One of the most beautiful stretches of the river Wye is at Symonds Yat, between Ross-on Wye and Monmouth, where the river, after passing through a narrow gorge, makes a great five-mile loop round Huntsham Hill, failing to complete its total encirclement by a mere quarter of a mile. ‘Yat’ is an old English word for gate.
To get away from what some people see as the over-exploitation of Shakespeare in the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon, it is only necessary to walk a short distance along the banks of the Avon to get this pastoral view of St. Mary’s Church where the poet was baptised and also where he was buried. For Shakespeare to have a tomb at all seems somewhat surprising for there can be no playwright in the world whose works are still so much alive and still so relevant.
The Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick was founded in ii y Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, as a hospital (in the early sense of the word) for ‘poor and impotent’ persons. The buildings were originally the headquarters of Warwick’s Town Guilds which were dispersed in 1546.
Though the canals of Britain are individually small, the system was, in its heyday, very extensive and highly important when railways were non-existent and roads almost unusable. Many of them have been restored for recreational use for boating and fishing, and there are several centres where boats may be hired by the week to explore the beautiful stretches of England’s canal system. Because of their meagre width a special type of barge known as a ‘narrow boat’ was developed for British canals.
In this image, taken just south of ‘Bridge 10’, near Crick, the canal disappears into a tunnel to emerge over 1,528 yards away. Further south on the Grand Union Canal there is a fascinating Canal Museum in an old warehouse at Stoke Bruerne illustrating the vital role played by canals in England in the eighteenth century.
Mam Tor, a 1700-foot mountain in north Derbyshire, is the southern outpost of the region known as the High Peak. This is the really rugged northern half of Derbyshire’s Peak District, an area of rocky outcrops on high moorlands, crossed by the Pennine Way, the track which conducts determined walkers 250 miles to the Scottish border. Mam Tor has been known since Elizabethan times as the shivering mountain because of the way its almost continuous landslides of shale and grit reflect the sunlight.
People living in the Midlands and North of England have long regarded the Peak District as their natural playground for walking, climbing, pot-holing (the limestone hills are riddled with subterranean caverns), sailing, fishing or just relaxing. Indeed, it was largely the pressure of public opinion generated by the thousands of walkers from Manchester and Sheffield that led, in the early 1930s, to the public being granted access to the privately owned mountains and moors in the area and to the establishment, in 1951, of the Peak District National Park. This Park – it covers 542 square miles and includes the whole of north-west Derbyshire as well as parts of the adjoining counties of Staffordshire and Yorkshire – ensures a strict control over development in a region of great natural beauty and high amenity value.