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Three Ways to Enjoy England

England has plenty to offer when it comes to cheap weekend breaks – and you don’t need to decide between spending a small fortune in London or zipping up the tent and shivering on a campsite.

So, for today, here are three of my favourite ways to enjoy England:

1)  Wander Around London’s Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens

Peter Pan Statue - by drumminhands

Peter Pan Statue - by drumminhands

Roads curve through Hyde Park, from the traffic chaos of Marble Arch to the manicured elegance of Kensington, Knightsbridge and the “museum district”. Yet a network of footpaths manages to give you the gift of peace and quiet. Stretch out on the grass and listen to nothing but birdsong.

Speakers’ Corner, meanwhile, offers a strange kind of insight into England today. Depending on your luck, you can hear impassioned speeches, offensive drivel or mumbling madness from an assorted collection of folk.

There’s also the Peter Pan statue that celebrates author J.M. Barrie who lived nearby, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and a more recent sculpture dedicated to the victims of the 7th July bombings

The Serpentine in the centre of London - by billfromesm

The Serpentine in the centre of London - by billfromesm

You can ride horses, cycle, take rollerblading lessons or go boating on the Serpentine. All within the mayhem of central London.

Parking is possible but tricky within the park. You can reach Hyde Park through any one of five underground stations: Marble Arch, Knightsbridge, Queensway, Lancaster Gate and Hyde Park Corner.

 

2)      Cycle Bristol to Bath

cycling abi Fifteen miles separate these two historic cities and if you know where to look, you can find a smooth off-road path that joins the two. What’s more, the Bristol to Bath path was originally a train track, meaning that (yes!) it is flat.

For free, you can explore Bristol by gazing up at the Clifton Suspension Bridge, admiring the edgy street art in Stokes Croft  and hunting down the whalebone in St Mary Redcliffe Church. 

Cycle the protected tarmac route between trees and sculptures and find yourself admiring the Royal Crescent and Circus in Georgian Bath just over an hour later.

 

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Path itself has a few refreshment stops along the way. You can find directions to the access points here. Most trains between Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads allow you to take one bicycle per person on at the weekends, just in case your energy has already faded before the return journey…


3) Explore the Peak District

Ladybower Reservoir - the Peak District

Ladybower Reservoir - the Peak District

England’s oldest national park fits snugly between Sheffield and Manchester. The Peak District provides postcard-perfect countryside views as well as more rugged, bleak and isolated landscapes.

Walking and cycling are two of my favourite ways to get around, with the juicy reward of homemade fudge in Castleton at the end of it.

For a glimpse of history (and let’s face it, a way to keep dry if the weather has ruined all those outdoor plans) try the museum at the Derwent Reservoir. This tells the story of how the water board strategically submerged the local villages and catalogues the development of the Dambusters mission (pilots trained here, flying only 18 metres above the reservoir water level. )

Pie & Mushy Peas

Pie & Mushy Peas

Round off the weekend with a giant Yorkshire pudding or some mushy peas. Mmm.

The easiest way to get around the Peak District is to travel by car. You can find great walking routes here. Dress sensibly (layered clothes, sturdy walking boots and waterproofs!) and have fun.




More Ways to Enjoy England

Check out the Enjoy England section in the Guardian – or add your ideas and suggestions below:

6 Responses to Three Ways to Enjoy England

  1. Patricia September 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    While you are in Bristol, don’t forget to climb the Cabbot Tower for a wonderful free view of the city, and at the end of your cycle ride to Bath, don’t forget the beautiful Assembly Rooms, where Jane Austen danced the night away.

  2. susie September 30, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    I love Hyde Park – a true gem in the middle of the hustle and bustle of London.

    • cheap weekend breaks October 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

      Richmond Park (between Putney and Kingston) also offers lots of outdoor space for walking and cycling, as well as deer and a view of St Paul’s.

  3. Mike October 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    We moved to London 5 years ago and a family days out can be an expensive business here!! We always try to find a budget attractions as we have 3 children and paying entry fees for all of them would be a problem.I think that the Enjoy England’s website with a list of England’s Top 20 free attractions, might be useful for days out with the kids, what do you think?

    • cheap weekend breaks October 2, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

      The Enjoy England page on free family days out is a good starting place – although most of the suggestions would work well for adults too.

      Don’t forget Wales when planning a cheap weekend break for the family – watch this space for some posts coming soon 😉

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