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Britain's Heritage Cities

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Official Travel Notes Blog

A lot of people visiting England tend to concentrate on London, but in doing so they are missing out on a lot of Britain's heritage.

So next time you plan a trip to 'London' consider venturing out of the capital and take in the sights of Bath, Brighton, Chester, Durham, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and York.

Bath: (Hotels in Bath)
The Roman Baths, historical Abbey and Georgian stone crescents have attracted visitors to Bath for centuries.

Bath is located 120 miles west of London and can be reached in 90 minutes by train from London Paddington. If you choose to travel by car, it's a short drive from the M4/M5 motorways, or just 15 miles from Bristol International Airport.

Brighton: (Hotels in Brighton)
From the unique Royal Pavilion to the Victorian Brighton Pier, the Volks Railway to Brighton & Hove Museums, Brighton's attractions are a mix of heritage, seaside fun and cultural experiences.

Brighton is less than an hour by train from London Victoria. By car, Brighton is some 30 minutes from London Gatwick.

Chester: (Hotels in Chester)
Chester, the most complete walled city in Britain, is also home to the largest Roman Amphitheatre in the country. Chester Cathedral is the fourth most visited in the country and it was here that Handel first rehearsed 'The Messiah'.

Chester is about 2½ hours by train from London Euston, or some 40 minutes by road from Liverpool and Manchester airports.

Durham: (Hotels in Durham)
After the Norman conquest of 1066, King William found Durham to be the ideal location from which to rule Northumbria and defend the region against the Scots. The panoramic view of Durham Cathedral and Castle is so magnificent that they have been designated a World Heritage Site.

Durham is on the main London-Edinburgh train route; under 3 hours from London and about 2 hours from Edinburgh. By road, you'll find Durham on the A1(M); between Darlington and Newcastle.

Oxford: (Hotels in Oxford)
Famous as a city of learning, Oxford also has a castle (used as a prison until 1996) and an old Saxon Tower at the North Gate. Blenheim Palace (just 8 miles from Oxford) is a World Heritage Site, home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Trains to Oxford leave from London Paddington. If you prefer to drive, Oxford (west of London) is linked to the M25 by the M40.

Stratford-upon-Avon: (Hotels in Stratford)
Famous as the birthplace of playwright, William Shakespeare, the famous Bard has a picturesque resting place at Stratford's Holy Trinity Church, on the bank of the River Avon. Warwick Castle is also only eight miles away.

Trains leave for Stratford-upon-Avon from London Marylebone.

For those looking for an activity holiday, Shakespeare's Way is a 146 mile long-distance footpath connecting Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon with Shakespeare’s Globe in London; clearly marked both ways.

York: (Hotels in York)
And last but not least, the walled City of York is steeped in history.

Eboracum (York) was founded in AD 71, as a Roman military fortress, on the north-east bank of the River Ouse, and went on to become the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior.

Revived as the Anglo-Saxon trading port of Eoforwic, it was captured by a large army of Danish Vikings in November 866 and acted as the capital for the Viking kingdom of Jórvík.

Today's King's Square (Konungsgårthr) is where the Viking rulers built their palace.

From 1976 to 1981, the York Archaeological Trust conducted a five-year excavation in and around the street of Coppergate, which uncovered well-preserved remains from the time of Viking Jorvik, preserved in anoxic wet clay. The Jorvik Viking Center is a must see for visitors to York. Tourists can journey through the reconstruction of Viking-Age streets, as they would have been in the year AD 975.

The York Castle Museum is best known for its recreated Victorian street, Kirkgate, which combines real shop fittings and stock with modern sound and light effects, to evoke an atmosphere of Victorian Britain.

York is a 4-hour train ride from London King's Cross. But well worth the visit.

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