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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.
Hailes Abbey is a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1246 and used by a small number of monks. Not much of the abbey remains, but you can see the outlines of the church and other buildings, along with some remaining cloister walls. It is a beautiful and peaceful spot. Hailes Abbey is owned by the National Trust, and managed by English Heritage. There is a small onsite museum with medieval tiles and stone carvings from the site. There is a tea room at nearby Hailes Farm and several in Winchcombe...
There has been a church where Gloucester Cathedral stands today since at least the 7th century. The current building started as Gloucester Abbey in the 11th century. Visit the crypts under the cathedral to see the original Norman basement and foundations. More parts were added in the Gothic style. In 1327 King Edward II, who had died in nearby Berkeley Castle, was buried in the abbey. The cloisters were built in the 14th century and have the earliest surviving fan vaults (beautifully...
HRH (His Royal Highness) The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) is also the Duke of Cornwall and owns the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate of over 54,000 hectares spread across 23 counties, mostly in the southwest of England. This estate was created in 1337 by Edward III and is passed on to the eldest son of the current Queen/King. The income from this estate funds Prince Charles's public and charitable work. In 1980 Prince Charles purchased Highgrove House, near Tetbury in the southern...
The Cotswold Canals run for 36 miles across the southern Cotswolds connecting the River Severn with the River Thames. They are restored in some areas, wild in others. They were built in the 18th century as two canals: the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal. The canals were used for 100 years, but use declined after the railway was built. The restored parts are not long enough for boating but a good footpath goes along most of the canal. The canal run near the River Frome...
“A host, of golden daffodils.... beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze” Farndale in North Yorkshire is one of the few places you can see wild daffodils growing. In spring, the banks of the River Dove and surrounding hillsides are a golden mass of daffodils. They are smaller and more delicate than their big butch cultivated varieties. Tradition says they were planted by the monks of nearby Rievaulx Abbey and they are known locally as Lenten Lilies. The area is a Local...
The Cotswold Way is a National Trail that runs 102.2 miles along the Cotswold escarpment from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south. The trail takes the walker through towns and villages, beautiful countryside, and historic sites. The Cotswold Way is a popular long distance trail and people come from all over the world to do this walk. The trail is well signed and easy to follow. There is a fair amount of climbing as it takes the walker up and down the escarpment. You can do...
In this blog I have identified 30 Historical Things To Do in London. Read on for details! A place that has a fine blend of a rich history and culture, yet retaining a modern, hi-tech vibe is the essence of London, the capital of Great Britain. The well-maintained Medieval times buildings and architecture of London, are a testimony. London has numerous, thousands of years old, historical places to visit – churches, cathedrals and castles! The distinguished royalty of England at its fulcrum...
In spring wild daffodils cover fields, woodlands and roadsides in the Golden Triangle formed by the towns of Dymock, Kempley and Oxenhall, near Newent in north-western Gloucestershire. Daffodils, also called "Lent Lillies", flower from mid-March to April. In the 1930s special trains brought visitors to the area to see and pick the flowers. These trains ran until the 1950s. Modern farming methods have removed a lot of the daffodils, so there are not as many now as there once was. But it is...
There are three main gardens to visit in the Cotswolds: Hidcote Manor Garden and Kiftsgate Court Garden in the north Cotswolds, near Chipping Campden and the smaller Painswick Rococo Garden in the southern Cotswolds north of Stroud. If you visit in January or February, make sure to go to the Rococo Garden to see the snowdrops which bloom only at that time of year. If you visit in May, make sure to visit Kiftsgate to see the bluebells which bloom only at that time of year. If you have time to...
Morris Dance is a type of folk dance that originated in medieval times in England. It is popular today in the Cotswolds and the South West. Male and female dancers dress in costume with bells and bows attached. They wave hankies or sticks during the dance. The dancers are usually accompanied by a fool and sometimes a beast, and may collect donations for charity. You will find Morris Dancers in many places in the summer - at village fetes, on village greens, even on the street outside a...
Giffords Circus, based near Stroud, gives performances on village greens around the Cotswolds from May to September. The circus is in a tent that seats about 400 and has acts with jugglers, fire eaters, acrobats, horses, dogs and even a duck! Leading the events is the wonderful Tweedy the Clown. This is not your usual circus - it is theater using circus acts to tell a story. The story changes each year. The first time we saw the circus, in 2011, the story was War and Peace! The last one we...
The Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the oldest in Britain, was created during the Neolithic period (around 3000 BC). It is a large circle with 38 stones. Its dramatic location, on the top of a low hill with views to other hills, is in the Lake District near Keswick. We visited this stone circle one winter morning to watch the sun come up. Location: England - Cumbria & Lake District - Keswick There is roadside parking on the country lane by the circle. Website: English Heritage - Castlerigg...
A Visit to a Forgotten Wilderness in the Cheviot Hills Right up in the north east corner of England, in the Cheviot Hills near the border with Scotland, is a hidden valley with over 12,000 acres of wilderness. You won’t find any signposts pointing the way and there is only one narrow road to access the valley, but once you are there then there is much to see and wonder at. This is the College Valley of North Northumberland. The border between England and Scotland was fought over for nearly...
Cornwall has a large number of prehistoric sites - ancient villages, stone circles, dolmen (called quoits), fogou. I have listed the best of them below for two parts of Cornwall - Penwith and Bodmin's Moor. A Google Map at the end of the article shows the locations. Penwith, the western tip of Cornwall Penwith is the area west of St Ives with Land's End at it's most western point and the city of Penzance on its south coast. There are several good prehistoric sites in this area. There are...
Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and one of the great treasure houses of England. Chatsworth House was built to impress. Set in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales it is surrounded by a Capability Brown Landscape and has been in the same family since it was built. A house was built here by Bess of Hardwick and her second husband, Sir William Cavendish, who was Treasurer of the Kings Chamber and one of Henry VIII’s commissioners for the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Bess was a...
The inspiration for Craig na Dun in Outlanders? We first visited Clava Cairns 50 years ago. We’d never seen anything like them before and were entranced by the stone cairns set back off the road surrounded by trees. They weren’t easy to get to, involving a bus and long walk. Few people visited and they were a secret and magical place. Times change. Now the cairns are very much on the tourist route and there is a huge car and coach park. Not only are they close to Culloden Battle Field...
Background I remember looking down onto Leeds Castle from the A20 on days out in the late 1950s and thinking that it was every child’s dream of what a medieval castle should look like. The castle was privately owned and very shut. Now it is run by a charitable trust and is a popular conference centre and wedding venue. It also offers accommodation either in the castle itself or one of its glamping tents. For those not wanting to stay overnight, there is the option of having afternoon tea...
Hever Castle is on the tick list of many visitors to England as it was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and where she was wooed by Henry VIII. As a bonus, for those wanting to stay in a castle, there is also a range of accommodation to stay in. It is everyone’s dream of as perfect medieval castle with a moat. There has been a castle here since 1270 but the original castle would have been a wooden structure with a gatehouse and walled bailey. The present building dates from the C14th and...
St Winefride’s Well, Holywell, North Wales. St Winefride's Well has been a site of pilgrimage for over 1,300 years. It has survived the Reformation and the Puritan zeal to destroy ‘Popish’ shrines. It is still visited by pilgrims today, not just from Wales but across Europe. It has been described as the Lourdes of Wales. Around 660AD, Winefride (Gwenfrewi in Welsh) who was of noble birth spurned the advances of Caradoc, son of a local prince, as she wanted to become a nun. He cut off her...
Penmon Priory is a delightful spot at the south eastern tip of Anglesey. Part of its charm is that it has yet to reach the tick list of must see sights and doesn’t get many visitors. Although the Romans brought Christianity to Wales, it never really became established until the arrival of Celtic missionary saints in the C6th who established small monasteries, usually around an existing holy well. St Seiriol, who was of noble birth, settled here in the C6th and built a small cell (clas)...

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