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Dunstanburgh Castle, the dramatic ruined fortress of Thomas of Lancaster, executed for treason in 1322, stands on a rocky headland jutting into the North Sea. The castle went on to witness fierce fighting during the Wars of the Roses, but now the predominant sound is the shrieking of seabirds. A short, sometimes bracing, walk from either Craster or Embleton.
Exmoor National Park is in the north of Somerset and Devon and covers an area of 268 square miles (694 sq kilometres). The Park was established in 1954 and the highest point is Dunkery Beacon at 1702 feet (519 metres). It is a varied area of moorland, farmland, deep valleys, ancient woodland and high sea cliffs, tumbling into the Bristol Channel. Kites and kestrels wheel overhead, otters can be found in the gushing streams, while red deer and ponies roam wild. Man has left traces from prehistoric times and in the middle ages it was a royal hunting forest. Today, picturesque villages and hamlets nestle comfortably in its folds.
It is also famous for the fictional Lorna Doone, and the Beast of Exmoor – an elusive creature which, if it exists, may be some form of large wild cat, like a cougar, released or escaped from captivity.
Principal settlements in Exmoor include Lynton and Lynmouth, Dunster, Porlock and Dulverton.
The Farne Islands are located a few miles off the Northumbrian coast and are known for their wildlife and association with St Cuthbert. In summer, the islands are home to some 150,000 breeding pairs of seabirds – most famously, puffins; but razorbills, guillemots and eider ducks are also among the around 23 different varieties of birds that can be seen there. The islands are also home to the largest breeding colony of grey, or Atlantic, seals in England; about 1,000 pups are born there every autumn. There are 28 islands but only 3 can be visited – Inner Farne, Staple Island and Longstone Island. Inner Farne and Staple are owned by the National Trust. St Cuthbert, who is pretty much patron saint of the North of England, lived on Inner Farne as a hermit in the 7th century; his chapel on the island dates from the 14th century. Young Victorian heroine Grace Darling lived with her family on Longstone Rock, where her father was lighthouse keeper. It was from there that she and her father set out in their small open boat to rescue survivors from the stricken SS Forfarshire which had struck Big Harcar rock in 1838.
To visit the Farne Islands, you need to take a boat from the village of Seahouses. There are several private boat operators, each one offering slightly different options, but as of June 2020 only one is able to land visitors on Longstone. You must wear warm clothing, sensible footwear and a hat to protect your head from diving birds.
Golden Cap is a cliff and countryside estate on Dorset's Jurassic coast, with footpaths, views and access to the beach for fossil-hunting.
NB Particular care must be taken of tides and the high risk of cliff falls.
There are a variety of ways of getting to the estate. Stonebarrow Hill, where there is a car park and information centre with toilets and a small shop in an old radar station, is a good place to start. Post code below is approximate. From the west, go through Charmouth and take the turning on right by Stonebarrow Manor into Stonebarrow Lane. NB this is extremely narrow. Head as far as you can until you're there!
A concrete memorial near the beach between Deal and Walmer commemorates the landing of Julius Caesar and his invading army in 55BC, which allegedly took place nearby. However, the location of this great event, and Caesar’s more serious landing the following year, 54BC, is disputed. It is suggested that Caesar, who described his landing in graphic detail, actually came ashore a little further north, in Pegwell Bay. This, claims the experts, more accurately fits the coastal geography of 2,000 years ago. The remains of a Roman fort have also been uncovered near Pegwell Bay, now inland but close to where the coast would have been twenty centuries ago. Maybe the Romans landed at Deal first and Pegwell Bay later.
Anyway, we can still stand by the Deal-Walmer memorial and contemplate the Romans offshore, fearfully hesitant to get stuck into the screaming woad-covered Britons waiting for them on the shingle beach – until the eagle-bearer of the X Legion leaped from his ship and lead to way to battle – and victory.
At school, we used to recite, “Julius Caesar, the Roman geezer, conquered Britain with a lemon squeezer.” Just thought I’d mention it.
England’s Jurassic Coast encompasses 95 miles of lovely coastline from Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks in Studland Bay in Dorset. It actually covers three geological time periods - the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous which together make up the Mesozoic Era, from around 250 to 65 million years ago. The area's significant fossil sites and model coastal geomorphologic features have contributed to the study of earth sciences for over 300 years. The coast includes some wonderful geological features, like Durdle Door and Chesil Beach, dramatic views and seaside towns and resorts such as Bournemouth, Poole, Swanage, Lyme Regis and West Bay. Walk, bathe and hunt for fossils.
Managed by the Jurassic Coast Trust
Lindisfarne – also known as Holy Island – is one of the most important centres of early English Christianity. King Oswald invited Celtic monks from Iona to spread Christianity in Northumbria and St Aidan founded a monastery on Lindisfarne in 635 AD. A monk named Cuthbert joined the monastery sometime in the 670s - he went on to became Lindisfarne’s greatest monk-bishop and the most venerated saint in northern England in the Middle Ages. The whole place is packed with history. The Lindisfarne Gospels were created here in the early 8th century. The monks left following violent Viking attacks in and today's visible ruins date from the early 12th century.
NB Holy Island is only accessible at certain times via a causeway across the sea that is covered twice a day. The tides come in very quickly; check carefully before setting out and be sure you have time to cross.
Lindisfarne – also known as Holy Island – is a tidal island and village packed with history, as well as being famous for its mead. It is one of the most important centres of early English Christianity. King Oswald invited Celtic monks from Iona to spread Christianity in Northumbria and St Aidan founded a monastery on Lindisfarne in 635 AD. St Cuthbert joined the monastery sometime in the 670s and went on to become Lindisfarne’s greatest monk-bishop and the most venerated saint in northern England in the Middle Ages. The Lindisfarne Gospels were created here in the early 8th century. The monks left following violent Viking attacks and today's visible priory ruins (English Heritage) date from the early 12th century. Next to the old priory is the fascinating parish church of St Mary the Virgin. On the south east corner of the island is Lindisfarne Castle (National Trust), which began life as a defensive fort in the mid-16th century and was bought by Edward Hudson, the owner of Country Life magazine in 1901, who had it completely refurbished by Sir Edwin Lutyens as a holiday home. Beyond the main attractions are views and walks and places to eat – but beware: Holy Island is only accessible at certain times via a causeway across the sea that is covered twice a day and the tides come in very quickly.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park offers the romance of Britain's largest lake (will you take the high road, or the low road?), sea lochs, Rob Roy's cave(s), mountains, beautiful glens, forests and wildlife. And it's right on Glasgow's doorstep. The Trossachs is an area between Loch Lomond and Stirling, which includes lochs, hills, forests and villages. The Park was established in 2002 and covers an area of 720 square miles (1865 square kilometres) which includes 22 large lochs, 40 mountains over 2500 feet (762 metres) high - 21 are in excess of 3000 feet (914 metres) – 2 forest parks and its highest point is Ben More at 3851 feet (1174 metres).
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is divided into four, distinct, areas: Loch Lomond, with all its romance, is the largest expanse of fresh water in Great Britain; the Argyll Forest, an area of peaks, glens, rivers, coast and lochs; the Trossachs, often referred to as ‘the Highlands in miniature’, just a short step from Scotland’s populous central belt; and Breadalbane, an area of the southern/central Highlands. So, naturally, the Park is loved by walkers and climbers. Or wildlife lovers wanting to spot osprey, red squirrels, deer or otters. Or for sailing and canoeing.
Visit the romantic ruins of Inchmahome Priory, which gave refuge to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, hunt out Rob Roy’s cave (there are two of them), check out the Faerie Hollow or lose yourself in a botanic garden. And, yes, there are castles and country estates…
Principal settlements in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park are Balloch, Callander and Tarbet.
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