England in a new light

by Katie Rowe

Category: Things to do
June 20 2014

Here’s our round up of weird and wonderful places you wouldn’t expect to find in Blighty, including a monkey forest, Brighton's answer to the Taj Mahal and some sub-tropical islands. 

Isles of Scilly

With clear, warm waters and towering palm trees, the Isles of Scilly are England’s answer to a tropical paradise. This amazing archipelago of over 100 islands and islets, located 30 miles from Cornwall, provides a wealth of wildlife-watching experiences.

Jump on a sea safari from St Mary's, the largest of the five inhabited islands, to see grey seals and flocks of seabirds, including puffins from April to 

July. If you’re lucky, you might even spot basking sharks and dolphins.

Back on dry land, hedgerows and fields blaze with pink proteas in May and scented white and gold narcissi in October. But Scilly’s flower power is most obvious at Abbey Gardens on Tresco, which blooms with exotic cacti, plants and floral delights.

Royal Pavilion

It’s impossible not to gawp or gasp as you walk round the Royal Pavilion. With opulent chinoiserie interiors encased in Mughal-style domes, the Brighton icon is a generous slice of the exotic.

Take an audio tour and nose around the opulent rooms, admiring priceless antiques, sparkling chandeliers – keep an eye out for the one held in place by a golden dragon – and drooling over a regency banqueting menu consisting of 70 dishes.

The palace was once a regal bachelor pad to one of England’s most eccentric kings, George IV, and you’ll learn all about his decadent behaviour as you make your way through each room, each more elaborate than the previous.

Roman Baths

Ever wondered what the Romans got up to in their lavish leisure centres? Ask your private guide to elaborate on an evening tour of one of the best preserved Roman structures in the world.

Listen to Bill Bryson’s fascinating audio commentary, which offers an insight into Roman life, beliefs and spirituality as you peer into ancient changing rooms, wander through a temple dedicated to a goddess with healing powers and admire the torch-lit Great Bath all at your own pace.

Did you know that if you book an overnight stay in Bath, you’ll receive free entry to The Roman Baths? See visitbath.co.uk for details.

Trentham Forest

Wander around the 60 acre Trentham Forest where 140 Barbary macaque monkeys swing freely in the trees. There’s only a little wooden fence separating you and the primates, and even though you can’t climb the trees with them, they’re most likely come over to you to investigate.

Keep your camera handy for some super-cute snaps. Another sight you wouldn’t expect to come across in the Staffordshire countryside is Trentham Forest’s Italianate Garden. With trellis walks, bubbling fountains, sculpted trees, floral-scented hedgerows and even a bronze statue of Perseus gripping Medusa’s head set at the top of Capability Brown’s mile-long lake, the garden’s rival those found in Italy.

Find more hidden gems and unsual attractions in England.

Katie Rowe

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