Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Bucket List

Everyone has one, right?  Those things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”.  I was thinking about my Great Britain bucket list.  I’ve seen a lot of the country, but there are a few things that are still rattling around in my head.  I thought I’d lay them down in bits and bytes for you to read.  And, just maybe, it will get you thinking about your GB bucket list!
  1. The New Forest.  I’ve heard such lovely tails of how beautiful it is.  It lies in Hampshire in the area of south central England.  It is near Bournemouth on the south coast and was originally created as a royal hunting ground.
  2. Isles of Scilly. I’ve not really visited that many outlying islands.  The Isles of Scilly are the south and western most areas of England.  Ten main islands and 45 lesser islets make up the Isles of Scilly.  The largest of the islands is St. Mary’s which has about 1700 residents and is about 7 miles in diameter.
  3. Isle of Wight.  It’s amazing to me that I’ve never seen the Isle of Wight!  Queen Victoria loved it here and spent many vacations at Osborne House in East Cowes.  It hosts an annual regatta and some lovely beaches.  The population of the Isle of Wight is around 140,500 and it’s around 14 miles in diameter.  The Isle of Wight may be best known for its rock festival in Newport which is similar to the Woodstock festival in America.
  4. Findhorn Community.  This is the largest intentional community in Great Britain and was begun as a spiritual community. They are now an eco-village that provides education, workshops, and publications.  Findhorn is located in the council area of Moray which borders Aberdeenshire and Highland on the northeast side of Scotland. 
  5. Brecon BeaconsNational Park.This lovely mountain range covers over 500 square miles of south Wales. A friend had recommended it to me, and it's been on my list ever since.  Who doesn't want a gorgeous view of an ancient land?  Preferably on foot!
  6. Portmeirion, Wales.  This has been on my bucket list forever!  The reason I’ve not made it here is that it’s a bit off my usual travel path to get there.  Portmeirion is known for its unusual architecture which was designed in Italian style by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975.  This village was most well known as the shooting location for the popular British tv series “The Prisoner” in the 1960s.  It’s located on the northwest coast of Wales.
  7. Canterbury Cathedral.  I guess I watched the movie Becket one too many times when I was young.  Canterbury Cathedral feels like a magical place to me.  It’s located in southeastern England in the county of Kent.  It’s not hard to get to by train from London, so it may be a great day trip one of these vacations.
  8. Orkney Islands.  These islands stretch off the northeast coast of Scotland.  They are have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years!  It’s an adventure in history, sea life, and scenery.  Someday…
  9. Cambridge.  I’ve been to Oxford, and I don’t imagine Cambridge is much different, but I’d like to see it.  It’s about 50 miles north of London and is one of the top five universities in the world!  It’s also the home county for Prince William and Princess Kate (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge).
  10. St. Michael’s Mount.  Located off the southern coast of Cornwall, is a tidal island with a castle at its summit which is designated as a part of the National Trust.  Only passable at low tide, you can visit this interesting island and tour the castle during certain hours.
So, if you have some time and the inclination, I'd like to challenge you.  Even if you've never been to the UK before, ask yourself, "what are my top ten destinations".  Do some research.  See if it's possible to make some or all a part of your visit to this amazing and interesting land!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Things NOT to Forget on Your Trip

If you are traveling to the UK, my first suggestion to you about packing is DON’T PANIC if you forget something.  Nine times out of ten, it’s not necessary or you can pick it up while you’re overseas.  So, if you want to keep the amount of liquids down in your bag, just remember that you can buy them overseas.  Forgot a sweater?  There are stores in country where you can buy (or rent!) almost anything.  When I go hiking in the Lake District, for instance, I rent my poles and boots.  This saves me from carrying a lot of extra weight.

However, there are some things you should always remember.  This article discusses those.

Your Passport

If you forget your passport, you’re not flying. Period.  However, if you lose your passport while on your trip, don’t panic.  Follow these directions.
In case of a lost passport, you should also have packed the following.  There are additional reports and documents, but you won’t have to pack those.
  • Passport photo
  • ID (driver’s license, expired passport, etc.)
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Travel Itinerary (airline/train tickets)

Insurance Documentation

Whether it’s trip insurance or health insurance that shows overseas coverage, make sure you have the documents with you.  Bring your insurance card if you have one.  Note that in the UK, even if you’re a visitor, emergency medical facilities are free.  However, other things may not be.  Check before you go that you have insurance that a) covers pre-existing conditions and b) covers your health, your rental car, etc. the way you think it does.  Don’t be caught short!

Prescription Medications

Bring your medications in their original bottles.  I suggest also bringing the written prescription from your doctor and keeping it in a safe place so that if something is lost, you have a valid prescription to take to the pharmacy.

Prescription glasses

You may want to bring a spare pair or even your prescription in case you lose them on your trip.


Typically, I bring a debit card and a credit card and have very little cash on me. 
  • Remember to call your credit card company and bank to let them know you’ll be out of country.  Otherwise, they may shut down your credit card! 
  • Money exchanges at airports and train stations tend to cost more than those in town.  Try to do your conversion in the city. 
  • Try to get a credit card that does not have a transaction fee.  Also, there are bank cards that refund your ATM fees (not the conversion fee – just the ATM fee).  You might look into those.

Chargers/Power Converter-Adapter

You may be able to find these overseas, but it’s always better to have what you need when you need it.  I know you don’t want the power to run out in your GPS when you’re in the middle of nowhere!  Note that in GB, your car’s adapter will work just fine for your phone/GPS if you have a rental car. However, when in your room you will need both a converter AND an adapter.  Two pieces (unless you can find one that comes in an all-in-one combination).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I know you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to get around England once you get there.  Assuming you want to go to places outside London, you do have a variety of choices.  Hopefully, this article will give you some ideas as to how to get to where you’re going!


The following map shows all the main airports serving the UK and Ireland:

It is very easy to catch a flight to wherever you want to go - whether it's within the UK, to the Continent, or beyond.  If you are planning a trip within the country and want to get from London to (say) Manchester, I suggest checking the price difference between air and train as far as mass transit.  Many times you'll come out cheaper with airfare!

One note from personal experience:  If you're an American renting a car, you may want to think about returning the car outside of a major airport like Heathrow and taking a bus or tube route to your departure terminal.  Driving to Heathrow is not for the faint of heart!


I love traveling by train in the UK.  If I could get to every destination I wanted to get to by train, I'd never rent a car!  That's the big drawback with trains - they don't get you to lovely places like Ripon, Keswick, Portmeirion, Tintagel, and a host of other places that really should be visited!  But, if you're laying out a trip that takes  you to places that host a train station, then by all means, please take this as STRONG encouragement to go by train!

It may not always be as cheap as flying (though it can be very cheap!), but you get a chance to relax and watch the countryside from a comfortable seat.  They even have quiet cars where cell phones and loud conversations don't occur (gotta love that).  There are first class cars for those that want to travel very la-te-da and there are overnight trains (oh I love those!) that will get you from London to Inverness with stops along the way.  Go to bed to the gentle shunting of the train, wake up to a sunrise over the countryside and a hot cup of tea as you wash up in your own cabin.  You don't have to get a cabin, but that sure is the way to go!

How do you get train tickets?

  1. Purchase them individually for the places you want to go.  Check out the rail planner to see how much a ticket is for each leg of your journey.  Total that up.  Then look at #2 below before you buy.
  2. Purchase a BritRail Pass. This pass must be bought before you go to the UK.  It provides you a single ticket that can be customized for your trip. Generally, you can travel anywhere within area for which the pass was bought (varies depending on the pass).  I had a regular BritRail pass that allowed me to go anywhere in Great Britain.  It was great when I felt like going to Wales one day and just got up and did it!  No muss, no fuss.  For additional cost, you can expand your train experience to Ireland.  If the total for the pass is less than the total for purchasing individual tickets, then I'd suggest the pass.
  3. Get discounts!  Train schedules are released three months in advance.  Many times, the companies will release discount tickets sometime between 10 and 12 weeks prior to departure. To keep tabs on discounted tickets, and for other money-saving tips, see this article.


So, you're feeling very brave, are ya?  Well, good!  No real reason to be afraid. You're just traveling on the wrong side of the road, shifting with the wrong hand, sitting on the wrong side of the car in a foreign land that has (omg) traffic circles! There will be roads that are only wide enough for one car, and you may be expected to back up - perhaps a mile or more in places.  That's the worst bit.  That might be 5 % of your trip.  As long as you are adaptable, vigilant, and understand how traffic circle flow goes - you will be just fine.  Things to remember:
  • You don't need an international driver's license to rent a car in the U.K. as of the publication of this article.  Please keep up to date on the status here.
  • Rental cars are typically manual shift.  Automatic is an additional cost.
  • Double-check that your insurance policy covers you when you're overseas or that your credit card company completely covers you for costs in case of an accident.  There's no need to buy additional insurance over there if you don't need it!  Having said that, I didn't have enough insurance one year (thank God I didn't need it). I just didn't realize that my credit card barely covered anything.  If you really don't know, get the insurance.  Better safe than sorry!
  • Do not, under any circumstances, lose your keys!  This happened to me one year, and would have cost me about $1500 if I hadn't located them two days later.  They really get you on keys over there.  You're only issued one set.  Be careful with them!
  • It costs you extra per driver.  Keep that in mind.  They nickel and dime you to death on rental cars in the UK.  
  • Gas costs are extremely expensive over there.  The price of 1 liter (1/4 gallon) of gas in London is £1.17 or $1.69.  That makes the price of a gallon $6.76.  A 10 gallon tank costs $67.60 to fill up.
You might think it's just too much trouble to rent a car.  You might be right!  But, you do get to see lots more of the country that way.  You have more flexibility.  And, yes, just that little bit more of an adventure!


There are lots of ways of getting around the country.  You can hike, cycle, take a taxi or the underground, take a canal boat or a ferry, or take a bus.  This article covers the main methods for distance travel in the U.K. I hope it's given you some additional information that will help you in planning your trip.

In general, planes and trains usually get you around more cheaply than a rental car (unless you're splitting costs).  Get discount tickets.  Check prices between the various modes of travel.  Pick the one that works best for you or that gives you the best bang for your buck.  If you're renting a car, be aware that there will be a lot of additional charges when you pick up your car and that gas is much more expensive in the U.K. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What IS an Anglophile Anyway?

I’ve always hated that term, Anglophile, by the way.  It seems to resonate “I think the British are better than we are” or that I love Texas less.

So, let’s get this out of the way straight up: An Anglophile is not someone who worships the British.

Do I think the British have a better way of life than we do?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Their standard of living is lower than ours, and I’m not sure I could make it financially over there (which is one reason I visit rather than move to the UK). The average salary in the UK is 26,000 GBP or $37,860.33.  After taxes, you’d be bringing home about $30,000.

Cost of living is higher in England than Texas.  The following cost difference calculation came from
  • Consumer Prices in Austin, TX are 27.03% lower than in London
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in Austin, TX are 33.94% lower than in London
  • Rent Prices in Austin, TX are 42.30% lower than in London
  • Restaurant Prices in Austin, TX are 31.84% lower than in London
  • Groceries Prices in Austin, TX are 9.98% lower than in London
  • Local Purchasing Power in Austin, TX is 55.44% higher than in London
Is their government better than ours?  Not really.  In fact, they seem to have fewer scruples especially when it comes to debating in the Houses of Parliament.
Is their healthcare better than ours?  Sometimes.  If you need a doctor, you can get one.  It may take awhile to get any major surgery taken care of.  It seems the timeframe for operating is longer. If you were getting a hip replacement in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, you could be waiting up to 22 weeks for the surgery.  In the U.S. it could be as little as a week.

So, why would someone spend so much time researching, studying, and visiting England?

The only real answer I can give is that it piques my imagination.  Ever since I read Jane Eyre, listened to the Beatles, and read fairy tales, England has been a bit of a mystery to me.  I’ve spent my whole life trying to unravel that mystery.
  • Why is it I couldn’t understand my Yorkshire butcher when we talked?
  • What is it about the British royal family that makes them so popular (or unpopular)?
  • Is there more to England than London?
  • What made the British flyers in WWII courageous enough to beat off a more superior attacking force?
  • Why did the Titanic sink?
  • Was Richard III the man Shakespeare made him out to be?
  • How is it that such a patriarchal society came to have some of the strongest female leaders in history?
  • What is a traditional English pub and why can’t we have them in the U.S.?
  • Is there any land more beautiful than the English Lake District? Any gardens prettier than in England? Any coastlines more amazing than in Cornwall?
  • What sort of mysterious and wonderful tales are being told within each village about its history and culture?
  • What will happen next at Downton Abbey?
This list of questions goes on and on.  I teach classes on travel to the U.K., in part, because I love hearing the kinds of questions that others are asking!  I’m sure that these types of questions can be asked of any ancient country, but they speak (a version) of English in England, I’ve lived there, and it’s the land of my forefathers.  I feel a strong kinship to it.

So, when someone classifies me as an anglophile I tend to cringe a bit.  I’m just a very curious person who happens to love England.  Huzzah!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Things I've Learned From Watching British Reality Shows

I’m a British video junkie.  On any given day of the week, you can find me on YouTube scouring for biographies, documentaries, or news.  And then, there are the reality shows… not a genre that I normally associate myself with.  However, in the past year or two, I’ve uncovered some gems.  The Great British Bake Off, and more recently, Escape to the Country.

The Great British Bake Off is along the same lines as the American Cupcake Wars or even Chopped.  But, what I am looking for aren't necessarily the sweets that are created as much as peeking into another lifestyle and another dialect.  From sponges to proofing, it’s been an interesting trip via video to the UK.

The Great British Bake Off

Here are some terms you may not be familiar with if you’re an American watching the Great British Bake Off:

Sponge: Sponge Cake – one of the basic British desserts is a Victoria Sponge.

Proofing: Rising (as in letting your dough rise).  I was actually interested to see they had proofing drawers!

Bap: Is a bun.

Pasty: a savory turnover.  Cornish pasties are very well known in Britain and contain meat and vegetables.  Pasties can be very dry.

Pudding: A dessert/cake. Not like American pudding at all.

Grill: Broil

Cling Film: Saran Wrap

Saucy Puds: Cakes with a soft middle (like a lava cake)

Fairy Cakes: Small cupcakes

Treacle: Molasses

Golden Syrup: a light treacle

Caster sugar: Very fine granulated sugar.  Not confectioner’s sugar.

Sultanas: Raisins

Watching the show is a beautiful and artistic way of acclimating yourself to the everyday life and language of the British.

Escape to the Country

This gem of a show has really opened my eyes to so many things, not the least of which is how amazingly diverse the English language is!  You not only learn about the history of certain locations and counties, but how homes are bought and sold in the UK.

One thing I learned just today is that you have to have a special mortgage for wood-built dwellings.  This mortgage can be tricky!  One couple gave up on a home they loved because it was too complicated (so they moved to Lithuania instead!).

Historic homes may be marked as Grade 1 or Grade 2 listed.  These types of homes require specialists and special planning permission when it comes to renovations. In Scotland, these dwellings are called Category A or Category B. (See how much I learned???)

It is obviously much harder to buy a home in the UK, and it’s not just the hefty prices!  If you have a mortgage on your home and want to buy another place, you need to first get a buyer to buy your house.  And the person’s home that you are buying will also need to find another home… it becomes a mortgage closing chain.  Any break in the chain can shut down the purchase plans for a number of buyers.

It’s much easier if you’ve sold your home outright and, perhaps, moved into a rental space for some time before moving on.  It’s extremely easy if you’re independently wealthy!

Some real estate terms you may not have heard are:

Bespoke – means custom.  A bespoke kitchen.

Bijou – means small.  A bijou en-suite.

En-suite – is just a bathroom attached to a bedroom.

Snug – is a small reception room

Reception Room – is lounge, dining room, or conservatory

Conservatory – usually a glassed-in sun room

Box – very small bedroom

Kitchen Range vs. Cookers vs Stove/Oven – evidently oil-fire kitchen ranges are greatly preferred in the UK for their economy.  They will have the typical oven/stovetop arrangement.  Cookers are single appliances made up of a hob (stove top) and at least one oven. 

Bungalow – a one-story dwelling which, oddly enough, seems to be looked down on vs. multi-level living!

Floors – note that the ground floor is the American first floor.  Their first floor would be our second, and so on.

The other extra from my viewing is to get a better idea of geography of the country.  I can now locate Somerset vs. Wiltshire and Hampshire vs. Dover.  There’s even a tiny county I’d never heard of before called Rutland (which is evidently only 17 miles long!). 


If you are interested in immersing yourself in another culture, I’ve found watching British reality shows to be a very handy way to acclimate.  Of course, there are other types of British shows you could view, but the reality shows offer the linguistic dumpling and then a view of what they’re talking about.  They not only tell you houses are expensive, but they give you the averages in each county.  They not only mention a pudding, but they show you one.  I honestly believe that without this learning tool, I’d be much less up on England for my next trip.  So, huzzah to the reality shows of GB.  And may the treacle be with you!

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of terms and such, but I hope it helps.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Of Footpaths and Rambles

I’m not a fitness guru by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought I’d write this from the perspective of someone who doesn’t always work out as much as they should, but who loves the outdoors!

When I lived in the U.K., I spent a lot of time on public footpaths.  This wonderful British invention means that there are usually miles of walking trails near almost every home (without having to drive!).  If you want a long, leisurely walk, all you have to do is suit up and walk out your front door.  Even cities like London, Birmingham, and Manchester offer city “rambles”.

So, what *are* these public footpaths of which I speak?  How do you find them? Are there rules for walkers?  Are there groups that can help me get more involved?

What are public footpaths?

There are over 140,000 miles of public footpaths in England and Wales.  A public footpath is a trail across public and private land.  It can extend for miles along ancient routes with packhorse bridges and historic sites.  In the UK, a public footpath is an area that is set aside for walkers and guaranteed by a law called the “public right of way”.

Are There any Rules for Walkers?

According to Wikepedia, “public rights of way are paths on which the public have a legally protected right to pass and re-pass.”  This right comes with some stipulations though.  These stipulations are called the Country Code/Countryside Code/The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (I’ll just use “Country Code” in this article).

The Country code deals with laws around which people can use the public footpaths.  Typically, the code includes these major areas of consideration:

  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people

And in Scotland:

  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business
  • If your dog is off-leash and chasing livestock, a farmer is within his rights to shoot the dog and the owner could be taken to court.

As for cyclists, the “Been there – Done that, Unofficial Guide to Great Britain” states:

“…it is legal to cycle on a bridleway and although it is not illegal to cycle on a footpath only pedestrians have a right of way so that in riding a bicycle on a public footpath you would be committing trespass and the landowner could bring a case under civil law against you if he so chose. Cyclists on bridleways must give way to horse riders and pedestrians.”

Walks and Walking Groups

For the more adventurous walkers, there are numerous long-distance hikes like the Cumbrian Way, the Coastal Way, and Hadrian’s Wall Path.  You can find information at the long distance walker’s association:

If you’re coming from overseas and are afraid of getting lost on the trails, there are numerous ramblers’s groups across the country.  Just locate one nearest your destination and ask if you can join a walk.  Visit for more information.

Alternatively (and more expensively), there are tour guides that will charge you for local hiking tours.  One that I’m especially keen to look in on is Walking Women. 


Though there are general (and very sensible) guidelines, it shouldn’t put you off using these public footpaths at every opportunity!  There is a great set of videos by “thetaxidriverj” of some public footpath walks on YouTube if you’re interested.

My fondest memories are of taking my collie dog, Sheba, to the local footpath and letting her swim in the stream along the way.  If you went through the soccer field, there was a hedgerow and beyond that, the most lovely view of Ripon Cathedral in the distance. 

I hope you’ll make your own memories by using the public footpaths while you’re in the UK. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Places of English Mystery

You would be hard put to list every mystery that England had to offer.  Several millennia of history lends to the ability of a land to provide a high yield of the supernatural and mythical.  You will find lists of other mysterious sites that are, perhaps, a little more comprehensive, but I’ll offer what I have visited myself or what are (likely) on my bucket list.


Wiltshire is the land of mystery when it comes to ancient megaliths, the best known (but not my favorite) of which is Stonehenge.  I was lucky enough to visit Stonehenge when there were no Disneyesque shows or bus loads of tourists being shuttled to and fro.  Or even the gigantic gift shop that now exists near the site.  I imagine that Stonehenge felt much more mysterious a few centuries ago.  Many tourists have not ever heard of the Avebury stone circle. This stone circle is the largest in Europe and dates back to 2600 BC. I felt a very intense energy about Avebury, but I haven’t seen it in a few decades.  I will, hopefully, rectify that soon!

The self proclaimed “most haunted pub in England” resides in the center of Avebury (see Red Lion).

There are other monuments worth seeing like the West Kennet Long Barrow (a burial mound) and Silbury Hill (a large mound for which no purpose has been determined).  There are other sites as well that you may feel worth your time to research and visit!


Just to the west of Wiltshire is the county of Somerset.  So many mythical ties exist in this county that it comes in a close second to Wiltshire (for me) for the legends and myths that surround it.  The central focus of these myths would most likely be the city of Glastonbury.  There is a huge music festival there each year (equal to our Woodstock), so verify before you go if you don’t want to get involved with the multitude of concert goers.

Glastonbury is considered by some to be where the mystical (?) isle of Avalon existed.  At one time, the valleys of Glastonbury were flooded and a mound rose out of the ground (Glastonbury Tor).

Many followers of new age think that the Tor is the conjunction of numerous ley lines. Ley lines are alignments of ancient sites or holy places, such as stone circles, standing stones, cairns, and churches. This alignment results in an intense energy about the site.  The Tor is also believed to be the site of a vortex or portal into another dimension.

The energy of Glastonbury doesn’t stop there.  If you are visiting for the mystery of Glastonbury, take a trek to Wearyall Hill at the top of which is the holy hawthorn tree.

In addition to the stories of mysterious energy, the myth of King Arthur and the Holy Grail also run strong throughout Glastonbury’s story.  It is rumored that Joseph of Aramathea came to Glastonbury with the holy grail and buried it in the Chalice Well (another holy destination for visitors).  The waters of the well are considered to be healing.  The White Spring is another (more recent) addition to the mysteries of Glastonbury and is also believed to have healing waters.

Once you’ve visited the magical sites, you might treat yourself to the site of King Arthur’s Tomb at Glastonbury Abbey.  No one has proved or disproved the existence of King Arthur, though many have claimed to be Arthurian sites.  Glastonbury is not the only one to lay that claim.

The shops at Glastonbury are also very interesting and a bit like Austin’s SoCo area (multiplied by about a hundred times).  I took a tour while I was there which took way too much time on things I wasn’t interested in and left very little time for additional exploration.  I’ll be going to Glastonbury for my own self-tour this year!


I have only just begun my exploration of Cornwall, but I can tell you that it definitely yields interesting stories!  It’s not surprising that the mystery writer, Agatha Christie, lived in and wrote about Cornwall in her novels!

I have stayed in Tintagel (and highly recommend it for visitors).  My favorite B&B in England is there (the Avalon). It is within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and last (but not least) King Arthur’s Castle and Merlin’s Cave!  What a wonderful gem this town is.  However, even the castle and cave were not my favorite mystery spots.

As far as magical goes, the energy, beauty, and mystery of St. Nectan’s Glen has nothing to compare to.  It sits about 2 miles outside of Tintagel.  Park your car and walk a mile through an ancient wood past streams where you can almost hear fairies twittering among the crepuscular rays peeking through the forest canopy.  At the end of the walk is a cafĂ© (in the middle of nowhere!) that serves guests lunch and tea.  There is also a gift shop where you can purchase tickets to go to the waterfall.  I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of this waterfall or the spiritual energy that I felt in that area.  Fairy stacks and prayer ribbons abound at the site.  It’s a place you can happily spend quite some time in quiet contemplation.

Not far from St. Nectan’s Glen is the small town of Boscastle.  It is a pretty little town that would be a very good tourist destination just for its idyllic setting next to the Valency and Jordan rivers. There are quaint shops and stores and a wonderful visitor’s center.  But, for the more mysterious minded, you might take in the Museum of Witchcraft which houses the world's largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia.


Yorkshire is a wonderful county (the largest in England) and the seat for religious worship in the north of England lies at York Minster.  For magic and mystery, though, it rivals some of the more southern counties.


Knaresborough is a small town to the west of York which was home to a prophetess and contemporary of Nostradamus.  Her name was Mother Shipton and her prophecies were considered extremely accurate.  Mother Shipton’s cave and the petrifying well nearby are well worth a visit.


For those who are interested in the nocturnal adventures of Count Dracula, Whitby is definitely a destination point.  On the east coast of Yorkshire, it is the place where Count Dracula landed in England according to author Bram Stoker, and many of the place descriptions were taken from the town. It’s also just a lovely place to take a seaside holiday!


Northumberland is home of the tidal island of Lindisfarne (also known as the Holy Island).  It is located just off the coast and is only accessible to vehicles at low tide.  Lindisfarne was the center for Christian Civilization with a priory that existed on the site.  Some of the most important figures in early British history are a part of Lindisfarne’s heritage (St. Cuthbert, St. Aiden, and St. Bede).  The Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the finest illustrated gospels in existence, originated here.

The church was destroyed by the Vikings in their initial invasions.  A modern castle now sits at the peak of Lindisfarne.  The ruined monastery is in the care of English Heritage, which also runs a museum/visitor center nearby.


Whole books have been written about Mysterious England.  I invite you to do your own travel research, but feel free to use this article as a guide as well.  Each of the places I’ve mentioned are places I would definitely visit again and are areas of amazing beauty.