England Travel Guide

England is one of the four "home nations" that make up the United Kingdom. It is NOT the "same thing" as Britain or the UK. It is the largest of them, both in terms of surface area and population (about 50 million inhabitants out of about 60 million). On the island of Great Britain, Scotland sits to the north of England and Wales is to the west. Northern Ireland (also part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland lie across the Irish Sea to west of England (and Wales). France and the Channel Islands are across the English Channel to the south, and to the east is The North Sea.

Region
England can be divided most generally into three sections, with deep historical and linguistic roots for each of them. These can be further divided into regions, which in turn consist of counties (most of which also have long histories, but have been revised in many cases for administrative reasons).

The South of England is roughly the area south of the River Thames and the Bristol Channel.
London, a vast and diverse metropolitan region to itself, the capital city of both England and the United Kingdom, and a global capital of finance, fashion and culture.
South East, broadly speaking, the area around and south of London, including the territory along the English Channel.
The West Country, the often-rugged peninsula extending southwest into the Atlantic and adjoining counties.
The English Midlands is the part of England east of Wales and across to the North Sea.
East Anglia, largely low-lying territory northeast of London.
The East Midlands, the geographic centre of England, and reaching to the North Sea.
The West Midlands, the industrial and rural area east of Wales.
The North of England is anywhere north of the Mersey and Humber rivers.
Yorkshire, regarded as one of the most scenic, varied and interesting of all the traditional counties.
The North West, major industrial cities and breathtaking scenery between Wales and Scotland.
The North East, the urbanised areas of Teesside and Tyne and Wear and sparsely populated borders with Scotland

Cities
England has many large cities. Listed below are nine of the most popular:

London - the capital of both England and the United Kingdom, a vast metropolitan area, and a global capital of finance, fashion and culture.
Birmingham - the UK's second largest city (by population) is located in the industrial heartland and many attractions for the traveller. It is a cultural, sporting, entertainment, shopping and media hub.
Bristol - largest city in South England (after London), vibrant music scene, lovely historic buildings and an attractive waterfront.
Brighton - Victorian seaside resort turned into one of the major nightlife centres of Europe.
Liverpool - Famed nautical city and home of the Beatles. (European capital of culture 2008)
Manchester - a cultural, sporting, entertainment, shopping and media hub. The UK's second largest city by metropolitan area, but its third largest by population.
Nottingham - home of Robin Hood and Nottingham Castle.
Newcastle upon Tyne - a thriving northern city with world-famous nightlife.
York - ancient capital of Yorkshire, with Roman, Viking and Medieval remains.
Other destinations
England has many outstanding landmarks and sites of interest. Listed below are nine of the most notable:

Hadrian's Wall
Lake District National Park
New Forest National Park
North York Moors National Park
Oxford and Cambridge - ancient and world famous universities.
Peak District National Park
South Downs National park
Stonehenge
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Understand
It is important not to confuse "England" with the the larger "Britain" or "United Kingdom"; see United Kingdom for clarification on this. England is the only part of the UK without an element of home rule, and is directly governed by the UK government sitting in Westminster (in London); that is something the English are beginning to mutter about amongst themselves, but it is best not to talk politics with the natives until you know the country very well - preferably after having lived there for some years.

Do NOT refer to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as "England". Its a common mistake, but will still irritate most English people, and is likely to offend those from the other countries of the UK other than England. Only refer to England itself as "England" (if that makes any sense).

[edit] Climate
England has been stereotyped as being cold, grey and rainy since the ancient Romans wrote home, but this is not an entirely accurate picture. The temperatures rarely get very cold or very hot, and while the country certainly gets rain, it's really not as wet as rumour has it. London alone has lower annual rainfall than Paris and New York, and it's not uncommon for parts of the country to go without rain for weeks and even months in rare cases. Parts of southern England often have summer water restrictions due to a lack of adequate rainfall during the previous winter, summer rainfall being inadequate to supply water demands.

Also in recent years, England has experienced some extremely hot summers. There is plenty of scope for leaving your raincoat at home, but make sure you've got one.

England's weather is very changeable on a day-to-day basis, but has a quite small difference between average conditions on a seasonal level. There is a general trend in recent years by which summers are getting drier and hotter, and winters wetter and warmer.

Northern and western parts are usually wetter than the rest of England due to the prevailing wind from the north west bringing down cold moist air from the North Atlantic, and the sunniest and warmest areas are in the far south and south east.

Winter and autumn are usually the wettest seasons where the weather is often very changeable and at times quite windy, especially in the north and west, where cold Arctic winds arrive. Spring conditions are very changeable: a day of hot sunshine is likely as not to be followed by a week of cold wind and rain; and vice-versa. Occasional snow even as late as May is not unheard of in northern England, but it will melt very quickly. Snow is particularly rare in the south east. Summer is generally warm in the south with average temperatures usually ranging from 20-25°C but be prepared for unsettled weather at any time of the year and make sure to check a weather forecast if you plan to be outdoors.

More frequently now, long, hot spells of weather can occur from May to September (especially in the south and east) with temperatures comparable to those found in the south of France or Spain. Central Europe has very hot summers and and very cold winters, but England is both less extreme (surrounded by water) and milder in the winter (influenced by the warmth of the North Atlantic Drift). If it were not for the North Atlantic Drift, England would be much much colder.

Below-zero (Celsius) temperatures are an irregular occurrence in the coldest months; but heavy, prolonged, snow is rare and temperatures are rarely below freezing for more than a few days. Perhaps every other year there will be a few days of road and rail disruption if snow falls - it is a common point of concern in England that the English are ill-equipped to cope with bad weather: even the slightest amount of snow often causes delays on public transport, especially rail. Really severe weather conditions are rare, but can cause major problems even though remedial action is usually taken very promptly. Flooding and the opposite, droughts, are minor problems although they are unlikely to affect the traveler. High winds occasionally disrupt travel, most often outside summer. Very rarely, tornadoes and minor earthquakes occur: the most recent took place in February 2008, in Lincolnshire in the east, 5.3 on the Richter scale and felt all around the country.

English people are said to have a passion for debating the weather: actually this is usually just an opening gambit to start a conversation with a stranger (see elsewhere in this article). Typically, these conversation openers are now only heard among the elderly members of society. Most discussions that do involve weather usually includes criticisms of it - including (though perhaps not at the same time) both that it's "too cold" and it's "too hot". Well-known conversational gambits (with due acknowledgment to Peter Kay) : "It's too cold for snow"; "It's that fine rain that soaks you through".

Get in
By road
From outside Great Britain
Since England is on an island, it is not possible to drive directly into England from outside Great Britain. Motorists have two choices to enter England from outside Great Britain, by various car ferry routes, or the Channel Tunnel.

Car ferries
From mainland Europe. - there are a wide variety of routes and operators from various countries. Ferry routes to British Mainland
From the Channel Islands. Services connect Jersey and Guernsey with the south of England.
From the Isle of Man. Services connect Douglas, Isle of Man with the north west of England
From Ireland. There are only limited car ferry services connecting Ireland directly with England. Alternatively it is possible to take a ferry from Ireland to Wales or Scotland and then continue the journey by road to England.
See "by boat" for further details.

Channel Tunnel
From France. Eurotunnel run a frequent train service from Calais, France, to Folkestone which carries vehicles and their passengers.
[edit] From elsewhere in Great Britain
A number of roads cross England's borders with its British neighbours. These roads range from the simple country lanes to motorways. There are obviously no border controls with Scotland or Wales; indeed, on smaller roads the border may not be noticed at all.

There are no tolls to cross into England; however, motorists need to be aware that crossing from England into Wales via the M4 and M48 Severn Bridges will need to pay a toll. Also, there is a M6 toll road to bypass the congestion of Birmingham (England's second largest city) on the main M6 motorway.

The most important road connections into and out of England are.

A1 from Edinburgh to Eastern Scotland
M4 from South Wales
M74/A74/M6 from Western Scotland
A55 from North Wales.
[edit] By plane
England has numerous airports:

London and the South East

London Gatwick
London Heathrow - Largest airport in UK, and third busiest in the world.
London Stansted
London Luton
London City
The South

Southampton
Bournemouth
The South West

Bristol
Exeter
Newquay
Plymouth
East Anglia

Norwich
The Midlands

Birmingham International
East Midlands
Coventry Airport
The North

Manchester International - largest UK airport outside London
Liverpool John Lennon
Newcastle International
Leeds-Bradford
Doncaster-Sheffield
Humberside International
Durham Tees Valley
Blackpool
By train
Eurostar links mainland Europe to England. Trains run from Paris, France and Brussels, Belgium (via Lille and Calais) crossing into England via the Channel Tunnel and often stopping at Ashford) before continuing to St. Pancras Station in London. Occasional services run from other destinations in France.

From Wales and Scotland regular services cross the borders into England.

BritRail Passes are also available to non-UK citizens which allow the traveller unlimited rail travel in England on one ticket.BritRail Passes

By boat
With so much coastline and so many ports, England has extensive shipping links with many countries worldwide. Major ports are Dover, Folkestone, Harwich, Hull, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool, Ipswich and Newcastle. Ferry routes to British mainland

Get around
England is well serviced by domestic air, land and sea routes.

There are taxi firms everywhere (many are by booking only - find the phone number of the local company and phone ahead), and every town has a bus service. 'Black Cabs' are also common in cities and can be hailed from the side of the road. Sometimes in city centres, usually just after the nightclubs have closed, there will be queue for taxis which will sometimes be monitored by marshals or police.

Visitors should ensure that they only ever take registered taxis or black cabs; despite government action, many unlawful unregistered private taxi drivers exist - these do have a reputation for being unsafe, particularly if you are a woman.

England has one of the highest densities of railway lines per square mile in the world. There has been much improvement and investment in recent years to the railway network and rolling stock but delays and cancellations do occasionally occur. Overcrowding can be a problem in large cities, especially at 'rush-hour' times (7am - 9am & 5pm - 7pm, Monday to Friday) so it is best to avoid these times when tickets can be expensive as well.

Buses are numerous, frequent and reliable in most of the larger towns and cities and an ideal way of getting around. Rural areas are less well served and hiring a car is the best option to explore the countryside and villages.

The speed limit, unless otherwise stated, is 30 mph in built-up areas, 60 mph (approx 95 km/h) elsewhere and 70 mph (approx. 110 km/h) on motorways and other controlled-access roads. The traditional British 'reserve' and politeness may occasionally dissolve under the stress of congestion on the major routes, especially with the traffic problems in some of England's larger cities, but generally driving around Britain is an enjoyable experience and it is polite to acknowledge the courtesy of another driver with a nod or the raising of the hand as a form of thank you. Drivers will often flash their headlights to indicate that you are clear to pull out, or otherwise to give way to you, and it is considered polite to say thankyou by giving a wave or a quick flash of your headlights.

Flashing your hazards (ie, both indicators at the same time) is only used as an indication of danger. Usually it's used to indicate the car's broken down or to warn other drivers that there's a hazard up ahead, or more rarely a car directly in front or behind will flash their hazards to inform you or another driver that they consider you to be driving dangerously (this can occasionally lead to confusion as it's sometimes hard to tell whether they're talking to you or another car).

Brown and white road signs indicate nearby tourist attractions, and the blue i sign denotes Tourist Information.

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6 Responses
  1. drmathew Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Aruna Says:

    Hi...drmathew Yes I have traveled a lot by ferry to France. But my favourite is Dover to Dunkerque route, on this route we get a lot of cheap ferries to France. it is a great experience in my life..


  3. jr.doctor Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. jr.doctor Says:

    Hi,
    I got some good cross channel ferrys, while I was searching for ferry to France. Among them norfolkline sounds good.


  5. Hi...drmathew Yes I have traveled a lot by ferry to France. But my favourite is Dover to Dunkerque route, on this route we get a lot ofcheap ferries to France. it is a great experience in my life.


  6. Admin Says:

    I am glad that I could read your England ferry travel blog as it has provided decent information on UK.I did visit London long back and had then taken cross channel car ferries to France. It was quite an enjoyable experience.