To celebrate St George’s Day we’re launching our A to Z of England! Join us as we take an epic journey through the alphabet highlighting all that’s great about this green and pleasant land.
Discover wondrous places to visit and fascinating facts about England as we begin our exploration through England with the letter ‘A’.
Being part of an island nation means that England is skirted by dramatic coastline. As well as the English Channel and the North Sea, the south-west is flanked by the vast Atlantic Ocean. The sub-tropical Isles of Scilly flourish with succulents, palm trees and all kinds of wildlife including dolphins and seals, and further north off the Devonshire coast, Lundy is a haven for migrating birds. Head there between mid-March and late July to spot puffin breeding pairs and, if you’re lucky, their chicks.
England has produced many celebrated artists – Tate, Lowry and Hockney, among them – and offers a wealth of galleries and museums. If you truly want to hit the jackpot, you’ll find the legendary Anglo Saxon treasure of the Staffordshire Hoard alongside the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. For big-name art in a hipster seaside setting, head straight to Margate’s Turner Contemporary gallery for a host of ever-changing exhibitions and events.
With its long and storied history, England is a great place for visitors and locals alike to find unique antiques and historical oddities. Charming market towns such as Oakham and Uppingham hold untold treasures, and the boutiques of the sunny seaside town of Southsea offer vintage goods from various eras in English history and design.
Nestled on the border of Devon, in the Axe Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the town of Axminster is home to a number of well-known English institutions. Famous for its carpet manufacturers, the town’s original carpet factory now houses the town’s heritage centre and museum. Another famous name, The River Cottage, provides a top stop for foodie days out at its canteen and deli in town.
One very visible aspect of England’s heritage comes in the form of the abbeys dotted across the landscape. Many were destroyed in the English Civil War and many were stripped during the Reformation. One of the most famous abbeys resides in Whitby, which has stood for aeons and was also in the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For an abbey with amazing views, Bath Abbey’s bell tower is well worth the climb. If you’re on a romantic break, toast the experience with some champagne.
There is perhaps no more quintessential English pastime than enjoying a cup of tea with a scone. To enhance this especially English experience, a visit to the World of Wedgewood visitor centre can provide the perfect pottery from which to sip and sup. Or, you can even sip Darjeeling in a ‘secret’ Cotswold cottage for a really English feel.
If you’re always seeking a thrill or chasing a buzz, England can top up your tanks with white-knuckle experiences. Despite the seemingly sleepy pace of life outside the city, England’s countryside plays host to some rather exciting escapades. Why not try your hand at white water rafting? Or even balancing between the clifftops on the Via Ferrata Extreme in the Lake District.
You’ll rarely find yourself far from a pub or short of a partner to join you for a pint, and England’s amazing array of beers and ales will leave you with loads of options to choose from. In addition to holding a number of beer festivals throughout the year, cities such as Hull offer their own special Ale Trail. If you’re keen to take in a breath-taking view with your pint visit Southsea Castle, home to the Southsea Brewing Co.
Did you know that you can take a safari in England? Cumbria’s Lake District National Park offers unparalleled opportunities to spot native wildlife such as otters, peregrine falcons and wild mountain ponies. You can also experience an English safari in the heart of the Broads National Park, looking out for otters, kingfishers and rare butterflies whilst exploring calm waters by canoe.
What’s in a name? When it’s a town named Ashby de la Zouch, there’s a lot of history in it. The ancient market town of Ashby in Leicestershire was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and in the years following the Norman Conquest, added the name of its French rulers. While you’re there, explore the 12th century ruins of Ashby de la Zouch castle, where you can still climb to the top as if you were a king.
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