Apologies to England (and help me find places to visit, please)

I’m sorry, England.

I haven’t spent much time in you as an adult. Sometime soon I will fix this. But I have my reasons (excuses?).

Reasons I have barely visited England

Firstly, I had long maintained that travel is only adventurous (in the spirit and social sense of adventure, rather than the bungee-jumping sense) if you’re travelling someplace where you don’t really speak the language. I thought my Australian friends who moved to England for their working holiday (heck, they even SPELL the same as us there) were kind of cheating. It was a badge of (very snobbish) honour for me that I only lived in countries where languages other than English were spoken.

Secondly, growing up in the 70s and 80s in Australia made me feel like I already knew all about England. This was before the United States had the massive influence on Australia it now does, and back when we still sang “God Save the Queen” as the Australian national anthem. (It makes me feel ancient to say that.) We watched English (as in, from England) TV, we knew lots of people from England, it just didn’t seem exotic or (to be honest) interesting.

Finally: the weather. I don’t even know if it’s true but every English person in Australia is always complaining about English weather and it makes it sound like a place you never want to go to.

These are my (poor) excuses for why I have explored virtually none of England.

Apologies to England

My apologies to England

Thanks to the pre-existing plan of my Slovak friends, I did spend one Easter hiking in Cornwall a few years back and I was (sorry, England) shocked by how beautiful it was. It was even sunny! But because of the first excuse above, this trip didn’t convince me to drop everything and plan an English road trip.

And in fact there wasn’t ever a big epiphany about needing to go and properly explore England because it was so amazing. The epiphany was simply that I realised I’d been being a huge travel snob about it, and I should get over myself and re-include England on the mental list of places I’d really like to explore!

Of course, something always sparks these interests and in my case it is usually a series of sparks before I take notice. As I was preparing the content for Travel Journal School I went back to re-read some of my favourite travel writers, and the Bill Bryson book that fell into my hands was Notes from a Small Island, which started me thinking about England again.

And then I had friends travelling around England (cue: enticingly good photos on Facebook of different parts of the country), a blogging friend pledging to visit every city in England (there are 51; he’s planning to get to the other 18 in the rest of the UK as well), and my five-year-old son trying to find England on his world map placemat at dinnertime because one of his teachers comes from England, just like Peppa Pig, and it’s the place where they say “yogg-urt” instead of “yoah-gurt”.

Enough reasons to go?

Where would you include on a road trip around England?

I was scarred for life by the difficulty of booking the train to Cornwall for my Easter trip a few years back, so I am thinking that this some-time-in-the-next-few-years trip to properly discover England needs to be a road trip, driving a car hire from London perhaps? (I’ll save my train love for other places.)

Thanks to all the inspiration I’ve been seeing, I already have a few ideas mapped out in my head. My son needs to see Stonehenge, because he likes that kind of stuff; I feel rather drawn to Kendal because history always seems to suggest that anything Kendle, Kendal, Kendall or Kendale is all connected and therefore, thanks to my surname (Kendle) I should go; and after my success with the cliffs in Cornwall I would like to see more of England’s national park areas, although after browsing the net, I can’t quite decide which are the most beautiful.

But I know that you lovely readers (who have not fallen prey to my mistakes up above) will have way more information and more useful tips on where to include on an England road trip – so please let me know in the comments (I’ll add them in a summary to the post here, too) so I can start reading, dreaming and planning.



  1. Oh, as an adopted UK-er, I LOVE exploring England. It truly is one of the more beautiful places I’ve ever been and every little nook and cranny is different. To add to your list: white cliffs (I went in Eastbourne, but you can find bits all around the south coast), Exeter, Oxfordshire (home to the Cotswolds), East Anglia (the little bit of England on the right side that has a north-facing coast…where there are massive sand dunes and marshes). Enjoy!

  2. Lesley West says

    Well, there are all manner of fascinating and beautiful places along Hadrian’s Wall – Vindolanda is quite special. Lindesfarne, or the Holy Isle is beautiful, and I recommend you stay overnight as it is quite other-worldy when the day tourists have left (you can only drive on and off the island when the tide obliges. If you do Lindesfarne you are close to Alnwyck Castle (home to much of the Harry Potter sets) which is fabulous.

    If you are going to Stonehenge you should visit Bath. It is very beautiful.

    There are many wonderful and interesting places along the south coast – surely Mr 5 needs to see a pebble beach at Brighton? And Dover castle is wonderful.

    Oxford and Cambridge are charming too.

    Is that sufficient to get you started? Oh and you know about Cornwall, which is just delightful. Mousehole is like something from a fairy tale, and the Minack Theatre has to be seen to be believed 🙂 A walk across the caseway to Saint Michael’s Mount off Penzance is also pretty amazing.

    • Fabulous list, thank you Lesley! I forgot that I have actually seen a little more – I visited Bath a few years back as I had a friend living not far from there. And it was indeed lovely. My hike in Cornwall ended at the Minack Theatre and I saw a musical there – what an amazing setting!! All those other places will definitely go on my list, thank you!

  3. OHHH
    If you’re road tripping around then head down to Castle Combe. The world’s cutest village. Ever.

    Bath is just beautiful too. We did a vey bizarre comedy walking tour. That was in 2010 (ish?) but was totally worth the 5 pound cost. There’s so much to see and do.

    For real adventure drive to Scotland 😛

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