An Insider’s Guide to the U.K.
When you think of the U.K., do you picture red double-decker buses, Buckingham Palace, and William and Kate? Or do you think of pubs and potatoes? There is a lot more to discover than the touristy museums, Stonehenge, and Windsor Castle. Explore less-traveled destinations while really unearthing the flavor of the people and landscape of Britain. For a one-of-a-kind experience, go where the locals go; you can read about all the other places in a book.
Punctuating the rolling green countryside is a 2,000-year-old wall built by the Romans to protect themselves from the Scottish tribes. Although much of the wall has been destroyed (it used to run from coast to coast), there is a significant portion that remains today. And yes, it may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern England, but itâ€™s a good excuse to leave the city behind. A unique way to see the wall is to bike along Hadrianâ€™s Cycleway. This 174-mile long bicycle route runs across Northern England, and much of it follows the remaining portions of the wall. The route takes you past historic sites such as the Glannaventa Bath House and the Lanacost Priory.
Libraries in Manchester
One of the hidden gems of Manchester is Chethamâ€™s Library; if you didnâ€™t know it was there, you would walk right past it. The medieval library was established from the inheritance left by a wealthy Manchester merchant. It houses ancient books, medieval manuscripts and other rare finds, and was frequented by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. A better-known destination is the Rylands Library is worth your time; its architecture mimics that of a Gothic cathedral with stone carvings, stained glass windows, and vaulted ceilings. The library is home to a priceless collection of works by Galileo, Buddhist scriptures, and medieval Bibles.
After you have visited the university and are looking for a little peace and quiet, leave the noisy city of Oxford behind and step into the small medieval village of Iffley. A picturesque walk or boat ride down the river from Oxfordâ€™s center will bring you to this tranquil town. Iffleyâ€™s St. Maryâ€™s Church is juxtaposition of old and new; the Norman-style church boasts ancient architecture, but the new stained glass window that was dedicated to the church in 1996 is a modern testament. Across the river are the Iffley Meadows, a nature reserve where you can stroll amongst the native flowers and plants.
The ruins of this abbey are impressive and awe-inspiring. In the valley of the river Skell, Fountains Abbey sits on a lush green velvet lawn surrounded by a forest of trees. The Studley Royal Water Garden on the property is an extraordinary, geometrically laid out series of ponds and sculptures. The estate includes a mill, deer park, a serpentine tunnel and a rustic bridge, as well as other buildings and gardens. Spending a day here will definitely leave you inspired.
This is possibly Londonâ€™s most famous market. It becomes overrun with people but is worth a visit. The street market runs past the infamous blue door in Notting Hill and stretches for about two miles; itâ€™s replete with antiques, fresh fruits and vegetables, fashions, and snacks. Locals and visitors can find vintage clothing, graphic T-shirts, and local goodies or just chat about the weather.
Itâ€™s easy to be drawn into the whirlwind of tourist destinations that abound in every country. Famous places are fun to visit and itâ€™s always nice to see in person what everyone is talking about. But itâ€™s also nice
to have a unique experience when you travelâ€”to find a hidden spot and truly make the journey your own.
Terrence Abernathy is a traveling insurance consultant from London, and a content contributor for companies providing home insurance quotes like the UK coverage specialist Policy Expert.