Throughout its long history, it’s been a green and pleasant land, a sceptred isle and a nation of shopkeepers. It’s stood as a beacon of democracy and a bastion of ideological freedom, as well as a crucible of empire and a cradle of class oppression. Magna Carta, the King James Bible and the welfare state were all dreamt up here, but then again so were beer bellies, Bovril and Mr Bean. To many it’s the most eccentric, extraordinary and downright incomprehensible place on earth. Welcome to England.
For visitors, the beauty of travel in England is the compact nature of the country. By spending less time going between places and more time in them, you can immerse yourself in the scenery, instead of just breezing through. Whether you’re strolling the undulating hills of Oxfordshire, cycling in Norfolk, surfing off Newquay or rock-climbing in the Peak District, England is perfect for activity and adventure. And with time on your side, you’ll get closer to understanding local sensibilities: relaxing with the locals in a country pub, enjoying a music festival or watching a cricket match.
As an old Scots saying has it, ‘guid gear comes in sma’ bouk’ (good things come in small packages). And despite its small size, Scotland certainly has many treasures crammed into its compact territory. There is wild mountain scenery of the Highlands & Northern Islands and cold, sparkling seas washing against the Outer Hebrides. Wildlife watchers will find otters, eagles, whales and dolphins, while hill walkers have almost 300 Munros to bag. There’s turbulent history and fascinating genealogy, castles and country pubs, canoeing and caber-tossing, golfing and fishing and all-round good craic (lively conversation).
Although an integral part of Great Britain since 1707, Scotland has maintained a separate and distinct identity throughout the last 300 years. The return of a devolved Scottish parliament to Edinburgh in 1999 marked a growing confidence and sense of pride in the nation’s achievements.
The Welsh spirit is the country’s defining feature. Indeed, for its entire history Wales has struggled against waves of invaders who have sought to subjugate its people; but, as the invaders found out, it’s a country that just won’t lie down. Today the spirit of Wales is stronger than ever. Welsh arts, film and, above all, rock music have taken the world stage by storm and killed off the hackneyed old stereotypes of desolate pit villages, lovespoons and teashops.
Wales remains a superb outdoors location: grab your hiking boots or a mountain bike and head to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park with its stunning scenery and coastal trail, or lose yourself in the pounding surf, sweeping beaches and limestone cliffs of the Gower Peninsula. You can tour villages with tongue-twisting names before settling down in a cosy pub with a pint of local ale in Brecon Beacons, or join the adrenaline junkies in a quest for the ultimate adventure in Llandudno – Welsh style.
Wales is a place that becomes an obsession, beckoning back its visitors year after year with its friendly locals, fine food, remarkable landscapes, white-knuckle adventures and admirably green credentials.
Thank you to the Lonely Planet for the information above.
The UK is charming, dewy and full of little suprises, there is much to see and do. For useful information and further ideas about what sights & sites should be on your itinerary take a look at these links:
England by the Lonely Planet
Scotland by the Lonely Planet
Wales by the Lonely Planet
England by Lucy James
Europe by Lucy James