Edinburgh Castle, High Street, Edinburgh Tel: 0131 668 8800
If you are going to be in Edinburgh during your trip to the UK, then a trip to the castle comes highly recommended. Towering over the city from its perch on top of an extinct volcano, it offers amazing views not only of the city itself but also for miles around. Dating from the Bronze Age, and housing the Stone of Destiny, the ancient coronation stone of the Scottish Kings, it is an attraction well worth visiting. You also get to hear the one o’clock gun salute every day and in August each year the Military Tattoo takes place - a very enjoyable and interesting festival of musical, marching and historical re-enactments.
Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, London SW1P 3PA Tel:020 7222 5152
This is the venue for the coronations, marriages and burials of the British monarchs so it is an attraction with quite a bit of history. The only exceptions since 1066 were Edward V and Edward VII. It also houses the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Coronation Chair, the Shrine of Edward the Confessor, the Royal Tombs, the Royal Chapels and the Poets’ Corner. The building itself dates from between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries and if you are in London, a visit to Westminster Abbey is a must. Check before you go, however, as it is sometimes closed to the public because of special events.
Abergavenny Museum & Castle, Castle Street, Abergavenny, Gwent NP7 5EE, Wales Tel: 01873 854 282
This Welsh museum presents the story of Abergavenny, a historic market town. It takes the visitor from prehistoric times right through to the present day making it an extremely enjoyable place to visit. The displays on offer include a recreated Victorian farmhouse kitchen and a saddler’s workshop. It’s set within the ruins of the town’s Norman castle. As the seat of medieval lords, this castle was the focus of cross border conflict for over three hundred years. It has been open to the public since the end of the nineteenth century.
Loch Ness Drumnadrochit, Highlands, Scotland Tel: 01456 450573The problem with Loch Ness is that unless you have planned a few days in the highlands, it is quite a trip from any of the major UK cities. The good news is that if you had to spend three days on a bus (and you don’t), it would still be worth it. It is now one of the world’s most famous attractions thanks to the mysterious phenomenon of the Loch Ness monster, or Nessie as he has become affectionately known. The lake itself is twenty-three miles long and over seven hundred and fifty feet deep so if you are looking for specific details on the monster, you are probably better to visit the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre. The scenery in the area is so picturesque you should probably buy a couple of rolls of film in the centre, and one place in particular that you will definitely want to get a shot is where Urquhart Castle sits on the shores of the lake. It’s real postcard material.
The Giants Causeway, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
This natural attraction has numerous legends surrounding its origins. The most popular is that Fionn MacCumhaill, a legendary Irish hero, fell in love with a lady giant on a nearby island. In order for her to cross into Ulster without getting her feet wet he built a highway of stepping-stones from Antrim to Scotland, hence the Giant’s Causeway. The unique structure is a mass of basalt columns packed together and the tops from the stepping-stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. There are forty thousand of these columns and most are hexagonal. The tallest reach up to forty feet in height and are up to ninety feet thick. It is a fascinating outcome of the forces of nature and well worth a look.
The Tower Bridge Experience, Tower Bridge, London SE1 2UP Tel: 020 7378 1928If you do get to London then your visit will not be a complete without a visit to the city’s most famous attraction. While the outside of the bridge is impressive in itself, the inside is where the experience lies. Once you step into the heart of the bridge, you will witness displays which bring over one hundred years of the Tower Bridge’s history to life. You will be transported to nineteenth century London where you will see why and how the bridge was built, and the views from the walkway are unforgettable.
Roman Baths & Pump Room, Abbey Churchyard, Bath, Avon BA1 1LZ Tel: 01225 477785
This is the site of Britain’s only natural spring and has been in Bath for over two thousand years. It consists of various different areas including The King’s Bath where you can see the source of the thermal water. You then move on to The Temple of Sulis Minerva who was the Romano-Celtic goddess of the springs. Finally, you enter the Pump Room itself which is a Georgian salon and the social heart of the attraction. Here you can drink water from the fountain or have a coffee while enjoying the music of the Pump Room Trio. There is also a museum where you will see carvings from classical temples, treasures which were offered to Sulis Minerva and sculptures which tell you about the lives of people from throughout the empire.
Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA Tel: 020 7219 5839
This is one of London’s best-known landmarks but the name does not actually refer to the clock tower itself as many visitors believe. It is actually the thirteen-ton bell which hangs inside the tower and was named after the first commissioner of works, Sir Benjamin Hall. The attraction looks its best at night because all the clock faces are illuminated but it is worth visiting at any time of the day. The minute hand is fourteen feet long and the figures are two feet high giving some idea of the sheer size of the structure. You can also climb the inside of the clock tower and see the cells where Members of Parliament can be imprisoned for breaching parliamentary privilege. You won’t see anybody in confinement, however, as this hasn’t occurred since 1880.