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Visiting the Durham Home of the Prince Bishops

It is difficult to imagine a defensive structure more strategically situated. Guarded by steep slopes descending to an almost complete loop of the River Wear, Durham Castle remained impregnable for eight centuries. Yet even this fortress is dwarfed Read More

High Force

Seeking the Teesdale Assemblage, County Durham, England

The Durham Dales often take one a tiny step beyond the magic. While their more illustrious southern neighbours, the Yorkshire Dales have their own unarguable beauties, I always feel that Weardale and Teesdale offer just that little bit extra. And Read More

Blarney Castle

Kissing the Blarney Stone

As the long line of tourists - us included - crept through the ruins of Blarney Castle, I kept shaking my head. Kissing the Blarney Stone has never been on my radar, yet here I am, being herded through the maze of unkempt rooms and twisty narrow Read More

Roman Baths

Walking With the Ancients at the Roman Baths, Bath, England

“It isn’t fair,” says the elderly Roman rather tipsily. “We aren’t invaders. Who on earth comes wanting to fight?” He swigs from his stone bottle and offers it, a little unsteadily, to the camera-laden tourist sitting beside him on the stone Read More

P1130421

Discovering the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge, Shropshire

The picturesque escarpment of Wenlock Edge, inspiration of poetry and music, offers no hint that it was once an industrial cauldron. My wife, a friend, and I were traveling to discover the clangorous bustling past of a region that some call the Read More

The Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Learning about Scotland’s History in the Edinburgh Castle

It started raining as soon as I entered the Edinburgh Castle, even though the sky had looked bright when I climbed up the hill. Tip for visitors: Bring an umbrella, the weather changes quickly in Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle has stood on a Read More

Taking the waters

Taking Tea and the Waters at the Pump Room, Bath, England

You’d think after a lifetime of drinking tea I’d be undeterred by thorny problems of etiquette. But here in the elegant, eighteenth-century Pump Room in Bath I’m suddenly overcome by nerves. Because, as anyone who’s ever picked up a Regency romance Read More

Abbotsford ( Ann Burnett )

Re-visiting Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders

I had to read Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe at school and vowed never to open one of his books again. So what am I doing visiting Abbotsford, his house in the Scottish Borders? It’s re-opened to the public after a refurbishment (the Queen did the honors Read More

'Roman Legionaries', Housesteads Fort

Following the Roman Legions Along Hadrian’s Wall

As I left the car park at the side of Cawfields Quarry, I was glad of the breeze, for the day promised to be hot. I followed the footpath along the pond’s edge, past the tall quarry face and gently uphill to the walls of Milecastle 42. The section of Read More

1920 Fowler Road Locomotive (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Attending the Traditional Cart Marking Ceremony in London, England

What do Montgomery’s Rolls Royce and a butcher’s handcart have in common? They appeared in a London ritual dating back to 1667: Cart Marking. The first time I heard the name of this ceremony -- Cart Marking Under the Worshipful Company of Carmen Read More

Stirling Castle sits high above the plain (photo credit: Ann Burnett c 2013)

Paying Homage to King James V at Stirling Castle, Scotland

It’s the color that strikes us at first. How could sixteenth century Scotland be so full of color? Even on this dull, rainy day (dreich as the Scots call it) the outside of the Great Hall of Stirling Castle is a luminous cream. One of the many guides Read More

Seymour Tower and Intertidal Reef (photo: Anthony Toole)

Crossing Jersey’s Intertidal Reef to the Seymour Tower

Along the south-east coast of Jersey, stretching from St Helier to Gorey, the seabed is so shallow that at low tide an area of 17.5 square kilometres becomes exposed, making this one of the largest intertidal reefs in the world. Because of this, the Read More

La Marmotiere

Sailing to Les Ecrehous in the English Channel in the Early Morning

As the boat slowly sailed past the St Catherine’s breakwater, on the north-east corner of Jersey, a small flock of Brent geese, winter visitors from the Arctic, took off ahead of us. Clearing the breakwater, our skipper, Richard, revved the motor, Read More

The cast iron and masonry work on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales are more than 200 years old. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier c 2013)

Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northeast Wales

From my vantage point in the field below, the structure rising from the riverbed looks like a bridge—a magnificent one, certainly, with graceful 200-year-old stone and iron arches. But wait a minute and an incongruous sight appears: A boat slowly Read More

Long brown building with many pointed spires and a giant clock tower at the right hand end, on the far side of a broad river

Pondering Power at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

When in London, listen to the stones. The Tower of London says, "Power comes from the King and his army." Westminster Abbey says, "Power comes from God." You would expect the Houses of Parliament to say, "Power comes from the people", but that's not Read More

Stone wall with a carved row of flowers and leaves, at each end there is a strange best. One looks like a bat and the other is more like a snarling lion.

Searching for Souls at Westminster Abbey, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

Why visit Westminster Abbey? Occasionally I go to indulge my private delusions of grandeur. Before I can be crowned Queen of England, approximately a billion people will have to die. Then, when I'm first in line, I'll follow tradition and have my own Read More

Skyline of the Tower of London showing light coloured walls and many towers

Finding the Bodies and the Loot at the Tower of London, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

The Tower of London is an architectural bully, a big tough bouncer at the door of England’s history. Don’t worry, the people at the Tower are lovely and helpful. But the walls themselves? They were built to keep the likes of you and me in our Read More

Ruins of abandoned houses, St. Kilda (Copyright Stillman Rogers Photography)

Stepping into the Past on Scotland’s St. Kilda Archipelago, a UNESCO Site

The taste of salt was strong on the wind as we sailed past cliffs that dropped to a wave-dashed tumble of stones below. Beyond this cluster of cliff-bound islands known as St. Kilda, open Atlantic stretched to the gray line of the horizon. The Read More

Steep headlands in Scotland's Outer Hebrides

Cruising Scotland’s Islands on the Hebridean Princess

As we approached the ship, an opening skirl sounded from a piper on the upper deck, and he piped us aboard to the rousing strains of Scotland the Brave. So began our immersion into Scotland’s Western Isles, where more often than the highland Read More

Large man in green velvet coat with gold chain around shoulders, black hat with white feathers trim, another man in red robe, no hat, in courtyard

Advising King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace in London, England

King Henry VIII looks down from his chair and puts the question to his trusted advisors, “What are we to do about the Queen?” We advisors were just 21st-century tourists five minutes ago. Now we have the serious business of telling the most powerful Read More

Looking down the Liffey

Walking Along Dublin’s River Liffey to Ireland’s Famine Memorial

We’re off to meet a friend for dinner – the perfect conclusion to a weekend break in Dublin. And we have time in hand. “Come along,” I chivvy my reluctant entourage, who are quite happy to lounge in the hotel in front of the telly, “We’re going to Read More

Caernarfon Castle from the sea

Visiting the Historic Castle of Caernarfon, North Wales

I never get tired of castles. It’s just as well because North Wales is full of them, some crumbling away on overgrown mountainsides, others preening themselves for the visitor. There are so many, and of such quality, that four of them have gone and Read More

Shakespeare memorial

Discovering the City of Dickens and Shakespeare with a London Walks Tour

Our guide is loud and theatrical, and has no problem making himself heard by the crowd of people clustered hopefully around him. "It had to happen sometime," he booms. "A North American telling you about those two icons of English literature, Dickens Read More

Cornish Pasties

Finding Cornwall’s Best, Authentic, Traditional Pasty

Without the patient GPS lady at my side – “Please make a U-turn at the earliest opportunity” – I’d probably still be wandering Cornwall’s tangled ribbon of world-class, narrow lanes looking for what is purported to be Cornwall’s best Read More