You will never be short of things to fill your time at one of England’s most formidable fortresses. The castle at Dover echoes memories that span the history of England, from the Iron Age through to World War II. Explore the Roman Pharos, said to be the oldest building in Britain, the Saxon church, miles of Napoleonic tunnels, wartime bunkers and underground hospitals, and that is before you set foot in the Great Keep itself. You will not be short of things to do at the ‘Gateway to Britain’.
St Michaels Mount
Situated on the South West coast of Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island housing an impressive castle and a small village. The low tide reveals a cobble path making the island accessible for brief periods of the day, but if you do not want to get your feet wet then there is a boat crossing also. The castle is protected by the National Trust and open to the public during the summer months.
The Victorian and Edwardian obsession for seaside leisure still encapsulates the minds and hearts of the English. The quintessential English holiday on the beaches of the south coast echo memories of childhood for many inland residents. Although there are many coastal towns to choose from, you will do well to best Brighton in terms of attractions. The Brighton Palace Pier is one of the largest and most extravagant in the country. You will find a huge arcades hall, fun fair rides, fish and chips, dunkin’ donuts, all along the wooden palisade that strides into the sea for a seamless eternity.
For picturesque views of the English Coast, you will do well to best Durdle Door in South Dorset. The huge limestone arch is a bucket list item for many landscape photographers and artists. From here you can explore vast stretches of the ‘Jurassic Coast’, from Weymouth to Swanage. Famed for its abundance of fossils, you will not be short of interesting places to discover in South Dorset.
Located in the North West of England, within the county of Cumbria, you will find the mountainous peaks of the Lake District. The Lake District contains England’s highest peak at Scaffell Pike, as well as its deepest lake at Windermere. For the natural rambler, the Lake District is perfect for hiking and camping. For the ideal escape from the bustle of modern life, go and explore the many peaks and lakes that make this landscape among the most protected in the country.
Head to Avebury in Wiltshire for a more wholesome spiritual adventure. Consisting of three large stone circles, Avebury boasts the largest megalithic stone ring in the world. You may explore and touch the stones at will, this freedom had made it an important site for spiritualists and contemporary pagans. The village of Avebury sits within the circle, here you can find restaurants, pubs and gift shops. If you still need your fill of ancient pre-history, then take a wander down the avenue of stones, visit Europe’s largest man-made mound at Silbury Hill, or head to West Kennett to explore the infamous barrow, all within walking distance of Avebury.
Tower of London
William the Conqueror’s great castle on the banks of the Thames has stood tall over large swathes of London’s rich history. The keep has served many purposes during its lifetime, from prison and gaol, to home of the Crown Jewels of England. The infamous Yeoman Wardens patrol the site on behalf of its owner, the Queen, but be wary if you do not see any ravens around the tower, for it is said if the ravens have left the keep, that London shall fall.
What list of attractions is complete without Stonehenge? These monoliths of stone stand proud on the plains about ten miles north of Salisbury. I would personally recommend the Stonehenge bus service from Salisbury where you can purchase a bus ticket and entry to Stonehenge from the driver and get an audio tour of Salisbury and the landscape up to the stones as well. Take the time to explore the landscape around Stonehenge too! The Cursus, The Avenue, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, there are hundreds of acres of prehistory to discover here, so be sure to visit them all.
Famed for its associations with King Arthur and other English folklore and mythologies, Glastonbury Tor is an absolute must for the spiritually adventurous. The hill has long been a site of religious and spiritual pilgrimage, from the Iron Age to the present. Many believe this site to be the location of the Holy Grail, others believe it a gateway into the ‘Land of the Dead’. Why not find out yourself, and head to the stunning Somerset levels and explore this special place and its spiritual significance.
Staying in Kent, why not pop over to Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury has often been cited as the most religious place in England due to its connections with early monks and subsequent abbeys and cathedrals. This cathedral became a place of great pilgrimage after the murder and martyrdom of Thomas Becket, a serving archbishop who was gruesomely murdered here in 1170. The cathedral grounds and the surrounding city scape have endeavoured to keep their medieval charm and appeal, making Canterbury one of the most picturesque cities within an hour’s travel from London.
The Isle of Wight is steeped in attractions and is a well-known holiday destination for mainland residents. Perhaps the most famous sight is The Needles in the far West of the island. Named after the sharp chalk rocks that appear to pierce through the sea, and the beautiful lighthouse that sits on its frontier. Head inland for a former nuclear weapons testing facility, and Alum Bay, famed for its multicoloured sand. You may head down into the bay to collect your own sand or peruse the brilliant gift shop on the cliffs crest for a plethora of sand themed collectibles.
The Roman’s did not spend all their time lounging in hot springs however, they were quite the keen architects. One of their most impressive building feats lies deep in the Northern territories of the country. Hadrian’s Wall is a vast stone barrier which runs uninterrupted from the Irish Sea on the West coast, to the North Sea on the East. It was once a defence against marauding Picts to the North. Little of the wall survives but along what is left you may find forts and defensive towers that once marked the very edge of the Roman Empire.
When it comes to bragging, the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Salisbury is not short of boasts. Here you can find, (and climb!) the tallest spire in England at a whopping 404 feet. Within the cathedral walls you will also find one of the best preserved copies of the Magna Carta, as well as the World’s oldest working clock. The Close that surrounds the Cathedral to is adorned with sculptures and art, as well as Salisbury Museum, Mompesson House and the Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum).
If the North is out of your reach, perhaps the Cotswolds would be a more fitting adventure. You will not find the highest peaks here, but the rolling hills of South West England and the idyllic, quintessential villages are more than enough to fill your desire for the English Countryside. Castle Combe has to be the must-see village here, but there are many quaint villages nestled in the beautiful Cotswold landscape for one to explore.
Bath gets its namesake from the presence of the Roman Baths situated within the city. The hot spring water that bubbles up here was utilised and worshipped by the Roman upper-classes, which led to huge sums of wealth being ploughed into the town. Although the baths are no longer used for leisure and bathing, you may still visit the infamous pools in the heart of Bath town centre. You may not need your towel, but a worthy visit, nonetheless.
The New Forest
The New Forest, largely situated in Hampshire, is a vast landscape of protected forests and pasture land in Southern England. Much is written of the wild horses that roam the land at will, but there is so much more here. The area is steeped in history, for example, you can find the place where King Rufus died, supposedly by an arrow from one of his own men after a hunting accident. Much of the land was given to the RAF in wartime to develop the technology behind the bouncing bomb. Most of the New Forest is available to explore at will and is an absolute must for any keen landscape dweller.
Staying in London, we must dive into the wealth of treasures that exist at the British Museum. The collections here largely come from discoveries made at the height of the British Empire. Here you can find infamous artifacts such as the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles to name but a few. The rest is up to you to uncover. The museum is free to enter, which means there is no excuse to not discover the vast collection of exhibits that cover almost all recorded human history.
Port Lympne and Howlett’s
If animals are your interest then be sure to stop off in Kent to visit the Aspinall Foundations Zoos. Port Lympne and Howlett’s are two zoos, one in Lympne near Hythe in Kent, and Howlett’s is closer to Canterbury, both are owned by the Aspinall family. Purchasing entry to either zoo grants you free access to the other if you can find the time to do both in a day. Port Lympne boasts an African Safari Experience and overnight stays in beautiful, luxury cabins. Tigers, lions, elephants, gorillas and hundreds more can be found across these two wonderful parks!
There are many old warships in England which have been preserved for public curiosity, but to fully understand England’s maritime heritage, then you must visit Chatham Dockyard in Kent. Built to mass-produce ships for the Royal Navy, its proximity to London allowed it to become the leading manufacturer of ships in England. Today however, it is managed by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and open to the public. You may visit the workshops where the vast lengths of rope were woven, where the anchors were forged, and the incredible dry docks that housed some of the most infamous ships in maritime history.