I do like a good countdown programme on TV! Whether it’s a countdown of the best 80s songs or the country’s favourite chocolate bar, it’s very easy TV to have on in the background whilst pottering around the house. The other day on the BBC, there was a countdown of Britain’s 20 greatest national treasures as voted by the public and this caught my attention because I wondered how many I’ve been to, particularly those because of my blogging and working through my bucket list.
So, here they are:
20. Kew Gardens, London
These are beautiful gardens which I visited last year to see its orchids festival. If it wasn’t for my bucket list, I wouldn’t have come here as it’s a UNESCO site and I had a challenge to visit 10 sites. The orchids were lovely but I particularly loved going inside The Hive which recreates the sound of……being in a hive!
19. Buckingham Palace
I really don’t think this needs any introduction whatsoever! However, hubby and I were incredibly lucky to get tickets to Party at the Palace in 2002 which was a pop concert held at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee. This meant walking through the huge gates, through the palace itself and then out into the expansive gardens. We were given a champagne hamper (we still have those hamper bags) and were entertained by artists such as Shirley Bassey, Brian May, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart and Brian Wilson with the royal family coming on stage at the end. But, my enduring memory of that event? Hearing Ozzy Osbourne for the first time and, along with many others, standing on my chair, screaming at the top of my voice! Class 😂
18. Big Ben and Palace of Westminster
I’ve stood on the roof of the Houses of Parliament! I might have an inner rebellious streak but, no, I wasn’t a protester! I knew somebody who worked there and a few of us were invited to go to one of the bars for drinks in the evening before being shown around and up a narrow spiral staircase to the top. But here’s a photo taken from across the Thames I took just a few months ago.
17. British Museum
I have to confess! I was in there for 10 minutes (I know. I think hubby was truly shocked!). This was at the end of an extremely long day when I had been darting all over London seeing lots of iconic places and I was exhausted. I just went there to capture this photo of the iconic glass ceiling. One day, I’ll go back and really explore. Apparently they have an artefact or two that might be worth checking out??!
16. St. Michael’s Mount
I’m so excited that I will be visiting this national treasure next month on a short trip to Cornwall. Having visited its relation Mont St Michel in France, this will be another bucket list experience ticked off. We’ll need to time it right though because if it’s not possible to walk along the causeway, we’ll need to catch a boat to take us. Otherwise, we’ll end up stranded and not be able to go to the cliff-side Minack theatre in the evening to watch the musical Sunset Boulevard (I’m so excited!).
15. Westminster Abbey, London
The venue for many royal weddings but I used to go in there sometimes with friends as I worked around the corner whilst working in government policy units. Beautiful.
14. Roman baths
I was so pleased that this was on the national treasure list as the baths in Bath are beautiful….as is the city. This was one of the very first experiences to tick off my current bucket list but it’s so atmospheric and great to see some of the employees in character too. Well worth a visit.
13. Giant’s Causeway
There is a rule! No trip to see the family in Northern Ireland is complete without going to the Giant’s Causeway up on the Antrim coast! I last went there a couple of years ago with my youngest and my auntie-in-law. It’s made up of 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns. However, it wasn’t until after we made it back to the car that we realised we had been photo bombed!
Being the highest mountain in Wales, it reaches over 1000m above sea level and is accessible in different ways. You can ascend by foot which apparently takes the average person 5-7 hours but another option is to take the Mountain Railway up to the peak. Can you guess which one I chose?!
11. Hadrian’s Wall
This iconic wall (or the ruins of) dates back to the Roman times and stretches around 75 miles coast-to-coast across the UK. Last night, we were sorting through many photo albums. Hubby came across a photo of Hadrian’s wall from his childhood. He also went there with our youngest just a few months ago on a road trip but I’m sure you’re not too surprised to hear that the ruins hadn’t changed much since his last visit!
10. White Cliffs of Dover
Anyone coming over from Calais to Dover will be greeted by these magnificent chalk cliff faces. But if you’re heading there any time soon, look out for one of Banksy’s works which depicts the outcome of the EU referendum. I found a handy free car park just nearby to take these snaps.
9. St. Paul’s Cathedral
I’ve been there a few times but it was on a day trip to London a few months ago that I managed to find the spot to take the photo of the cathedral from across the Millennium Bridge.
8. Loch Ness
Just last month, I did a 1,700 mile solo road trip around stunning Scotland. I think my favourite area was the Glencoe mountains but there was something special about seeing Loch Ness which stretches 23 miles. And I’m sure I saw something in the middle that looked a bit like a monster-shaped head?! Don’t tell anyone!
7. Jurassic coast
Found on the south coast of England stretching from Devon to Dorset, it is 96 miles long. I’m not going to pretend that I know all about it but Wikipedia says…..
Couldn’t have put it better myself!
6. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh, well much of Scotland, is beautiful and you really can’t miss the castle towering above the city. If you watch British TV on New Year’s Eve, you’ll see number people crammed into Scotland’s capital city celebrating Hogmanay with the cannons firing off from the castle. I remember flying up to Edinburgh for a day trip with my brother around 1990, taking a bus from the airport, walking up to the castle, exploring the city a bit and then flying back home. For reasons that I hope to share in the next few weeks, I’m hoping Edinburgh will be somewhere that I’m visiting fairly regularly!
5. Cheddar Gorge
If you like caving or rock climbing, this is a fabulous place to head to. The show caves are stunning. Situated in the Mendip Hills in Somerset, you can snake down a road through the limestone gorge that reaches up to 137m high. When I went earlier this year, there were so many bikers in their leathers which was really fun to watch. But if you’re feeling particularly fit, you can climb the 274 steps of Jacob’s Ladder.
4. Tower of London
I know that I have followers from all over the world (thank you!). If you think of London, I’m sure many of you may be visualising beefeaters (officially known as Yeoman Warders) whose roles include guarding the Crown Jewels and welcoming visitors. This national treasure is steeped in history and well worth a read. But you’ll also find at least six ravens there which is important because the myth says that should the ravens get lost or fly away, the Crown Jewels will fall along with Britain
3. Lake District
Until last year, I’d never visited the Lake District but I immediately fell in love. It might have helped that I went during fabulous weather and 11 lakes and mountains are going to look stunning on a beautiful day. But it really is somewhere on my list to take hubby to when we can. I think Lake Windermere is my favourite area, certainly for one of the many boat trips I went on. I won a photography competition with this first photo 😍
2. Tower Bridge
I don’t have a photo of it myself but I’ve gone across the bridge many times. However, apparently many people coming to the UK think that it’s called London Bridge……but it is Tower Bridge that opens up to allow passing ships through.
Now, I was really surprised to find this as number one. I know it’s visited by incredible numbers of people every day and its formation is surrounded in mystery. I don’t know whether I visited Stonehenge up close as a child but trips to the south-west of England take me along the A303 by Salisbury and you are sure to be stuck in a very long traffic jam. Why? Stonehenge can be seen from the road and everyone slows down to take a peek!
Out of the list of 20, it’s just the Jurassic Coast, Hadrian’s wall and St. Michael’s Mount that I haven’t been to so not bad going at all. However, if I had been asked about places I consider to be national treasures of Britain, the Cotswolds, Portmeirion, Greenwich, Canterbury, Glencoe, Trafalgar Square and Stratford Upon Avon come to mind. Here are some photos I’ve taken of these places on my travels.
I’d love to know what you think of as being iconic British places, whether you live here or not. What comes to your mind?