Continuing on our journey through Essential UK, we work our way further North, to look at Northern England, Northern Wales, Northern Ireland and of course Scotland.
The Lake District, Cumbria – Located in the north of England, sandwiched in between the cities of Lancaster and Carlisle lies the awe-inspiring Lake District National Park. Home to some of the most wondrous scenery anywhere in the world, the Lake District never disappoints. It includes a number of beautiful ribbon lakes, rugged fells and deserted pastures, the whole area is simply picture perfect. You can easily get lost for days wandering the magnificent trails in the wilderness. Although popular with tourists, it is still easy to find isolation, tranquility and silence. The stunning towns of Ambleside, Windermere, Grasmere, Glenridding and Coniston are amongst our favourites in the whole of the UK.
Snowdonia, North Wales – A few hours west of Liverpool is the incredible wilderness region of Snowdonia, home to some of Wales most iconic scenery. The national park houses a huge range of outdoor activities, from the mountain railway to the stunning lakes and gorges that litter this marvel. At the top of Wales’s highest peak, you can see for miles, even on occasion across the sea to Ireland – an experience to be savoured.
York, Yorkshire – The city of York is a big draw in England’s north-east. It is very well-known for its history, firstly established by the ancient Romans in 71AD and has been central to a number of British historical events. These include the Viking Invasions, Norman incursions and even Scottish rebellions. The city itself is encased by a wall and its gothic style cathedral (York Minster) is a marvel that dominated the skyline for miles around. The river Ouse flows through the city and some of the city parks adding an element of natural beauty of the already sublime city.
Edinburgh, Scotland – Edinburgh shines brightly as one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. It’s castle, home to the stone of destiny looms atop of a cliff face and dominates the skyline. The old town is an array of medieval architecture, while the new town holds a Georgian flavour, both as inspirational as anywhere in the world. The streets are littered with restaurants, bars and eateries with a number of festivals occurring throughout the year. One of my fondest memories is partying with the Scots after a football match win, and walking the quiet streets at 5am still feeling inspired by the city’s beauty. Edinburgh has a unique way of drawing you in and inspiring you.
Loch Ness, Scotland – The Scottish highlands house a plethora of inspiration and beauty. Many people harp on about the beauty of New Zealand, yet don’t realise that Scotland holds a number of scenes that easily compete. Loch Ness is one of the largest, deepest freshwater lakes in the UK spanning 23 miles. The infamy of Loch Ness comes from the mythology of the monster that inhabits the lake, however even without such stories the Loch is a stunning example of nature’s grace and beauty. Its simply nature’s playground.
photo credit: Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com) Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom – travel photography via photopin (license)
Isle of Skye, Scotland – Scotland has many islands on its west coast, but one of the most famous is that of Skye. Renowned for its rugged beauty, slow-paced life and again natural wonder. The Isle includes a number of historic castles and some incredible quaint natural fishing villages. It’s a true wonder not to be missed by any traveller.
Ripon, Yorkshire – This small town based in the North of England is not very well-known in the traveling circuit, however is well worth a visit. Housing a rich culture dating back to the 7th century, the town still houses a beautiful market and a tradition of the Wakeman. We used this as a base for a wedding at Fountains Abbey, the largest and most well-preserved ruins of a Cistercian monastery in the world.
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland – Probably the most iconic of Northern Island’s tourist attractions, the area of Giant’s Causeway consists of a huge number of basalt columns stretching across the coastline. It has been voted one of the UK’s most incredible natural attractions and really is the definiation of an essential location.
Hadrian’s Wall – The ruins of an ancient Roman wall was said to be the most northern point of the Roman empire The wall is an official UNESCO world heritage site, however remains unguarded allowing full access to the public. Some of the 80 mile wall is still intact, some is just simply turf, yet the walk from east to west is one of the UK’s most incredible adventures.
image courtesy of English Heritage
Sherwood Forest, Nottingham – The legend of Robin Hood is one of the most iconic stories the world over, immortalised by Hollywood and even the might of Disney. Sherwood forest was allegedly where Robin Hood and his merry men called home, at the Major Oak which does actually exists. Although there are many different takes on the legend, be it myth or reality, Sherwood forest is very real and a beautiful natural forest to explore.
One forgotten location from the previous post is that of Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of Shakespeare. A beautiful medieval town in its own right is worth a visit for a walk along the river, however due to the huge influence of Shakespeare’s work the theatre and birthplace have become extremely popular. It’s well worth a day’s exploration especially walking the beautiful river that passes the theatre itself.
There are also a huge amount of cities worth visiting in northern uk, including Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Belfast, Blackpool, Sheffield and Nottingham. All have their own sense of self and are worth exploring for a few days.
We hope this may have inspired you to visit some of the Uk’s major attractions, please see part one here.