Impressions of Wales, Midlands & Northern England, UK
One does not need to fear a bit of rain while travelling through Britain. First, they sell excellent umbrellas and rain coats; second, it does not rain all the time, it sometimes also just drizzles and there are even dry, sunny days as well; and third, the historical city centres, the green rolling valleys, and the ruins of castles and abbeys often take on an intangibly enchanting clout of mystics and mystery when wrapped in a light mantle of fog. It's just part of it, not always, but sometimes, ok, often. So what? What Wales and the Northern parts of England have on offer for the visitor is nothing less than a sheer treasure, from cosy and picturesque villages centred around the market square's pub to grand cities of history, centred around a medieval castle or a 12th century Cistercian abbey, themselves invariably rooted in a deep, early medieval past of Saxon kingdoms and Danish Vikings. In this series, we travel clockwise from Wales, where you exercise some tongue gymnastics to get locations pronounced right, to the Lake District, where number one on the restaurant menu cards is unfailingly trout rather than shepherd pie, to Hadrian's Wall, where Roman Emperors did exactly the opposite of what English politics have done ever since, keeping the Scots far away, and down South again on the North Sea side, to the romantic abbey ruins of Whitby and Fountains and to the glorious cities of York, Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely where an overdose of cathedrals becomes surprisingly digestible thanks to their magnificence and sheer beauty.
Before visiting the place of your choice:
The Welsh provincial town of Chepstow is just over the border with England, on the confluence of the Wye and Severn rivers. Given its location, Chepstow was developed by the Normans in the 11th century as a base for their conquest of Wales. Their castle on the muddy banks of the Wye river was erected in 1067, the first stone castle ever to be built in Wales. Towards the end of the English Civil War in the mid 17th century, the castle was used as a prison, while Chepstow itself prospered as a hub for the river-borne commerce of the region.