Route planner: the heart of England
1. Birmingham has a growing reputation as one of the UK’s most diverse cities. The birthplace of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne perfectly balances its rich medieval history with cosmopolitan city life. Bursting with museums, galleries and the world famous Balti-Mile for those craving a curry.
2. Chester is a great stop off point. With its renowned zoo, Cathedral and racecourse, as well as a glorious medieval history, this delightful little city is well worth a visit.
3. Why not take a side trip to north Wales? Bangor is a charming city often referred to as ‘The Athens of Wales’. Isle of Anglesea offers beautiful beaches, dramatic castles and historic towns.
4. 2008’s European City of Culture – Liverpool. With more galleries and museumsthan any UK city outside of London, it is easy to see what keeps the culture vultures coming back. Liverpool’s rich musical tradition originally shot it to fame. Check out ‘The Beatles Story’ at Albert Dock and pay a late night visit to The Cavern Club for some modern day tunes!
5. Birkenhead, a seaport town, is where you can hop on the ferry to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Before you leave, stroll round Birkenhead Park – the inspiration behind New York’s Central Park.
6. The seaside town of Blackpool is just 56 miles from Liverpool or 50 miles from Manchester. With its kiss-me-quick hats, infamous tower and roller coaster rides, this is a side-trip for any fun-loving backpacker.
7. One of the biggest cities outside of London, Manchester is surely capital of the north. With one of the world’s biggest football clubs (and their noisy neighbours!), Manchester is definitely a city of sport. But how could we forget the thriving music scene. With this year being the 30th anniversary of the opening of the famous Hacienda nightclub, you won’t be too far from an old school indie night.
8. This idyllic spa town, Buxton, is known nationwide as the ‘gateway’ to the Peak District National Park. The Park has everything from hikes, sailing and hand gliding to bird watching. Buxton is also home to quaint architecture and fabulous vistas.
9. The traditional market towns of Bakewell and Matlock help make up the cutely named Derbyshire Dales. Bakewell is close to country estate Chatsworth House, and is home of the legendary Bakewell Pudding (Bakewell Tart to you and me!).
10. Matlock is blessed with many parks and farms as well as the River Derwent. The spa town of Matlock Bath is also only a short journey away.
11. With a long established tradition in British folklore, Nottingham offers everything from the City of Caves and Nottingham Castle, right up to the city’s popular dub-step and drum and bass scene. Of course the legendary Robin Hood trail is a must.
Stay at: Igloo Hostel, Annexe and Pods