Skip past the photos to the England tips, reasons to go and highlights here.
England – Should You Go?
Yes, of course you should go. I would say that though, as England is where I am from. My own bias aside, the country has a lot to offer for the traveller. You have the enormous cultural experience of London; history – from the Celts, Romans, Vikings, Angles, Saxons and Normans through medieval times; and amazing scenery with beautiful countryside.
Must see places and sights
You could stay weeks in the capital, and still only scratch the surface. As well as the famous tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Piccadilly; check out Camden market on a weekend for an interesting slice of London life. St Pancras station is worth a look. The main London museums are great, as is a boat trip along the Thames, Kew Gardens and The Tate Gallery. Escape the hustle and bustle in one of the many parks – St James’ is great but try Hampstead Heath – further out but much better.
The Lake District
Not on everyone’s list, but my own favourite place in England. Tucked away in Cumbria in the northwest, this area of lakes and mountains is gorgeous. It’s a walker’s paradise, and if you’re not a hiker, Lake Windemere offers sailing and a variety of other water sports & activities. Be prepared for super-changeable weather and be ready to get up a mountain on a good day. Blencathra, Cat Bells and Haystacks are fantastic walks. The highest peak in England, Scafell Pike is here too. If you are up for serious walking then you’ll need decent shoes, wet-weather gear (just in case) and a packed lunch. There is an excellent stone circle at Castlerigg – unlike Stonehenge you can get right up to the stones. The Lakes were featured in a BBC series called The Wainwright Walks – after fell walker Alfred Wainwright – well worth a watch!
Iconic stone circle set in Salisbury Plain in the west. They have a fascinating history going back several millennia to the age of the druids. You can’t get up close to the stones anymore, probably a good thing. It is still used today by practising druids for various ceremonies and rituals. The site is busy, so arrive early if possible for a good gawp and without too many other visitors getting in your photos. I found myself wondering about the people who dragged the stones across the country from Wales, and what the druids were thinking when they designed the site.
Not quite in Scotland, the wall was built to control trade and the movement of people between north and south. The Romans taxed the comings and goings of the traders and merchants – clever them. The remains of the fort at Housesteads provides an excellent insight into Roman life at the time. You can even stroll along the top of the wall. I imagined how the Roman soldiers felt – being posted all that way from home to the cold wet northern frontier.
Also see and do
Get to know your stalactites from your stalagmites in the incredible caves in The Mendip Hills, Somerset. The drive through the gorge itself is great.
A trip up to the tor is worth it on a nice day and the town itself is charming in a new age type of way. Many people go for the famous music festival, if you visit when it’s on be prepared for thousands of people.
Canterbury & Kent
The county of Kent is known as the “Garden of England” and it’s beautiful. Orchards, hop fields, little villages and superb pubs. The North Downs are worth a visit – these hills are designated an area of “outstanding natural beauty.” For a spot of history visit Leeds Castle.
- The weather is very changeable. Even in summer it can “totally piss it down” as we like to say.
- Drive on the left, as is proper.
- Prices in London can be horrific. If on a budget, stay in the suburbs and catch the Tube into the city, or get a bus/train.