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Brighton, Kent and Sussex … White cliffs, green countryside and fascinating historical heritage
Cotswolds … England’s playground of pretty villages, perfect pubs, and outdoor pursuits aplenty
Devon and Cornwall … Bays to take your breath away, wildly beautiful moorland, gardens, tiny villages and market towns
Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire … Prehistoric stone circles, a cake burning king and the mythical county of Wessex
Stratford, the West Midlands & Birmingham … Shakespeare country – Warwickshire and its beautiful neighbouring counties, reaching west to the Welsh border
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The county of Somerset is in the in the south west of England surrounded by Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire and bordered by the Bristol Channel. One of the highlights is the delightful city of Bath, an important city for the Romans. They named it Aquae Sulis or the ‘Waters of Sulis‘, building the splendid Public Baths here, using the natural hot water springs which are still in perfect order.
The whole city of Bath is a designated Unesco World Heritage Site and among its famous landmarks is the magnificent Royal Crescent – a sinuous terrace of Georgian houses built with the beautiful local stone. Other fine examples of Georgian architecture include The Circus and the Assembly Rooms in the town.
Author Jane Austen is synonymous with Bath and the Jane Austen Centre is key to any visit. Jane lived in Bath for a few years (from 1801 to 1806) using the area as the setting for Persuasion and Northanger and as a backdrop for other novels, letter and pieces of writing.The Jane Austen Festival in Bath is an annual event held in September – 2018 festival dates from 14 to 28 September.
Originally in the now defunct county of Avon, which included part of next door Gloucestershire and Bristol, Bath is in North East Somerset, which includes the village of Cheddar famous for its delicious cheese and the world famous Cheddar Gorge while the South part of the county is known for its country houses and the West part shares Exmoor with next door Devon.
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East Anglia, named after the Angles who settled here from Northern Germany and gave England its name, juts proudly out into the North Sea between London and the Wash. It’s three most northerly counties (Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk) attract the most visitors and, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t all low lying flat land.
Norfolk especially is quite undulating, especially in the north and west. However, it has to be admitted that Cambridgeshire and Suffolk are generally much less than 60 metres above sea level.
Seaside Resorts and the Norfolk Broads: There is plenty of seaside in Norfolk with its famed resorts of Cromer and Great Yarmouth. The latter offers access to the Norfolk Broads, the inland waterways which cover much of eastern Norfolk.
The two standout cities, Cambridge and Norwich, offer a wealth of architectural interest and plenty of shopping opportunities.
Suffolk’s main city is Ipswich but further inland, head to Bury St Edmunds and Thetford. And of course don’t miss Constable country in next door Essex.
Roman Past: England’s Roman past dominate Colchester in Essex, which was the capital of Roman Britain. Known as Camulodonum the town had three theatres and a chariot racing circus making it unique in this northern outpost of the Empire. With easy access to London, East Anglia is the perfect place to see what England is all about.
Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire form a neat triangle in the centre of the south of England between Sussex in the east and Devon in the west. While each county shares a border with the others, they are quite distinct.
Hampshire: This is the busiest of the three due partly to having two major ports, Southampton known for its nightlife and art galleries and Portsmouth famous for its naval connections, historical centre and shopping. Further inland is the extensive New Forest, designated by William the Conqueror as a Royal hunting reserve, now a National Park providing an extensive leisure facility and of course Winchester, the old capital of King Alfred the Great.
Wiltshire and Stonehenge: Wiltshire is an absolute must for the history buff with the world famous prehistoric Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle not to mention Old Sarum and the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral all waiting to be enjoyed and marvelled over.
Dorset – Thomas Hardy Country: Dorset, whose rolling hills became Thomas Hardy’s Wessex for his famous novels ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, has a wonderful coastline with fabulous beaches which forms the background for the multi award winning Broadchurch TV series.
The magnificent English Lake District situated in Cumbria in the North West of England was so beloved of the Romantic poets that three of them upped sticks and came to live in the area. The so-called Lakeland Poets — Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and, most famous of all, William Wordsworth — found inspiration here and the latter discovered his ‘host of golden daffodils’.
A short drive from the large conurbations of Greater Manchester and Tyneside, the Lake District is a magnet for the modern tourist too. It can be very busy at holiday weekends.
Ten big lakes and numerous high mountains
Discover ten major lakes and numerous smaller ones surrounded by high hills and rugged mountains offering all the usual activities. Although sparsely populated the area attracts many tourists in season. The main town, Keswick on Lake Derwentwater, is an attraction for man. Don’t miss the pleasant town of Ambleside at the top of Lake Windermere.
During the weekend and off season are the quietest times to visit if you seek to avoid the crowds.
If you prefer more gentle walking the try the walks way marked routes around the tranquil lakes of Grasmere and
The Lake District’s most famous mountain Helvellyn, although not its highest at 950 metres (3117 ft), is a must for serious hillwalkers who reach the peak via the notorious Striding Edge. Slightly higher is Scafell Pike (978 metres) and Scafell (964 metres) That may not sound very high but don’t be fooled into thinking they are easy. Check out the information below.
Important Note: Serious hill walking should be done with great care. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Consult the weather forecast, always tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Newcastle upon Tyne, the main city of northeast England sits proudly on the north bank of the Tyne. A blend of the ancient with the contemporary, the City is surrounded by the stunning beauty of Northumberland and Durham. Newcastle is famous today for its shopping, its Universities, its soccer team and above all its spectacular bridges. Its citizens are known the world over as Geordies a reference to their support for King George II during the Jacobite Rebellion!
Moreover, some of the giants of the Industrial Revolution lived locally. George and Robert Stephenson, Charles Parsons, William Armstrong, Joseph Swan and John Walker the inventor of the friction match were all local men. Indeed the bridges across the Tyne are ample evidence of this. Furthermore they complement the modern architectural wonders of the Millenium Bridge and the Sage Music Centre.
The whole area, including much of Yorkshire, was known as Northumbria in Saxon times. In those days Northumbria was a powerful kingdom ruled from Bamburgh on the northeast coast and steeped in history. Furthermore, from Roman times, through the Norman conquest to the achievements of the modern era, the region has been crucial to national success.
Above all, the Norman era bequeathed the stunning UNESCO heritage site of Durham Cathedral and Castle. From here William the Conqueror’s Prince Bishop harried the area after the populace misbehaved. Moreover, Durham City is today a very popular tourist centre and the capital city of the eponymous county. Its famous river, the Wear, flows from Weardale in the west famously looping round round Durham’ Castle and Cathedral.
Later a battleground between Scots and English you can visit sites of skirmishes and battles such as Flodden.
No visit to England is complete without at least a few hours in, Oxford, the graceful ‘City of Spires’ that speaks of learning and tradition from its imposing university and city architecture to the hum of the student ‘vibe’ that fills the air. To appreciate this, take a University and City walking tour from the Visitor Information Centre, including a visit to one of the Oxford University Colleges and the Bodleian Divinity School.
Other places to see include the Ashmolean museum, hailed as the world’s oldest public museum. Climb the Carfax Tower for city views and to count all the medieval college and church spires that give Oxford its nickname. As you would expect, Oxford is also packed with shops, cafes, bars and restaurants so there’s plenty to see and do. Gin enthusiasts should take a tour of the Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) producing Oxford Botanic Garden – Physic Gin and other spirits. The luxury designer fashion outlet at Bicester Village is also in Oxfordshire (ten minutes from Oxford by train).
The county of Oxfordshire has beautiful farmland and wooded countryside with special places to visit including the splendidly Baroque Blenheim Palace and Henley-on-Thames, scenic home of the famous annual rowing event, the Henley Regatta. Burford is one of the signature towns of the Cotswolds, built down a hillside to the River Windrush. Apart from Blenheim, historic houses to visit in Oxfordshire include Arlington House, Broughton Castle, Buscot Park, Chastleton House, Greys Court, Kingston Bagpuize House, Mapledurham House and Sulgrave Manor.
Yorkshire contains some of England’s wildest and most beautiful scenery both on the coast and further inland in the dales (or valleys) and moors which make up much of this huge county. Located mostly in the North East of England but it has its own identity and dialect. No wonder many Yorkshire folk regard their county as God’s own country.
Yorkshire is so large that is has traditionally been divided into three parts or thirds known as ‘Ridings’. The North Riding, the West Riding and the East Riding. Nothing to do with horses I’m afraid!
There are several interesting large cities including Sheffield and Bradford, major centres of the Industrial Revolution. Many visitors head for the capital York itself, a stunning walled city with a Roman, Viking and Norman past. Moreover, it boasts an interesting ensemble of ancient streets, the Shambles and, for lovers of steam locomotives, the National Railway Museum.
Located in the Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales in Northern England lie mostly in the Yorkshire Dales National Park created in 1954.
From south to north the main ones are Airedale, Wharfdale, Nidderdale, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Teesdale with numerous small dales adjacent to them. No visit to Yorkshire is complete with an exploration of at least one of these!
Leeds, a major centre of the Industrial Revolution, lies on the south bank of the River Aire in the north of the county. On the south bank of the River, the Royal Armouries houses the national collection of arms and artillery. Just over the river, the redeveloped industrial area based around Call Lane is renowned for its bars located in railway arches and its music venues. Just north of here, Kirkgate Market is a haven of indoor and outdoor stalls.