Did you know the UK is home to 26 World Heritage Sites, plus 3 more in overseas territories? Considering the size of good old Blighty we think that’s pretty impressive!
Even better is how varied these places are – from gilded royal palaces and imposing castles to ancient stone monuments and crumbling walls – and each landmark tells its own fantastic story.
So why not venture a little further this summer and explore one of these fascinating places each week. To help you out we’ve put together a four week guide to National Heritage Sites in the UK which you can enjoy throughout the summer (and beyond!).
Week 1 - Reminisce with the Romans
…in the City of Bath
Venture south to this beautiful city where the Romans have certainly left their mark. Tour the public Roman-style baths, built in 50AD, and make sure you see the Great Bath which lies at the centre of the complex below street level. There’s also the Temple Sul and some truly stunning landscapes to enjoy. Plus it’s the only place in the UK where you can actually bathe in a naturally hot spa, so it’s perfect for a relaxing weekend break.
…at Hadrian’s Wall
In the north, lining the Scottish border with memories of a distant past, is the 84 mile long Hadrian’s Wall. Stretching across the north of England – from the West Cumbrian Roman coastal defences to South Shields in the East – the wall was built to mark the northern frontier of the Roman occupation in Britain. The landscapes here are simply spectacular, and there are lots of activities for families including costumed characters and mock archaeological digs. Hadrian’s Wall is also partnered by the Antonine Wall which runs across central Scotland to Bo’Ness, which is another great one to visit.
Week 2 - Learn about Neolithic
To start off week 2, why not head to Wiltshire to see the enigmatic stone circle we know as Stonehenge. It’s estimated to be around 5,000 years old and it took more than thirty million hours to construct over three phases (wow!). If the monument itself isn’t enough to draw you in, it’s also surrounded by miles of gorgeous countryside peppered with hundreds of burial mounds and barrows which will surely ignite your imagination.
…in the Heart of Orkney
In Scotland, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney is filled with stone works dating back to the same period. These skilfully crafted structures were built for a number of reasons, including practical domestic spaces and ceremonial monuments, which helped the area claim World Heritage status back in 1999. The location itself offers a peaceful retreat and we’re sure you’ll be captivated by the remnants of our history and ancient heritage.
Week 3 – Walk in Stately footsteps
…at the Tower of London
Also known as the Queen’s Royal Palace and Fortress, this historic castle is located on the north bank of the River Thames and was founded in 1066. If you can resist the urge to shout “Battle of Hastings” you may be interested to learn it was built by William the Conqueror, and has since been pivotal to some of the most dramatic moments in British history. Make sure you visit The Crown Jewels and the White Tower, take a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) tour, and try to spot the seven ravens keeping their eye on the Tower – but don’t get too close!
…at Blenheim Palace
Head inland to Oxfordshire and cast your eye on the stunning Blenheim Palace, complete with parkland, formal gardens and a perfectly pruned maze. Here you’ll learn just what it means to be English while enjoying a tour of the enormous Baroque style building, which was built as a gift to John Churchill – the 1st Duke of Marlborough – and remained home to the Churchill family for 300 years.
Week 4 - Explore the natural world
…along the Dorset and Devon coast
Spanning 95 miles from East Devon to Dorset, the Jurassic Coast contains 180 million years’ worth of geological history which is best viewed on foot or by sea. Its cliffs were formed throughout the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic era, and it’s incredible to think what may have roamed the land before us. Of course, being located next to the sea means this Heritage Site offers views way out to the horizon, and its many coastal towns are ideal for a sunny summer getaway.
…atop Giant’s Causeway
In Antrim, Northern Ireland, an ancient volcanic eruption has left its mark on the land at one of the country’s most popular attractions. Giant’s Causeway is an area characterised by black basalt rock – 40,000 huge interlocking columns of it – which can be explored up close. According to legend, the columns are actually the remains of a causeway built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, who built it for a fighting ground when he was challenged by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Let’s hope he’s not still there today…
If you’re still raring for more after your jam packed four weeks, there are plenty of other World Heritage Sites in the UK to enjoy so why not pick your favourite and get travelling? It time for families and couples to get active this summer and enjoy what Britain has to offer.
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