, based on his love for 'Chinoiserie' artistry. The Pavilion, which is more of a Palace, took shape under the Architectural skills of first Henry Holland and later John Nash, who also designed Regent's Park in London. The Pavilion is an eclectic mix of British Raj and Indian Empire design on the outside with onion shaped domes and small minuet pinnacle towers, while inside the rooms are a sumptuous rich mix of Chinese decoration – as imagined by the British Empire builders at the time when China was part of the exotic, mystical Far-East. The Royal Pavilion is quite incredible to see, particularly the Banqueting Room with its lighting, ceiling, heavy curtains, furnishing and paintings.

In Brighton itself – there is the old Brighton Pier (built in 1899) with its fish shops and fun-fair at the end of it; also the white cliffs running along the coastline; the Volks Railway on Madeira Street; the Brighton Dome Arts complex; theatres; antiques along the Lanes and lots of activities in and around the city. Also see www.brightonmuseums.org.uk

OTHER PLACES TO SEE IN ENGLAND - As much as we would like to, we can't detail every place that you might want to see in England. We will leave that to books to do that, and as much as a destination may be the place you want to see, it is also the journey and making your own discoveries will really become the highlight of travel. That said, it is also easier to travel with less stress if you know where you are heading.

Here we have written about just some of the places that you might want to visit to guide you on your way -

Devon – Britain does have beaches and the best beaches can be found along the Devonshire coastline – a 300 mile coastline dotted with small sandy, sometimes stony and Shingle beaches, headlands, cliffs, bays and inlets. Some of these beaches have white sand, while others can be quite tidal so you need to be careful to know when the tide is coming in, so that you don't get caught. In summer the main beaches will have lifeguards on duty, with red and yellow flags used to highlight the safest place to swim. Parts of the coastline can be very rugged and this also makes for some very long pathways that follow the coastline taking you past spectacular coastal scenery.

The most famous of the many beachside towns in Devon is Torquay, which has been a popular holiday destination since Napoleonic days, overlooking Tor Bay with a large marina here too. There are lots of hotels and other places to stay here, with restaurants, theatres, shops, a museum, golf course and other facilities. Just out of Torquay, look for Kent's Cavern, said to date back to the ice ages. See www.kents-cavern.co.uk Also look for the Babbacombe Model Village – Hampton Avenue. See www.model-village.co.uk and Bygones on Fore Street, St Marychurch see www.bygones.co.uk

South of Torquay look for Dartmouth on the River Dart. Here you will find the Woodlands Theme Park (See www.woodlandspark.com ), steam trains and boat rides (See www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk , www.paddlesteamerkc.co.uk ). Also see www.riverdart.co.uk and outdoor adventure park.

Exeter is another city about 20 miles north from Torquay on the River Exe estuary. Here you will find Exeter Cathedral, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, a Roman wall, great walks and at Quayside lots of activities. Also look for Exeter Underground Passages that date back to the 14th century bringing water to the old city, and take a cruise on the river, along the coastline or on Exeter Canal – see www.exetercruises.co.uk or www.stuartlinecruises.co.uk Also see a Deer Park and castle – see www.powderham.co.uk not far from Exeter.

There are many small villages scattered along the coastline here, as well as some bigger towns such as Plymouth, Launceston and others. Dartmoor National Park is also in Devon. This park covers an area of 954 square miles and has 450 miles of walkways. You can also ride bikes here too, or ride horses See www.ridedartmoor.co.uk Geocaching is also permitted – a new global 'hide and seek' game activity that involves people using GPS co-ordinates to track down small hidden items and notes left by the previous geo-cacher around the world. See www.geocaching.com

Dartmoor is also known for Dartmoor Prison and also Dartmoor Ponies. Also look for the small village of Buckland-in-the-moor, on the River Dart, about 3 miles north-west of Ashburton. Here you will see some really nice Thatched roof houses.

The highest waterfall in England is located south of Exeter just inside the Dartmoor National Park in the Chudleigh/Teirn Valley – see www.canonteignfalls.co.uk

Plymouth is famous as the city where Sir Francis Drake played bowls here, before setting sail to take on the Spanish Armada. Also Plymouth is the port where Captain James Cook set sail from in his voyages to the New World. Other famous voyages from Plymouth include Charles Darwin, Scott of the Antarctic, Sir Francis Chichester and the Plymouth Fathers who set sail to establish the American colony.

Plymouth has been the home of the Royal Navy since the 17th Century, so has a rich history, making it a good place to stay and get a feel for this port city. Look for the Royal William Naval Yard, Barbican for shopping, Plymouth Gin Distillery, the National Marine Aquarium (See www.national.aquarium.co.uk ), and Smeaton's Tower to get a view over the city.

The north-west coast of Devon also has numbers of small fishing villages along its coastline too and great scenery, both to the south and north of the River Torridge Estuary. Just two of the villages on the south side are Clovelly and Westward Ho and just a few miles from Clovelly you will come to Hartford Village and a little further on Hartford Quay. This is truly beautiful countryside, with the South West Coastal Walk and a 12th Century Abbey called Hartford Abbey here. It is a beautiful property with gardens, peacocks, some donkeys, and Welsh Mountain Sheep here too. See www.hartfordabbey.com You will love this part of England.

Equally beautiful are the many villages along the coast north of the Torridge River. A small road (SWCP) will lead you along the coastline past these villages to the bigger town of Ilfracombe (see www.watermouthcastle.com )or you could take a bigger faster road the A361 or A39 which leads directly to the small village of Lynton near Exmoor National Park. They call this part of Devon "England's Little Switzerland" for good reason, and at Lynton there is a Victorian Water Powered Rail car (dates back to 1890) that runs straight down the steep Cliffside to the Village of Lynmouth right next to the water. See www.cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk If you can stay here or at one of the other villages along the coastline, you are bound to have a great time.

The City of Bath –

Bath in Somerset in the West Country is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage city, the only city to have this status in the UK. The city itself has a history dating back to pre-Roman times, with the Romans coming here in 44AD where they found the hot mineral water springs and established what they called 'Aquae Sulis' – the waters of Sulis, named after Sulis, the Celtic Goddess. The mineral salts in the spring water that formed the pools were said to have medicinal qualities, and the mineral waters in the baths have been used down through the ages, and continue to be used today.

The Spa Baths have attracted everyone from Royalty, to noblemen, doctors and commoners who have journeyed here to both enjoy the hot mineral water bath experience, and in many situations hope to ease or cure their ailments and help in their rehabilitation. One of the hospitals in Bath was even named the 'Royal Mineral Water Hospital' but is now called 'The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic diseases'.

The Roman Baths in Bath still exist, and you should try and experience the Pump House and a Spa bath while you are here. Also look to see the Bath Abbey that dates back to 1499, see the Royal Crescent and The Circus Georgian buildings, Upper Assembly buildings and Duke Street and also the Pulteney Bridge that crosses over the Avon River. This bridge built in 1771 has three arches in stone, and on top you will see stone buildings on the bridge itself, which contain small shops.

Outside of Bath, there are many other small villages – such as Claverton, Nunney, Combe Hay, Frome, Norton St Philip, Wansdyke and others.

Land's End and Cornwall -

Land's End is the most western point of England at the end of Penwith Peninsula, with the Longships Lighthouse just off-shore on a rocky outcrop about 1 ½ miles off the coast and further out the Isles of Scilly. People come here so that they can claim to have been to the furthest western point of England, but also to experience the winds and waters of the Atlantic as they stretch out from the lookout on the Cliffside. Also about 4 miles away on the southern coast side, look for the Minack Open Air Theatre in Porthcurno. The theatre is like an amphitheatre carved from the granite rocks overlooking the Atlantic, so even if there is no play happening while you are here, the location and scenery are equally spectacular.

The closest big town to Land's End is Penzance and if this is the same Penzance made famous by the Gilbert and Sullivan 'Pirates of the Penzance' Opera that relates to the days when pirates and smugglers were prominent hiding the coves and bays and pirating off the Cornish coast. Penzance overlooks St Michael's Mount and its castle and the area is said to have the most-mild climate in all of the UK. There are even Palm trees that can be seen here. The main attraction of this part of Cornwall is the rugged coastline and scenery, as well as the small villages that you come across with cute names like 'Mousehole' and 'Saltash'. Other villages include St Ives, St Just and there are the 2000 year old ruins of a Village called Chysauster that dates back to the Iron Age.

Don't forget to try a Cornish Pasty while you are here in Cornwall. See www.cornishpastyassociation.co.uk for recipes and lots of information.

Cornwall was once a centre for tin mining with over 300 tin mines operating here at one time, but there were also many other industries here too, including fishing, slate quarries and mining the clays to be used in fine china. See www.wheal-martyn.com a fascinating place to see and learn about the mines that worked here. There are many other museums in Cornwall and the best place to see a list of them is www.museumsincornwall.com

There are also historic castles such as Pendennis Castle, built as a Fortress in 1539 and located on Castle Drive in Falmouth, Restormel Castle ruins and mansion houses like and Cotehele near Calstock. See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

Falmouth itself is a popular holiday Port and harbour city with good beaches, restaurants and other facilities and all along the coastline here there are small villages and good places to walk and just drive to see the coastline, farms, fishing boats, hills, moors and river valleys around here.

THATCHING - One of the special things you see when travelling in England are the thatched roof cottages. The thatched roofs almost look like icing or frosting on a cake, cascading down from the roofline of cottages, sometimes curving around dormer and other windows. Thatch is sourced from natural reeds, wheat reed or straw and sometimes Rye Grass, barley or oat straw and even sometimes heather. They look for the longest stems, so most of the thatch needs to be hand cut to get the longest stems. The roofs are said to last as long as 50 years, and the Thatcher's work is highly skilled laying down bundles of thatch to create a thick thatch blanket around 12 inches or 30 centimetres in thickness. Special tools are used in the process and the results look magnificent. Bear in mind that while the Thatched roof cottages look really cute and homely, inside some, but not all, they can have very low ceilings – so if you are tall, you will constantly bump or keep bending your head as you walk around.

The Cotswolds – The Cotswold Hills are where the Thames River starts its journey to London and the coast and here there is even a small statue of 'Father Times' resting at Thames Head, just 3 miles south of Cirencester. The Cotswold Hills were the centre of the wool industry in days gone by, and they cover a large area and several counties with their rolling hills, river valleys, towns and small villages with the stone cottages and thatched roofs. Probably the easiest and best way to enjoy your time here is to base yourself in either Cheltenham in the northern Cotswolds or in the Middle Cotswolds at Cirencester and then head out from these towns to explore the areas around them.

Cheltenham is a Regency Spa town where the Pittville Pump Room in Pittville Park is located. The city has beautiful architecture in the town centre around the Promenade and Town Squares, where the Town Hall and Neptune's Fountain are located, and down around the historic dock area there are Museums, including the Gloucester Waterways Museum, and old warehouses that are now fashionable places to enjoy. Gloucester Cathedral is also in the centre of town dating back to 1216. This Cathedral was also more recently used in the Harry Potter Movies and given the name of 'Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There are a number of small villages just outside of Cheltenham, including Chipping Campden, Broadway, Stanton, Snowshill, Bourton-on-the-water and others where you will find great pubs, old world cottages and the very essence of English Country life. Broadway is particularly attractive. Also look for Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate in Aldsworth ; nearby Stanway House in Stanway, near Stanton and Broadway and Woodchester Mansion near the small village of Nympsfield, 15 miles south of Gloucester.

Cirencester was once the Roman Capital of the Cotswolds, and is a great place to just walk, ride horses or cycle. Here in Cirencester you will find the remnants of old Roman roads and even an Amphitheatre located on Querns Hill. The Corinium Museum on Park Street has many Roman antiquities that have been discovered in the Cotswolds area. Cirencester Park covers an area of around 3000 acres of parkland with a 5 mile long avenue of Chestnuts.

Just outside Cheltenham at Yanworth is the Chedworth Roman Villa, where excavations in 1864 unearthed this Villa with its walls, 2 bathhouses, hypocaust, water –shrine and even a toilet! Also for a grand Manor House to see – look for Rodmarton Manor – See www.rodmarton-manor.co.uk

Small villages around Cirencester include Lechlade, Tetbury, Sapperton, Bisley and Northleach.

A SMALL SIDE NOTE - When you think of the number of Castles, Cathedrals, Churches and manor houses in England, you get the impression that there have been times of great wealth and there certainly were, but also consider that Taxes on the people were often paid to the Abbey, Church, King and Queen, and the Kings, Queens, Lords, Monks, Bishops and Cardinals also accumulated even more wealth though their own enterprises, farms and properties over centuries. There are roughly 800 castles in England of which about 300 are still mostly intact, or indeed still being used. There are even more Manor Houses and mansions built for the landed gentry.

York – is in Yorkshire in the north of England on the River Ouse and the old part of the City is a 'walled city' with four main gateway entrances (Bars) to it, the Walmgate Bar, Micklegate Bar, Monk Bar and Bootham Bar, and two smaller Bars, the Fishergate Bar and the Victoria Bar. The bars were built like castle gateways, with small turrets in a tower above them, and slit cross openings, just enough to directionally fire an arrow from a cross-bow to an enemy below.

The construction of the York City Walls (also called the Roman Walls or Bar Walls) around the old part of the today's city go back to 71 AD when the Romans built a fort here and although much of the walls have been built since, there are still parts of the wall that can be traced back to Roman days, including the ten sided Multangular Tower in the gardens of the Museum. The City was also occupied by Danish Vikings and Normans, and one of the delights of the York is walking beside the walls, in the small laneways and through the squares in the old city. Make sure you walk along a small road called "The Shambles". Also look to see York Minster ( Cathedral, with magnificent stained glass windows), Clifford's Tower – built by William the Conqueror, the Jorvik Viking Centre, Railway Museum, Castle Museum – where there is a re-created cobblestone Victorian Street, Yorkshire Museum, Micklegate Bar Museum, York Dungeon. Also enjoy a 'chocolate fix' and head to York's Chocolate Story at 3-4 King's Square.

York was once the home of two famous chocolate companies, Terry's of York and Rowntree. Terry's made chocolate assortments, Easter eggs and its most famous product was Terry's Chocolate Orange, while Rowntree made its famous Rowntree Kit-Kat wafer fingers. Neither company exists anymore, but their brands, Terry's Chocolate Orange and Kit-Kat still continue to sell, but neither brand are produced in York. Kit-Kit is now a Nestle brand, and Terry's Chocolate Orange is owned by the US Company, Mondelez (Kraft Foods).

York and the area around it – the Moors and Dales with its rolling hills, river valleys and farmland, made famous by the books of Country Vet and author, James Herriot and TV Shows "All creatures great and small" are a great place to just drive and see the countryside. Also a MUST SEE destination is Castle Howard – a castle dating back to 1699, just 15 miles North-East of York – see www.castlehoward.co.uk This castle has a stunning interior and grounds and definitely worth visiting. It was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, who also designed Blenheim Castle.

Hadrian's Wall -

Stone walls have been built and used as fencing for thousands of years, but also as a means of protection to keep people (or animals) on one side of a wall away from those on the other side. The 13,170 mile long Great Wall of China is probably the best example of this, with some sections dating back to 700BC. In recent times, the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and then dismantled in 1989, but back in the days of the Romans, they built Hadrian's Wall from the west coast of England to the east coast, a distance of around 73 miles (80 Roman Miles) and built around 122 AD.

It is named 'Vallum Aelii' by the Romans but is known today 'Hadrian's Wall' in honour of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian who was charged with building the wall. The Wall was designed to stop Barbarian tribes from the north in Scotland heading south into Roman Britannia.
Today the wall, forts and what is left of them has World Heritage status, and you can walk and follow the course of the Wall on the 84 mile long National Trail, or drive to different significant parts of the wall to see it or villages that are close to it.

Hadrian's Wall stretches from Segedunum Fort in Wallsend (Walls End) on the east coast next to the River Tyne, west to beautiful Bowness-on-Solway on the western coast. Along the wall some 14 forts were built where Roman Soldiers were stationed, and close to these garrisons, small Roman villages developed too.

While you can certainly head to a number of points along the wall, to Wallsend and Bowness-on-Solway, there are also small villages near the wall that date back to Roman days. These include Corbridge (about 18 miles west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and another beautiful village called Hexham where there is Hexham Abbey (built in 674AD) is located and an old Gaol that dates back to 1333. Besides seeing Hadrian's Wall, the countryside itself and the two coastlines are in themselves worth seeing, and being just around 80 miles from coast to coast, it is not a huge distance.

Newcastle – upon-Tyne is a big old city here in the north of England and there are 7 bridges that cross over the Tyne here with Newcastle on one side and Gateshead on the other. The city was an industrial port city based originally on wool, then coal and shipbuilding, and it has all the services that you expect to see in a city – with Grey Street and Grainger Town being part of the historic centre of the city. Look for the Theatre Royal on Grey Street and also Tyne Theatre and Opera House, also in Gateshead see Saltwell Towers in Saltwell Park. Newcastle Brown Ale comes from here too, and people refer to themselves as 'Geordies' – and are very proud of their 'Geordie accent'. The Millenium Bridge and walkways next to the Tyne and Northumberland Street, where a lot of restaurants are located are good places to see. The city also has a Metro service too, with two Universities located in Newcastle too.

The Lake District – is on the North West side of England, and is probably one of the prettiest parts of the country with its lakes, green valleys, woods, mountains, hills and small lakeside villages with their small cottages making for great photos and atmosphere, weather permitting. The best time to come here is in the spring and summer months, roughly from May to September leading on to autumn, with the Lake District being the wettest part of England. The area is very much a favourite holiday destination with many of the stone cottages with slate roofs rented out in the summer months.

The best way to see this area is to stay in one of the villages and take day drives to other parts or the District. There are many villages and small towns to stay in and just enjoy Village life. The Lake District is famous as being the home of the poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) who lived for a time in Grasmere and Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834)also lived here for a time too. The author Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) lived in Bowness-on-Windermere (See www.hop-skip-jump.com ) creating her characters, illustrating and writing her books here and both Windermere and Grasmere attract many tourists to stay and enjoy these villages and surrounding lakes and countryside. When she died she left her many properties here in the Lake District to the National Trust.

There are many Lake District villages – and if you search for accommodation options in Keswick, Grasmere, Windermere, Sawrey or any of these villages listed here, you are bound to have a great time. Lake District Villages include Borrowdale, Cockermouth (where Wordsworth was born), Buttermere, Ambleside, Chapel Stile, Rydal, Watermillock, Eskdale Green, Thirlmere, Lake Side and there are a number of others.

If you enjoy Mountain Climbing then head to the 'Great Gable' (Mountain) that rises to over 2500 feet and 'Scafell' close to Wasdale Head – the Village where British Rock Climbing is said to have started as a sport and activity. Even just walking, hiking, biking or just sitting around near a lake, or even in a pub or Tea Room, will no doubt be one of the highlights of a visit to England.

The whole of the Lake District is very picturesque, with small distances between villages and you will no doubt take lots of photos, so remember to charge your camera or smart phone. It will no doubt be used a lot!

BIG CITIES – outside of London –

On these pages we have written about many of the notable places to see in England – but we have only covered a fraction of the possible destinations you could head to.

Certainly seeing castles, cathedrals, museums, village houses and pubs are all very beautiful and this in many ways is what people want to see as 'Tourists', but there is also a limit on how many castles and cathedrals you want to visit –time wise and interest wise.

There are many big cities in England and all of these have their range of activities, shops, hotels, pubs, sports activities and things to see and do –

Most of the big cities developed as Industrial Cities, particularly in the Midlands and here we have set down some brief notes about just three of the bigger cities –

Birmingham – has a population of around 1.2 million people, and developed as a big steel and manufacturing city, making an amazing array of different products using metals. As heavy industry declined, so too did the city, but it is now being re-vitalised. There are a number of galleries and museums, including a Jewellery Museum – see www.jewelleryquarter.net , the Thinktank science museum – see www.birminghammuseums.org.uk , even a pen museum – see www.penroom.co.uk which gives you an indication of the diversity of business that was conducted here. There is also Cadbury World – see www.cadburyworld.co.uk . Birmingham is also host to many large events, conferences, exhibitions and trade shows- see www.thenec.co.uk, www.milleniumpoint.org.uk , www.theicc.co.uk and being a big city there are all the shopping, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and activities of a large city to enjoy.

Liverpool – has a population of just over half a million people, and a history dating back 800 years, but it is best known as the city where the Beatles was formed. Here in Liverpool, the airport is named as Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and in the city you will find the Caverns Club, where the group first played – see www.cavernclub.org at 10 Mathew Street and at Albert Dock see www.beatlesstory.com to hear and see lots of memorabilia about the group and John, Paul, George and Ringo. Liverpool is also well known for its two football clubs – Liverpool and Everton, and if you can see a match, you are bound to have a great experience hearing the crowd of 'Liverpudlians' really getting involved in every move on the field. Liverpool was and still is a great port city – and one of the best things to do is take a ferry ride – see www.merseyferries.co.uk past the docks and around the harbour, river and canals. Also see www.albertdock.com There are many classic buildings in the city including Liverpool Cathedral and also what are called the 'three Graces' at Pier Head – the Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building. There are also some great museums – see www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk - possibly the most interesting being the Maritime Museum, which includes a museum about the Slavery Trade. The city also has some great parklands with Victorian Parks too, and cycling is now also helping to add to the city and its transition from its early industrial past.

Manchester – is best known as the home city for Manchester United and Manchester City football teams, and having two Premier League teams in the one city says a lot about the passion of the city for Football and sport, with Old Trafford being one of the most famous sports grounds in the world. Here in Manchester, if you can see a match, you will see, hear and experience the voice and passion of the crowd, but make sure you are supporting the right team where you sit. See www.manutd.com , www.nationalfootballmuseum.com and www.mcfc.co.uk Also see www.nationalcyclingcentre.com – a Velodrome where cycling events are held.

Manchester has a history dating back to Roman days, but it was in the 14th Century that Flemish weavers created the start of Manchester becoming a centre for weaving and cloth making, which then became industrialised and led to Manchester becoming a Mill town and textile manufacturing centre. The 36 mile long Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, and although the City is inland from the coastline, this canal enabled Manchester to become a port city, exporting its textiles to the world and importing cotton and wool for its industry, with Industrialists and the city becoming wealthy in the process, though conditions for workers were harsh.

Some of the grand buildings from the Industrial Age can still be seen, but Manchester was also heavily bombed during the Second World War and today the city is being re-vitalised with new industry and activities. Manchester has an International Airport and many people land here to avoid London and visit Manchester and other towns and cities in the Midlands and North.

Some of the things to see include the Imperial War Museum – see www.iwm.org.uk, and www.stockport.gov.uk/airraidshelters - in Stockport, about 7 miles from the city centre. Here you can visit some of the 7 miles of tunnels that were built during the war and designed for over 6000 people to shelter in.

To get a feel for the city, take a cruise to see Bridgewater Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal – see www.citycentrecruises.co.uk and if you want to enjoy some fun, head to the Trafford Quays Leisure Village – where you will find Airkix (simulated parachuting), a football dome, gym, swimming pool and Chill Factore –indoor ski and snow boarding slopes – See www.chillfactore.com and www.peel.co.uk There are also museums, the Cathedral, a Franciscan Monastery (see www.the monastery.co.uk ), Art Galleries and theatres, one of these being a Gallery and Theatre complex called the Lowry – see www.thelowry.com A big shopping centre in the city centre is Manchester Arndale where you will find lots of fashion shops and other shops.


Also see the sections of this website – on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – all part of Britain.

Happy travelling

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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