Photos of Britain

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Harrow School. Credit Peter Dazeley

Unseen London: behind the capital’s closed doors

Come with us as we take you on a photographic tour inside some of London’s most iconic buildings, courtesy of new book Unseen London, revealing a side to them rarely seen before, plus some of their secrets…

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BRITAIN magazine

BRITAIN’s top 10 experiences in Wales

We’ve teamed up with Visit Britain this week to bring you the top 10 experiences in Wales after being particularly inspired by the recent hit film set in Wales, Pride…

BRITAIN magazine

Cardiff Castle. Credit: Visit Britain

1. Cardiff 

Cardiff is a capital city with a rich heritage and a contemporary vision; its 1,000-year-old castle sits alongside buzzing nightlife and outstanding restaurants. Located just two hours from London by train, Cardiff has it all. Looking for culture? Head to its wealth of museums – ranging from the National Museum of Wales with the largest collections of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris, to St Fagan’s Museum just outside the city, that has re-created more than 40 original historic buildings to show you how Welsh families lived through the centuries. Or else you can catch a major sports event (don’t miss a game of Wales’ favourite sport, rugby!) or a gig by a global superstar at the iconic Millennium Stadium.

BRITAIN magazine

Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia. Credit: Visit Britain

2. National Parks

Wales is home to three National Parks: discover the highest mountain in England and Wales and the largest natural lake in Wales, plus beaches and wetlands too at Snowdonia National Park in north Wales. Picture-perfect villages such as Betws y Coed and Beddgelert sit alongside a rich Welsh heritage – more than half the population of the area speak Welsh. Hike, bike, white water raft or simply soak up the incredible scenery, at the same time as discovering Stone Age burial chambers, Roman forts, medieval castles – and the famous Italian-style coastal tourist village of Portmeirion! Reach this diverse landscape easily from Manchester, only 2.5 hours by train to Bangor station.

Pembrokeshire National Park in west Wales is Britain’s only coastal national park and boasts spectacular beaches; the long stretches of golden sand of Freshwater West have inspired film-makers (films such as Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood shot scenes here) and you can explore tiny villages and Britain’s smallest city, St David’s, while the attractive walled seaside town of Tenby is one of its must-sees.

BRITAIN magazine

Brecon Beacons. Credit: Visit Britain

Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales, around an hour’s drive from Cardiff, is a treasure trove of natural beauty, industrial heritage, secretive caves, and an enigmatic Dark Sky Reserve, perfect for stargazing its glorious clear skies. The park is a breathtaking place to hike and has an abundance of waterfalls that enhance its charming walking routes. Furthermore, the Park is home to two world-renowned festivals – the Hay on Wye literary festival and the Abergavenny food festival – so it’s a destination for culture lovers and foodie fans.

BRITAIN magazine

Raglan Castle. Credit: Visit Britain

3. Castles

Wales could easily be named the castle capital of the world – it has 641 castles! From Raglan in the south east to Pembroke in the south-west of Wales; from Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales to Powis near the mid Wales border, wherever you go you can be sure to be near one of these important slices of history! The capital Cardiff has its own fortress that dominates the city centre – but its medieval exterior belies a sumptuous interior. Up in north Wales, you’ll find many a medieval castle – England’s Edward I built a number of castles in the region to protect his interests, often described as his ‘ring of iron’ – which becomes explanatory when you see them. They include the mighty Caenarfon Castle, a World Heritage site, while the dark stoned fortress of Conwy Castle also sits majestically on Wales’ north coast.

BRITAIN magazine

Tenby. Credit: Visit Britain

4. Wales Coastal Path 

Whether you’re a weekend walker, a holiday hiker or an intrepid trekker, with 870 miles of stunning coastline that boasts this designated pathway running through it all, there’s something for everyone to enjoy along the Wales Coastal Path. Ramble across this beautiful coastal landscape and discover Wales’ culture and heritage, encounter wildlife at more than 30 Wildlife Trust Reserves en route, and visit picturesque villages and pretty harbours. There are quick easy walks or more challenging routes, in addition to stretches that have been designed especially for wheelchairs and prams.

BRITAIN magazine

Rhossili Bay. Credit: Visit Britain

5. Beaches and seaside resorts

There’s a reason why Wales’ beaches – such as Rhossili, Barafundle and Tenby – are often voted some of Britain’s best – wide, open stretches of golden sands, gorgeous sand dunes, charming coves and magnificent bays dot Wales’ spectacular coastline. Thirty three of its beaches were awarded Blue Flags in 2014, meaning they’ve met the highest international standards for cleanliness and safety. Plus they’re perfect for building sandcastles, hunting in rockpools, taking romantic walks or surfing the waves. Fringing some of these beaches are Victorian seaside resorts such as Llandudno in north Wales – stroll along its traditional seaside pier dating from the late 1800s, and lose yourself among the many shops, cafés, bars and attractions.

BRITAIN magazine

Caerphilly Cheese. Credit: Visit Britain

6. Food and Drink

Fresh, delicious and seasonal are the bywords for Welsh produce; you’ll certainly eat well all year round, whether that’s feasting on Conwy mussels or mountain-reared lamb, Caerphilly Cheese or the traditional Welsh delicacy of laverbread (which is made of nutritious seaweed harvested from rocks off the Welsh coast). Wales has a reputation for first-class food – annually celebrated in a dedicated food festival in Abergavenny – with excellent restaurants and gastropubs dotted throughout the destination. But did you know that Wales has a growing reputation for excellent wine? Taste the award-winning Cariad wines at the Llanerch Vineyard in south Wales or venture to near the border town of Monmouth for a taste of the delicate wines created at the Ancre Hill Estates vineyard.

7. Adventure 

Wales is made for adventure. For an adrenaline rush via an activity pioneered in Pembrokeshire on the west coast of Wales, try coasteering; that’s scrambling, climbing, jumping and diving your way around the coastline, which makes for an exhilarating holiday experience. With landscapes as diverse as miles of coastline, the deepest caves and mighty mountains, there’s plenty of heart-pumping adventures to choose from; caving, rock climbing, white-water rafting and paragliding just to start with!

BRITAIN magazine

The Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. Credit: Visit Britain

8. Golf 

All eyes turned to Wales when it hosted The Ryder Cup in October 2010 at the Celtic Manor Resort. It was the first resort in Wales to host this world-renowned sporting occasion, frequently referred to as one of the ‘greatest ever’ golf tournaments. Its now-famous Twenty Ten Course became the first course to be built specifically for the event, plus it boasts the par-70 Roman Road course and the par-60 Montgomerie Course. Yet throughout the destination you’ll find a multitude of courses – more than 200, covering every variety! There are the two ‘Royals’ – Royal Porthcawl and Royal St Davids, both fantastic links courses in south and north-west Wales respectively, while there are smaller, nine-hole courses at Priskilly Forest and St Davids City both in west Wales. Or enjoy the stunning views at the relaxed course at nearby Cardigan.

BRITAIN magazine

The Ffestiniog Railway train. Credit: Visit Britain

9. Trains 

Along coastlines, up mountains or through valleys, a gentle trip on a steam engine is a wonderful way to experience Wales’ diverse countryside with a slice of heritage to enhance the journey. The world-famous Ffestiniog Railway, in the heart of Snowdonia National Park in north Wales, is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway at nearly 200 years old. Step on board for a journey that takes you from Porthmadog harbour to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. This railway is part of the Great Little Trains of Wales, ten others that encompass picturesque rail travel along idyllic scenes, such as north Wales’ Snowdon Mountain Railway and the Llanberis Lake Railway.

10. Wildlife 

A beautiful coastline equals bounteous wildlife; at the coast of the Isle of Anglesey, in north Wales, you’ll discover a rich profusion of marine life. Take a boat ride out to see Atlantic grey seals swimming off shore, while there’s every chance of seeing harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphins and seabird colonies of puffins, razorbills and guillemots. The coast of west Wales is also home to about 5,000 Grey seals, mostly in Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island – a 15-minute boat ride from the mainland – where you can also spot puffins, while basking sharks and leatherback turtles are also regularly seen off the Welsh coastline.

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BRITAIN’s top 10 walks in Wales
Photos of the week: iconic North Wales
BRITAIN’s top 10 places in Wales
North Wales borderlands: an insider’s guide

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A D-Day veteran speaks of emotional return to Normandy

In the 70th anniversary year of the Second World War, a memorial trip offers a moving insight into the events that shaped world history

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BRITAIN’s top 10 autumn food festivals

As the summer harvests are collected, Britain starts to prepare for the winter ahead with a whole host of fabulous autumnal food festivals. In honour of British Food Fortnight, which runs from 20 September until 5 October, here’s our top 10 in conjunction with Visit England…


1. Urban Food Festival, London
12 – 28 September

London is a foodie hub and this autumn is celebrating its culinary heritage in the Urban Food Fortnight which runs until 28 September. For two weeks there will be local menus from some of London’s top restaurants, pop-up events, supper clubs in growing spaces and allotments, botanical cocktail nights, foraging walks and urban cookery classes. From street food to indie festivals, there’s something for all to enjoy.

2. Manchester Food Festival
18 – 29 September

The Manchester Food Festival is one of Britain’s biggest urban festivals. It is buzzing with pop-up restaurants, a new wine festival, live street parties and demonstrations as well as a festival of beer! Who needs Oktoberfest?

3. The York Food and Drink Festival, York
19- 28 September

This September follow a taste trail offering samples from delis and restaurants around the historic city of York. The activity spills out through York beginning at the daily specialist market on St Sampson’s Square. In the evening, join an intimate dinner offered by locals in their own homes or have supper in some of the city’s historic buildings such as the Guildhall, Treasurer’s House and Bar Convent.


4. Thame Food Festival, Oxfordshire
27 September

Ride into town on an original double decker bus, driven by Ken Bruce from BBC Radio 2, and wind your way through the pretty market town of Thame in the picturesque county of Oxfordshire . Celebrity chefs Raymond Blanc, Adam Simmonds, Sophie Grigson and a fabulous double act from the boy who bakes Edd Kimber and John Waite, will all be highlights at this landmark event in the food calendar.

5. Sweetcorn Fayre, Isle of Wight
27 – 28 September

The Isle of Wight’s annual Sweetcorn Fayre takes place in the craft village of Arreton from 27 – 28 September. Head over to Dinosaur Island to take part in the sweetcorn shindig and witness world record breaking attempts to create the largest sweetcorn fritter.


6. Taste Cumbria
27 – 28 September

Held in the Lake District town of Cockermouth, this festival is a firm favourite with foodies and is loved by famous chefs, from the Hairy Bikers and John Turode to James Martin, Jay Rayner and Simon Rimmer. Always the star of the show, the immense Cumbrian talent, championed by Michelin starred Simon Rogan, is not to be missed this Autumn. 


7. Aldeburgh Food Festival, Suffolk
27 September – 12 October

What began as a humble food festival has quickly grown in popularity and has become one of the country’s best. The well-known Aldeburgh Food Festival will return to the Suffolk this autumn in all its glory, with added pinches of new masterclasses, a dedicated zone for all start-up businesses to learn tricks of the trade, and even a bakery festival . There will also be a kid’s only zone for all the little future masterchefs. As usual, the festival will be celebrating and cooking up a concoction of various fringe events to celebrate Suffolk produce, the land and people who produce it.


8. RHS Taste of Autumn, Countrywide
4-5 October

The Taste of Autumn Food Festival is not be missed for horticultural foodies. Taking place across RHS gardens, it features on array of artisan produce and magnificent botany in delightful settings.


9. Melton Mowbray Food and Drink Festival, Leicestershire
4-5 October

Granted a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) for its famed delicacy, Leicestershire’s town of Melton Mowbray hails its eponymous pork pies in a Food and Drink Festival of its own. Held over the 4 and 5 October, the rural capital of food and drink lays down stalls in their hundreds to offer all things edible, drinkable and delectable. Not only can you grab a mouth full of pork pie and cheese but tables are furnished with exotic meats such as ostrich and zebra as well as Iranian culinary dishes – a nod to the area’s bustling multicultural community.

10. Wild Boar Week, Sussex
26 October to 3 November

Shock your senses and head down to Rye in Sussex for Wild Boar Week which pays homage to the town’s local delicacy. Hunted to near extinction in the 17th century, surviving boars continued to breed in Kentish farms leading to dramatic increases in the last 20 years. Curious customers can sample the beasts of Udimore alongside other medieval dishes during the festival.

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Photos of the week: David Farrell photography
Photos of the week: Hampton Court Palace
Photos of the week: seaside piers
Top 10 classic comedians

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March-April 2014pdf-1


Queen Anne

Queen Anne and the Union of England and Scotland

Queen Anne proved her might as she presided over the Act of Union of 1707, which united England and Scotland…

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New series of Downton Abbey in 10 photos

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