Traveller Ian Wright takes us on a journey through England - the country where he was born – to neighbouring Wales. Ian learns much about the rich cultural heritage of this part of Great Britain, visits some of the countries’ most beautiful spots and gets a good taste of British eccentricity along the way. Ian begins his trip atop the white cliffs of Dover - this stunning cliff face is the first glimpse of England for many visitors arriving from mainland Europe. It is also home to historic Dover Castle.
From Dover, Ian heads to Canterbury, world famous for its cathedral and still home today to the Head of the Church of England. Ian gets caught up in a re-enactment of one of England’s most brutal murders that took place there back in 1170; the assassination of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Ian then hitches a ride to Glastonbury, for the music festival that is one of the highlights of the English summer. Thousands of revellers come for the music, the dancing, the hippy vibes…and the mud!
Next stop is Cornwall, the county that occupies the south western tip of England and is known for its stunning coastal walks, beaches and seafood. In the tiny fishing village of Port Isaac, Ian meets some Cornish singers who are fiercely proud of their heritage and, with the help of a couple of Cornish ladies, cooks up a giant version of the county’s most famous dish, the humble Cornish pasty. Ian finds himself transported to a tropical rainforest when he visits the Eden Project, the world’s largest greenhouse that houses over 5,000 different species of plant and is one of England’s most popular tourist attractions.
Taking the train along the south coast from Plymouth, Ian arrives in the great naval town of Portsmouth. He tours one of England’s most famous battleships, HMS Victory. It was from onboard this ship that Admiral Nelson led England to victory against the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In the evening, Ian catches a spectacular celebration of the battle with flotillas and fireworks in the harbour.
Ian travels onwards to Windsor and to one of the three official residences of the Queen, Windsor Castle. Over the bridge from Windsor is the town of Eton, famous for the poshest private school in the country, Eton College. The college was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI. Former pupils include 19 English Prime Ministers and, most recently, Princes William and Harry. Ian is introduced to the strange traditions of the school (a top hat and tails uniform, obscure slang and a kind of grand graffiti) by a former pupil.
Ian thinks he has stumbled across the perfect picture-postcard village when he arrives in Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. He takes part in one of the oldest and strangest sporting events in the English calendar, the Cotswolds Olympics, and discovers that he’s never going to be a champion Ian dresses up in 15th century garb when he attends a jousting festival at Berkeley Castle. Donning chain mail, helmet, lance and shield, he gingerly mounts his horse to pitch battle against the Black Knight.
The Severn Bridge takes Ian from England to Wales, a country with just three million inhabitants but more castles per square mile than any other country. Ian hops aboard the picturesque Ffestiniog Railway and at the other end retires to a cosy pub for a quiet pint. He is surprised to discover everyone taking part in the pub quiz in a completely different language – Welsh! It doesn’t take Ian long, however, to learn to how to order another pint in the language! Ian also meets some of the finest male voice singers in the world.
Ian ends his journey in Snowdonia. He spends the night in the hotel where the Everest team stayed during their training in the Welsh mountains for their successful ascent of Everest in 1953. The next morning Ian heads off with a local guide to tackle the southern peak of the Snowdon Horseshoe. It’s a hard scramble to the top but the breathtaking and far-reaching views of the Welsh countryside to the coast are well worth the effort and are a fitting end to Ian’s adventure.
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Places Mentioned - England, WalesShare the series