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United Kingdom & Ireland Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
 
England was populated in prehistoric times and many burial tombs, stone circles and hill forts remain. The Roman conquest of Britain started in 43AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius. They built roads, towns and villas in the countryside and the remains of many have been preserved. The medieval history is everywhere, in the castles and historic houses. The industrial revolution also left sites that are interesting to explore today. Designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)...
 
One of the oldest libraries in Europe Although each of the Oxford Colleges has its own library, the Bodleian Library is still at the heart of Oxford life. Not only is it one of the oldest libraries in Europe, it is one of the few libraries in Britain which receives a copy of every book and magazine published in Britain. It is very much a working library, although it is also popular with film makers. Harry Potter fans will recognise Duke Humphrey’s library and the Divinity school which was...
 
A deserted quarry village that has been brought back to life as a Welsh language and heritage centre The hard granite hills of the Llyn Peninsula provided excellent stone for roads. In the C19th setts from these quarries paved the streets of Liverpool, Manchester and other industrial cities. Nant Gwtheryn was site of three large quarries providing employment for over one hundred men. Stone was taken down steep inclines and loaded onto ships at one of three small piers from the beach...
 
The iconic 1970’s film “The Railway Children” really put the Keighley and worth Valley Railway on the map when it featured the then little known station of Oakworth and many scenes set along the railway. The Railway have capitalised on this with a circular walk taking the walker passed many places featured in the film. The shops sells a leaflet with details of the walk. The walk is 6 miles although being a figure of eight can be walked as two separate loops. The eastern loop covers...
 
Do you remember the iconic film of “The Railway Children” with Jenny Agutter – well this was where it was filmed… The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is a delightful short branch line running through some splendid West Yorkshire scenery from Keighley to Oxenhope. Stations have been beautifully restored to what they might have looked like in in the 1950s with the red and cream paint of the Midland Railway, gas lamps and coal fires in the winter months. There are fire buckets...
 
One of the oldest and most important religious centres in Britain Iona is a small island off the coast of Mull and reached by a foot ferry. Visitor vehicles are not allowed on the island. People visit for the isolated beauty, traditional life style, walks, but above all for its early Christian heritage. Iona Abbey is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Britain. This was where Christianity started and spread to the rest of Britain. Iona was on a busy sea route...
 
Worts, worms and plain British spirit - a trip round an old distillery North east Scotland is big whisky country and there are dozens of distilleries. Some like Glenfiddich are well known names. Others are smaller and produce whisky for the named blends. Many offer tours. Dallas Ddu Distillery is different as it is closed and no longer distils. Now owned by Historic Scotland, it is possible to wander round by yourself with the audio guide, take photographs and get into places not normally...
 
A small traditional whisky distillery producing two very different malt whiskies. Tobermory in the Isle of Mull was made famous by the children’s TV programme “Ballamory’. It is a popular destination with its brightly coloured houses along the shore. The tiny distillery on the edge of the town is one of the oldest in Scotland, dating from 1795. Known as Ledaig distillery, which was the oiriginal name of Tobermory, it has had a chequered history and has closed down and reopened several...
 
There are several white horses carved into the hills of Wiltshire. These are large images of horses carved at the top of hills so they can be seen from a distance. Most are created by digging down to the natural white limestone. Some are modern, some are hundreds or thousands of years old. They are fun to spot as you are driving or walking in this area. The most famous, and the oldest, is the Uffington White Horse just across the county border in Oxfordshire. I include it on this page...
 
Although this is one of the best examples of a great cistercian monastery, it is ignored by the tourists and never gets as busy as nearby Rievaulx. In its heyday, Byland Abbey was one of the three great monasteries of Yorkshire along with Fountains and Rievaulx Abbeys. It had extensive lands with many farms and its main income was from sheep farming. On the edge of the Vale of York and North York Moors, it now lies ruined and forgotten by most of the tourists. This is a shame as it is a...
 
The author Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) wrote six perfect novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. They are not simply romance novels, although who will marry well is always the main plot, but are also witty commentaries on life at the end of the 18th century. Her observations on society are as valid today as they were when she wrote the novels. If you have not read any Jane Austen, do yourself a favor and start with Pride and...
 
A working monastery and school As well as being a highly regarded school, Ampleforth Abbey is a working monastery set in the North York Moors. It is a delightful setting with lakes, woodlands and trails. Visitors can join the monks at prayer as well as visiting the abbey between services. The Benedictines were expelled from France in 1792 during the Revolution. Fr Anselm Bolton came to England and became chaplain to Lady Anne Fairfax of Gilling Castle. She built Ampleforth Lodge for him...
 
There are many interesting prehistoric sites in the Cotswolds - stone circles, standing stones, dolmen, long barrows, hill forts. The two best sites are the Rollright Stones (stone circle and a dolmen) near Chipping Norton in the north-east Cotswolds, and Belas Knapp (long barrow) near Winchecombe in the north Cotswolds. The Cotswold-Severn group of neolithic long barrows (chambered tombs) are located on the Cotswold escarpment above the River Severn. Below I have listed three of them -...
 
One of the best preserved Carthusian Priories in Europe Mount Grace Priory is one of the best preserved Carthusian priories in Europe. It is a lovely site on the edge of the North York Moors nestling under steep wooded hillsides. The family of stoats living around the ruins became famous after featuring in a TV documentary in 2005 and many people still come just to watch them. The Carthusian Order was established in 1084 by St Bruno of Cologne who set up a new monastic order in Grande...
 
Cirencester, the "capital of the Cotswolds", is a busy Cotswold market town with roots in Ancient Rome. When the Romans conquered Britain in 43 AD they built the town of Corinium, second only to Londinium (London) in size. Corinium became Cirencester and there are still Roman remains in the town and throughout the Cotswolds. Three Roman Roads meet in Cirencester - Fosse Way, Ermin Way and Akeman Street. There are remains of a Roman amphitheater outside of town. There are remains of Roman...
 
One of the great ruined abbeys of Yorkshire The Cistercians knew how to pick their sites and Rievaulx Abbey in the North York Moors is one of the best. It is a delightful setting on the River Rye at the edge of a small village of attractive old stone houses and set against the steep wooded hillside. It is one of the most complete and best preserved of the great Yorkshire Abbeys and walking around the site it is possible to get an impression of the size and magnificence. The Abbey was...
 
Formal gardens and a woodland walk Hodsock Priory gardens are only open for 5-6 weeks from early February for the snowdrops and are a popular day out with locals. It is a very slick operation. The Priory is set in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside to the south west of Blyth. The house was altered and enlarged in the C19th, when it became known as Hodsock Priory. It is not normally open to the public. The family live in the old servants quarters and the rest of the house is...
 
Bath is a beautiful small city set in the River Avon valley south of the Cotswolds (population 88,000). First there were the Druids who settled here because of the natural hot springs. Next came the Romans whose bath complex remains at the center of town. The Bath Abbey was built during the Medieval period. Bath expanded in Georgian times when it became a spa town where people came to "take the waters", the same waters that drew the Romans there. The author Jane Austen was a resident during...
 
One of the largest Cistercian abbeys in Britain Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved of the ruined Cistercian Abbeys in England, and a World Heritage site. It was founded in 1132 on the banks of the River Skell, by a small group of Benedictine Monks from St Mary’s Abbey in York, who were wanting to live a devote and simple life. It was an ideal site with in a sheltered valley with a supply of timber and stone for building and abundant springs. Within three years it...
 
Avebury is a large stone circle on the edge of the Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, west of London. The main circle of stones is about 3/4 mile around and surrounds the village of Avebury. You can walk up to the stones and touch them. There are smaller circles inside the large circle. The large circle is surrounded by a large man-made ditch. The site dates from 2600 BC. Avebury is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Avebury is not as well known as Stonehenge and is not as jaw-droppingly perfect...
 
Formed over 6,000 years ago, Chesil Beach is one of the finest storm beaches in the world. It is 18 miles (29km) long, 660 feet wide, up to 50 feet high and made of 100 million tons of pebbles. The pebbles change in size from pea gravel in the west to potato sized cobbles in the east. The pebbles were pushed onshore by rising sea levels. Chesil Beach protects the Fleet, one of the most important lagoons in Europe. Chesil Beach is part of the Jurassic Coast, a 95 mile stretch of coastline in...

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