15 Places Across Britain to Capture Glorious Photographs

Most travelers to Britain visit London at least once.

Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey … what’s not to love?

But Britain is so full of beauty and history that it’s just as exciting outside of London as in it.

There are hundreds of places to take amazing photos but we’ll take a look at fifteen of the best that are sure to keep you snap happy!

1. Cambridgeshire

Founded in 1209, the world-renowned university dominates the skyline of Cambridge.

Running through the very heart of the city, the River Cam provides amazing views of the “Backs”—a picturesque area where several of the colleges back onto the river.

Punting past Trinity College Wren Library, Cambridge. Credit Scudamore’s Punting Cambridge, flickr
Punting past Trinity College Wren Library, Cambridge. Credit Scudamore’s Punting Cambridge, flickr

Snap away as you glide along on one of the many punts for hire, past the great monuments to education including the Old Court of Clare College (below left), and King’s College Chapel.

Founded in 1441 by King Henry VI, the college’s buildings are a magnificent symbol of the power of royal patronage.

Get up at dawn and you’ll be rewarded with views like this.

View from the Backs to Clare College and King's Chapel. Credit Alex Brown, flickr
View from the Backs to Clare College and King’s Chapel. Credit Alex Brown, flickr

Cambridge — the ancient city of colleges and scholars.

Founded in the 7th century with the building of an Anglo-Saxon abbey that was later destroyed by the Danes, Ely is a beautiful cathedral city about 14 miles northeast of Cambridge.

Dating from the 12th century, the current Cathedral was constructed from stone delivered by boat to Ely and paid for with eels from the surrounding fens before they were drained.

Meaning “Isle of Eels”, the slippery critter is thought to be the source of Ely’s name.

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called the Octagon, built over Ely Cathedral’s nave, the greatest individual achievement of medieval architectural genius.

The Octagon at Ely Cathedral. Credit David Iliff
The Octagon at Ely Cathedral. Credit David Iliff

Grantchester is said to have the world’s highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners, most of whom are current or retired academics from the nearby University of Cambridge.

Students and tourists often travel from Cambridge by punt to picnic in the meadows or take tea at The Orchard tea room.

The banks of the River Cam at Grantchester, Cambridgeshire
The banks of the River Cam at Grantchester, Cambridgeshire

2. Cumbria

Serving as inspiration for artists, writers, and musicians, the Lake District lies at the heart of Cumbria’s predominantly rural landscape.

Considered one of England’s most beautiful scenic areas, the Lake District National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Living in Grasmere for 14 years, the poet William Wordsworth described it as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.”

Grasmere, The Lake District. Credit Jorge Franganillo, flickr
Grasmere, The Lake District. Credit Jorge Franganillo, flickr

Meaning “river with oak trees” in the ancient Celtic language, Derwent Water is fed by the River Derwent and is surrounded by hills and densely wooded slopes.

Conveying the fertile nature of the land at both ends of the lake, Buttermere takes its name from the Old English “butere mere”, meaning “the lake by the dairy pastures”.

Derwent Water, Lake District. Credit Baz Richardson
Derwent Water, Lake District. Credit Baz Richardson

10 Fascinating Facts About the English Lake District.

Local folklore tells of a Norse leader named Jarl Buthar who ran a resistance campaign in the 11th century against the Norman invaders from a stronghold at Buttermere.

Buttermere, The Lake District. Credit James Whitesmith, flickr
Buttermere, The Lake District. Credit James Whitesmith, flickr

Formed by glaciers 13000 years ago during the last major ice age, Windermere is England’s largest natural lake.

Popular for holidays and summer homes since 1847, Windermere has several steam-powered boats operating along the whole 10-mile length, with one dating back to 1891.

Windermere, the Lake District. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Windermere, the Lake District. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

3. Dorset

With its rolling green hills, grazing cows, pretty stone walls, and Norman village church, Abbotsbury could be heaven on earth.

Viewed from St Catherine’s Chapel, a 14th-century pilgrimage chapel that stands on a hill overlooking Abbotsbury, you can expect to capture beautiful views like the one below.

According to local tradition, up until the late 19th century, the young women of Abbotsbury would pray to St Catherine, the patron saint of spinsters and virgins, to help them find a good husband.

Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Described as “one of the most romantic sights in England”, Gold Hill in the town of Shaftsbury has provided the setting for film and television, as well as appearing on countless chocolate boxes and calendars.

Appearing in Britain’s favourite TV advertisement, the 1973 “Boy on a Bike” advert for Hovis bread was directed by Ridley Scott and featured Dvořák’s nostalgic Symphony No. 9.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset
Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset

18 Gorgeous English Thatched Cottages.

Like a giant petrified dinosaur turned to rock, Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch on a dramatic stretch of coastline called the “Jurassic Coast”.

Spanning 185 million years of geological history, coastal erosion and contrasting rock hardness shaped this World Heritage Site and photographer’s dream.

Durdle Door, Dorset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Durdle Door, Dorset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

One of the world’s finest examples of an oval coastal inlet, Lulworth Cove—close to Durdle Door— is a popular tourist attraction with over half a million visitors a year.

Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Credit Lies Thru a Lens
Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Credit Lies Thru a Lens

4. East Sussex

Gradually being eroded by the English Channel, the massive white chalk cliffs, known as the Seven Sisters, are remnants of dry valleys in the South Downs.

Each of the cliff peaks has its own name: Haven Brow, Short Brow, Rough Brow, Brass Point, Flagstaff Point, Flat Hill, and Baily’s Hill.

Seven Sisters, East Sussex. Credit Miquitos, flickr
Seven Sisters, East Sussex. Credit Miquitos, flickr

Reportedly haunted by smugglers, the Mermaid Inn (covered in Ivy on the right) has a long and turbulent history dating from the 12th century.

One of the best-known inns in southern England, the black and white timber-framed buildings and the sloping cobbled Mermaid street provide a beautiful setting for a timeless photograph.

Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex. Credit BazViv
Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex. Credit BazViv

Built in 1385 by a former knight of King Edward III, its purpose was to protect the region from a French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War (1337 – 1453).

Surrounded by a moat, and of a quadrangular plan with crenelated towers, it provides a perfect photographic subject at any time of day, but especially in the warm late afternoon sunlight.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex. Credit Adrian Farwell
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex. Credit Adrian Farwell

Opening in 1899, the Palace Pier is the only one of three piers still in operation at Brighton.

Featured in many works of British culture including the gangster thriller Brighton Rock and the Mods and Rockers film Quadrophenia, against a sunset sky, it takes on a sublime quality.

Brighton Pier, East Sussex. Credit Chris McGeehan, flickr
Brighton Pier, East Sussex. Credit Chris McGeehan, flickr

5. Gloucestershire

Depicted on the inside cover of UK passports, Arlington Row is a series of cottages converted from a 14th-century monastic wool store, becoming weaver’s homes in the 17th century.

Used as a film and television location, it has been featured in the movies Stardust and Bridget Jones’s Diary and attracts thousands of tourists hoping to capture a shot like this.

Arlington Row, Bibury, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Arlington Row, Bibury, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
The Swan Hotel, Bibury, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
The Swan Hotel, Bibury, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Inhabited since the 11th century, Lower Slaughter is a beautiful village in the Cotswolds with a river running through it spanned by several small stone footbridges.

Glorious Gloucestershire.

At the west end of Lower Slaughter sits a 19th-century water mill with a chimney that, together with nearby honey-colored stone cottages, provides a lovely photograph with near perfect reflections.

Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire. Credit Phil Dolby, flickr
Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire. Credit Phil Dolby, flickr

Straddling the River Wye on the county border between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, Symonds Yat is an English village within the Forest of Dean and a popular tourist destination.

The name is said to come from Robert Symonds, a 17th-century sheriff of Herefordshire, and “yat” meaning a gate or pass.

Symonds Yat on the border of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Credit Nilfanion
Symonds Yat on the border of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Credit Nilfanion

6. Cornwall

Popular with tourists and painters alike, the dramatic stretch of rocky coastline known as Bedruthan Steps is one of the most popular destinations in Cornwall, providing spectacular clifftop views.

According to legend, the massive granite rocks rising from the beach are stepping stones for the Giant Bedruthan.

Notice the scale of the huge rock stacks compared to the people on the beach.

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Fans of British TV may recognize Port Isaac as the backdrop for the comedy-drama Doc Martin about a belligerent London surgeon who develops a fear of blood and moves to a backwater Cornish village to begin a new life as the community doctor.

With a history dating back to the time of Henry VIII, this picturesque fishing village is one of the delights on the South West Coast long-distance footpath which provides perfect views of the harbour like this one.

Port Isaac, Cornwall. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Port Isaac, Cornwall. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Centered around the steep-sided valley of the River Looe, the small coastal town of Looe dates to the 12th century.

During the Middle Ages, it was a major port, exporting local tin and granite, as well as a thriving fishing and boatbuilding center.

40 Stunning Images of Cornwall in 1895.

But by the 19th century, the Victorians recognized its charm as a seaside holiday town for which it remains popular today, with dozens of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, pubs, and vendors of traditional regional specialties like Cornish ice-cream and pasties.

Looe, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Looe, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Situated on the Lizard peninsula—the most southerly tip of the British mainland—the ruggedly beautiful Keynance Cove became popular with Victorians including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Stunning views over Keynance Cove like this one can be enjoyed from the South West Coast long-distance footpath.

Rugged Cornish coast near Kynance Cove. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Rugged Cornish coast near Kynance Cove. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

7. Isle of Wight

Winding its way through Shanklin Old Village, the High Street is lined with charming thatched cottages, traditional tea rooms, and restaurants with names like Pencil Cottage, the Village Inn, and Strawberry Thatch.

Shanklin Old Village ranks as one of the best chocolate box photographic opportunities in Britain.

Shanklin, Isle of Wight. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Shanklin, Isle of Wight. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Overlooking the village of Godshill stands the medieval All Saints Church which is fronted by a row of pristine thatched cottages as seen from Church Hill road.

Noted for its medieval wall painting of a Lily crucifix—one of only two in Europe—it was whitewashed during the Reformation to save it from destruction, remaining hidden until the 19th century.

Church Hill, Godshill, Isle of Wight. Credit Phil Sangwell
Church Hill, Godshill, Isle of Wight. Credit Phil Sangwell

Built between 1845 and 1851 as a summer house for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Osborne House is a must-see on the Isle of Wight.

Designed by Prince Albert himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo, it became the place of Queen Victoria’s death in 1901.

Osborne House, Isle of Wight. Credit Antony McCallum
Osborne House, Isle of Wight. Credit Antony McCallum

Queen Victoria’s Beloved Pomeranians.

Rising nearly 100 feet out of the sea off the Isle of Wight’s western coast, three giant stacks of chalk called “the Needles”, with a Victorian-era lighthouse at the outer edge, make a dramatic photograph from the clifftop viewing spots.

Taking their name from a fourth needle-shaped chalk stack that collapsed in 1764, the name stuck even though the remaining stacks are not needle-like.

The Needles, Isle of Wight. Credit Mypix
The Needles, Isle of Wight. Credit Mypix

8. Norfolk

Built in 1816 for miller Edmund Savory, Burnham Overy Staithe Mill is one of almost 200 surviving mills across Norfolk county.

Converted to holiday accommodation, the mill is a protected building of historical importance and provides beautiful photographic opportunities, especially at sunrise.

Burnham Overy Staithe Windmill, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Burnham Overy Staithe Windmill, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Dating from 1912 and built on the foundations of an 18th-century mill, Horsey Windpump is a drainage windmill in the beautiful Norfolk Broads near the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth.

Horsey Mill, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Horsey Mill, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Dating back to the Tudor period, the historic cobbled lane of Elm Hill is a famous landmark in the city of Norwich.

Named after the old elm trees that once stood in the town square, Elm Hill was home to wealthy 15th-century merchants in the city’s weaving industry.

Like Gold Hill in Dorset and Mermaid Street in East Sussex, Elm Hill makes a beautiful photographic subject.

Elm Hill, Norwich. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Elm Hill, Norwich. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Constructed out of flint and mortar and faced with cream-coloured limestone from northwestern France near Caen, work began on Norwich Cathedral in 1096 and took another fifty years to complete.

Exceeded only by Salisbury Cathedral, the cloisters are the second-largest in the UK, through which a beautifully framed image of the second-tallest spire can be photographed.

Norwich Cathedral. Credit David Iliff
Norwich Cathedral. Credit David Iliff

9. Northern Ireland

About three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills in County Antrim lies an area of ancient lava flow comprising some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns known as the Giant’s Causeway.

Legend has it that the columns were built by the Irish giant Finn MacCool from Gaelic mythology, who was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner.

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit Tony Webster
Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit Tony Webster

Upon seeing Benandonner was much larger than himself, Finn hides and his wife disguises him as a baby, thus fooling Benandonner into thinking Finn’s father must be a true giant of giants.

Benandonner flees back to Scotland and destroys the causeway behind him.

Identical basalt columns from the same lava flow can be found on the Scottish side of the causeway at Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa.

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit Voytazz86
Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit Voytazz86

Linking the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede, a famous rope bridge spans the 66-ft gap, with a drop of nearly 100 feet to the rocks below.

Designated an area of outstanding beauty, it makes for stunning photographs, but be wary of crossing the bridge if you’re afraid of heights—some people cannot stomach the return journey and have to be taken off the island by boat.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland. Credit RafalZabron
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland. Credit RafalZabron

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you may recognize this remarkable avenue of beech trees used as a location in the fantasy drama television series.

40 Beautiful Images of Ireland in 1895.

Celebrating the completion of Gracehill House in 1775, James Stuart planted over 150 beech trees along the approach road to create an imposing corridor.

According to legend, the ghost of the Grey Lady haunts the road, flitting from tree to tree.

Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit Colin Park
Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit Colin Park

10. Oxfordshire

Founded around 1096, the University of Oxford—the oldest university in the English-speaking world—dominates the “city of dreaming spires”.

If you’re lucky enough to take a hot air balloon ride over Oxford, incredible views like the one below are yours to savour.

38 constituent colleges are scattered throughout the city centre, forming a beautifully preserved architectural wonder.

Aerial view of Oxford. Credit Chensiyuan
Aerial view of Oxford. Credit Chensiyuan

Viewed from the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the neo-classical Radcliffe Camera looks resplendent in the golden evening sunlight.

Built between 1737 and 1749 to house a science library funded by wealthy local doctor John Radcliffe, it is considered the most magnificent structure in Oxford.

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

10 Reasons to Love Oxford—the City of Dreaming Spires.

Birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is a monumental English Baroque country house originally granted as a gift to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough for his military triumphs in the Battle of Blenheim of 1704.

Larger than Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, or even Versailles, the sheer scale of Blenheim has to be seen to be appreciated and is difficult to squeeze in the frame.

With its richly colored stone columns against a dramatic sky, Blenheim is a photo gem.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Known as the “gateway” to the Cotswolds, Burford is a delightful medieval town on the River Windrush in West Oxfordshire.

It was the scene of a great battle in AD 752 between Cuthred, king of the West Saxons and Æthelbald, king of the Mercians, in which the Saxons vanquished the Mercians.

Local legend tells of a ghostly apparition of an unpopular 16th-century Lord and his wife riding a fiery coach through the town and bringing a curse upon all who see it.

Fortunately, the ghosts were corked in a glass bottle during an exorcism and cast into the river!

Burford, Oxfordshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Burford, Oxfordshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

11. Scotland

“Bonnie” meaning “pretty, attractive” is the perfect word to describe Scotland’s dramatic landscape.

Covered by ice sheets during the ice age, Scotland has been shaped by glaciation, forming towering mountains, deep glens, glittering lochs, thick woodland, and rolling pastureland.

Steeped in history and the struggle for freedom, Scotland is dotted with romantic historic castles and ruins that take your breath away.

One of the most iconic landmarks is Eilean Donan Castle in the western Highlands.

Eilean Donan, Scotland. Credit Nessy-Pic
Eilean Donan, Scotland. Credit Nessy-Pic

Eilean Donan—a place to live forever?

Fictional setting of Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake and the opera La donna del lago by Rossini, Loch Katrine is a popular scenic attraction within reach from Glasgow on a day trip.

Loch Katrine in the Trossachs of Scotland. Credit John McSporran, flickr
Loch Katrine in the Trossachs of Scotland. Credit John McSporran, flickr

Forming the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands, Loch Lomond is the largest inland stretch of water in Britain by surface area.

Surrounded by hills, Loch Lomond is popular as a leisure destination and is featured in the song “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”, a well-known traditional Scottish song first published in 1841.

Loch Lomond, Scotland. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Loch Lomond, Scotland. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Dominating the skyline of Edinburgh from its position atop Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress and one of Scotland’s most-visited attractions, with over 2 million visitors a year.

A Tour of Magical Victorian Scotland.

Princess Street Gardens makes a superb location from which to capture the castle, featuring the Victorian Ross Fountain, once exhibited at the International Exhibition of 1862 in Kensington, London.

Edinburgh Castle from Princess Street Gardens. Credit Gustavo Naharro, flickr
Edinburgh Castle from Princess Street Gardens. Credit Gustavo Naharro, flickr

12. Somerset

Crafted from honey-coloured stone, Bath became a popular spa town in the Georgian era as word spread of its curative natural spring water.

Designed by Robert Adam, one of the most successful and fashionable architects of the 18th century, his Palladian-style Pulteney Bridge is exceptional for having shops built across its entire span on both sides.

On a still day, the much-photographed bridge reflects almost perfectly in the River Avon.

Pulteney Bridge, Bath. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Pulteney Bridge, Bath. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Built around a Roman site for public bathing, the Roman Baths complex is a major tourist spot, attracting over a million visitors a year.

The Roman Baths, Bath, Somerset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Roman Baths, Bath, Somerset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

10 of the Best Things To Do in the City of Bath.

Attracting about half a million visitors a year is a deep limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills of Somerset known as Cheddar Gorge.

Rising almost 450 feet with near-vertical cliff-face sides, a dramatic photo opportunity is from the top looking down on the road snaking its way along the bottom of the gorge.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Credit Pablo Fernández
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Credit Pablo Fernández

Built between 1175 and 1490, Wells Cathedral is a dominant feature of the city of Wells and the surrounding Somerset countryside.

Called “the most poetic” of English cathedrals, the style is pure Gothic and thought to be the first truly Gothic structure in Europe.

The Pillars of the Earth – Inside England’s Medieval Cathedrals.

Displaying more than 300 sculpted figures, the façade has been described as “the supreme triumph of the combined plastic arts in England”.

It is a superb opportunity to capture in detail the fruits of medieval English craftsmanship.

Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset. Credit seier+seier
Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset. Credit seier+seier

13. Wales

Known as the “land of song” thanks to a centuries-old Welsh festival of literature, music, and performance, this Celtic nation of valleys is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain.

Pen-y-Gwryd is a mountain pass close to the foot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.

The famous mountaineering hostelry, Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, is located in the pass and is where the first successful Everest expedition team of 1953 stayed to train in the mountains of Snowdonia.

Pen-y-Gwryd pass, Snowdonia, Wales. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Pen-y-Gwryd pass, Snowdonia, Wales. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Formed by a post-glacial massive landslide that dammed the lake within the glaciated valley, Tal-y-llyn Lake is the most-photographed lake in Wales.

Tal-y-llyn Lake, Snowdonia, Wales. Credit Kevin Richardson
Tal-y-llyn Lake, Snowdonia, Wales. Credit Kevin Richardson

For a long time from the 13th century on, Llanrwst’s wool trade was so important that it set the price of wool for the whole of Britain.

Across from Pont Fawr—a narrow three-arch stone bridge built by famed 16th-century English architect Inigo Jones—sits the beautiful ivy-covered Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom.

40 Beautiful Images of Wales from the 1890s.

Originally a farmhouse, the building predates the bridge by about 100 years and creates a perfect chocolate box photograph.

Tu Hwnt I'r Bont Tearoom, Llanrwst, Wales. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom, Llanrwst, Wales. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Formed from Carboniferous Limestone, the Green Bridge of Wales is a natural arch on the stunning Pembrokeshire coastline

Described as the most spectacular arch in Britain, at around 80ft high, the Green Bridge is a popular tourist attraction and makes for a superb photo opportunity from the coastal footpath above.

The Green Bridge of Wales, Pembrokeshire. Credit Phil Dolby, flickr
The Green Bridge of Wales, Pembrokeshire. Credit Phil Dolby, flickr

14. Wiltshire

Best known for the prehistoric monument of standing stones called Stonehenge, Wiltshire has much to offer the avid photographer.

Constructed between 3000 and 2000 years before Christ, each stone is around 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighs around 25 tons.

Surrounded by myth, exactly how Stonehenge was built and what it was used for remain a mystery.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

Quintessentially English, and often considered the prettiest village in England, Castle Combe is unsurprisingly popular as a filming location, having featured in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and the original Dr Doolittle film.

Unmistakably Cotswold, with its honey-coloured local stone, beautiful photos are all but guaranteed.

Castle Combe, Wiltshire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Castle Combe, Wiltshire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

If you enjoyed the 2005 movie Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley, then you’ll love the gardens of Stourhead’s 2,650-acre estate where some of the filming took place.

One of the best views is across the bridge towards the Pantheon, thought to be the most important visual feature of the gardens.

Stourhead Gardens, Wilstshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Stourhead Gardens, Wilstshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Perched on a perfect green lawn, Salisbury Cathedral is a true wonder of medieval architecture.

Not only has it the tallest spire in Britain at 404 feet, but the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close.

Containing the best surviving copy of the Magna Carta—the founding text of Liberty—and one of the oldest working clocks in the world, Salisbury Cathedral is a must-see and a sight to behold.

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire. Credit Bellminsterboy
Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire. Credit Bellminsterboy

15. Yorkshire

Largest of all British counties, Yorkshire is home to the historic city of York and to vast areas of unspoiled countryside.

Sometimes nicknamed “God’s Own Country”, the Yorkshire Dales comprises river valleys and hills with pastures separated by dry-stone walls and grazed by sheep and cattle.

Swaledale is a typical limestone Yorkshire dale, with narrow valley floor, glacier-formed valley sides, green meadows, and fellside fields.

Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales from the Pennine Way. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales from the Pennine Way. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Opened in 1875 to carry the Settle-Carlisle Railway across Baty Moss in the valley of the River Ribble, the Ribblehead Viaduct is one of the great feats of Victorian engineering and complements the scenery with its graceful curve of arches.

Ribblehead Viaduct, Yorkshire Dales
Ribblehead Viaduct, Yorkshire Dales

10 Fun Facts About the Yorkshire Dales: England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

Overhanging timber-framed buildings dating back as far as the 14th century characterize the medieval street known as “the Shambles” in the city of York.

Once home to 25 butchers’ shops, its name derived from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels meaning “flesh shelves”.

Today, the Shambles is a mix of eateries, souvenir shops, a bookshop, and a bakery that make for a delightful photograph, especially in the early light of dawn.

The Shambles, York. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The Shambles, York. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

The Shambles—York’s Famous Medieval Street.

Dramatically set into a rocky gorge, Knaresborough is a historic medieval market town and spa.

Weaving up from the river, a maze of cobbled paths and stone staircases begs to be explored.

Built in 1851, the castellated viaduct with its soaring arches spanning the River Nidd makes an excellent photo taken from the ruins of Knaresborough Castle.

Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

The Beautiful Public Footpaths of Britain

The “right to roam” across hill and valley, field and glen, moor and fen.

Not quite … but it’s close.

England and Wales have designated paths on which our right to pass and re-pass is protected by law.

The Cotswold Way

At 102 miles, the Cotswold Way is the shortest and easiest of our three examples of long-distance footpaths and one of the most delightful.

A Cotswold Way Signpost Marker. Credit Richard Cocks
A Cotswold Way Signpost Marker. Credit Richard Cocks
Cotswold Way at Battle of Lansdown. Credit Ballista
Cotswold Way at Battle of Lansdown. Credit Ballista
Footpath from Mickleton village in the Cotswolds. Credit JR P, flickr
Footpath from Mickleton village in the Cotswolds. Credit JR P, flickr

Gently rolling hills rise from the meadows of the upper reaches of the River Thames creating a gorgeous grassland habitat that is ideal for sheep farming.

Flourishing during the medieval period, the Cotswolds’ wool trade created the wealth that has shaped so much of the region’s beauty.

The Cotswold Way. Credit Artur Kozioł
The Cotswold Way. Credit Artur Kozioł

Dotted with picturesque little villages, beautiful Georgian towns, and ancient sites, the Cotswold Way starts in the south at the city of Bath and ends in the charming market town of Chipping Campden.

Bath is a World Heritage Site largely because of its beautiful Georgian architecture in honey-coloured stone.

Much photographed in Bath is the 18th-century Palladian style Pulteney Bridge and weir.

Pulteney Bridge & the River Avon, Bath. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Pulteney Bridge & the River Avon, Bath. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

10 of the best things to do in the City of Bath.

Notable for its elegant terraced High Street, Chipping Campden features many buildings from the 14th through the 17th century.

Meaning “market-place”, the word “Chipping” is found in other English town names like Chipping Norton and Chipping Sodbury.

Once a rich wool trading centre in medieval times, today it is a popular tourist haunt with old inns, pubs, and specialist shops.

Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Standing proudly at the centre of the town is the medieval arched Market Hall, built in 1627.

Chipping Campden old market hall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Chipping Campden old market hall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Often referred to as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds”, Broadway is another charming village along the Cotswold Way.

Traditional corner shop in Broadway, Worcestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Traditional corner shop in Broadway, Worcestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Lined with red chestnut trees and honey-coloured Cotswold limestone buildings, the wide grass-fringed main street gives Broadway its name.

Broadway High Street. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Broadway High Street. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Designed by James Wyatt in 1794 to resemble a mock “Saxon” castle, Broadway Tower is a folly in the English county of Worcestershire and built for Lady Coventry in 1799.

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire. Credit Saffron Blaze
Broadway Tower, Worcestershire. Credit Saffron Blaze

Perched on the edge of the second highest point in the Cotswolds overlooking the Severn Vale, on a clear day, as many as 16 English counties can be identified from the top of the tower.

A view of Broadway Village from Broadway Tower. Credit Saffron Blaze
A view of Broadway Village from Broadway Tower. Credit Saffron Blaze

Built in the late 1500s, Stanway House is a Jacobean manor near the village of Stanway along the Cotswold Way.

Protected as a building of exceptional historic interest, Stanway House has been featured in the British comedy-drama series Jeeves and Wooster, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, and the period drama Father Brown.

Stanway House, the Cotswolds. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Stanway House, the Cotswolds. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

With its manicured gardens and superbly preserved structure dating back to the 1400s, Sudeley Castle is well worth a visit as you walk the Cotswold Way.

Once the home of Dowager Queen Catherine Parr, last of Henry VIII’s six wives, the castle chapel holds her marble tomb.

Sudeley Castle. Credit Wdejager
Sudeley Castle. Credit Wdejager
Sunshine after fresh rain on Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds. Credit Jason Ballard, flickr
Sunshine after fresh rain on Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds. Credit Jason Ballard, flickr

With countless beautiful old pubs and little antique shops, there’s plenty to discover on the Cotswold Way for memories that will last a lifetime.

Broadway Antiques shop. Credit JCNazza
Broadway Antiques shop. Credit JCNazza

The Pennine Way

Running 267 miles along the Pennine Hills, dubbed “the backbone of England”, the Pennine Way starts in the Peak District and ends just inside the Scottish border.

Around 260,000 walkers use all or part of the path each year, which includes 287 gates, 432 stiles, and 204 bridges.

Surveying the route from Mam Tor (Mother Hill), the Peak District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Surveying the route from Mam Tor (Mother Hill), the Peak District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

According to local ramblers, it is “one of Britain’s best known and toughest” national trails.

Footpath at Mam Tor, Peak District, Derbyshire. Credit Baz Richardson
Footpath at Mam Tor, Peak District, Derbyshire. Credit Baz Richardson

Inspired by America’s Appalachian Trail, journalist Tom Stephenson proposed the concept for the path in 1935 and lobbied parliament for an official trail.

The countryside at Castleton in the Peak District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The countryside at Castleton in the Peak District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Known as the official start of the Pennine Way, the Old Nag’s Head in Edale is a low-ceilinged, stone-built pub sitting at the top of Edale village square since 1577.

Hand-pulled real ales and old-fashioned English pub fare are very popular after a long day hiking to local viewing spots with names like “The Nab” and “Ringing Roger”.

The Old Nags Head at Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District. Credit Clem Rutter
The Old Nags Head at Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District. Credit Clem Rutter
Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Pennine Way from above Muker. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Pennine Way from above Muker. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

The Yorkshire Dales: England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

Public footpath near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Immanuel Giel
Public footpath near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Immanuel Giel

Nestled in the Swaledale valley of the Yorkshire Dales, Thwaite is a beautiful little village with buildings made from local stone.

Originating from Old Norse “thveit”, the name Thwait means a clearing, implying that the area was once covered by thick forest.

Thwaite from the Pennine Way, Swaledale. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Thwaite from the Pennine Way, Swaledale. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Grazed by sheep and cattle, the green upland pastures are separated by dry-stone walls built without mortar but stable thanks to a unique construction of interlocking stones.

The Pennine Way at Thwaite in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Bob Radlinski

The Kearton Tearooms and guesthouse are named after pioneering 19th-century wildlife photographers Richard and Cherry Kearton.

Named after the River Swale, meaning “rapid and liable to deluge” in old Anglo-Saxon, Swaledale is a typical limestone Yorkshire Dale with a narrow valley floor and green meadow glacier-formed valley sides.

View from a footpath along the River Swale in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Bob Radlinski
View from a footpath along the River Swale in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Bob Radlinski

Deriving from the Viking word Kelda meaning a spring, Keld is at the confluence of the Pennine Way and another long-distance footpath called the Coast to Coast Walk.

Keld in the Yorkshire Dales as seen from the Pennine Way. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Keld in the Yorkshire Dales as seen from the Pennine Way. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Comprising a series of four steps, each its own small waterfall with the largest single drop being about 20 feet, Catrake Force is about 1/2 mile walk from Keld along the Pennine Way.

Waterfalls in the north of England are often called Forces after the Norse word Foss which means waterfall, whilst Catrake derives from the Latin “cataracta”, also meaing waterfall.

Catrake Force waterfall at Keld in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Catrake Force waterfall at Keld in the Yorkshire Dales. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

The South West Coast Path

Voted “Britain’s Best Walking route” twice in a row by the Ramblers Walk magazine, at 630 miles, it is the longest of our three featured long-distance walks.

Signpost on the South West Coast Path at Bareppa, Cornwall. Credit Tim Green, flickr
Signpost on the South West Coast Path at Bareppa, Cornwall. Credit Tim Green, flickr

Since the South West Coast Path rises and falls at the mouth of each river, it is one of the most challenging walks in Britain.

The Cornish coast near St Agnes. Credit Baz Richardson
The Cornish coast near St Agnes. Credit Baz Richardson
A public footpath down some steps to a Cornish beach. Credit Jane White
A public footpath down some steps to a Cornish beach. Credit Jane White

Originating as a route for the Coastguard to walk from lighthouse to lighthouse patrolling for smugglers, it hugs the coastline and provides excellent views of the dozens of bays and coves.

North Cornwall Coast Walk. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
North Cornwall Coast Walk. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Turquoise waters lap beautiful deserted beaches.

Skylarks rise above steep green pastures.

Is this some Caribbean paradise isle?

No, this is Lantic Bay, Cornwall, a part of England bathed in the warmth of the Gulf Stream—an Atlantic ocean current originating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The South West Coast Path at Lantic Bay, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson
The South West Coast Path at Lantic Bay, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson

Lying within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Portloe is a good example of a secluded small fishing village that’s relatively untouched by tourism.

Two full-time working fishing vessels haul in fresh crab and lobster to be enjoyed at the Ship Inn or Lugger Hotel.

Portloe, Cornwall. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Portloe, Cornwall. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
A two-step stile in a Cornish forest. Credit Dennis White
A two-step stile in a Cornish forest. Credit Dennis White
The Golden Cock Footpath in Cornwall. Credit Denis White
The Golden Cock Footpath in Cornwall. Credit Denis White
The Cornish coast at Polperro. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Cornish coast at Polperro. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Once a staging point on the pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral for those pilgrims traveling from further west by sea and from Brittany in France, Kingswear village sits on the east bank of the River Dart in Devon.

Kingswear, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Kingswear, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Serving as the railhead for the Dartmouth Steam Railway, Kingswear provides walkers of the South West Coast path a chance to ride on an original steam train that first opened in 1859 to the seaside resort of Paignton about 7 miles away.

Dartmouth Steam railway. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Dartmouth Steam railway. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Dartmouth Steam railway. Credit Geof Sheppard
Dartmouth Steam railway. Credit Geof Sheppard

Durdle Door (sometimes written Durdle Dor) is a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth in Dorset.

Privately owned but open to the public, the name Durdle is derived from the Old English ‘thirl’ meaning bore or drill.

Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth in Dorset, England. Credit Lies Thru a Lens
Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth in Dorset, England. Credit Lies Thru a Lens

Spanning 185 million years of geological history, the 96-mile long Jurassic Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Coastal erosion has exposed rock formations and fossils covering the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous geological periods.

Jurassic Coast, Dorset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Jurassic Coast, Dorset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Radically reshaped in the 18th and 19th centuries by deep-lode mining for copper and tin, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape is another UNESCO World Heritage Site along the South West Coast Path.

Reflecting the flowering of innovation during the Industrial Revolution, the mines, engine houses, foundries, and ports enabled the region to produce two-thirds of the world’s supply of copper.

Following the copper crash of the 1860’s, production turned to focus on tin mining.

Cornish tin mine at Chapel Porth. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Cornish tin mine at Chapel Porth. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

On your way along the north coast path of Cornwall, you might like to drop in on the picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac which served as the backdrop for the popular TV series Doc Martin.

Port Isaac, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Port Isaac, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

The only question remaining is which path to take first?

Decisions, decisions.

Decisions, decisions. Credit Phil Sangwell
Decisions, decisions. Credit Phil Sangwell

10 Reasons to Love Winchester—the Ancient City of Kings and Knights

Steeped in history and legend, Winchester is a reminder of Britain’s mythical past.

Soak up the gothic splendor of Winchester Cathedral, stroll along ancient river walks, laugh at street theatre, or relax over wine or a fine ale.

Winchester is an adventure in time.

Here are 10 reasons you’ll fall in love with Winchester.

1. Ancient Capital of England

Honored by a huge statue 17 feet high, Alfred the Great stands watching over the city he built on top of the old Roman settlement of Venta Belgarum.

Today it is known as Winchester—the Anglo-Saxon capital of England before London.

King Alfred's Statue, Winchester. Credit Odejea
King Alfred’s Statue, Winchester. Credit Odejea

Venta Belgarum means “Town of the Belgae”—a confederation of tribes mostly living in present day Belgium, but some living in southern England.

Following the Roman invasion of Britain, the Romans founded the settlement in around 70 AD and developed it into a major trading center with city walls, before withdrawing from Britain some 340 years later.

During diggings at the corner of Little Minster Street and Minster Lane in 1878, a beautiful Roman mosaic was discovered.

Depicting a dolphin, you can see the mosaic on display at the Winchester City Museum.

Roman Mosaic discovered in Winchester. Credit John W. Schulze, flickr
Roman Mosaic discovered in Winchester. Credit John W. Schulze, flickr

But Winchester’s history goes back much further to the Iron Age (1200 BC – 1 BC), with the remains of three hill forts all in the nearby vicinity—Oram’s Arbour, St. Catherine’s Hill, and Worthy Down.

St. Catherine's Hill in Winchester is an Iron age Hill Fort. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
St. Catherine’s Hill in Winchester is an Iron age Hill Fort. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

One day in 2000, a retired florist was out in the fields of Winchester hoping to get lucky with his metal detector and perhaps find something interesting.

Striking one of the most important Iron Age gold hoards for fifty years and valued at £350,000 ($457,000), he was a little more than lucky.

Housed in the British Museum, the Winchester Hoard is thought to be a lavish diplomatic gift dating from about 75-25 BCE.

Winchester Hoard. Credit Portable Antiquities Scheme, flickr
Winchester Hoard. Credit Portable Antiquities Scheme, flickr

2. Winchester Gothic Cathedral

Having the longest nave and overall length of all Gothic cathedrals in Europe, it comes as little surprise that Winchester Cathedral is the major landmark of the city.

Winchester Cathedral at Sunset. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Winchester Cathedral at Sunset. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

Originally founded in 642 and known as the “Old Minster”, it was demolished by the Normans in 1093 and a new cathedral built in its place.

Squat and square, the tower is 150 ft tall which pales in comparison with Salisbury Cathedral’s 404 ft spire—just 25 miles to the west of Winchester.

Winchester Cathedral showing west end, central tower and longest Gothic cathedral nave in Europe. Credit WyrdLight.com
Winchester Cathedral showing west end, central tower and longest Gothic cathedral nave in Europe. Credit WyrdLight.com

Some speculate that Winchester Cathedral may have later had a spire if funds had been available since spires were highly desirable.

But the current tower is the second after the first collapsed in 1107—an accident blamed on the impious William Rufus (William the Conqueror’s heir) who was buried in the Cathedral.

It’s possible this “bad omen” halted any plans for a spire that would reach to the heavens—which might have looked like the image below.

What Winchester Cathedral might have looked like with its spire intact
What Winchester Cathedral might have looked like with its spire intact
The ceiling of the Choir in the ancient Cathedral of Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The ceiling of the Choir in the ancient Cathedral of Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Winchester Cathedral Choir looking west. Credit David Iliff
Winchester Cathedral Choir looking west. Credit David Iliff
The nave of Winchester Cathedral as viewed from the west looking towards the choir. Credit David Iliff
The nave of Winchester Cathedral as viewed from the west looking towards the choir. Credit David Iliff

Honored as a beautiful statue, Saint Joan of Arc stares in vain at the Chancery Chapel of Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, a man who helped condemn her to death by burning at the stake in 1431.

The statue of Joan of Arc is in Winchester Cathedral. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The statue of Joan of Arc is in Winchester Cathedral. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The High Altar of Winchester Cathedral. Credit David Iliff
The High Altar of Winchester Cathedral. Credit David Iliff

Spire or no, Winchester Cathedral is beautiful inside and out, and whether out for a stroll in the grounds or a guided tour, the setting is absolutely magical.

Winchester Cathedral. Credit Neil Howard
Winchester Cathedral. Credit Neil Howard
The 15th century Cheyney Court and Priory Gate in the Close of Winchester Cathedral. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The 15th century Cheyney Court and Priory Gate in the Close of Winchester Cathedral. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

3. Winchester Castle and King Arthur’s Round Table

At one time, Winchester had a castle, of which only the Great Hall still stands, but it houses one of the greatest artifacts from Arthurian Legend—The Round Table.

Symbolizing equality since a round table has no head, by the close of the 12th century, it came to represent the chivalric order of King Arthur’s court and the Knights of the Round Table.

Great Hall, Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Great Hall, Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

Normal poet Robert Wace said that Arthur created the Round Table to prevent quarrels among his barons, none of whom would accept a lower place than the others.

Arthur increased his personal entourage by inviting very distinguished men from far-distant kingdoms to join it.

King Arthur's Round Table at Winchester Castle
King Arthur’s Round Table at Winchester Castle

In Celtic lore, warriors sit in a circle around the king or lead warrior.

British cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth says that after establishing peace throughout Britain, Arthur “increased his personal entourage by inviting very distinguished men from far-distant kingdoms to join it.”

The Round Table experiences a vision of the Holy Grail by Évrard d'Espinques, 1475
The Round Table experiences a vision of the Holy Grail by Évrard d’Espinques, 1475
King Arthur by Charles Ernest Butler, 1903
King Arthur by Charles Ernest Butler, 1903

4. Winchester College

Claiming the longest unbroken history of any school in England, Winchester College was established in 1382 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and chancelloer to Edward III and Richard II.

Founded in conjunction with New College, Oxford, it was meant to prepare students to attend Oxford University.

Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge would later follow the same model.

The 14th century Middle Gate tower and Chamber Court of Winchester College. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The 14th century Middle Gate tower and Chamber Court of Winchester College. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Winchester College. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Winchester College. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Be sure to pop into the Wykeham Arms pub for a bite to eat and a pint of delicious local ale.

You can even sit at old school desks from the college, complete with ink wells.

Inside the Wycham Arms pub with old school desks. Credit Kake, flickr
Inside the Wycham Arms pub with old school desks. Credit Kake, flickr

An independent boarding school for boys in the British public school tradition, according to Tatler Magazine, 35% of leavers in 2015 had places at Oxford or Cambridge; most of the rest attended other universities, including those in North America.

Performance like that doesn’t come cheap, with fees of £38,100 per year (almost $50,000 per year).

The 14th century cloisters of Winchester College Chapel. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The 14th-century cloisters of Winchester College Chapel. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
West Hill with Winchester College Chapel beyond. Credit Herry Lawford, flickr
West Hill with Winchester College Chapel beyond. Credit Herry Lawford, flickr
The Chapel of Winchester College in Hampshire was completed in 1395, and the organ in 1403. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The Chapel of Winchester College in Hampshire was completed in 1395, and the organ in 1403. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

5. Jane Austen’s House

Living in Chawton, Hampshire, about 18 miles north-east of Winchester, Jane Austen started feeling unwell early in the year of 1816.

When her uncle died leaving nothing of his fortune to his relatives, her condition deteriorated and by mid-April she was bed-ridden.

Jane Austen's house in Chawton, Hampshire (The Jane Austen Museum). Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, Hampshire (The Jane Austen Museum). Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Suffering agonizing pain, her sister Cassandra and brother-in-law Henry brought her to Winchester for treatment in May.

She lived here, at 8 College Street, Winchester for the last few weeks of her life.

Jane Austen's house on College Street Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Jane Austen’s house on College Street Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Jane Austen's House. Credit Mike Peel
Jane Austen’s House. Credit Mike Peel
Jane Austen's House. Credit Alwyn Ladell, flickr
Jane Austen’s House. Credit Alwyn Ladell, flickr
Click here to see Jane Austen’s House in Winchester

On 18 July, at the age of 41, Jane Austen, one of the most prolific writers of the Regency Era, passed to another place free from pain.

She is buried in the north aisle of the nave of Winchester Cathedral.

Jane Austen's memorial stone in Winchester Cathedral. Credit Spencer Means, flickr
Jane Austen’s memorial stone in Winchester Cathedral. Credit Spencer Means, flickr

6. Ancient City Walls, Streets, and the River Itchen

When you enter Winchester through one of the medieval arched gateways, you get a buzz—a feeling that this is going to be special, that you are traveling back in time to a land of Anglo-Saxon Kings, Knights, Bishops, and peasants.

In short, Winchester has atmosphere.

The High Street of Winchester. Credit Anguskirk

Parts of the medieval city walls still stand, strong and imposing, forever protecting the city inhabitants.

Sat here, time stands still, allowing your mind to wonder how many travelers passed this way on pilgrimages to the magnificent cathedral.

Winchester's Medieval City Wall. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Winchester’s Medieval City Wall. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

Fortunately, advances in city architecture have left Winchester largely free from blight.

It’s a city with relatively few brutal buildings from the 60’s and 70’s and has remained beautiful for hundreds of years.

High Street, Winchester c 1890s. Credit Alwyn Ladell
High Street, Winchester c 1890s. Credit Alwyn Ladell

The town clock still reminds you what time it is regardless of how many carry mobile phones.

The High Street of Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The High Street of Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

There’s time to enjoy the simpler things in life.

Shopping in the High Street, Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Shopping in the High Street, Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

The Victorians appreciated aesthetics—their gothic revival architecture blended with the medieval to keep the mythical past alive.

The Guildhall (Town Hall) in Winchester was built in 1871. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The Guildhall (Town Hall) in Winchester was built in 1871. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Great Minster Street, Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Great Minster Street, Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
St. Swithun's Bridge Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
St. Swithun’s Bridge Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
River Itchen, Winchester. Credit Johan Bakker
River Itchen, Winchester. Credit Johan Bakker

Powered by the River Itchen, the old City Mill is probably the country’s oldest working watermill, with over a thousand years of history.

Water Mill, Winchester. Credit Johan Bakker
Water Mill, Winchester. Credit Johan Bakker

7. Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty

Founded in the 1130s by Henry de Blois—the Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Winchester, and grandson of William the Conqueror—the Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty is the oldest charitable institution in the United Kingdom.

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty. Credit barnyz, flickr
The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty. Credit barnyz, flickr

Built on the scale of an Oxbridge college, the almshouses are the largest medieval examples in Britain.

St. John's almshouses in Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
St. John’s almshouses in Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Since at least the 14th century, and still available today, a ‘wayfarer’s dole’ of ale and bread has been handed out at the chapel.

The sustenance was supposedly instigated to aid pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.

Handing out Wayfarer's Dole at St Cross Hospital, Winchester. Credit Alwyn Ladell, flickr
Handing out Wayfarer’s Dole at St Cross Hospital, Winchester. Credit Alwyn Ladell, flickr
The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, Winchester. Spencer Means, flickr
The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, Winchester. Spencer Means, flickr
The nave facing east, the late Norman church of the Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, Winchester. Credit Spencer Means, flickr
The nave facing east, the late Norman church of the Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, Winchester. Credit Spencer Means, flickr

8. Street Theatre, Fairs, and Farmers Market

Just as our medieval forebears enjoyed street entertainments, so too do Winchester residents who gather on the cathedral lawns or the High Street to celebrate street theatre during the summer festival season.

Entertainers in the Close of the 11th century Cathedral. Credit Anguskirk, flickr, flickr
Entertainers in the Close of the 11th century Cathedral. Credit Anguskirk, flickr, flickr
Unicycle jugglers entertain the crowd in the Cathedral Close. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Unicycle jugglers entertain the crowd in the Cathedral Close. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Winchester hosts one of the UK’s largest farmers’ markets, with about 100 stalls of fresh locally grown produce.

The market at Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The market at Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

During the Christmas holiday season, hundreds of children holding paper lanterns process along the High Street to the Cathedral Close to mark the opening of the Christmas Market and Ice Rink.

The Christmas lantern Parade at Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The Christmas lantern Parade at Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

9. Walking, Cycling, and Surrounding Countryside

Whether you’re working off a big evening meal with a pleasant stroll or engaged in a more active pursuit, Winchester’s walks are a delight for the senses.

From the City centre, there is a lovely 20-minute walk along the riverside footpath to the ancient Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse.

The Water Meadows riverside walk in Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The Water Meadows riverside walk in Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

How much more enjoyable does it get to soak up Winchester’s sights than on a bicycle made for two?

A couple cycle past Winchester Cathedral on a bicycle made for two. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
A couple cycle past Winchester Cathedral on a bicycle made for two. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

Hampshire’s countryside, towns, and villages are some of the prettiest in Britain, with fields of green and bright yellow stretching for miles.

An ancient Roman road that is now a footpath will take you on an adventure from Winchester Cathedral to Salisbury Cathedral—this is “Pillars of the Earth” country.

Canola (rapeseed) crop near Winchester. Credit, Neil Howard
Canola (rapeseed) crop near Winchester. Credit, Neil Howard
The Duckpond at Crawley, near Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
The Duckpond at Crawley, near Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

Hampshire is one of the best counties to see gorgeous thatched cottages.

Thatched cottage in Easton near Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Thatched cottage in Easton near Winchester. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Click here to see thatched houses in East Stratton, near Winchester
Cottage by the village pond at Crawley, near Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Cottage by the village pond at Crawley, near Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Road through the Crab Wood, near Winchester, UK. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Road through the Crab Wood, near Winchester, UK. Credit Neil Howard, flickr

10. Cafes, Pubs, and Restaurants

Winchester boasts some of the oldest pubs in Britain.

From debating the best way to grow prize roses to who will win the county cricket championships, there’s not much beats a glass of wine al fresco.

Time to talk over a glass of wine at La Place Bistro. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Time to talk over a glass of wine at La Place Bistro. Credit Neil Howard, flickr
Winchester Pubs
Winchester Pubs

Delightful pubs and restaurants abound in Winchester.

Whether you’re looking for a delicious lunch at the Chesil Rectory—Winchester’s oldest house—or something French for evening upscale dining at the Hotel du Vin, Winchester is sure to be one of your best and favorite memories.

Chesil Rectory is the oldest building in Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Chesil Rectory is the oldest building in Winchester. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Hotel du Vin, Winchester. Image credit Hotel du Vin
Hotel du Vin, Winchester. Image credit Hotel du Vin

10 Fun Facts About the Yorkshire Dales: England’s Green and Pleasant Land

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

—William Blake, Jerusalem.
Pattern

Such is the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales that as you traverse its rolling hills with pretty dry-stone walls, discover its delightful villages, with tearooms and bookshops, and gasp in awe at its breathtaking valleys, you may be forgiven for thinking this is God’s own country.

Whether by car, bicycle or on foot, the Yorkshire Dales will surprise and delight at every turn.

Join us, dear reader, as we explore 10 fun facts about the Yorkshire Dales.

Yockenthwaite is a hamlet in the Langstrothdale valley in the Yorkshire Dales. Creit Alison Christine
Yockenthwaite is a hamlet in the Langstrothdale valley in the Yorkshire Dales. Creit Alison Christine
Cyclists. Credit Tejvan Pettinger
Cyclists. Credit Tejvan Pettinger
Winding road through Littondale. Credit Kreuzschnabel
Winding road through Littondale. Credit Kreuzschnabel
Jordan Lane near Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales
Jordan Lane near Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales

1. The Yorkshire Dales are named after their rivers

Shaped by glaciers in the last ice age, the Yorkshire Dales are river valleys named after their river or stream.

River valleys all over Yorkshire are called “(name of river)+dale”—but only the upper, more rural valleys are included in the term “The Yorkshire Dales”.

Wharfdale is the "valley" (dale) of the River Wharf. Credit TJBlackwell
Wharfdale is the “valley” (dale) of the River Wharf. Credit TJBlackwell
Europe during its last glaciation, about 20,000 to 70,000 years ago
Europe during its last glaciation, about 20,000 to 70,000 years ago

The word “dale” means valley and is derived from the 12th-century Old English word dael. It is used in Scotland and northern England, and is related to the Welsh word dôl and the German word tal.

More general use of the word “dale” was superseded in the 14th century by the word “valley’ from Anglo-French valee.

2. The Dales has several amazing Limestone Rock formations including deep caves

Found in previously glaciated limestone environments, limestone pavements are flat areas of limestone with deep surface patterning resembling paving stones.

Limestone plateau, Malhamdale. Credit Andi Campbell-Jones
Limestone plateau, Malhamdale. Credit Andi Campbell-Jones

The underlying limestone has eroded to form vast caves in several areas. Gaping Gill is a 322 ft deep shaft that is the largest underground chamber open to the surface in England. The volume has been calculated to equal that of York Minster.

Gaping Gill. Credit Mjobling
Gaping Gill. Credit Mjobling

3. Massive, graceful edifices to Victorian ingenuity allow the railways to cross the Dales

When the Victorians wanted to cross the Yorkshire Dales by rail in the 1870s, this was their answer—Ribblehead Viaduct.

Ribblehead Viaduct crossing Ribbledale
Ribblehead Viaduct crossing Ribbledale

Undaunted by the undulations of the dales, the Ribblehead Viaduct traverses a 440-yard span with a height of 104 ft above the valley floor.

It took 1000 navvies to build, 100 of whom died during construction either from accidents or outbreaks of smallpox.

The term ‘navvy” derives from Navigational Engineer and means a manual laborer for a major civil engineering project.

These workers built their own shanty towns close to the viaduct, naming them after Crimean War (1853-1856) victories and biblical names.

The TV series “Jericho” is a period drama based on the building of the Ribblehead Viaduct.

As graceful a sight as Ribblehead is, anyone familiar with large-scale engineering projects will appreciate just how daunting this must have been for the Victorians—and will see it in a different light.

Ribblehead Viaduct cast in a glowing light. Credit chantrybee
Ribblehead Viaduct cast in a glowing light. Credit chantrybee

24 arches, each spanning 45 feet, with foundations sunk 25 feet into the valley required 1.5 million bricks and some limestone blocks weighing 8 tons each.

Considered to be the most beautiful and spectacular railway journey in England, the Settle to Carlisle Railway crosses the Ribblehead Viaduct with its incredible views of the Dales.

Southern Railway steam locomotive leaving Garsdale station. Credit David Ingham
Southern Railway steam locomotive leaving Garsdale station. Credit David Ingham

4. Dry stone walls wind their way across the rolling hills

Dry stone walls are as common as sheep and give the Yorkshire Dales its delightful appearance—weaving their way across the rolling hills in all directions.

Dry Stone Walls and Bridleways. Credit Dave_S
Dry Stone Walls and Bridleways. Credit Dave_S

With no mortar to help bind them, it is the interlocking compressional forces that give the walls their structural integrity.

Ribblesdale with Pen-y-Ghent peak in the background. Credit Darkroom Daze
Ribblesdale with Pen-y-Ghent peak in the background. Credit Darkroom Daze

Construction of dry stone walls requires considerable skill, with experienced wallers few in number. Large, flat stones are used at the base, diminishing is size as the wall rises.

To help prevent the wall simply breaking apart, long tie stones are placed periodically which span both faces of the wall. Similarly, long capstones finish the final layer and provide rigidity.

5. Wensleydale is named after the small market town that originally produced the delicious, crumbly Wensleydale cheese

Wensleydale is an exception to the way most dales are named after their rivers. It is named after the small market town that originally produced the delicious, crumbly cheese.

French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region of France who settled in Wensleydale brought with them a recipe for making cheese from sheep’s milk. Cow’s milk has been used since the 14th century.

The market town of Hawes at the head of Wensleydale. Credit Peer Lawther
The market town of Hawes at the head of Wensleydale. Credit Peer Lawther

After the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540, local farmers continued making the cheese up until World War II when milk was used to make “Government Cheddar” as part of the rationing of the war effort.

Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries
Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries

Wensleydale with cranberries is popular in restaurants and delicatessens and there is a Yorkshire saying:

“an apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze”

6. Mary Queen of Scots once stayed at Bolton Castle

The 14th-century Bolton Castle is a notable local historic site near Wensleydale.

Bolton Castle, Wensleydale. Credit Peter Hughes
Bolton Castle, Wensleydale. Credit Peter Hughes

Famous for serving as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots, a story tells of how she escaped and lost her shawl on the way to Leyburn, hence the name “The Shawl”—a cliff edge that runs westward out of Leyburn, known for easy walks with excellent views.

Bolton Castle Maze, Wensleydale. Credit Peter Hughes
Bolton Castle Maze, Wensleydale. Credit Peter Hughes
Bolton Castle, Wensleydale. Credit Freddie Phillips
Bolton Castle, Wensleydale. Credit Freddie Phillips

7. Bolton Abbey has a rich past—and rich owners too

Built in the 12th century as an Augustinian monastery, Bolton Abbey sits on the banks of the River Wharf on a 133,000-acre estate in Wharfedale.

Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale. Credit Dr John Wells
Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale. Credit Dr John Wells

Owned by the Cavendish Family (better known for the peerage titles Duke and Duchess of Devonshire who also own Chatsworth House), the estate has 8 miles of river, 84 farms, 88 historic buildings, and 27 businesses—including tearooms and bookshops.

Fly Fishing in the River Wharfe next to Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale. Credit Carl Milner
Fly Fishing in the River Wharfe next to Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale. Credit Carl Milner
The Dalesman Cafe Gargrave on the outskirst of the Yorkshire Dales
The Dalesman Cafe Gargrave on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Dales

8. The Yorkshire Dales has a long history in lead mining

Mining for lead was a major industry in the Yorkshire Dales from the mid-17th century until about 1900, with Britain the world’s leader in lead production.

Lead Mining
Top: Ruins of former lead mining buildings at Gunnerside Beck, Yorkshire Dales. Bottom-left: Surrender Mill at Surrender Bridge, near Kearton, North Yorkshire, former lead smelting site. Bottom-right: Gunnerside from North Hush. A hush was formed by building a dam, then breaking it so that the rush of water stripped away the topsoil, revealing the lead ore beneath.

Geological processes make the rocks of the dales rich in lead, but although landowners struck a bargain with miners to prospect for lead and share in the profits, few miners saw any wealth.

It was hard manual labor with picks and shovels in dirty and dangerous situations.

Today, the remnants of a once thriving lead mining industry scar the landscape and can be explored.

Yarnbury Lead Mine entrance. Grassington. Credit Tom Blackwell
Yarnbury Lead Mine entrance. Grassington. Credit Tom Blackwell

9. Beautiful waterfalls grace the Dales landscape

The Yorkshire Dales has several beautiful waterfalls, most notably Aysgarth Falls in Wensleydale, which is spectacular after heavy rainfall as thousands of gallons of water cascade over several levels of limestone steps.

Aysgarth Falls, Wensleydale. Credit Rob Glover
Aysgarth Falls, Wensleydale. Credit Rob Glover

Originating from old Norse, the name Aysgarth means an open space in the oak trees.

Featured in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the falls have attracted artists and poets—Turner, Ruskin, Wordsworth—for over 200 years.

Aysgarth Falls on the descent into Wensleydale. Credit Dave_S
Aysgarth Falls on the descent into Wensleydale. Credit Dave_S
West Burton Waterfalls. Credit ukgardenphotos
West Burton Waterfalls. Credit ukgardenphotos

10. Medieval farms, sheep, and a good vet

Medieval farmsteads are dotted across the Yorkshire Dales.

With herds of sheep and cattle a common sight, a good veterinary surgeon has long been a valued member of the Dales community.

Yorkshire Dales Farmsteads
Yorkshire Dales Farmsteads

A major TV series based on the writings of Alf Wight, a Yorkshire veterinary surgeon who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot, was filmed largely in the Yorkshire Dales.

Sheep causing a traffic jam at Hawes, Wensleydale. Credit James Burke
Sheep causing a traffic jam at Hawes, Wensleydale. Credit James Burke

The books are a great read for anyone who wants to know more about Yorkshire country life, along with its characters and their inter-relationship with the farm animals of the Yorkshire Dales.

The sheep love James Herriot—just ask one.

Swaldale Sheep. Credit Ambersky235
Swaledale Sheep. Credit Ambersky235

7 Reasons Why You’ll Fall in Love With the Cotswolds

If you’ve decided on a trip to England for your next vacation, after you’ve enjoyed the bright lights of London, with all its glamour, sophistication and culture, one of the best places to slow-it-down and experience the quintessential English countryside is the Cotswolds.

Continue reading …

The Cotswolds is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by the government, which provides the same level of protection from development as the UK’s national parks. And it’s not difficult to see why this area is protected—gently rolling hills and meadows dotted with honey-colored stone-built historic villages, towns, country houses, and gardens.

There are many, many places to visit, but here are a few we visit on our journey through the Cotswolds.

One essential piece of equipment will be your camera because when you visit, you will want to capture the memories of this beautiful place forever.

Here are 7 reasons why you’ll fall in love with the Cotswolds.

1. The beauty will astound you

Cotswolds landscape. Credit Marina De Vos
Cotswolds landscape. Credit Marina De Vos
Several varieties of Lavender. Credit Saffron Blaze
Several varieties of Lavender. Credit Saffron Blaze
Linseed flower. Credit Herry Lawford
Linseed flower. Credit Herry Lawford
Bourton-on-the-water. Credit BritainandBritishness.com
Bourton-on-the-water. Credit BritainandBritishness.com

2. The buildings are made from the gorgeous honey-coloured local stone

Rich in fossils and dating from the Jurrasic period, the yellowish limestone of the Cotswolds varies in color from honey in the north to golden in central and southern parts and almost pearl-colored in the city of Bath.

The color takes on an especially warm hue as it reflects the afternoon sunlight.

House in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
House in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
Arlington Row in Bibury, Gloucestershire was built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. The buildings were converted into weavers' cottages in the 17th century
Arlington Row in Bibury, Gloucestershire was built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. The buildings were converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. Credit: Saffron Blaze.
The Royal Crescent in the City of Bath
The Royal Crescent in the City of Bath

3. The Cotswolds is steeped in history

Dating from the 14th century, Chipping Campden was once a thriving market town made rich from the wool trade.

Under these arches and on this cobbled floor, 17th-century wool merchants would ply their trade.

Built in 1627, the Market Hall was donated to the village by Viscount Campden.

The cobbled floor of the 17th century Market Hall in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
The cobbled floor of the 17th century Market Hall in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
Clockwise from top left: Almshouses donated to some of the village's poor folk by Baptist Hicks, 1st Viscount Campden; the banqueting hall is all that remains of Viscount Hicks's country mansion in Chipping Campden; Viscount Hicks; Viscount Hicks and his wife at rest in St James's church, Chipping Campden
Clockwise from top left: Almshouses donated to some of the village’s poor folk by Baptist Hicks, 1st Viscount Campden; the banqueting hall is all that remains of Viscount Hicks’s country mansion in Chipping Campden; Viscount Hicks; Viscount Hicks and his wife at rest in St James’s church, Chipping Campden

Standing 65 ft (20 m) tall, the Broadway Tower has a commanding view as the second-highest point in the Cotswold hills.

Built for Lady Coventry in 1799, the “Saxon” folly was the inspiration of Capability Brown—”England’s greatest gardener”—who wanted to answer a whimsical question from Lady Coventry: if a beacon tower were built here, could she see it from her house 22 miles away? Lady Coventry was so intrigued, she sponsored the construction.

Broadway Tower. Credit Phil Dolby
Broadway Tower. Credit Phil Dolby

Even buildings in the high streets of dozens of small Cotswold towns hold stories from centuries past.

Below, a rider passes in front of the Lygon Arms hotel in Broadway. Once called the White Hart Inn, Oliver Cromwell stayed here on 2nd September 1651, the night before the Battle of Worcester—the final and decisive battle of the English Civil War, fought between King Charles I’s royalist “Cavaliers” and Parliament’s “Roundheads”.

A rider passes in front of the Lygon Arms hotel in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze
A rider passes in front of the Lygon Arms hotel in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze

4. The Cotswolds is a garden lover’s dream

For gardening fans, there are several famous and historic gardens.

Hidcote Manor Garden at Kiftsgate is owned and managed by the National Trust and open to the public.

Bourton House Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
Bourton House Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P

Property owners love their gardens and it’s common to see flowers used as creative decoration to adorn front doors.

Broadway Terraced Cottages. Credit JR P
Broadway Terraced Cottages. Credit JR P
A cottage in Moreton-in-Marsh with wisteria growing round the front door
A cottage in Moreton-in-Marsh with wisteria growing around the front door

5. It’s like stepping back in time

Dreaming of a bygone era? Look no further than the Cotswolds where good old-fashioned values take prominence over progress.

Delivery bicycle at Tisanes Tea Room in Broadway, Worcestershire. Credit Mick
Delivery bicycle at Tisanes Tea Room in Broadway, Worcestershire. Credit Mick
1924 Vintage Vauxhall. Credit Roland Turner
1924 Vintage Vauxhall. Credit Roland Turner
1937 Austin van at the Cotswolds Motor Museum in Bourton-on-the-water
1937 Austin van at the Cotswolds Motor Museum in Bourton-on-the-water
Steam locomotive 92203 at Toddington on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway
Steam locomotive 92203 at Toddington on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway
Old fashioned Ice Cream Van. Credit Jim Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway
Old fashioned Ice Cream Van. Credit Jim Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway

6. Shops, pubs, tea rooms, and restaurants abound

The Cotswolds is a place where villages still have a greengrocer on the corner and local residents walk the dog to fetch a morning newspaper, stopping along the way to chat with neighbors.

Shops along High Street in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze
Shops along High Street in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze
The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington in the Cotswolds. Credit JR P
The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington in the Cotswolds. Credit JR P
Waterfront Tea Room and Eatery - Riverside, Bourton-on-the-Water. Credit Elliott Brown
Waterfront Tea Room and Eatery – Riverside, Bourton-on-the-Water. Credit Elliott Brown
Afternoon tea or a cocktail in the garden of the Broadway Hotel
Afternoon tea or a cocktail in the garden of the Broadway Hotel

Whatever time of year you visit, the Cotswolds will delight and surprise. Enjoy fine dining or a beverage (or two) by a cozy fireplace.

The Trout Inn on the River Thames at Lechlade, Cotswolds, England
The Trout Inn on the River Thames at Lechlade, Cotswolds, England

7. There are public footpaths and cycle paths everywhere

Signpost along the Cotswold Way. Credit Richard Cocks
Signpost along the Cotswold Way. Credit Richard Cocks
Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
A footpath in Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
A footpath in Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P

18 Gorgeous English Thatched Cottages

The counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, and Gloucestershire
The counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, and Gloucestershire

Up until the early 19th century, thatching was the only style of roofing available for most people living in the English countryside.

From about 1820, Welsh slate started to replace thatch as the roofing material of choice and the canals and later railways made it easier and cheaper to transport to remoter areas of England.

By the late 1800s, thatch became a sign of poverty as mechanization replaced agricultural jobs and people migrated to cities to work in factories.

Over the last 30 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in historic building preservation and thatch is now a symbol of wealth.

Join us as we take a look at some beautiful thatched cottages from the counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, and Gloucestershire.

Hampshire

A thatched cottage at Stoke in Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk
A thatched cottage at Stoke in Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk

Hampshire is the 3rd largest “shire” county in the UK. It has two national parks: the New Forest and the South Downs.

William the Conqueror created the New Forest as his personal hunting ground, evicting many poor peasant families from their homes in the process.

Two of his sons died in the forest, including his successor, King William II (William Rufus), who was struck by an arrow in mysterious circumstances. According to local folklore, this was an ‘act of God’ as punishment for his mistreatment of the area’s inhabitants.

Thatched cottage in the village of Longstock in Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk
Thatched cottage in the village of Longstock in Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk

You can visit the place where the king fell, called the Rufus Stone. The inscription reads:

“Here stood the oak tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100.”

A Thatched Cottage at Crawley near Winchester. Credit Neil Howard
A Thatched Cottage at Crawley near Winchester, Hampshire. Credit Neil Howard

Hampshire is famous for other other reasons too. Jane Austen and Charles Dickens both grew up here, as did one of the most prominent figures of the industrial revolution—Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

A thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk
A thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk

If you reside in New Hampshire, or Southampton or Portsmouth, Virginia, in the United States, you may be interested to know that some of the earliest Jamestown settlers hailed from Hampshire, England and named places after their old English home towns of Southampton and Portsmouth.

A thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk
A thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk
A thatched cottage at Wherwell in Hampshire. Credit Neil Howard
A thatched cottage at Wherwell in Hampshire. Credit Neil Howard
Cottage in Winchester Road, Wherwell. Credit Anguskirk
Cottage in Winchester Road, Wherwell, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk

Wiltshire

The home of Stonehenge, the medieval Salisbury Cathedral, and Longleat and Stourhead country houses, Wiltshire has much to offer residents and tourists alike.

Largely agricultural, 390 mills, and even vineyards, are mentioned in the Domesday Book—William the Conqueror’s “Great Survey” in 1086.

“While spending the Christmas time of 1085 in Gloucester, William had deep speech with his counsellors and sent men all over England to each shire to find out what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock and what it was worth.”

A pretty thatched cottage above the village of Pitton in Wiltshire. Credit Anguskirk
A pretty thatched cottage above the village of Pitton in Wiltshire. Credit Anguskirk

Prized for its wool in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Cistercian monasteries of Wiltshire supplied Florentine and Flemish markets.

Two thirds of the county lies on chalk, and has several white horses carved into the Wiltshire hillsides.

Claimed to commemorate King Alfred, who was born in the Vale of White Horse, according to legend, the first Anglo-Saxon invaders into England fought under a white horse standard.

Thatched cottage in Wiltshire. Credit JohnPickenPhoto
Thatched cottage in Wiltshire. Credit JohnPickenPhoto
Beautiful cottages at Haxton in Wiltshire. Credit Anguskirk
Beautiful cottages at Haxton in Wiltshire. Credit Anguskirk

Dorset

With a long history of settlement dating back to the Neolithic era, Dorset is no stranger to invaders, with Romans conquering the Celts, and the first recorded Viking raid on the British Isles in the 8th century.

Invaders of a different kind entered England in 1348 by way of flea-ridden rats carrying the Black Death at the Dorset coastal town of Melcombe Regis.

No wonder it was favored by invaders—over half of Dorset is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and three-quarters of its coastline is a World Heritage Site.

Cottage at West Lulworth, Dorset. Credit Anguskirk
Cottage at West Lulworth, Dorset. Credit Anguskirk
Gold Hill, Shatesbury, Dorset. Credit Louis du Mont
Gold Hill, Shatesbury, Dorset. Credit Louis du Mont
Thatched Cottage, Dorchester, Dorset
Thatched Cottage, Dorchester, Dorset

Gloucestershire

Comprising part of “The Cotswolds”—an area of gently rolling hills with golden-colored stone-built villages, historic towns and stately homes and gardens—Gloucestershire is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle—a year by year historical record of life in 10th century England.

The county is steeped in historic buildings from medieval Gloucester Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey and the church at Cirencester, to the Tudor Thornbury Castle which was thought so grand that it roused the jealously of a very powerful man—Cardinal Wolsey, who promptly beheaded its builder, the Duke of Buckingham, for alleged treason.

Thatched Cottage on The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit p&p
Thatched Cottage in Chipping Campden, The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit p&p
Thatched Cottages in Gloucester
Thatched Cottages in Gloucester

Hope you enjoyed the guided tour of some of England’s loveliest areas and their beautiful thatched cottages.