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United Kingdom & Ireland Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
There are several white horses carved into the hills of Wiltshire. These are large images of horses carved at the top of hills so they can be seen from a distance. Most are created by digging down to the natural white limestone. Some are modern, some are hundreds or thousands of years old. They are fun to spot as you are driving or walking in this area. The most famous, and the oldest, is the Uffington White Horse just across the county border in Oxfordshire. I include it on this page...
Although this is one of the best examples of a great cistercian monastery, it is ignored by the tourists and never gets as busy as nearby Rievaulx. In its heyday, Byland Abbey was one of the three great monasteries of Yorkshire along with Fountains and Rievaulx Abbeys. It had extensive lands with many farms and its main income was from sheep farming. On the edge of the Vale of York and North York Moors, it now lies ruined and forgotten by most of the tourists. This is a shame as it is a...
The author Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) wrote six perfect novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. They are not simply romance novels, although who will marry well is always the main plot, but are also witty commentaries on life at the end of the 18th century. Her observations on society are as valid today as they were when she wrote the novels. If you have not read any Jane Austen, do yourself a favor and start with Pride and...
A working monastery and school As well as being a highly regarded school, Ampleforth Abbey is a working monastery set in the North York Moors. It is a delightful setting with lakes, woodlands and trails. Visitors can join the monks at prayer as well as visiting the abbey between services. The Benedictines were expelled from France in 1792 during the Revolution. Fr Anselm Bolton came to England and became chaplain to Lady Anne Fairfax of Gilling Castle. She built Ampleforth Lodge for him...
There are many interesting prehistoric sites in the Cotswolds - stone circles, standing stones, dolmen, long barrows, hill forts. The two best sites are the Rollright Stones (stone circle and a dolmen) near Chipping Norton in the north-east Cotswolds, and Belas Knapp (long barrow) near Winchecombe in the north Cotswolds. The Cotswold-Severn group of neolithic long barrows (chambered tombs) are located on the Cotswold escarpment above the River Severn. Below I have listed three of them -...
One of the best preserved Carthusian Priories in Europe Mount Grace Priory is one of the best preserved Carthusian priories in Europe. It is a lovely site on the edge of the North York Moors nestling under steep wooded hillsides. The family of stoats living around the ruins became famous after featuring in a TV documentary in 2005 and many people still come just to watch them. The Carthusian Order was established in 1084 by St Bruno of Cologne who set up a new monastic order in Grande...
Cirencester, the "capital of the Cotswolds", is a busy Cotswold market town with roots in Ancient Rome. When the Romans conquered Britain in 43 AD they built the town of Corinium, second only to Londinium (London) in size. Corinium became Cirencester and there are still Roman remains in the town and throughout the Cotswolds. Three Roman Roads meet in Cirencester - Fosse Way, Ermin Way and Akeman Street. There are remains of a Roman amphitheater outside of town. There are remains of Roman...
One of the great ruined abbeys of Yorkshire The Cistercians knew how to pick their sites and Rievaulx Abbey in the North York Moors is one of the best. It is a delightful setting on the River Rye at the edge of a small village of attractive old stone houses and set against the steep wooded hillside. It is one of the most complete and best preserved of the great Yorkshire Abbeys and walking around the site it is possible to get an impression of the size and magnificence. The Abbey was...
Formal gardens and a woodland walk Hodsock Priory gardens are only open for 5-6 weeks from early February for the snowdrops and are a popular day out with locals. It is a very slick operation. The Priory is set in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside to the south west of Blyth. The house was altered and enlarged in the C19th, when it became known as Hodsock Priory. It is not normally open to the public. The family live in the old servants quarters and the rest of the house is...
Bath is a beautiful small city set in the River Avon valley south of the Cotswolds (population 88,000). First there were the Druids who settled here because of the natural hot springs. Next came the Romans whose bath complex remains at the center of town. The Bath Abbey was built during the Medieval period. Bath expanded in Georgian times when it became a spa town where people came to "take the waters", the same waters that drew the Romans there. The author Jane Austen was a resident during...
One of the largest Cistercian abbeys in Britain Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved of the ruined Cistercian Abbeys in England, and a World Heritage site. It was founded in 1132 on the banks of the River Skell, by a small group of Benedictine Monks from St Mary’s Abbey in York, who were wanting to live a devote and simple life. It was an ideal site with in a sheltered valley with a supply of timber and stone for building and abundant springs. Within three years it...
Avebury is a large stone circle on the edge of the Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, west of London. The main circle of stones is about 3/4 mile around and surrounds the village of Avebury. You can walk up to the stones and touch them. There are smaller circles inside the large circle. The large circle is surrounded by a large man-made ditch. The site dates from 2600 BC. Avebury is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Avebury is not as well known as Stonehenge and is not as jaw-droppingly perfect...
Formed over 6,000 years ago, Chesil Beach is one of the finest storm beaches in the world. It is 18 miles (29km) long, 660 feet wide, up to 50 feet high and made of 100 million tons of pebbles. The pebbles change in size from pea gravel in the west to potato sized cobbles in the east. The pebbles were pushed onshore by rising sea levels. Chesil Beach protects the Fleet, one of the most important lagoons in Europe. Chesil Beach is part of the Jurassic Coast, a 95 mile stretch of coastline in...
Hailes Abbey is a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1246 and used by a small number of monks. Not much of the abbey remains, but you can see the outlines of the church and other buildings, along with some remaining cloister walls. It is a beautiful and peaceful spot. Hailes Abbey is owned by the National Trust, and managed by English Heritage. There is a small onsite museum with medieval tiles and stone carvings from the site. There is a tea room at nearby Hailes Farm and several in Winchcombe...
There has been a church where Gloucester Cathedral stands today since at least the 7th century. The current building started as Gloucester Abbey in the 11th century. Visit the crypts under the cathedral to see the original Norman basement and foundations. More parts were added in the Gothic style. In 1327 King Edward II, who had died in nearby Berkeley Castle, was buried in the abbey. The cloisters were built in the 14th century and have the earliest surviving fan vaults (beautifully...
HRH (His Royal Highness) The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) is also the Duke of Cornwall and owns the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate of over 54,000 hectares spread across 23 counties, mostly in the southwest of England. This estate was created in 1337 by Edward III and is passed on to the eldest son of the current Queen/King. The income from this estate funds Prince Charles's public and charitable work. In 1980 Prince Charles purchased Highgrove House, near Tetbury in the southern...
The Cotswold Canals run for 36 miles across the southern Cotswolds connecting the River Severn with the River Thames. They are restored in some areas, wild in others. They were built in the 18th century as two canals: the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal. The canals were used for 100 years, but use declined after the railway was built. The restored parts are not long enough for boating but a good footpath goes along most of the canal. The canal run near the River Frome...
“A host, of golden daffodils.... beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze” Farndale in North Yorkshire is one of the few places you can see wild daffodils growing. In spring, the banks of the River Dove and surrounding hillsides are a golden mass of daffodils. They are smaller and more delicate than their big butch cultivated varieties. Tradition says they were planted by the monks of nearby Rievaulx Abbey and they are known locally as Lenten Lilies. The area is a Local...
The Cotswold Way is a National Trail that runs 102.2 miles along the Cotswold escarpment from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south. The trail takes the walker through towns and villages, beautiful countryside, and historic sites. The Cotswold Way is a popular long distance trail and people come from all over the world to do this walk. The trail is well signed and easy to follow. There is a fair amount of climbing as it takes the walker up and down the escarpment. You can do...
In this blog I have identified 30 Historical Things To Do in London. Read on for details! A place that has a fine blend of a rich history and culture, yet retaining a modern, hi-tech vibe is the essence of London, the capital of Great Britain. The well-maintained Medieval times buildings and architecture of London, are a testimony. London has numerous, thousands of years old, historical places to visit – churches, cathedrals and castles! The distinguished royalty of England at its fulcrum...

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