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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.
This is an amazing example of C19th ingenuity and engineering and is often affectionately referred to as 'the cathedral of the Canals'. The word 'impressive' hardly begins to describe it. Salt extraction has been a major industry in Cheshire since the C17th and the salt was taken by boat along the River Weaver to the Mersey where it could be shipped out to the rest of the country. It also bought in china clay for the potteries which was off loaded onto pack horses at Northwich and taken...
We first visited the Isle of Man in 1997. We'd been talking about visiting for several years so expectations were high and there is always the risk of being disappointed. We took the overnight sailing from Heysham and I'll always remember my first sight of the island around 4.30 on a crystal clear morning. It was a magical sight with the island sparkling in the early morning sunshine. There was a slight cloud cover on top of Snaefell hiding the gubbins on the top. Twenty plus years later, it...
This is a list of vacation rental agencies and resources for England. I start with agencies that represent several counties. Then I list local agencies by areas. (Separate pages for Wales, Scotland, Ireland.) Notes: Agency is based in England unless otherwise noted except for list of large Europe-wide agencies at the bottom of this page. Vacation Rental Agencies These agencies have vacation rentals in many parts of England. English Country Cottages - Part of The Hoseasons Group Farm Stay...
There are thousands of vacation rentals in all corners of England. The largest group of travelers in England are the English, heading out to the countryside for bank holiday weekends and summer vacations. Vacation rentals are usually of a good standard. Most are registered with the English Tourist Council and assigned ratings depending on amenities offered. Terms In North America we call them "vacation rentals", but in England they are called "self catering" or "holiday cottages". We use...
An attractive Victorian sea side resort which is still popular today. Set on the North Coast of North Wales, Llandudno is often described as the Queen of Holiday resorts. It is dominated by the massive limestone bulk of the Great Orme and still retains much of its Victorian grandeur. It was beginning to feel run down and neglected twenty years ago, but now the buildings are all freshly painted and the town is thriving. There is something for all ages from the traditional Punch and Judy...
Medieval town walls, a ruined castle and an Elizabethan Town House. Visitors to North Wales speed along the A55 and through the Conwy tunnel without a glimpse of the town. Long gone are the days of bottlenecks through Conwy when all traffic had to negotiate Telford’s narrow suspension bridge. Congestion improved when a new road bridge was built in 1958 and this is the dramatic entrance to Conwy. Now traffic completely bypasses the town through the tunnel. This is a shame as Conwy is one of...
Owston Ferry is a small village on the west bank of the River Trent, about ten miles north of Gainsborough. As its name implies, Owston ferry has been an important crossing point on the River Trent since ancient times. Before good roads and rail links, the river was also an important trade route between Gainsborough and Hull. It was originally two settlements, Owston (from the old Norse for east farmstead) and based on the higher ground to the west of the Trent where the church is, and...
Deservedly voted the best small market town in the UK in the 2016 Great British High Street Awards. Hebden Bridge is a thriving small market town in the Upper Calder Valley. This is an area of steep wooded river valleys with terraced houses climbing up the hillsides. The roads zig zag up the hillsides and are buttressed to stop them sliding downwards. The main development of splendid C18th and C19th buildings is concentrated around Hebden Water and the old packhorse bridge. In medieval...
The Brontes and the Railway Children. A hilltop village set above the steep Worth Valley on the edge of the windswept Pennine Moors, you can almost feel the spirit of the Bronte sisters here. The cobbled streets of the old town climb up to the Church and Parsonage at the top of the hill. Below, spread out along the valley bottom, are the mills that provided employment and prosperity in the C19th, served by the Keighley and Worth Valley railway. Haworth is very much on the tourist trail and...
Off the tourist beat but well worth a visit. Most people ignore Barton upon Humber as they zoom over the Humber Bridge. When the bridge opened in 1981 (late and over budget), it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world and soon became a major tourist attraction. Set on the south bank of the river, Barton upon Humber is an attractive small town with a long history. The towers of Barton’s two churches can be seen from the A15. St Peter’s is the oldest, dating from the...
Sweyn Forkbeard and the Mill on the Floss. Ignored by the tourists, Gainsborough is a market town in the north west corner of Lincolnshire. It is a pleasant small town with a lot going for it. It has a long history and was one of the capital cities of Anglo-Saxon Mercia. Sweyn Forkbeard and his son Canute defeated the Anglo-Saxon Army of Ethelread the Unready here in 1013. Sweyn was killed when he was thrown by his horse in Gainsborough a few weeks later and has rather disappeared from...
Banbury is an attractive market town in the Oxfordshire countryside made famous by the medieval nursery rhyme "Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross". Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross, To see a fine lady upon a white horse; Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, And she shall have music wherever she goes. This first appeared in print in the mid C18th and the ‘fine lady’ is thought to be a member of the Fiennes family, who were ancestors of Lord Saye and Sele who own nearby Broughton...
Castle, church, an old hospital and some lovely gardens. Lonely Planet listed Warwick as one of top ten places to visit in Europe in 2016. The area has been inhabited since early neolithic times, so there is a lot of history attached to the town. A castle was built just after the Norman Conquest to subdue the north. The Earls of Warwick were powerful noblemen during Medieval times. The Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 destroyed most of the town, so most of the architecture is Georgian or...
Shakespeare and lots more. Stratford upon Avon is on nearly every tourist’s tick list because of the Shakespeare connection, with millions of visitors who want to visit the place where Shakespeare was born and see his grave. It is hard to avoid the Shakespeare influence and the shops exploit it to the full. The Shakespeare Properties are run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which runs five properties with links to the Shakespeare family. Tickets are valid for 12 months and are slightly...
Kippers to Count Dracula. With Dracula, Captain Cook, Whitby Jet and fish and chips, Whitby has something for everyone as well as narrow cobbled streets to explore and the iconic 199 steps. It is an attractive settlement nestled along the mouth of the River Esk and in summer months this is a popular spot for crabbing. The remains of the abbey and the even older St Mary’s Church are set high above the east cliff. These were what inspired Bram Stoker to write his Gothic Novel...
There's more to Durham than the Cathedral and Castle. This is probably the most popular image of Durham. The cathedral and castle occupy the centre of a deep incised meander in the River Wear and are the place most people head to first. The usual route is from the market place along Saddler Street with its small shops and The Bailey. This is the heart of the original university with Hatfield, St Chads College, St Johns College and St Cuthbert’s Society. It is lined with attractive...
One of the best folk museums in the country. Folk museums are cropping up all over the country. Some are better than others and Beamish must rank among the best with its mix of agricultural, industrial and social history. In fact, there is too much to see properly in a single visit and fortunately the ticket is valid for twelve months. By the 1950s, the traditional industries and communities in the North East were declining and disappearing rapidly. Frank Atkinson, the director of the...
Romans, medieval walls, black and white architecture and a cathedral. Chester may not be an automatic choice when it comes to picking a holiday destination, but it is a city with a long history and a lot to attract the tourist, whether it is for the day or longer. It has the only complete set of city walls, the oldest racecourse, largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000 year old cathedral (#4 ), 700 year old unique shopping rows and a town crier. Then there is the zoo which...
One of the best folk museums in the country. The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands which was rich in coal, ironstone, limestone and fireclay and is the first industrial landscape anywhere in the world and later the most industrialised region of Britain. This is where Thomas Dudley first mastered the technique of smelting iron with coal instead of wood charcoal and making iron enough for industrial use. With the arrival of steam power and canals this became the greatest iron...
Most people rush past Carlisle on their way between England and Scotland, but few take the time to stop here. This is a shame as Carlisle has a lot to offer the tourist and is also an excellent base to explore the surrounding countryside. The Northern Lakes, North Pennines, Hadrians’ Wall and South West Scotland are all easily reached from Carlisle. For millenia, the Solway Gap has been the main route up the west coast between England and Scotland. This has been the ‘debatable land’ with...

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