Offa’s Dyke

Legends tell stories about how the Britons or Celts of these Welsh kingdoms fought against the Saxon invaders. Most of these stories are built upon the Arthur-myth – with the legendary king and his Knights of the Round Table, his sword the Excalibur and his prophet wizard, Merlin.
In reality, Saxon kingdoms were at constant fight with the Britons and it resulted in Offa’s Dyke – an earthwork legendarily ordered to create by Mercia’s king Offa to mark a boundary between the Kingdom of Powys and of Mercia.

Offa’s Dyke today offers a great Nordic walking opportunity. Part of the Nation Trail, the path shows the beauty of the Welsh landscape in about 180 kilometres.

Culzean Castle and Country Park

One of architect Robert Adam’s masterpieces is the Culzean Castle (and Country Park), in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Following his father’s career, Robert Adam was the pioneer of 18th-century Scottish architecture. And British since he designed Bath’s famous Pulteney Bridge as well.

Owned by the National Trust for Scotland today, the castle is hauned and numerous ghosts are claimed to live around. One of them is a piper whose music can be heard whenever there was a wedding in the Kennedy family – clan to be exact since the castle had been owned by them before they gave it to the National Trust.

The castle has a bloody history, however, it was never attacked by the English. The countryside around the castel inspired Scottish poet Robert Burns, a resident of Ayshire.

Clan Kennedy – the Scottish one – is a descendant of Robert the Bruce. It was David Kennedy, the 10th Earl of Cassillis wo got Robert Adam to build a magnificient castle on the property to show the family’s power and wealth. Actually both David Kennedy and Robert Adam had died before the castle was completed in 1772.

The top floor is called the Eisenhower House, named after the 34th American president Dwight D. Eisenhower who occasionally stayed there both as a general and later as a president. The rooms are available for lodging on holiday as well as several cottages in the castle’s great park.

Arundel – Castle and Cathedral

Arundel Castle was once a motte-and-bailey castle, the keep built first from timber (in 1068) and was later rebuilt from stone by King Henry II. The castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk for about 900 years.

The Tulip Festival and other flower shows of Arundel Castle, West Sussex attract thousands of visitors every year.

The Catholic Cathedral of Arundel was designed by Joseph Hansom, who also designed the first taxi. It was designated a cathedral in 1965, before that it was simply called The Church of Our Lady and Philip St Neri (whose story was made popular in the film “State Buoni se Potete”).

Loch Tummel

Loch Teimheil in Scottish Gaelic is in Perthshire, Scotland. A popular place for anglers who catch pike and brown trout there. The Queen’s View, which is among the top famous viewpoints in Scotland, reaches high above the lake and gives a breathtaking view over it.

GR8 to Know
Pitlochry is only a few miles away and it’s worth a visit: the River Tummel was dammed there and a Fish Ladder with 34 separate pools was completed in 1952. The viewing chamber has two windows letting visitors to see the salmon and it is equipped with a fish counter which allows the number of fish making the journey up the ladder each year to be recorded.

Stratford-upon-Avon

The birthplace of Wiliam Shakespeare, one of the world’s most famous and popular playwrights. His birthplace can be visited as well as his grave in the Holy Trinity Church of Stratford.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s beautiful and modern theatre lies by the River Avon. Its stage reaches out into the audience so that actors play the Shakespearean way.

GR8 to Know
Stratford is also home to the UK’s largest Butterfly Farm.

Bath

The town in the south-west of England is popular for its Roman Baths founded in 70 CE. It is only a tourist attraction now, not an actual thermal spa. The modern bath is Thermae Bath Spa, the only natural thermal hot spring in Great Britain making 1.7 m litres of hot water daily.

Other popular sites to see are the Royal Crescent, The Circus, Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge.

Sally Lunn’s is also worth to visit: one of the oldest houses in Bath still serves the famous Sally Lunn’s bun named after the first owner and founder of the bakery (back in the 1680s).

THE LEGEND OF THE PIGS

In 863 BCE, Bladud, King of the Britons and father of King Lear had spent much of his youth studying in Athens where he contracted leprosy. Returning home and realising that an imperfect prince could not inherit the throne, he left the royal palace in disguise to take a job as a swineherd in an “untravell’d part of the country”, the Avon Valley, the area we know today as Keynsham.

It happened more than 1,000 years before the Romans built villas in Keynsham and a full 1,500 years before the Saxons came to Bath.

Bladud drove his pigs in search of acorns. He crossed the River Avon at shallows north of Saltford – at a place which subsequently took its name from the legend: Swineford.
Bladud’s pigs also contracted his disease but were cured when they rolled in the hot mud around Bath’s springs.

Observing the miracle, Bladud also bathed in the hot, murky water and he was cured as well.  Returning home in triumph he went on to become King. In gratitude for his cure, Bladud founded a city at Bath and dedicated its curative powers to the Celtic goddess Sul. 900 years later the Romans called the city “Aquae Sulis” – the Waters of Sul.

Rye

Situated in East Sussex, Rye is one of the most charming historic towns in Britain. There is Mermaid Street with cobblestones, medieval timber-framed houses as well as kind Georgian homes.
Once it was part of the Cinque Ports, five coastal towns which were created in the 11th century.

GR8 to Know
Rye used to be a centre for smugglers who often visited the Mermaid Inn (dates back to the 12th century), a pub where they celebrated a successful smuggle.