Words: Vicky Sartain
Ride a vintage steam train in Yorkshire
There’s nothing more magical or quintessentially English than a ride on a steam train, especially a North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam train. These whistling and smoke-spouting locomotives and bewitching stations have made cameo appearances in the Harry Potter films and various TV shows. Jump aboard at Whitby Station during the summer and you’ll journey through violet heather-coated moors as you make your way to Pickering with its charming little tearoom nestled within the station.
Find paradise The Eden Project, Cornwall
The Eden Project is the biggest indoor tropical garden known to man. From the outside, the gardens look like giant golf balls, but once inside you are transported to a tropical jungle surrounded by cocoa plants, banana trees and many other exotic plants normally found deep within the Amazon. After a trip to South America you can head north for a wander through the intoxicatingly perfumed Mediterranean Biome with its lemon trees and chilli plants.
Explore Liverpool: Home of the Beatles
Take a peek inside the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. These two humble Liverpool abodes now act as shrines to the iconic Beatles musicians. You’ll be transported back to the 1950s as you walk through the bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens of two of the most influential musicians in the world and discover fascinating anecdotes, artefacts and what influenced two of the Fab Four.
Visit Regency Brighton
Soak up opulent interiors, priceless antiques and drool over a regency banqueting menu of 36 courses! The Royal Pavilion in Brighton was once a regal bachelor pad to one of England’s most eccentric kings, George IV. Discover more about the debauched monarch and the wonderfully exotic royal palace with an audio tour that will have you gasping and gawping from beginning to end.
Meet Norfolk’s Seals
Who doesn’t think baby seals are one of the cutest sights ever? Get closer to these much-loved mammals and see one of England’s biggest seal colonies hanging out on the sandbanks of Blakeney Point. Boat trips start from either Morston or Blakeney Quay and last around an hour, with curious seals often swimming up to the side of the boat to take a closer look at you as well. Stop off at Blakeney Point during the summer and you’ll be surrounded by flocks of migrant birds as you relax next to the sand dunes.
Marvel at the great city of Bath
The city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and perfect for a dose of olde-worlde English charm. It’s worth at least a few days of your time. Stroll along the cobbled Georgian streets and visit the grand Pump Room where 18th-century ladies would “take the waters” and discuss the finer points of social scandals, just as they did in Jane Austen’s novels. Travel further back in time with a trip to the Roman Baths, an awe-inspiring leisure centre that was once used by Romans for worship and bathing. The intricate plumbing systems are impressive even in our ultra-modern world.
See Hadrian’s Wall
No holiday to northern England is complete without a pilgrimage to the Roman defence masterpiece that is Hadrian’s Wall. And if you’re fighting fit you can walk along the 73 miles it covers from Wallsend, Tyneside, in the east to Bowness-on-Solway, Cumbria, in the west.
Explore London’s South Bank
This pocket of London lining the River Thames has more than its fair share of iconic attractions. There’s Shakespeare’s Globe, an exact replica of the original that puts on a whole host of the playwright’s work; the imposing Tate Modern art gallery with its signature industrial chimney; the 1980s cubic Southbank Centre; and the London Eye, the tallest observation wheel in the UK. A short walk across the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge takes you to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Hunt for fossils on the Jurassic Coast
A trip to England’s most glorious and historical stretch of coastline is a must for wannabe archaeologists. A good starting point along this UNESCO World Heritage Site is Charmouth Beach, one of the best places in the world for fossil hunting. So get your bucket, spade and beady eyes at the ready to go in search of prehistoric relics resting in the shingle and along the tide line. Patience is key, but your efforts will be rewarded with iron pyrites – better known as Fool’s Gold – ammonites, and maybe even a dinosaur tooth.
Explore the Lake District by boat
Hire a rowing boat and bob along at your own pace on the shimmering Derwent Water, the widest lake in Cumbria. A watery wonderland, it’s dotted with four mini islands and topped by the moody Skiddaw mountain to the north. Once your arms grow weary from the rowing head back to your accommodation to recuperate and then catch a play at the Theatre by the Lake.