Top 5 English Tourist Destinations I've Never Visited



I've done pretty well in general, I've crossed four continents off my list and clocked up a lot of flight hours, but when you're doing that (and dreaming about the next culture shock you want to throw yourself into) it's really easy to forget about the places just down the road you haven't seen.

Great Britain is a really tiny island with an awful lot packed on to it and I'd been to China before I'd seen the East Coast. Even then it was the result of some poor map reading skills and completely misdirecting my mother about which way to drive home from Scotland.

PRO TIP: Just because the sign says England doesn't mean it's the right side of the Pennines.

There are places that I really want to visit and some of them are going to be difficult and expensive (St Petersburg, Reykjavik, Cuba, Tibet) but there are places that I could catch a train to right now and be home in time for dinner*.

*May or may not be a slight exaggeration, British trains are not that great.

1. Stonehenge

It's been there for how many thousands of years? I really want to go and see it with my own eyes, especially before Lawrence Llwelwen-Bowen gets his mits on it... It's one of those classic English sites that people trek from across the globe to go to and it's somewhere that I've been asked about when I've been traveling, other people's disappointment is always a good motivator.

Given the recent refurbishment of the visitor centre, filled with all the latest information and theories as well as exhibits on Celtic life in Britain now is as good a time to visit. Stonehenge is also one of those sort of places I think of as being in the middle of nowhere, but it's not! My sister went to Winchester university and drove past it every time she headed home because it's so close to major motorways, it's less than an hour outside London, it's really easy to get to.

2. Bath

I feel like I have been to Bath because I've seen just about every single Jane Austen adaptation ever made and most of them feature Bath. Regency costume dramas are my thing, I love a good scandal trussed up in corsets and featuring horse drawn carriages, so I would love to go to Bath and swoon about along the Royal Crescent. In my mind Bath is the definition of quintessential and I just really want to go and see what surprises it has hidden in it.

What to eat: Sally Lunn Bun with lots of tea.
What to see: (when not swooning...) The Roman Baths, Bath has been a spa town for nearly 2000 years so if the Georgians don't do it for you there's plenty of history left to choose from. The Abbey, the parks, the Victoria Museum and (if there's time) catch a show in one of the many theatres.
Where to shop: Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, everything I've heard about Mr B's can be summed up as "my idea of heaven" Bath is a spa town and Mr B's offer specialist reading spa's that include tea and cake (!)

3.  Tower of London

Actually there's loads of places in London I've never been: Westminster Abbey, St Paul's cathedral, Madame Tussauds, Kew Gardens... I could go on. But I'm a sucker for gruesome history and a palace that's been used to imprison thousands, from Kings and Queens to the Kray twins, holds a certain draw.

I think missing the stunning war memorial Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red will be something I go on regretting. There's still the Crown Jewels, the Traitor's Gate and the Torture Tower to see though, and you can get a tour off a Yeoman of the Guard and see the Tower Ravens.

Not bad for less than £25.

4. York Minster

I have a soft spot for cathedrals, particularly massive Gothic ones. I've also been to York many, many times before so it's sort of unforgivable that I haven't been in yet. I keep meaning to but it's one of the cathedrals that charge entrance fees and I always end up spending all my money in The wonderfully name Shambles where all the buildings are topsy turvey and filled with wonderful little shops. 

While in York, I love the Roman walls and on a nice day there's nothing better than eating ice cream surrounded by ruins in the museum gardens.

But the Minster (so called because it sued to house a school for priests and monks in training) is the 2nd largest hothis cathedral in northern Europe and houses the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. I smash glasses after 2 minutes so the idea of glass that was made in the 12th century amazes me.

5. The Eden Project

Now this is one that would involve some proper planning because I'd want to go with my mum, who is an upstanding member of her local gardening club and who thinks that Gardeners World has a quiz show element where the aim is to shout out the name of a plant before the caption comes up (bonus points for getting it's scientific name as well). It would elevate the day from me going "Ooooo, I wonder what that is. Plants are so strange" to "Ooooo, Mum! What's that one?" and getting proper answers and stories about things.

In my mind visiting The Eden Project is one of the closest things to visiting another planet, even if everything can be found on Earth it can't be found all in the same place in the same way.

Honourable Mention!

Blackpool

I have driven through Blackpool (once, about 15 years ago) to see the illuminations, but I never got out of the car. I've never shared an ice cream on the beach with a donkey, or eaten chips on the pier, I've never been up the Blackpool tower and tried to spot Liverpool in the distance. This one I really have no excuse for, it's less than 50 miles from my house and I'd have enough change from a £20 note after buying a return train ticket that I could afford my ice cream and chips.


So that's my list, where are the places you should have been by now but haven't?

Joy in the World

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