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Popular Suffolk seaside sailing town, famous for its fresh fish sold from the seashore, the Scallop sculpture by Maggi Hambling and the Aldeburgh Festival, started by the composer Benjamin Britten, who lived in the town and whose house, the Red House, can be viewed. The main concert venue is at Snape Maltings, just up the road. Aldeburgh also boasts a fine Tudor Moot Hall and a Napoleonic Martello Tower - the latter is not open to the public, but is available for holidays. Aldeburgh is a fairly buzzy place, with a variety of shops, pubs, restaurants and a cinema.
“Who can ever be tired of Bath?” Jane Austen enquired. Apart from being a favourite of one of England’s most-loved novelists, Bath is probably most famed for its Roman and Regency heritage. The Romans built extensive baths there and called the town Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sul, a local Celtic deity similar to Minerva). The remains of the complex were discovered in the 18th C, by which time the healing waters of Bath had again become fashionable, with the help of the dandy, Beau Nash, and the town evolved into a go-to Regency place. Thus Bath is also loved for its surviving honey-coloured Georgian architecture, not least its elegant Royal Crescent and unusual Pulteney Bridge over the Avon, designed by Robert Adam and containing shops built across its full span. Among Bath’s many other attractions is the Gothic 15th C Abbey, where a monastery was founded in the 7th century. Bath is a World Heritage Site, one of Britain’s tourist magnets and features heavily on overseas visitors’ itineraries, as well as being a desirable romantic weekend destination.
Cambridge developed around an Anglo-Saxon bridge, the Danes used it as a trading post and William the Conqueror built a castle there. The city’s greatest fame, however, derives from being home to Britain’s second oldest university, established sometime after 1209. The first of Cambridge’s residential colleges, Peterhouse, was established in 1284 and it is these self-governing institutions that make up the university. The entre of Cambridge is King’s Parade, where you’ll find King’s College (founded in 1441) with its breathtaking chapel and, close by, other colleges – like St John’s (1511) and Trinity (1544) – which can be visited. In parallel with King’s Street are the Backs – a stretch of riverside gardens and lawns linking several colleges. The university boasts more Nobel Prize winners than you can shake a stick at, as well as a multitude of well-known graduates including politicians, writers and entertainers.
Wander along in and out of colleges, , take a punt on the Cam, stop for a coffee, ice-cream, or a pint. For visitors, Cambridge also offers notable churches (including one of only 5 round churches in England), outstanding botanic gardens, several museums with interests ranging from archaeology, computing, earth sciences and the polar regions – though the most famous is probably the astonishing Fitzwilliam Museum, which includes world-class artwork as well as major collections from antiquity. Theatres and cinemas offer a variety of entertainment and there is a large general weekday market as well as specialist arts and crafts ones at weekends. Nearby attractions include Duxford air museum, and the Cambridge American Cemetery just outside the city is a thought-provoking place to visit.
Clevedon is a historic town on the Somerset side of the Bristol Channel that developed as a resort in the Victorian period. There is no beach. Its crowning glory is its 1017 feet long (310 metres) pier, which was completed in 1869. It also boasts an unusual 'marine lake', miniature railway, historic church (St Andrew's) and art-deco 1920s cinema. Nearby is the medieval Clevedon Court (National Trust). A coastal path, Poets' Walk, takes you above the town with great views - and an Iron Age hillfort. Spot the wonderful green-tiled Victorian drinking fountain near the pier.
Hebden Bridge developed first as a river crossing, taking its name from the old packhorse bridge over Hebden Water, and from the 18th C as a textile town. Now it is known for its sense of community, array of independent shops, music festivals, art-deco cinema, walks along the Rochdale Canal and being 'Gay friendly' (one BBC article referred to it as 'the lesbian capital of the UK').
Ironbridge, named for the world's first cast-iron bridge, built in 1779, that spans the River Severn and its beautiful gorge, is a charming, colourful and now relatively peaceful Shropshire town. You would hardly know that it had been at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, century iron bridge. Part of a World Heritage Site, there are many museums in the town and nearby, as well as walks.
Ironbridge, named for the world’s first cast-iron bridge, constructed there across the Severn in 1779, has a unique part in the story of the Industrial Revolution and, to many, is a symbol of it. It was here that Abraham Darby I pioneered using coke to smelt iron ore. The area contains examples of many of the components of progress, from mines to factories to housing to transport, that resulted in it being the most technologically advanced place in the world by the end of the 18th century. Today, the town of Ironbridge itself is peaceful and charming, but the reminders of its noisier and dirtier past are all around, including the Iron Bridge itself, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, the Museum of the Gorge, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Jackfield Tile Museum, Coalport China Museum, the Broseley Pipeworks, intriguing Tar Tunnel and the houses the Darby family lived in.
The bridge has been painted red since this photo was taken.
Lynton and Lynmouth are really two villages forming a single town on the edge of Exmoor, on the north Devon coast. Lynmouth began as a pretty fishing village and, when there was no longer any space to build there, it expanded to Lynton 700 feet above it on the clifftop. The two are connected by the water-gravity-powered Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. Lynton is mainly 19th and 20th century, Lynmouth is a little older and was favoured by the artist Thomas Gainsborough and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. However, it was wrecked by a devastating flood in August 1952, when 34 people died and hundreds made homeless. Some of the village was never rebuilt. Nevertheless, it is an attractive place and popular with tourists. It is also walking country. The South West Coast Path and Tarka Trail pass through it and the views from the cliffs are wonderful.
The small, peaceful, town of Montgomery sits just inside the Welsh border, looked over by its medieval castle and surrounded by lovely countryside. It is mostly Georgian, but was once a walled medieval frontier town. There are few shops or pubs, but, in addition to the castle, there is an interesting church, St Nicholas’, a wonderful museum, the Old Bell, a surprising number of other fascinating features and a decent hotel, the Dragon. The church includes an astonishing Elizabethan canopied tomb and in the churchyard is the Robber’s Grave – where the grass was alleged not to have grown for a hundred years. The museum has a fascinating collection and features exhibitions about the town, castle and the Battle of Montgomery that took place during the Civil War. One not to be missed shop is Bunners, a traditional ironmonger that stocks almost everything and which is a warren of rooms and displays. The Castle Cafe in Broad Street is recommended too. Visit Montgomery to relax and walk in the countryside with red kites soaring overhead. Offa’s Dyke, the eighth century defensive earthwork that roughly follows the border between England and Wales today, is a very short distance to the east of town.
Newcastle occupies the north bank of the Tyne, opposite the town of Gateshead. It was a fortress town, named for its 11th century Norman castle. A thousand years earlier, the Romans built a fort to guard their bridge over the Tyne – Pons Aelius. From the Middle Ages, it became known for its coal exports, and in later centuries came engineering, steel and shipbuilding; Tyneside was famed throughout the world for its ships. In modern post-industrial times, Newcastle upon Tyne has become renowned as a party town, with lively clubs, pubs and restaurants making it a magnet for hen parties and stag nights. But it also has a thriving and less boisterous cultural side, with dynamic music, theatre and art scenes and noteworthy museums. The Discovery Museum explores the area's maritime, scientific and technological significance; The Life Science Centre is an interactive science village with a planetarium, themed shows and a 4D ‘motion ride’; The Great North Museum is a refurbished Victorian museum with natural history and Hadrian's Wall displays; The Centre for Contemporary Art occupies a former grain warehouse on the Gateshead side of the river. Then there’s the medieval castle (bizarrely bisected by the main north-south railway line), St Nicholas’ Cathedral and Bessie Surtees’ House (two houses dating from 16th and 17th centuries). Or wander through the elegant city centre to Earl Grey’s Monument, or take in the family-friendly Sunday market along Quayside.
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