Great Britain is made up of England, Scotland and Wales – three countries on one island and several small islands. The United Kingdom (UK) combines Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland with England, Scotland and Wales.

The capital of the UK is London.

There are 69 official cities in the UK – 51 in England, six in Wales, seven in Scotland and five in Northern Ireland. In the UK a city is created by a charter granted by the monarch establishing a municipality as a city – a system first established in the middle ages. UK cities usually have a cathedral.

The longest river in the UK is the Severn (354km) which rises in Wales and flows through England to its estuary in the Bristol Channel.

The highest peak is Ben Nevis in Scotland (1,345 metres).

Poole on the south coast of England is the UK’s largest natural harbour and second largest in the world (Sydney in Australia is the largest).

The Bristol channel on the west coast of England has the UK’s longest tidal reach, 14.5 metres (48ft) and second longest in the world to Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The river Severn has the third highest tidal range in the world, after the Bay of Fundy and Ungava Bay in the Hudson straits. People travel from all over to surf the Severn’s river Bore: a tidal wave that travels along the river.

There are more than 2,500 museums in the UK and many of them are completely free to visit.

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is an exceptional feat of modern engineering and is already being recognised as an inspirational sculpture for the 21st Century.Designed to reconnect the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal and sited in a natural open amphitheatre at Rough Castle near Falkirk.
This remarkable and elegant mechanical marvel is the only rotating boat-lift in the world and truly one of a kind. The Falkirk Wheel can carry eight or more boats at a time with a single trip taking about 60 minutes and providing an unforgettable experience and great ‘day out’ for all the family.

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Edinburgh Castle

If you are visiting Scotland, then chances are that you will go to Edinburgh, which is the capital city. There is a lot to see and do there but the castle is a must see. You can visit it for free and you can even go inside and take a look at the Scottish Crown jewels. Although Scotland still no longer has its own monarch, it is still a great thing to see. The castle is up on a hill and so you get a great view of the city from the place.

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Loch Ness

The lake (or Loch) is 24 miles long, 1 mile long, and almost 800 ft deep.It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Most of the Lochs in the area have alleged monsters, probably started by clans people trying to keep their children away from the deep water.. yet sightings still continue today

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Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is built high on a basalt outcrop above what was in medieval times the main crossing point across the Forth and the surrounding marshes, a strategic position which made the castle one of the most important fortresses in Scotland.

The rock had probably been used defensively since the Iron Age, but the first record of a castle comes from the early 12th century when Alexander I had a castle chapel dedicated and endowed. The castle’s most famous period in history was during the late 13th and early 14th century when it played a prominent part in the conflict between England and Scotland. The castle fell into the hands of the English on several occasions and the famous Scottish victories at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 were made to regain control of Stirling Castle. It is not possible to see what this earlier castle would have looked like because all traces have been lost under later building work. Most of what can now be seen at the castle dates from the early 16th century onwards.

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Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland and the seventh-most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council is one of Scotland’s 32 local government council areas.

Located in the south-east of Scotland, Edinburgh lies on the east coast of the Central Belt, along the Firth of Forth, near the North Sea.

Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Parliament. The city was one of the major centres of the Enlightenment, led by the University of Edinburgh, earning it the nickname Athens of the North.The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city.

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The National Wallace Monument

The National Wallace Monument (generally known as the Wallace Monument) is a tower standing on the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop near Stirling in Scotland. It commemorates Sir William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero.

The tower was constructed following a fundraising campaign which accompanied a resurgence of Scottish national identity in the 19th century. In addition to public subscription, it was partially funded by contributions from a number of foreign donors, including Italian national leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. Completed in 1869 to the designs of architect John Thomas Rochead at a cost of £18,000,the monument is a 67-metre (220 ft) sandstone tower, built in the Victorian Gothic style. It stands on the Abbey Craig, a volcanic crag above Cambuskenneth Abbey, from which Wallace was said to have watched the gathering of the army of English king Edward I, just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The monument is open to the general public. Visitors climb the 246 step spiral staircase to the viewing gallery inside the monument’s crown, which provides expansive views of the Ochil Hills and the Forth Valley.A number of artifacts believed to belong to Wallace are on display inside the monument, including the Wallace Sword, and a 1.68-metre (5 ft, 6 in) long claymore. Inside is also a Hall of Heroes, a series of busts of famous Scots, effectively a small national Hall of Fame.

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The Black Watch Castle and Museum

Balhousie Castle, located in Perth, Scotland (on Hay Street, originally a few hundred metres north of the medieval town), dates to 1631, though its origins are believed to go back a further three hundred years. It originally served as the seat of the Earls of Kinnoull, and stood within a walled enclosure containing subsidiary buildings, orchards etc. on a terrace overlooking the North Inch (a large public park) of Perth.After falling into neglect in the early 19th century, the Castle was ‘restored’ (in fact, virtually rebuilt), and extensively remodelled on a larger scale in 1862-63 in the Baronial style by the architect David Smart. No original features survive except for parts of the original rubble walls on the east side.In 1962, the Castle became the Regimental Headquarters and Museum of The Black Watch. The latter displays the history of the regiment from 1739 to the present. The Black Watch Heritage Appeal was launched in September 2009 to raise in excess of £3.2 million to develop Balhousie Castle to provide a permanent home for the museum and archive of The Black Watch. The Regimental Trustees bought Balhousie Castle in January 2009.

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Gretna Green

Gretna Green is one of the world’s most popular wedding destinations, hosting over 5000 weddings each year, and one of every six Scottish weddings.

Gretna’s famous “runaway marriages” began in 1753 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act was passed in England; it stated that if both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then parents had to consent to the marriage. This Act did not apply in Scotland, where it was possible for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent (see Marriage in Scotland). Many elopers fled England, and the first Scottish village they encountered was Gretna Green. The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith’s Shop (1710) became, in popular folklore at least, the focal tourist points for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmith’s opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887.The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for “irregular marriages”, meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as “anvil priests”. Since 1929 both parties in Scotland have had to be at least 16 years old, but they still may marry without parental consent. In England and Wales, the age for marriage is now 16 with consent and 18 without. Gretna’s two blacksmiths’ shops and countless inns and smallholding became the backdrops for hundreds of thousands of weddings. Today there are several wedding venues in and around Gretna Green, from former churches to purpose-built chapels. The services at all the venues are always performed over an iconic blacksmith’s anvil. Gretna Green endures as one of the world’s most popular wedding venues, and thousands of couples come from around the world to be married ‘over the anvil’ at Gretna Green.

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Photo : Gretna Green. Author- Niki Odolphie.

The British Golf Museum

The British Golf Museum is located opposite the Clubhouse at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews, Scotland.

The museum, which opened in 1990, documents the history of golf from Medieval times to the present, including the men’s and women’s games, British and international, both professional and amateur. Exhibits include historic equipment, memoribilia and art work, documentation, the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and the rules and terminology of the game.

The museum is open to the public seven days a week throughout the year.

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Barry Water Mill

Barry Mill is a working Category A listed watermill in Barry, Angus in eastern Scotland. It is owned and operated by the National Trust for Scotland as an educational tourist attraction. Situated in a secluded area beside the Barry Burn (the watercourse, which provides its power), the mill lies about half a mile north of the village of Barry, near the town of Carnoustie. It is a three floor building, containing a meal floor (basement), a milling floor and a top (or “bin floor”). A site for several mills since at least 1539, Barry Mill was commercially operational until 1984; it was then restored, and has been operated by the Trust since 1992. It was threatened with closure in March 2009, but has remained open due to local support, and the securing of external funding.

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Photo : Barry Water Mill. Author – Scott MacDonald.

Strathspey Steam Railway

For those who remember the days of steam or just want a relaxing day in the beautiful highlands, then take a train journey with a difference in spectacular Strathspey. The journey will take you from its base at Aviemore through Boat of Garten on to the destination at Broomhill. The trip is a 20 mile round trip along the original Highland Railway. The Cairngorm Mountains provide a backdrop to the passing scenery of moorland, woodlands and the River Spey, all making for a wonderful day out.

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Images of Scotland

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Castles

Castles were first built in England during the Norman Conquest in the 11th century as fortifications. There are many hundreds of castles throughout England some in good repair whilst others have all but completely disappeared other than a few stones to mark the spot.

Castles

Lakes

England has many lakes spread out over the whole of the country but the most famous must be the Lake District which draws around 16 million visitors each year to admire the beauty of the countryside around the lakesides. Lake Windermere is England’s largest lake.

Lakes

National Parks

The National Parks of England are quite diverse but all have in common one thing and that is their beauty. From the windswept reaches of Dartmoor and Exmoor to the mountains and lakes of the Lake District or the ancient, peaceful tranquility of the New Forest all are worthy of a visit.

National Parks

National Trust Sites

The properties belonging to the National Trust in England include stately homes, Historic houses, Castles, Abbeys, Farms and Museums. Other National Trust sites include coastal areas, forests, rivers and countryside all of which are protected by the National Trust and preserved for future generations. With more than 500 sites there is always a great day out for all ages to enjoy.

National Trust Sites

History in the U.K.

Heritage Sites

The history that lies within the ancient walls of some of England’s heritage properties will enthrall young and old alike, from the Neolithic mounds, Roman ruins to the black and white Tudor mansions and haunted houses there are hundreds of attractions to choose from.

Heritage Sites

UNESCO Sites

UNESCO World Heritage sites in England are places of outstanding value to the World. In England these include cities such as Bath, for its Roman Spas, Durham and its Cathedral, Ironbridge Gorge, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and Liverpool with its docks.

UNESCO Sites

Christmas Time in the U.K

As Christmas time comes close there are Christmas Markets in many of the cities, towns and villages around the U.K. Evenings may be cold and dark but these markets bring a little bit of light and warmth with their colourful wooden chalets filled with festive gifts and tasty food and drink.

Here you will find a list of some of the “Christmas Markets” and their dates and opening times.

Christmas in U.K.

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