We know we have many members who travel to the United Kingdom regularly and often share their tips and stories with us all. If the New Year means you settle down to plan such a trip, here are some suggestions from VisitBritain (with additions by me – Editor Ann) that may lead you down some new paths. A click on the links will take you to the appropriate websites.
Most people know that Britain is home to the ‘Mother of Parliaments’, that Queen Elizabeth II lives at Buckingham Palace, and that the Scottish Highlands are malt whisky country. But here we offer a selection of things that you might not know. Aside from being interesting facts, they help make a visit to these intriguing islands even more enjoyable.
1. One pass can give you free access to hundreds of stately homes, castles and gardens. The Great British Heritage Pass – www.BritishHeritagePass.com – not only saves you money, but also allows you to skip the queues at so many busy tourist sites. Valid for a choice of days between four and 30. (But remember that if you are a holder of our Heritage Canada Pass – available at http://www.heritagecanada.org/eng/member.html – this also allows you entry into Britain’s heritage sites – Ed.)
2. There are many galleries just as exciting as the Tate Modern www.tate.org.uk but less well known. In London’s East End, the century-old Whitechapel Gallery www.whitechapelgallery.org has reopened after an expansion which doubles its size and showcases an intriguing mixture of local and international art. Chichester, on the South Coast, has the Pallant House Gallery www.pallant.org.uk with a contemporary art collection set in a Queen Anne townhouse. (Another note: remember that most of Britain’s National Museums offer free admission, though there is usually a charge for special exhibitions. This applies to such great institutions as the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Tates, the Imperial War Museum and many many more throughout the country. This makes a great difference to museum lovers’ travel budgets – Ed.)
3. You don’t have to go to the coast to take a cruise. There are regular sailings on Windermere www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk, England’s largest lake. In Scotland, sail Loch Katrine on the steamship SS Sir Walter Scott, into Rob Roy country www.lochkatrine.com And don’t forget to take a day out on the River Thames; trips are available in London and through its lovely upper reaches through places like Windsor, Henley (Wind in the Willows country) and Oxford. <River Thames Cruises> in your search engine will bring you lots of sites.