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Exploring England

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London, England’s capital, contains some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks. A ride aboard a traditional open-topped double-decker bus or on ‘The Tube’, London’s Underground rail system, will allow you to access even the most far-flung.

The best way to get an introductory overview of the city is on the London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilever wheel alongside the River Thames which offers views of all of the capital’s most famous buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square. London is famed for its museums and both the Science Museum and Natural History Museum can be found in South Kensington while waxworks museum Madame Tussauds is located on Baker Street, home to mythical detective Sherlock Holmes.

Exploring England

For shoppers, London boasts some of the world’s most famous department stores including Harrods in Knightsbridge and Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly. Giant toy shop Hamleys is on Regent Street. The West End also hosts countless restaurants, cafes and bars servicing almost 30 top-class theatres.

Also within easy reach by cab is Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle, while the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t try to drive a hire car through Central London, however, as you’ll be subject to the city’s congestion charge.

Oxford, Matthew Arnold’s ‘city of dreaming spires’, is home to the many colleges that make up one of the world’s oldest universities and is within easy reach of London by road or rail while there are several bus companies that offer day trips to the prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge.

History and culture is very much to the fore at Stratford Upon Avon. Birthplace and home of William Shakespeare, Stratford boasts timber-fronted tea shops and riverside walks as well as three theatres at which you can pay homage to the Great Bard’s works.

Heading into the south west, the Cheddar Caves can be found in Britain’s largest gorge and there are plenty of opportunities to sample one of the UK’s most well known cheeses and from there it’s only a short drive to Bath. The Roman Baths that date back more than 2000 years are still in use to this day and one of several attractions that form part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Glastonbury is home to the world’s oldest Christian church above ground and reputed to be the final resting place of the legendary King Arthur. The town also has links to Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail.

Devon has been a popular tourist destination in England since the advent of the railways and there are few more relaxing ways of spending a day than at Rosemoor Garden near Torrington. The vast gardens are managed by the RHS, who are also responsible for the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show.

The beaches at Maidencombe and Babbacombe near Torquay have led the area to be dubbed ‘The English Riviera’ and are perfect for sun-bathers while Devon’s sister county Cornwall has enough attractions to make the long car journey worthwhile.

The Eden Project at St Austell has a huge collection of tropical plants housed in two eco domes, you can explore ancient tin mines at Trenear and Geevor, while spectacular St Michael’s Mount and the open-air theatre at Minack perpetuate the theme of mysticism encapsulated by the ruins of Tintagel Castle, birthplace of the Arthurian legend.

Cornwall is also renowned for its surfing beaches with Newquay the UK’s surfing capital and venue for several international competitions nowadays.

From the far south west to the north west of England, where the Lake District National Park offers arguably the most beautiful and spectacular scenery in England. More than two million copies of Alfred Wainwright’s ‘Wainwrights Walks’, a pictorial diary of one man’s lifelong love affair with the Lake District, have been sold worldwide and it is the perfect accompaniment for a tour of the area. Bowness and Windermere attract most tourists but the town of Keswick, on the shores of Derwentwater and in the shadow of Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Scafell, is a more accurate representation of the area.

On the opposite east coast, below the Roman-built Hadrian’s Wall, lies the rugged coast of Northumberland where you’ll find Lindisfarne, a 16th century castle that’s cut off from the mainland at high tide. Newcastle Upon Tyne, the region’s largest city, is easily reached by road, rail and air and has a vibrant nightlife.

Yorkshire is England’s largest county and has a wide variety of attractions. Fishing ports and sandy beaches can be found at Scarborough, Bridlington and Whitby. The latter’s ruined Abbey forever linked with Bram Stoker’s Dracula while ‘The Deep,’ a giant aquarium, is a popular tourist destination in Hull. Inland, York is a former Viking settlement and Roman garrison surrounded by medieval city walls.

Inside, the Jorvik Centre is an interactive museum where you are taken back through the city’s history. The Yorkshire Dales boasts rivers, castles, market towns and acres of unspoiled countryside while the Pennines rise into the Peak District National Park – cavers and climbers will enjoy its rugged beauty. On the opposite side of the Pennines, the cities of Manchester and Liverpool dominate the skyline. Blackpool, which describes itself as the fun capital of the UK, is further up the coast.

Along with Birmingham, England’s second city, Stoke was forged out of the Industrial Revolution and is where you can discover how Josiah Wedgwood began his pottery empire but the north and midlands isn’t all about industry. Chester, on the border with Wales, is another walled medieval city, and Warwick’s castle is the equal of any in England – it even has its own ghosts.


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