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Soaked in history and beauty – the British Isles should be considered a priority for any self-respecting traveller. If you have never visited ‘this sceptred isle’ before then there are a thousand reasons to tempt you over – I hope to show you just a portion, in the hopes you may discover the rest.
England is a fascinating tapestry of history, threads from all our many disparate periods interweave to create the stunningly complex picture you see today. Great Britain became an island around 5600 BC, when it completed its gradual break off from the European sub-continent. And since then the island has been a hub of human history, much of which is still visible, especially as we hurtle through the millennia.
Throughout the country there is still evidence of prehistoric human life, the arcane roots of British history. Nowhere is this better seen than in the Southwest, England’s Neolithic heartland. Here you can see Stonehenge, the most striking of England’s ancient monuments. This 5,000-year-old site is as ancient as the Great Pyramid at Giza and just as mysterious and is complemented by a landscape littered with similarly ancient monuments – like Avebury Stone circle.
Leaping forward, our island couldn’t avoid European history for long as the Romans first invaded in 55BC, before becoming our masters in 87 BC. During there dominion they erected thousands of buildings across the country in their bold classical style. You are never far from Roman history in England, but the best sites include: the roman baths in Bath (I wonder where the town got its name?), which are stunningly well preserved or Fishbourne Palace in Chichester. Or, for the traveller who wants to stray all the way to the Anglo-Scottish border, Hadrian’s wall is a true wonder of this isle.
Despite plummeting into the dark ages after the Roman’s departure, we soon recovered and a whole procession of Kings and Queens sculpted this county into its current shape with varying degrees of grandeur. Now our country is beset with castles – over 1500 in total (in various states of repair!). Some of the best to see today include, Warwick Castle or Dover Castle. Or why not visit Hampton Court, built by Thomas Wolsey before he was executed, and the property was seized by Henry VIII.
Or if you would prefer the relatively modern castles, the royal family currently have 26 royal residences, some of which you can visit such as Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. Or, some of the UK’s most historic and breath-taking homes are open to the public. The National Trust alone owns of 200 stately homes, and there are more still, each one a cornucopia of history and its own miniature tapestry of famous names and events: try Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth House or Highclere Castle.
Although the surface of England is strewn with sites of historical significance, (many of which are beautiful in their own rights), the landscape of England is also as various and beautiful as any country in the world. And this natural beauty is evident all over! There are 13 national parks in England and Wales, all of which are uniquely stunning. Try the austere attraction of the new Forest, or the Tranquil majesty of the Lake District, or perhaps the mysterious Dartmoor and Exmoor, or the heady Peak District.
We have hardly scratched the surface of the burgeoning history this island represents and could hardly illustrate the wondrous sumptuousness of the place. The marriage of these two cornerstones of tourism is what makes England so special to visit and it really has to be seen to be believed – so visit glorious England!
The Small Group Touring Company
Britain may not be the most obvious choice for a winter break, yet it has a great deal to offer the more adventurous visitor. Of course our weather is ‘challenging’ but as long as you come prepared for rain, drizzle, wind, hail, sleet, snow and even the occasional burst of sunshine, you’ll be fine. So, assuming you have the right gear, what are the positives of visiting our green and pleasant land?
- There are far fewer visitors so you can easily get into places that have big queues in the summer months. This is especially relevant in London, which has so many fascinating museums, art galleries, historic houses, theatres and major attractions like the London Eye. Imagine being able to visit Madame Tussaud’s without waiting in line half way down Marylebone Road or getting a spectacular view from London Eye within minutes of arriving. However, this also applies to places all over Britain. Edinburgh and Belfast, York and Cardiff are all much quieter and more pleasant to get around in the winter.
- Accommodation is much cheaper. You can get some excellent deals at this time of year and lots of hotels, B&B, holiday homes, caravans and camp sites are open to a bit of negotiating if you call and ask what their best price is. (Although make sure to check school holidays such as half-term and Easter.) Rates can often be up to 50% less than in July or August.
- Many attractions have ‘out-of-season’ reduced rates and often lay on special events to encourage people to come along and see what they have on offer. Why not take a train ride through the stunning Yorkshire Dales, over the Ribblehead Viaduct and into the Cumbria countryside on the famous Settle-Carlisle Railway – if you’re lucky you may even get a seat on one of the iconic steam trains.
- Nature provides a beautiful plus to observing her glorious scenery by stripping many of our trees of leaves, enabling you to see through impressively skeletal trees to views that you can’t usually see once those branches are bedecked with green leaves, blossom or fruit. Check out our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a selection of stunning outdoor destinations throughout the UK.
- Outdoor light is very different from other seasons of the year. You can get incredibly clear skies which give an amazing clarity to your photos of those mountains in the Lake District. A misty fog swirls evocatively across a Scottish river. The low-lying sun filters through bleached-out clouds above a deserted moor. Rosy dawn breaks over a the pier in a tranquil seaside town …
- Of course some days you just don’t want to venture far due to heavy rain or strong winds, or one of our infrequent but curiously immobilising snow storms. But then you’ve got a great excuse to duck into one of our welcoming country pubs or cosy tea shops. Britain is made for ‘changeable’ weather and some of our most traditional attractions come in the form of an oak-beamed inn or a quaint cottage art gallery. Or maybe you feel really brave and will just wrap up warm and go for a bracing walk along a Cornish beach or a Midland canal towpath.
- People have more time to chat, to help and show you around. Travel and tourism businesses that are open in the winter rely on visitors like you and really appreciate that you have taken the time to visit their establishment. The important thing to remember is that you need to plan a bit in advance. For example, many National Trust properties are closed in the winter months but their gardens are open, so do check websites or contact the regional Tourist Office for latest information.
As one of our most famous walkers, Alfred Wainwright, said, “There’s not such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.” Now, pack a waterproof, umbrella, sturdy shoes and some warm jumpers and make the most of your visit to Britain this winter.
Article source at Visit Britain Super Blog – click here
We operate a wide range of small group sightseeing tours departing from London. These include Day tours, half day tours, overnight tours and extended tours of England. Private bespoke tours for families and small groups can also be arranged.
The Small Group Touring Experts