My 5 favourite English Heritage and National Trust sites

Sunday, December 18, 2016
One of the biggest reasons I love Britain is because we have so many glorious and breath-taking historical sites and country parks on our doorsteps thanks to English Heritage and the National Trust. Shamefully, I don't have a membership with either yet. I don't even have a valid reason why, but I'm going to blame the fact that whenever I think about getting a membership I don't have the funds, and when I do have the funds I'm off buying useless stuff I don't need because I forget about the memberships and... it's a vicious cycle. I know, I'm disappointed in me too. It's on my 2017 list of things to do to have a membership with either the National Trust or English Heritage (or both if I'm feeling reckless).

I love historical sites more than anything. Castles, halls, manors, country estates, and ruins get me so hyped I can't even put it into words. I just love history. I never found it fascinating at school (what kid likes history though?) but now I love it so much I wish I could go back in time and make my 14 year-old self pick history for my year 9 options instead of business studies (which I failed tremendously).

I don't think you realise until you're older just how cool old stuff is.

I decided to make this post because I have unconditional love for this country and its rich history, architectural splendour, and mind-blowingly beautiful landscapes. Here is my list of my 5 favourite places I've visited and loved. In no particular order...

1. Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (NT)

I visited Hardwick Hall (the new hall - pictured above - is owned by NT, but the old hall is owned by EH) in July 2015. I'd been interested to visit for a while since it was kind of local (about 20 miles away), it was featured in a Harry Potter film, and the Elizabethan architecture is gorgeous. We couldn't have picked a better time to visit - the skies were the most vivid blue I'd ever seen, and it was lovely and warm so we spent a good portion of the visit outside in the walled garden and orchard. Worth a visit in any season though; I'd love to go in the winter but only with a layer of snow on the ground, and I'd also like to see the garden in autumn.

2. Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire (NT)

Clumber Park is a local one for me. Really local. I've been here more times than I can count. It was always (and still is) the go-to summer destination for walks, swan-feeding, barbecues, and picnics. It's fab for squirrel spotting too, they're so tame. The walk around the lake is a decent one (start at the church, walk clockwise along the path, cross the serpentine bridge, return to the stable yard) and about 1/4 of the way round - but only in the summer - you can grab an ice cream which is pretty great.

3. Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire (EH)

Rufford is another site that's close to me. When the weather permits it, you can go into the abbey and read about its history as well as check out the lovely views. Most of the Cistercian abbey was wiped out in the dissolution so then the remaining buildings eventually transformed into the Rufford country estate. One of its most famous owners was George Talbot, the husband of Bess of Hardwick (the woman behind Hardwick Hall). Rufford is a great dog-walking park and has several little shops and cafes.

4. Roche Abbey, South Yorkshire (EH)

Another abbey hit by the dissolution, the site of Roche Abbey now looks like two giant headstones in the middle of a forest. The structures pictured above are the north and south transepts. I visited Roche Abbey in 2012 and have never been since, which is embarrassing really because this place is magical and worth a hundred visits. It's quite a difficult site to reach (you have to drive down a narrow, gritty, uneven road which doesn't feel like it has an end, and also feels like you're driving down someone's driveway) but once you're there the view is breathtaking. You can enjoy a picnic on the grounds in between the abbey foundations which would be wonderful in the summer.

5. Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire (EH)

Bolsover is an impressive sight. We visited in winter 2013; you can see remnants of snow in the first two photos. I loved exploring the Little Castle (pictured above) - a Norman-esque retreat built by Charles Cavendish between 1612 and 1617, which his son William eventually inherited and turned into several luxurious state rooms covered in angelic murals to essentially impress and entertain his lady friends. The views of the Derbyshire Dales from the Little Castle are phenomenal. Next time I go, I'd love to book tickets to see a Cavalier Horsemanship display, which we missed out on last time.

Note: All the photos featured in this post were taken by me. I think most, if not all, were taken on a Canon Sure Shot 105u.

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