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Archive for united kingdom

Wonderful Wetlands in Wales

By Linda Tancs

Wetlands are the primary source of drinking water for people and wildlife. Boasting amazing biodiversity, more than 100,000 species of animal rely on freshwater ecosystems alone. Although the world has lost more than half its wetlands in the last 100 years, conservation groups like The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in England protect, repair and actually create exciting new wetlands for people and wildlife. The Llanelli Wetland Centre near Swansea, Wales, is one of many wetland centres offering unforgettable opportunities to connect with nature. Boasting 450 acres of wildlife, a visit there features a flock of Caribbean flamingos and a chance to hand feed the rarest goose in the world, the Hawaiian nene. This time of year the first of the new season’s ducklings are hatching, and wild orchids are among the many wildflowers blooming.

The Dark Sky Island

By Linda Tancs

Less than an hour by sea from Jersey or Guernsey, Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in benefits. For instance, it’s Europe’s first International Dark Sky Community (a moniker bestowed by the International Dark-Sky Association), which means you can gaze at countless stars and admire the Milky Way, particularly when the sun sets early like this time of year. It also evokes a step back in time, being devoid of street lighting and cars (excepts tractors for farming). That means you get to take a charming horse-drawn carriage ride around the island or enjoy a five-mile scenic trek from the visitor center to the village. Garden lovers will adore La Seigneurie Gardens, one of the most enchanting gardens in the islands. Overall, its history and culture (like the old windmill, silver mines and Stonehenge-like Sark Henge) attract some 40,000 visitors each year.

Best Ice Cream in Britain

By Linda Tancs

Birthplace of poet Dylan Thomas and the second largest city in Wales, Swansea is a vibrant coastal city offering sweeping views of Swansea Bay. On the bay’s west side is the seaside village of Mumbles, the source of seafood that ultimately finds its way to chic dining establishments in London and beyond. It’s also the source of premier ice cream parlors, hailed by some as the best ice cream in Britain. Why not enjoy some atop Oystermouth Castle and its spectacular view over the bay!

The Narnia Trail

By Linda Tancs

Acclaimed writer C.S. Lewis is the author of the fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Although he spent much of his life in England, he never forgot his early life in Northern Ireland, the source of his inspiration for the classic tales thanks to the striking landscapes in the Mourne Mountains (particularly that part of the village of Rostrevor overlooking Carlingford Lough). At Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor you can join the Narnia Trail, entered through—what else—a wardrobe. The Narnia legends are interpreted along a short family loop trail, leading visitors to several stations with themes including The Tree People and The Beavers’ House.

Hullensians Celebrate Culture

By Linda Tancs

The Yorkshire city of Hull is the UK City of Culture 2017, an award given every four years to a city that demonstrates a belief in the transformational power of culture. Hullensians (as locals are called) are certainly an independent, spirited bunch—it’s the only city in the UK with cream-colored phone boxes. It also sports the world’s largest Yorkshire pudding factory. As for arts and culture, you’ll find no lack. The Freedom Festival offers an incredible program each year on theatre, music, comedy and poetry. The city also hosts the region’s leading visual art space, the Ferens Art Gallery, as well as a new contemporary art space, Humber Street Gallery. Getting to this vibrant port city couldn’t be easier: Hull has its own rail link to the capital, and coaches run from all over the country.

A Lone Survivor in Belfast

By Linda Tancs

The only major naval surface engagement of World War I, the Battle of Jutland was fought by the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet against the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet. Although both sides claimed victory in this indecisive battle celebrating its centenary this year, the spoils clearly go to the British as they lay claim to the lone surviving ship from the skirmish. Now open as a visitor attraction in Titanic Quarter, Belfast, HMS Caroline has undergone extensive restoration to enable visitors to experience life at sea through state-of-the-art special effects and hands-on interactive exhibits. The historic vessel rounds out the maritime experience in Northern Ireland’s capital city, which includes Titanic Belfast, located in the heart of Titanic Quarter. The world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, it tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s through her construction and maiden voyage and subsequent place in history.

Over the Welsh Hills

By Linda Tancs

Looking for a pleasant respite from the business of everyday life? You’ll find it at Wirral Peninsula in northwest England. Located between the cities of Chester and Liverpool and bounded by the River Dee on one side and the River Mersey on the other, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Welsh Hills as well as 22 miles of coastline and 50 miles of walking trails (including the Wirral Way). The area boasts a 19th century model village known as Port Sunlight, created by William Hesketh Lever for his soap factory workers. Another gem is North Wirral Coastal Park on the peninsula’s eastern side, home to Leasowe Lighthouse, Britain’s oldest brick lighthouse. This getaway is just 45 minutes from both Liverpool John Lennon and Manchester airports. A local rail network connects Wirral to the national rail network via Liverpool Lime Street station.

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