I think it’s fair to say that for many people exploring their ‘own back-yard’ can usually be put on a back as we head off to more exotic, far-flung lands but over the past few years I’ve put in a real effort to explore more of England, my home country. We have such a history, nature, museums and culture here that I’ve been surprised and in awe of what I have discovered.
From industrial cities such as Manchester elevating their level of cool to coastlines that tell the history of pre-historic mammals, England is a country that can take you on a journey through centuries while also surprising you with its national parks and natural beauty. While I haven’t discovered every nook and cranny of my homeland, these spots are my favourites and are must-visit places to visit in England when you come to explore.
1. The Jurrasic Coast
Growing up in Dorset in the south of England I was beyond spoilt but didn’t appreciate it. Last year I ventured on a family road-trip along the Jurrasic Coast, a stretch of rugged rocks, fossil-filled beaches and waters you won’t believe exist in the United Kingdom which stretches from Dorset to Devon.
The Jurrasic Coast is most famous for picturesque Durdle Door, an arch that sits over clear waters and also the never-ending amount of pre-historic fossils that span millions of years and are still being discovered today.
A three to five day trip along either the whole coastline or just a section will take you to beautiful bays, a swannery, ancient castles and is all served up with plenty of cream tea or fish and chips, and for me, it is the best part of the country.
If you are looking for the quintessential British experience that has it all, then don’t look any further than a visit to Durham. Easily accessed by train, and close to Newcastle International Airport, Durham’s city boasts a UNESCO listed castle and cathedral, while the rest of the region is packed full of history, nature and one of the best museums I’ve ever visited.
Durham city itself is most famed for the castle and cathedral, both spectacular and deserving of a few hours, while cool cafes and historic architecture are close by. Outside of the city, you have the Durham Heritage Coast, ideal for hiking and relaxing, and plenty of castles and green rolling hills in the region – it’s also reasonably easy to get around by public transport for those not wishing to hire a car.
Often overshadowed as a weekend getaway by the likes of London, it’s actually an excellent alternative. You’ll never see all of London in a few days, but relatively compact Manchester, with its well-connected airport, trams and free city-centre buses is a viable standalone or gateway-getaway to England.
An abundance of free museums, theatre options, capital-rivalling cafes, an ever-evolving art scene and music running through the city like the canals that serve it all add up to a criss-cross of culture, culinary quirks and northern hospitality. Booze, Football, Shopping, Oasis; these are the old words I would have used to describe Manchester, its safe to say that has changed after a weekend in this buzzing metropolis.