Between the venerable cities of London and Edinburgh you can enjoy the culture of Cambridge, the history of York, and the indescribable beauty of the Lake District.
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The capital of Great Britain and the Commonwealth is one of the most vibrant and exciting metropolises on earth. The 7.5 million inhabitants within its city limits make London the largest city in the European Union.
Ever since it was founded by the Romans 2,000 years ago, the city on the banks of the Thames has been a cosmopolitan mix of cultures and religions. Famous landmarks include the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace among many others, not to mention such famous institutions as the British Museum, the National Gallery and Madame Tussaud's. London is also one of the music capitals of the world, offering numerous venues for every type of music from classical performances in the Royal Albert Hall to electronic trends presented in the pubs of Soho.
Few hotels in downtown London offer better value for the money than this family-run inn, made up of two Georgian townhouses in Ebury Street.
Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Sloane Square and Piccadilly Circus are all within walking distance. Yet the hotel offers more than just location: guests will enjoy the friendly atmosphere, bright rooms, good Breakfast and a sitting room equipped with guidebooks, information on local events, restaurant tips and curiosities. Not enough: the rooms on the lower floor have a private entrance to the garden.
London's oldest food market is held between Borough High Street and Bedale Street. The Borough Market has a rustic atmosphere about it. The stands offer British cheese, fruit, jams, meat and chutneys as well as delicacies from Spain and France. You can go grocery shopping here for a reasonable price and sample the wares.
Market is held on Thursdays from 11 am to 5 pm, Fridays from 12 pm to 6 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm.
This castle-like manor house dating to the Late Middle Ages is surrounded by a 1,000 acre estate, which has won several prizes for its landscape architecture. A Victorian garden wall surrounds newly planted flower gardens crisscrossed with canals and winding paths. There is a also a maze made of a thousand yew trees. A Gothic tower standing in the middle of the labyrinth offers a 360 degree view of the gardens and the manor house. Tours are available.
The Georgian residence where Charles Darwin lived with his wife and children from 1842 until his death is located in the small municipality of Downe. It is used as a museum that provides information about the life of the Darwin family and the origin of his theory of evolution. In addition, many original furnishings that were taken out of the house after the death of Darwin and his wife were procured again. The tour leads through the house, the greenhouse and the garden.
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Company: Keddy by Europcar
Vehicle: Hyundai i30 or similar (CDMR)
Location: London Stansted Airport (Shuttle Service)
The town on the River Cam is located north of London in the rural county of Cambridgeshire. It is known primarily for its University, with a reputation that only Oxford can match.
The first teachers in the 12th century were most likely monks from Paris. In 1318, the university was founded. The city and the colleges are best experienced from the water. Lovely walking trails run along the Rivers Cam and Granta.
The five-star guesthouse is located on a farm about four miles from downtown Cambridge. If you prefer rural life to the lively (and expensive) city, you will find an idyllic countryside of small woods, enclosed meadows and medieval cottages.
The house itself is equipped with modern comfort – despite its historical flair. The attentive hosts serve a rich Breakfast.
The route will take you through the flat, idyllic landscape between the Middle English industrial centres of Birmingham and Manchester.
Along the way you will pass several enchanting towns such as Grantham, Newark and Lincoln. A detour to Selby just a few miles from York is worthwhile to see the town's famous Benedictine Abbey.
York is the northern England's leading city and was England's second most important city after London for centuries. The city is the seat of the Archbishop of York, who is second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the hierarchy of the Church of England.
The York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in England, towers over the city center. The cathedral is surrounded by narrow, winding medieval streets lined with shops, boutiques and tea rooms. Visitors can walk on top of the historical city walls, from where they can enjoy splendid views of the city. Founded in 71 AD, York remained one of England's main cities throughout the Middle Ages, declining in relative importance only with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
The Georgian townhouse was built from dark brick in the 19th century and used as residence by a famous Yorker before it was converted into a hotel in 1990.
With its stone pillars lining the entrance, casement windows and antique paintings inside, it still retains its original charm, which is maintained despite its combination with modern comfort. The 41 rooms of the house are spread over three floors and are individually furnished – in the country house style, in a romantic design with four-poster bed or in a contemporary elegant style. In the morning, a Breakfast buffet is served in the hotel's own brasserie in the vaulted cellar, complemented by freshly prepared warm dishes; in the evening, you can enjoy meals prepared from fresh, regional and seasonal ingredients. The hotel is located about ten minutes' walk from York Minster, the medieval city walls and the old town of York and is therefore central but still far away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
The “NRM” is the largest railway museum in the world and a must-see for all railroad fans. It introduces visitors to the history of the British railroad system, which played an important role in the nation's development. More than 100 locomotives and nearly 200 additional train cars are on display. The oldest ones date to around the year 1815. Railway carriages used by the British Royal Family are also part of the exhibit, with the oldest one belonging to Queen Adelaide.
The Cathedral Church of St. Peter, commonly known as York Minster, is the largest medieval church in England. It was completed in the year 1472 after taking 250 years to build. The sheer hugeness of this Gothic cathedral's exterior is impressive. One window wall, for example, is as high as the length of a tennis court. The two large towers and the smaller tower at the opposite end of the church are equally awe-inspiring and can even be toured. After having been destroyed in a fire, the church's organ has been completely restored and is now equipped with no fewer than 84 stops.
According to legend, a monk named Benedict of Auxerre was shown by a swan where he should build Selby Abbey. Although it is not a cathedral, this church on the River Ouse is one of the the largest and most impressive sacred buildings in England. It is also one of the few medieval abbeys still in existence. One of its particularly intriguing feature is the 14th-century Washington Window, which depicts the coat of arms of George Washington's ancestors. The emblem, with its three red stars suspended over two red stripes on a white background, supposedly served as a model for the Flag of the United States.
After passing Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, a World Heritage Site boasting some of the most incredible ruins in Europe, you can take a secondary road north-westwards through the romantic green pastures of the Yorkshire Dales.
This sparsely inhabited National Park is a hikers' paradise. You will enter the famous Lake District near Kendal.
John Lowther, who was Viscount of Lonsdale at the end of the 17th century, must have been very rich, because he had a magnificent family residence built, which contemporaries thought could only be compared to the palace of the Chinese emperor. Unfortunately, one of his descendants was prone to costly extravagances, so the entire family fortune was confiscated. The country house was closed in 1937 and housed a tank regiment during the Second World War, which apparently did not take much care of the venerable property. At the end of the 1940s Lowther Castle was so run down that the roof was untiled. Today only the walls stand in a well-kept landscape park. They are an impressive symbol of the transience of fame and wealth.
Not far from the highway exit of Penrith lies the manor house with origins in the 13th century. House and garden are both listed. In the Kitchen Garden Café you can get everything from late Breakfast and lunch to afternoon tea. Afterwards you can stretch your legs on the Garden and Animal Trail. The short path leads through the traditional herb garden, past the grass hedge and subtropical plants. A little further afield, sheep, goats, chickens and ducks run across the meadow. The small animal farm is especially proud of the pigs from an old English breed.
England's largest natural lake is located in the Lake District National Park. It is 17 kilometers long and between 400 and 1500 meters wide.
There are 18 islands in Winderemere, the largest is more than one kilometer long and is served by excursion steamers. Picturesque, partly wooded hills line the lake, where you can go for easy hikes. In the north the higher furs rise, as one calls the hills of the Cumbrian Mountains overgrown with grassland. On the north shore lies Ambleside, a pretty village with 2,600 inhabitants and starting point for mountain hikes, mountain bike tours and other excursions in the Lake District.
The small hotel is located in Bowness-on-Windermere near Lake Windermere, in the heart of the Lake District. Eight double rooms and two single rooms, each individually furnished, friendly and stylish, are available; some offer lake views.
In the morning a full English Breakfast with a selection of hot dishes is served; later in the day the hosts offer afternoon tea (must be booked in advance). On a nice day you can relax in the garden; the lake is only a short walk away. Guests also have free access to the Choices Health Club in Troutbeck, a five-minute drive from the hotel.
The hike leads to the Claife mountain range with its larch-wooded sheep pastures and small lakes. Via Far Sawrey, in the shade of old trees, you descend to the Windermere with its fern-rich green forests and the lake dabbed with numerous sailing boats, behind which the scenery of majestic fells is revealed. Passing Wray Castle the hike leads back to Hawkshead through graceful, small parcelled landscape. (Round trip: 19.7 kilometers, 5 hours, up and down: 298 meters).
The village ten kilometres west of Windermere is considered one of the most traditional in the Lake District with its stone cottages in Market Square. On Main Street, an ivy-covered country house houses the Beatrix Potter Gallery, which exhibits pictures by the children's book author and illustrator who died in 1943. The upper-class lawyer's daughter, raised by governesses, had started writing against her parents' will and became a successful sheep farmer in the Lake District in the second half of her life.
National Trust Touring Pass
“Windermere from different perspectives” is the motto of this hike. From the bathing perspective on the lake shore, you work your way up to an ever wider view, which besides the Windermere includes the Loughrigg Fell and the Langdale Pikes. A detour to the remains of the Roman garrison and a waterfall round off the tour. (Round trip: 11.4 kilometers, 3.45 hours, up and down: 600 meters).
The third highest mountain in the Lake District and also in England is 950 meters high and belongs to the Helvellyn Range, which lies between the lakes Ullswater and Thirlmere. In the west it drops off as a grassy hill, to the east it is steep and stony. The summit is marked by a mighty stone pillar (cairn). Those who want to climb the mountain from Ullswater have to climb one of the two clearly defined ridges, which means an easy climb without the necessary safety technique. At the top you will be rewarded with a panoramic view that reaches far into Scotland and the Pennines. (round trip: 14.3 kilometers, 5:30 hours, up and down: 830 meters)
The Aira Force is a waterfall over which the Aira Beck rushes just before it flows into the Ullwater. The site was converted into a park with exotic plants by the Howard family at the end of the 18th century. Some of the trees are still standing and have grown into mighty giants. Those who want to combine the sightseeing with a simple circular walk can climb a viewing hill and go back through a beautiful side valley. (round trip: 6.9 kilometers, 2:15 hours, up and down: 300 meters)
National Trust Touring Pass
The castle near Skelton in Cumbria was originally a Pele Tower in the Forest of Inglewood. The towers were common on both sides of the Scottish-English border in the Middle Ages. They are reminiscent of castle keeps and served as protection against reciprocal attacks. When the border was finally pacified, other buildings were added that were more prestigious than defensive. In 1730 a fenced garden was added, which today attracts many visitors.
This city on the Scottish border had its beginnings as a border fortress on Hadrian's Wall. Carlisle Castle was designed by a German military planner and built in 1541, at a time when the kingdoms of England and Scotland were still enemies. Maria Stuart was later held prisoner here. The Tullie Museum is an award-winning museum of local history and tells the eventful history of the border region starting with the construction of Hadrian's Wall.
English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass (Carlisle Castle)
Parliament passed a law in 1753 requiring minors to obtain parental consent before marrying. However, this law only applied in England. In Scotland, boys could still marry at 14 and girls at 12 without any parental consent. As a result, countless young couples living in England ran away to Scotland. In Gretna Green, the first Scottish town they would come to after crossing the border, the local blacksmith was authorized to perform wedding ceremonies, and the weddings were actually held in his shop. It often came to dramatic scenes when parents who had caught up with their children tried to hinder the ceremonies at the last minute.
Today, the blacksmith's forge is a museum, but weddings are still held here – over 5,000 a year.
One of Ullswater's biggest attractions is the Lake Steamer, a summer excursion between Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Howtown. These steamships are original mail, transport and passenger ships from the 1850s that supplied the Greenside lead mine, which ceased operations in 1962. Nowadays there are three steamships on Ullswater: the “Raven”, the “Lady of the Lake” and the “Lady Dorothy”. In summer it is popular to take the ferry from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding and Howtown and then return to the lake shore on one of the most popular and scenic trails in the Lake District. (Hike from Howtown to Pooley Bridge: 6.9 kilometers, 2 hours, up and down: 110 meters)
Location: Edinburgh Airport (Desk at Airport)
Scotland's capital is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A burgh is said to have stood on Castle Rock – which offers the best view of the city – since the 7th century.
Walls were erected around the town in the shadow of the fortress following bloody and disastrous clashes with England. The medieval plan and narrow winding streets of the Old Town once protected by those walls have been preserved. The area called New Town was created in the 18th century to relieve crowding in the rapidly growing city. With its rigidly ordered grid New Town was considered the epitome of rational urban development during the period of Enlightenment. The main shopping street today is Princess Street, which is lined with shops, galleries and museums. The cultural capital of Scotland is often referred to as the Athens of the North. The city's political history was defined by the rivalry with England. Edinburgh is now once again the seat of the Scottish Parliament.
The Townhouse in the trendy suburb Dean Village has 29 rooms, which – like the whole house – are stately elegant.
The service is friendly, helpful and attentive. Only a few minutes walk from Princess Street – the lively shopping street – the house is in a quiet side street. Restaurants and pubs are within easy reach. Upon request, Breakfast is served in the suite. Highly recommended is the traditional afternoon tea.
The small village in a deep gorge was the granary of Edinburgh. No fewer than eleven grain mills were in operation at the best times of the 19th century. The river Water of Leith, which had a steep gradient here, provided the necessary driving power. In 1833 a spectacular bridge over the valley was built, but then the decline began. Electric and steam mills replaced the water mills. Poverty and unemployment moved into Dean. In the 1970s, Edinburgh city dwellers discovered cheap housing in the tranquil surroundings. Today Dean is a hip suburb of the Scottish capital.
This fortress towers high over Edinburgh from its perch on Castle Rock, an extinct volcano. A previous fortification probably stood here as early as the 7th century. The current royal castle was first mentioned in 1093 in reference to the sieges and havoc wreaked by the English. Mary Stuart, who lived here until she was imprisoned and beheaded, was the castle's most famous resident. The area in front of the castle, known as the “esplanade,” provides the best view over the rooftops of Edinburgh's Old Town. The esplanade is also where the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held every year.
Historic Scotland Explorer Pass
Scottish Heritage Pass
The Edinburgh Botanical Garden was founded in 1670, making it the second oldest botanical garden in the United Kingdom after Oxford. Originally it was used to cultivate medicinal plants and was located at St. Anne's Yard. However, when the air became so bad in the middle of the 18th century due to coal firing that the plants died, the plant was moved to its present location in 1763. Today the garden serves as a park for the townspeople and has several themes, including forest, heath, rocks, China and Alps.
The small river Water of Leith flows through a valley, across Edinburgh and into the North Sea near Leith. On its bank there is a hiking trail, which starts at the school of Balerno and partly leads over disused tracks. Although you walk through the middle of the city, you hardly ever walk over tar and still pass some important sights, for example the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art or the Dean Gallery. The trail ends at the mouth of the river Leith. (One way: 20 kilometers, 5 hours, up: 60 meters, down: 210 meters)