South England Pictures
This area is a good starting point for out-of-London travels as roads are relatively uncrowded and attractive, particularly if you sometimes take ‘A’ roads (for example the A3) instead of motorways; sights are plentiful.
An hour or two from London is Wiltshire’s Stonehenge, with its Neolithic standing stones (untouchable) and nearby Avebury‘s smaller (but touchable) stones and the medieval cathedral towns of Salisbury or Winchester.
In the vicinity are rolling Dorset hills studded with iron-age forts such as Bradbury Rings and Maiden Castle, White Horses carved in chalk and the hugely naughty but nice Cerne Giant. Alien crop circles too, if you’re lucky.
Corfe Castle village in Dorset county
About an hour from Salisbury is the pleasant south coast beach resort of Bournemouth with magnificent beaches if chilly water, merging into Poole.
Poole Harbour, the world’s second largest natural harbour after Sydney’s, has a short and attractive ferry ride across the harbour mouth at Sandbanks which leads into the gorgeous rural coastal area of the Purbeck Hills and Corfe Castle.
Dorset’s beaches are some of the best in Britain and blessed with a better climate than just about anywhere else in the UK.
Shell Bay beach, near Poole in Dorset. England’s Beaches
A Roman bath in Bath city, Somerset county
South-West and West England Pictures
St Ives town in Cornwall county
This area offers a pretty good climate and many great beaches, or head to Devon’s Dartmoor for short or long hikes; Cornwall’s Eden Project to visit the inspired, massive biodomes housing a beautifully organised selection of the world’s tropical plants complete with trees, waterfalls and story-telling sessions.
Little quintessential Cornwall fishing villages such as St Ives is are perfect for those who seek an ancient feel or Newquay for surfing and clubbing fans; Land’s End? Nope – spoilt, disappointing and not worth the trip.
Somerset’s Glastonbury is for spiritualists who are chasing dreams of Avalon, King Arthur, the Holy Grail, and Ley lines that meet at the Tor mound as well as rocking neo-hippies who have managed to acquire summer festival tickets.
Elegant old sandstone Bath, still running with warm mineral waters that the Romans enjoyed 1, 000 years ago. You too can bathe there.
Central England Pictures
Like the south, the centre is a not unpleasant drive from London and offers plenty of history and intellectual interest as well as some of England’s cutest traditional thatch or slate roofed villages over in the Cotswolds, Willy Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, the two great university towns of Oxford and Cambridge and medieval Chester.
Renovated Manchester and Birmingham are large and ebulliant cities with dramatic new architecture while Liverpool lives for the diminishing supply of Beatles fans. The watery flatlands of region are interlaced with traditional canals so canal boat trips are popular recreation here, and the Norfolk Broads over in the far east is a popular boating area with a few good beaches, though it’s hardly a top class tourist attraction.