Travel Jottings

Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.

Constructing an All England Excursion

East Cheshire Hill Country, England

It's tempting to think that those coming from further afield for a single visit taking in as much of England in one trip as is feasible would start their planning by going down the usual guide book route. On the evidence of various trawls about the web, you could hardly blame them given the paucity of all England visitor information websites. For now, I have collected a few here and hope to add to their number in an ongoing fashion.

History has bequeathed the English something of a state of confusion. Over time, there have been Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans and a mixture of different kingdoms too if you go back sufficiently far. Adding to that the facts that England is the largest country in the U.K. and that London is capital both of England and the U.K. would bring you to an understanding of how confusing things can be. The result would appear to be that you either find information at the U.K. level or at that of the English regions and counties with nothing so extensive in between those.

The obvious counterpoint to all of this is that planning a single visit taking in as much of England as possible is futile given its diversity. However, how can you pick out the places without an overview. The way that local authority areas remain in a constant state of flux underpins this need. It is true to say that certain locations such as London or the Lake District remain identifiable and a first visit would only scratch the surface anyway, which makes sticking with the honeypots a sensible thing to be doing. After that, you can probe further so long as you are able to make return visits. Hopefully, what's below will get you started and that's all that can be promised. Once started, you will realised very quickly that it is impossible to state that you have "done" England to completion.

Visit England

This is a rare beast: tourist information for all of England located in one place. The usual useful formula of what to see and where to stay while doing just that that is followed. The accommodation listings seem more comprehensive since I last gave it a look so it may be that I'd pay it a visit prior to another weekend away brought on by the prospect of enticing weather.

Both of these are maintained by the same people and it's good to see that visitor information for all of England isn't being left to the tourism agency to do. While what you essentially are getting is a directory of attractions, just browsing those can grant you a very valuable asset: ideas. Having run low on those once upon a time, I can vouch for their usefulness.

While I don't usually turn to places such as these on the web, their books had plenty of uses when I first moved to England and started to rove about the place. However, such is the state of confusion that is England that a visit to either of these is no harm.

The National Trust

The official website for a registered charity that acts as a guardian for threatened countryside, coastline and buildings in England and Wales. Intriguingly, it all started off near Barmouth in Wales but the portfolio of properties is an extensive one so there's bound to be somewhere to go and something to see. With the recent cutbacks announced by their northern counterpart, the National Trust for Scotland, I can only wonder how their finances are holding up in these cash starved times. We may more enlightened now but that is not to say that their work is any less necessary.

English Heritage

In some respects, this is a government-sponsored version of the National Trust but that's not all. For one thing, you can join the organisation much like you would with the National Trust so it's an unusual mix. It's also an advisory organisation for the government and it promotes the conservation of England's heritage too. Despite all of this, from the visitor's point of view, it's the properties that it maintains and the events that get organised that are the real draw here.

England's Heritage Cities

Here around around a dozen of the places that could come to mind should you decide to create a mental collection. Usual suspects like Bath, Cambridge and Oxford are to be found along with northern delights such as Lincoln, Durham and Carlisle. Between all of these, there should a number of weekend visits on your list.

YHA

This is probably the place to look if you are in need of low cost accommodation during your stay. Along with England, their reach also extends into Wales and onto Jersey too. Variety is very definitely a defining feature of their pool of hostels and these can get very busy too so booking ahead is a necessity for ensuring that you have a night under cover. Even with the "Y" (for youth) in the name, they are open to all comers and even families too. Saying that, it might be a good idea to join or be a member your own local hostels association if coming from another country (they are part of the Hostelling International network) unless you are happy with paying an extra £3 a night.