Edgy and enchanting England
Edgy and enchanting England
Although it’s one of four countries in the United Kingdom, it’s fair to say England often feels like two. One is filled with enchanting tales of knights and chivalry, Muggles and teen wizards, Beatrix Potter and William Shakespeare. The other is edgier and known more for its industrial alt-punk scene, rowdy football matches and pub culture. When these two opposing worlds collide, it creates a wonderfully diverse country full of colorful characters, spectacular cities and an exceptionally rich history.
The southwestern tip of the country is known as the British Riviera for a reason. Rocky cliffs line miles of pristine coastline, lending itself to the mythical legends born here. Castle ruins and caves rumored to be the birthplace of King Arthur can be found in the Cornish town of Tintagel. Travel further back in time along a 95-mile stretch of unique rock formations making up the Jurassic Coast. Walking along the beach, you may come across small fossils dating back millions of years. Indulge in a delicious afternoon cream tea, a staple in this part of the country. A pot of tea is served with a fresh-baked scone, clotted cream and jam. Just remember in Cornwall, the jam goes on first and then the cream. In Devon, the opposite is true.
Famous for its football teams (Liverpool FC and Everton FC), Liverpool is an industrious and proud city. Perched along an estuary on the west coast, Liverpool made a name for itself as a major trading port. Imports and exports of goods such as coal and cotton, as well as shipbuilding became synonymous with Liverpool. With an influx of immigrants during the 1800s, a vibrant cultural community prevailed. In 1960, four young Liverpudlians (or “Scousers,” if you’re local) formed The Beatles, a rock band that changed the course of music forever. Walk along the Royal Albert Docks or the famed Penny Lane. Pop into a pub and try the local scouse, a hearty meat stew served with crusty bread.
North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales
Spanning the central part of the country, two national parks have inspired some of the world’s literary greats. On the east side is North York Moors. The vast rolling hills speckled with the pink-purple hues of heather are filled with panoramas and dramatic ocean cliffs. Legends of plundering pirates live on in the fishing hamlets by the sea. The impressive and foreboding ruins of Whitby Abbey are said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
To the west is Yorkshire Dales. With topography similar to North York Moors, the vast undulating countryside was home to the Brontë sisters; the seemingly desolate wilderness served as backdrops to stories such as “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights.” However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Hiking trails wind their way through the grassland giving way to streams and waterfalls.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Near the edge of the Scottish border is Newcastle upon Tyne. Once a massive shipping and manufacturing port, it’s transformed itself into a hub for science, technology and the arts. Hailing from Newcastle are 1960s rock group The Animals and 80s icons The Police. Steeped in history, Roman ruins and crumbling forts can be found throughout the area, including Hadrian’s Wall, which spans 73 miles east to west across northern England. Storied football club Newcastle United have a fiercely loyal fanbase. Be sure to enjoy a pint of the famous brown ale named after the city.
Looking to taking a leisurely stroll through the quintessential English countryside? Head for the Cotswolds. This area of natural beauty features lush meadows, hidden castles and manors, thatched-roofed cottages and half-timbered buildings. During the summer, vibrant flowers bloom and market festivals are plentiful, making it a perfect setting for a picnic or hike. The dreamy and relaxing landscape was home to novelist Jane Austen, who loved the area so much it was prominently featured in many of her books.
Mixing a hodgepodge of global business headquarters, financial centers, government, world-renowned art and theater with bustling markets and an eclectic underground vibe, London is the beating heart of England. Tourist spots such as Big Ben (when it’s not under scaffolding), Parliament, the London Eye and Tower Bridge are always must-visit attractions. Pop into one of the world-class (FREE) museums and make a booking for a Michelin-starred restaurant. Wander through the gritty shops of Camden and sample your way through the pop-up eateries of Borough Market. Listen to the up-and-coming punk bands or catch a Shakespearean play at the restored Globe Theatre.
England is a vivacious melting pot full of charm and history. Take your time and enjoy all it has to offer.
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