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Views of Britain, off the beaten track.
Proud of my country
Millions of people descended on London during 2012 for the Olympic & Paralympic Games; a glorious event which showed our capital city at it's very best and, hopefully, encouraged people to visit Britain. But, wonderful as London is, there is SO much more to our country than that.
Whenever I visit another country I always want to get away from the main tourist routes and discover a little more about what it's really like. So if you've been inspired by the Olympic coverage to visit Britain then here are a few places off the beaten track that are well worth a visit.
Loch Skeen, Scotland
Discovered by accident.
Located in gorgeous Dumfries & Galloway we came across this stunning loch purely by accident in the summer of 2010. We were lucky enough to be enjoying a 6 week tour in our motorhome and noticed a number of cars parked along a quiet Scottish road. When we parked up to investigate we followed the trail of people up a steep hillside path and discovered this at the top. Not bad eh?
One of our best kept secrets.
Northumberland is one of Britain's best kept secrets and this is the jewel in the crown. The North East corner of our fair isle doesn't really attract many visitors from abroad and that's a shame because it really is a quite stunning area of coastline. Miles of soft sandy beaches, the Farne Islands just offshore and Bamburgh dominating the coastline. With a history dating back to around 420 AD, if you've got a love of the past then it's worth adding it to your itinerary.
Striding Edge, Lake District
Helvellyn is perhaps one of the best known fells in the Lake District and what better way to climb it than via the legendary Striding Edge? You'll need a head for heights and nerves of steele but if you take it steady you'll be fine - though best to tackle it in fine weather if you're a first timer. Once you make it to the top you'll be treated to the most amazing views of Ullswater and beyond but don't worry, there's an easier route back down to the car.
A challenging walk for the brave.
Manchester - it's more than just shops.
I'm really not a huge fan of cities and often go out of my way to avoid them, but many of them have fascinating histories if you're prepared to look beyond the shops. This view of Manchester was taken from their big wheel and shows the historic heart of the old city. In the top right of the photo you can see the cathederal which dates back to around 700 AD and is definitely more interesting to look around than the shops just over the road.
A very untypical view of Manchester
Ettington, in the heart of England.
Ettington is just 7 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon and I was lucky enough to find myself working there for a few days a couple of years ago. As it was the summer I took advantage of the long light evenings to explore a little of the countryside around the hotel. This part of England is a glorious expanse of wide rolling hillsides with fields of corn turning wonderful shades of gold in the evening sunshine.
Cambridgeshire, a lovely place to unwind.
Just after Easter 2010 my hubby attended a photgraphic course in Cambridgeshire and while he was off learning how to take jolly clever photos I was left to explore the local countryside. As a city Cambridge is quite lovely and attracts many visitors, but not quite so many make it out into the surrounding areas. We were staying on the most wonderfully secluded campsite and spent a few relaxing evenings enjoying sunsets like this.
Name that film.
London, hidden in plain sight.
No tour of Britain would be complete without at least one stop in London. I completed several work contracts in London and prefered to walk wherever I could rather than taking the tube, you see so much more that way. This little house always fascinated me; it's tucked away a couple of minutes walk from the Thames just around the corner from the Tate Modern. I was always curious about the history of the place and when I saw the film "Up" I wondered if this was their inspiration. I could just imagine a grumpy old man refusing to sell up and sitting tight as the modern office blocks were built all around him. It still appears to be very much lived in, though I don't think it gets a lot of sun.
Fleet Pond Nature Reserve
This spot was less than 5 minutes walk from where we used to live and is my favourite place in the whole nature reserve. Although it dates back to the 10th Century it grew in popularity during the Victorian era thanks to the growth of the railways. I volunteered with the local Fleet Pond Society who undertake a lot of conservation work in this rare and protected habitat. They are currently trying to raise a mammouth amount of money to save the pond from silting up If you want to find out more about them and how they're doing please check out their blog.
Fleet Pond - the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire
Arundel Castle, West Sussex.
I'll be honest, I discovered Arundel castle during a holiday in Bognor Regis. If you're not from England you'll probably not know a lot about Bognor and it's reputation as a downmarket and rather tacky seaside town, but I absolutely adore Bognor and its unpretentious ways. Arundel Castle is one of those wonderful old castles which is fully furnished thus giving you the opportunity to gain some real insights into life in the past. There's plenty to keep you going for most of a day and when you're done with the castle you can spend time wandering around the historic town.
The Eden Project, Cornwall
OK, if you're on a tour of Britain then this is a bit out of the way, probably a good 5+ hours drive west of London, but what a place to visit! Created from an old china clay quarry the Eden Project is visually stunning and educationally brilliant. The large white space dome structures are Biomes inside which environments from around the world have been recreated allowing native plants to flourish. We thought we'd get through it in a day. We were wrong. There's stuff to see, stuff to do, stuff to taste, stuff to push, stuff to read... I could go on. If you're in England then go and visit it, no excuses!
The Eden Project
The end of the tour.
Well that's the end of my mini tour of Britain. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the places I've visited and loved. There's so much more to tell you about, but maybe I'll save that for my tour of Britain Mk II.