H is for Heritage: Five Classic English Holidays

Published: Saturday 26th Apr 2014

Written by: Betheny Ellis

The great thing about a classic English holiday is that you can combine visits to some outstanding heritage sites with family fun, outdoor activities and relaxation. From Roman monuments and coastal castles to iconic archaeological sites and prehistoric beaches, Britain is blessed with a wealth of heritage. Here are five ideas for a holiday to remember:     

The Lake District

Soon to be nominated for World Heritage status, the Lake District offers visitors all the ingredients you need for a classic English holiday. The national park includes superb walking country with some of the most sublime landscapes in the country as well an outstanding choice of museums, galleries and attractions. Iconic English figures such as Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and William Wordsworth have strong connections with this area and there is a chance to learn about all three while you are on your break. Beautifully situated overlooking Lake Coniston, Ruskin’s home at Brantwood is a treasure trove of delights offering insights into his involvement with the Arts and Craft Movement as well as contemporary exhibitions. Fans of Beatrix Potter should visit the Armitt museum in Ambleside to see 400 of the author’s original drawings and watercolours. Head to Dove Cottage in Grasmere or Wordsworth House in Cockermouth to learn about the life and works of the Romantic poet.

Suffolk and Sutton Hoo

Set in the beautiful Suffolk countryside, Sutton Hoo is a must for those interested in the rich heritage of these shores. The site, now run by the National Trust, is the location of one of the most important archaeological finds of all time. The famous Sutton Hoo Helmet was unearthed together with a vast array of weaponry and a 27-metre longship, providing valuable insights into the lives of people in the 6th century. Today much of this burial chamber has been recreated.  Take in Sutton Hoo as part of a glorious stay on the Suffolk coast, characterised by sand dunes, stunning landscapes and classic seaside towns like Southwold and Aldeburgh.

Hadrian’s Wall and Northumberland

It’s the sheer scale of Hadrian’s Wall that hits first time visitors to this World Heritage Site where people can exercise both their body and mind. If you like walking get out and do a few miles on the national trail that runs next to the wall virtually all the way from the Cumbrian coast to the Northumberland coast. There is so much history to learn about here – especially Roman – and visits to the reconstructed bath house at aptly named Wallsend or the life-size replica Roman fort at South Shields are just two of the many places to visit. Combine your history lesson with trips into the Northumberland National Park, historic Durham or the fantastic windswept beaches of the Northumbria.


While there is family fun, beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes to enjoy in Pembrokeshire, visitors will also find history and heritage aplenty in this lovely corner of southwest Wales. The enormous oval Pembroke Castle and the stone Norman Carew Castle overlooking the millpond near Tenby are two of the finest buildings in the area, while the nearby Manorbier Castle set close to the beach is incredibly atmospheric. At St David’s the cathedral and the remains of the bishop’s palace will enhance a trip to this tranquil coastal town where scenery and history exist together. Further north towards Newport is the stone monument of Pentre Ifan, one of Wales’ most iconic prehistoric sites.

The Jurassic Coast – Dorset and Devon

England’s first natural World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast stretches for 95 miles around this stunning part of the West Country and gives visitors a chance to discover more about our natural history from millions of years ago.  Go fossil hunting on beaches like Lyme Regis and Charmouth – great fun for kids and adults alike – or visit the museums and fossil shops in Lyme Regis and find out more about Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter of the Victorian era. With golden sands, great views, family attractions, stately homes and gardens you will not be short of things to do in Dorset and Devon.   

Betheny Ellis
Betheny Ellis


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