The last of our travel to Great Britain series takes us to England.
England is the biggest country in Great Britain and offers some of the most famous sites in the world. London is the capital of England and of the whole of the United Kingdom. The highest mountain in England is Scafell Pike in the Cumbrian Mountains with 978m. The longest and most famous river in the country is the river Thames. England is in a moderate climate zone and has, due to the influence of the gulf stream, a damp but also warmer climate than the countries that lie on the same latitude. The motorway and dual carriageway network are extensive as is the public transport network with train and bus. The biggest airport is London Heathrow, but for flights into London there is also Gatwick, Stansted or City airport. For northern England Manchester Airport is practical and for the Southwest Bristol Airport is ideal.
The North of England was the heart of the industrial revolution, but outside the cities there are fantastic landscapes like the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District National park and the Peak District. The famous northern cities are Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and York. Liverpool is one of the most important ports in Great Britain and today mostly known for the football and music scene. The old docks today are restored and an attractive area with bars, restaurants and museums like the Tate Liverpool. Manchester is also famous for its football club and music scene. There are lots of independent shops, cafes and bars in the Northern Quarter. Manchester can be reached from London in a bit over 2 hours by train and the airport is served by international airlines. Newcastle upon Tyne is the biggest city in north-eastern England and only 1.5 hours away from the Scottish border. There are many art galleries, cafes, pubs and 7 bridges. The concert hall has a spectacular design, it is based on the shape of the auricle (the visible bit of the ear). York offers a lot to the historically interested visitor. There are many narrow lanes with medieval half-timbered houses. The minster of York sits above the city, it is the largest medieval church in England. Traces of the roman period can be found, the city walls were constructed during the roman empire and are the best preserved in England. During the Viking era York was called Jorvik and was the capital of the kingdom of the Vikings. Today you can visit the Jorvik Viking Centre. The Yorkshire Dales have been a national park since 1954. One of the most famous valleys in the park is Wensleydale, where a cheese of the same name is produced. The Lake District National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site since 2017. There are more than a dozen lakes including the deepest lake in Great Britain. Boat trips are available on Coniston Water and the possibilities for hiking and cycling are endless. The Peak District National Park is easily reachable from Manchester. There are many traces of the old industries, canals and old mines. The textile mills were mainly built during the 18th century and belong to UNESCO world cultural heritage. There are also many stately homes and castles, probably the most famous one is Chatsworth House. The garden and house are worth a visit. The Peak District is also interesting for railway enthusiasts, the biggest British tramway museum has been built in a former quarry.
Central England spreads from the hills of Shropshire, the border to Wales in the west to Norfolk on the east coast. The university cities of Oxford and Cambridge and the very typical English landscape of the Cotswolds are very popular tourist destinations. Many buildings or even whole villages in the Cotswolds are built with the characteristic yellow sandstone. This includes the village Castle Combe which came to international fame through the TV series Downton Abbey. In the centre of Cambridge is the university, which is separated in different colleges, the most famous ones are Kings College and Trinity College. Take the opportunity of a boat tour on the river Cam in a traditional punt. Oxford is the other famous university city, the spires of the colleges offer a dramatic cityscape. The Bodleian Library was a suitable filmset for the library of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
The English Riviera
The Southwest of England with the counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall is also a popular holiday destination for the British. Bristol and Bath are interesting cities in the Southwest. The river Avon runs through Bristol and the spectacular Clifton suspension bridge is 75m high over the river. The Bristol hot air balloon festival is held mid-August every year. Bath can be reached from London by train in 1.5 hours. The hot springs at the banks of the river Avon had been used as thermal baths during roman times and but are a museum today. The Royal Crescent is an unusual street with 30 houses in a semicircle. It is an outstanding example of Georgian architecture. The Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges worldwide which has shops on both sides over the whole length of the bridge. The county of Dorset is on the coast of the English Channel, the landscape is shaped by chalk cliffs. The Jurassic Coast is famous for its fossils. Devon is shaped by coast and moor landscapes. Due to the mild climate on the south coast this area is also known as “English Riviera”. Dartmoor and Exmoor are two very popular national parks. The capital of Devon is Exeter, a university city with a beautiful cathedral. The airports at Exeter and Bristol and the good train connections from London, make Devon easily accessible. Cornwall is characterised by the warmth of the gulf stream and has by English standards an unusually mild but also rainy climate. There are long sandy beaches with palm trees and crystal-clear water. The most westerly point in England is Lands’ End and the most southerly point at Lizard Point, both in Cornwall. The South West Coast Path is perfect for hiking and exploring the coast. Don’t miss Tintagel Castle, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur, and St Michaels Mount, which can be reached at low tide by a causeway. There are many beautiful gardens with subtropical plants and the Eden Project shows the visitor how an environmentally friendly tourist attraction can arise from a disused clay pit. St Ives on the north coast offers beautiful beaches and many art galleries. Newquay is a paradise for surfers. Newquay airport offers flights to and from London, the train journey is about 5 hours from London.
The South-East and London
The counties in Southeast England of Oxfordshire, Surrey, East Sussex and Kent are also known as the garden of England. The gardening culture and art is firmly anchored in the history of Great Britain and the classical English garden is a model for the whole world. The gardens of Sissinghurst Castle have been accessible to the public since 1938. If you are a fan of the TV series Downton Abbey, you shouldn’t miss a visit to Highclere Castle. The stately home in Hampshire was the focal point in the series and offers guided tours in the summer months. Brighton is a seaside resort with a pebble beach and a promenade and can be easily reached from London. Brighton Pier has entertainment for young and old. Windsor Castle is the favourite castle of Queen Elisabeth II. The oldest and biggest still lived in castle in the world is open to visitors all year round for a view of the stately rooms. The medieval cathedral city of Canterbury in the county of Kent is also worth a visit. The cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
London is Europe’s third biggest city with many museums, art galleries, royal parks and palaces, famous shopping streets and a thriving theatre and musical scene. Many museums and galleries are free, the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery and British Museum, to name a few, are world famous. Don’t miss “changing of the guards” in front of Buckingham Palace which happens daily from April until July, every other day in autumn and winter. A sightseeing tour on one of the famous red double-decker buses is a must, it is a hop on – hop off system and offers a good overview on what London has to offer.
If you are planning to travel to England or any part of Great Britain then visit www.compareholidaymoney.com.au for the best live exchange rates for British pounds.