Travel Jottings

My wanderings are urban as well as rural, and several have taken me overseas around Europe and to North America. All have needed at least some planning: knowing what to see and where to stay remain ever present needs. That and remaining ever open to new possibilities have contributed to what you find here. Everything builds up over time, and I hope that the horizons continue expanding to mean that I can continue to share new things with you here.

Constructing an All England Excursion

River Cam, Cambridge, 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 guidebook 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 the 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 that 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 that a first visit would only scratch the surface anyway, which makes sticking with the usual honeypots a sensible thing to do. After that, you can probe further, so long as you can make return visits. Hopefully, what's below will get you started, and that's all that can be promised. Once started, you will realise 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 before another weekend away brought on by the prospect of enticing weather.

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 some of the 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 imply 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 as 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 are organised that become the real draw here.

Historic Houses

Though this is in reality a cross-U.K. organisation, most of the properties are found in England, so it gets added here. Unlike either National Trust or English Heritage properties, All are privately owned and offer visitor access on their own terms. Some even operate in their own right as well, but membership of Historic Houses does get you access on a more cost-effective basis, even if that is not always the same offer that you get if buying tickets to see a property from the owners themselves. Additionally, you can get to explore places that are otherwise off the beaten track and maybe not open to the public in other ways. With 268 possibilities at the time of writing, there is plenty to see across England and there are others in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should you want to look there as well.


This is probably the place to look if you need 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 undercover. Even with the "Y" (for youth) in the name, they are open to all comers and even families too. That said, it might be a good idea to join or be a member of your own local hostelling 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.