A region of breathtaking landscapes and turbulent history, the North of England contains spectacular tourist attractions. It stretches between the Irish Sea and North Sea coasts, and from the Scottish borders in the north to the Humber and Mersey river estuaries in the south. The region’s coal, textile and shipbuilding industries are a shadow of their past.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne lies one mile off the Northumberland coast. From the 7th century, this tidal island was the cradle of Christianity in England. Over the centuries, it produced nine saints, 16 bishops and the beautifully illustrated Lindisfarne Gospels. Lindisfarne Priory, now a ruin, remains a pilgrimage centre while the small Lindisfarne Castle atop Beblowe Craig offers magnificent views around the mainland and North Sea. Accessible only twice a day when the tide goes out, Lindisfarne’s isolation is a haven for bird colonies. The first mainland contact is the village of Beal. Eight miles to the south lies Bamburgh castle, home to the ancient kings of Northumbria. Berwick-on-Tweed on the Scottish border lies the same distance northwards. It offers quick access to Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman Empire’s northernmost border.
Founded by the Romans in the 1st century as Eboracum, York lay at the southern limit of the Northumbrian kingdom before the Vikings renamed it Jorvik and the Normans called it York. The cathedral, York Minster, is the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. The three-mile long city walls enclose York’s 2,000 years of history with medieval, Jacobean and Georgian architecture. The National Railway Museum has a collection of locomotives dating from the early 19th century to the present day. Take a two-hour train ride across the Yorkshire Moors to the coastal town of Whitby, the birthplace of Captain James Cook and the best fish and chips in the world.
Stretching from the edge of West Yorkshire’s old industrial heartlands and northwest through the Pennine Hills, the Yorkshire Dales are a bleak and beautiful limestone country. Follow the river Wharfe from Bolton Abbey to Aysgarth for a gentle walk through limestone scenery and waterfalls. Serious walkers and cavers can visit Ingleton, where caves the size of cathedrals match the peaks above ground.
West of the Pennine Hills lies the Lake District, England’s largest national park and home to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. This landscape was sculpted during the Ice Ages into lakes, mountains and rocky crags. The poet William Wordsworth lived in Grasmere village and is remembered in a museum to his name. The Campbell family spent decades attempting to beat the world water speed record on Coniston Water, the district's third largest lake.
South of the Lake District National Park lies Morecambe Bay, northwest England’s largest bay that is famous for its twisting sea currents and quicksand. When the tide moves out it reveals 120 square miles of beach. The tide returns rapidly and unexpectedly. Always enlist a local guide to walk along the Bay. Morecambe, a seaside resort popular in the 1950s and now reviving, lies on the southern tip of the bay. Inland, en route to the Lake District, is the small, Roman city of Lancaster with its 12th century castle.