Top 10 things you shouldn’t miss in Britain
Wherever you travel you want to gain a unique experience; see and do things that you can’t find anywhere else.
With so many cultural and traditional aspects across England, Wales and Scotland there are lots of choices, but what can you buy, taste, see and do that is unique to each country in Britain and that you won’t find anywhere else? We have rounded up the best of British features; those things you can’t leave without trying.
Traditional to Devon and Cornwall, a cream tea, some might say, is the height of English pleasure. Tearooms and cafés across the Britain offer cream teas, which normally include tea and scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, but sometimes sandwiches and other cakes are included too (usually this is known as afternoon tea). Depending where you choose to enjoy your cream tea, however, you may notice some variations. In Devon, for example, it is customary to serve the scones warm, with jam spread over them then dolloped with clotted cream. However, in Cornwall, the clotted cream is spread first. How about buying some jam to take home with you?
Kendal mint cake
Kendal mint cake is a peppermint flavoured confectionary product from Kendal in Cumbria. The mint cake is popular among climbers, mountaineers and hikers due to its high energy levels from its sugar content, and was in fact carried during the expedition to the top of Mount Everest in 1953. Kendal mint cake is known as one of the world's most travelled sweets, with Quiggin’s being the oldest surviving producer of the sweet treat, having made it since 1880.
Hamleys and Harrods
A trip to Britain would not be complete without a trip to the famous department store Harrods or world-renowned toy shop Hamleys. A real British souvenir from real British shops – you can’t get more authentic than that. Like most renowned products there will be copies around the world, but only the real deal can be found in Hamleys and Harrods in London. Your best buys would be a famed Harrods bear – a popular souvenir for those visiting Britain – or traditional toys such as tin soldiers, wooden horses and rag dolls, which were the toys sold when Hamleys first opened in 1760.
Britain’s smallest pub and house
The Nutshell, in Bury, St Edmunds, is Britain’s smallest pub, with a bar measuring just 15 feet by seven feet (4.5 metres by 2.1 metres). Having a pint in the aptly named Nutshell will make for a great anecdote for when you go home. In Conwy, Wales, you could also visit Britain’s smallest house; the Quay house, which measures just 10 feet by six feet (3.05 metres by 1.8 metres). Near Conwy castle, this red cottage was lived in until 1900 by a six foot tall fisherman and is now a favourite tourist spot. If you’re only planning on staying in the capital, then you could take a look at the smallest house in London, located in Marble Arch. Just three feet and six inches wide, the building now forms part of a convent.
Britain’s wildlifePerhaps surprisingly, Britain is in fact home to many unusual creatures, some of which are unique to the UK. Take the red squirrel, which is native to Britain and can be seen in areas such as Formby in Merseyside; Plas Newydd; Anglesey; and Abriachan Woods, Inverness, among others. The west coast of Scotland also offers the excitement of seeing whales, dolphins, seals and porpoise in their natural habitat. Also in Scotland, the red deer which is the largest land mammal in Britain, can be spotted in the Northwest Highlands and Galloway Forest Park; definitely a sight to behold.
Longest place name
The longest place name in Europe (and among the longest in the world) is a village in Wales, on the island of Anglesey. Many visitors have their photograph taken at the railways station next to the station sign or have their passports stamped with the village name: ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’. Quite a mouthful, the meaning is in fact: ‘Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of Saint Tysilio with a red cave’.
If you’re visiting Scotland then you really can’t miss out on trying the famous (or perhaps, infamous) haggis. This Scottish delicacy is made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, onion, oatmeal, suet and spices, then wrapped in the lining of an animal’s stomach and boiled – perhaps a lot to stomach, particularly if you’re a vegetarian, but it is a Scottish favourite all the same. If are keen to try some then it is available in many shops and restaurants in Scotland and other parts of Britain – or why not try making it yourself?
See an angel
What better story to tell when you return home than to say you have seen an angel? If you venture the North of England you will be able to see one in all her glory. Gateshead, Newcastle, is the home to The Angel of The North – a gigantic angel-shaped statue created by artist Antony Gormley in 1998. Her impressive wingspan of 54 metres will leave you in awe and will give you some amazing photograph opportunities. The artist’s work is also spread around other locations in Britain; why not visit Crosby Beach near Liverpool to see ‘Another Place’ – an eerie display of 100 cast-iron figures staring out into the Irish Sea?
The Beatles crossing
Make like the Beatles in their Abbey Road album cover by taking a trip to Camden in the City of Westminster. Minding the busy traffic (obviously!) try taking your own photos of friends crossing the famous zebra crossing just outside the famous Abbey Road recording studio entrance. The crossing is now recognised as Grade II Listed Building status by English Heritage. If you’re a fan of The Beatles then knowing you have quite literally followed in their footsteps will be something to boast about when you go home – and you’ll have a photograph to prove it!
Maybe one for the summer months (and even then you’ll be lucky to see sunshine!) but visiting the British seaside couldn’t be a more quintessential British pastime. Choose from Brighton, Scarborough or Blackpool, among others, for a truly traditional British day out. Be sure to buy some famous peppermint rock to take home for your family, enjoy some fish and chips in the breeze and, of course, have a go on the rides and games such as the helter skelter, slot machines and the ghost train.