What is there to do in the Heart of England?
For those who are looking for a city break there is Oxford, the home of the oldest university in the English speaking world and Gloucester with 15th Century perpendicular style cathedral both locations for Harry Potter. There is Worcester described as the faithful city, Hereford with its chained library, Lichfield birthplace of Samuel Johnson of English Dictionary fame as well as Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021 and Birmingham host to the Commonwealth games in 2022 and known as the City of a thousand trades.
The Great Outdoors
For the countryside walker there is open moorland in Staffordshire, fascinating geology in the Shropshire hills and gentler walking in the Cotswolds. Several long-distance walking routes and trails such as the Cotswolds Way, the Wye Valley Way where tourism was born, part of the Thames Valley path and the Heart of England Way go through the region.
For the theatre goer there is of course the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, but there are many others throughout the region with performances ranging from classical opera and ballet to family favourites such as the Gruffalo, with everything in between.
Families and kids
For the families there are theme parks such as Drayton Manor and Alton Towers and Go-ape in the Wye Valley and at Coombe just outside Coventry.
For animal lovers there are zoos and wildlife parks such as West Midlands Safari Park, Dudley Zoo, Mary Arden’s Farm (with its
connection to Shakespeare’s mother) and Cotswold Farm Park run by Alan Henson from BBC’s Countryfile.
For transport enthusiasts there are heritage steam railway routes such as the Severn Valley Railway or Canal Boat trips. There is The Coventry Transport, RAF Cosford and you can ride old Trolley Buses and Trams at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.
For castle lovers we have the two great medieval examples at Warwick and Kenilworth, right in the middle of the region as well as many others such as Goodrich and Eastnor Castles. If you want to stay in a castle there is Astley Castle owned by the Landmark Trust.
Stately Home Lovers
For those who enjoy stately homes there are many National Trust properties including Coughton Court (associated with the gunpowder Plot), Baddesley Clinton with its moat and secret priest-holes and Dyrrham Park in Gloucestershire which has beautiful 17th Century architecture and landscaping and was used as a location for ITV’s adaptation of “Sanditon” by Jane Austen, as well as others such as Sudeley Castle, the final resting place of Katherine Parr and Broughton Castle where scenes for Wolf Hall were filmed, which are still family homes. Not to be missed is Blenheim Palace a world heritage UNESCO site.
For those who prefer prehistory there are many long barrows such as Hetty Pegler’s Tump and the mysterious Rollright Stones
(Warwickshire ’s answer to Stonehenge).
For those looking for Roman remains Chedworth Roman Villa has some wonderful mosaics, there is Wroxeter Roman City in Shropshire and the reconstructed Lunt Fort at Baginton just south of Coventry.
For gardeners there is the world famous Arts & Crafts garden at Hidcote, the Botanical Gardens at Oxford and Birmingham as well as many others throughout the region. Some have fantastic water features such as the Emporer Fountain at Witley Court.
For those interested in industrial history there are the potteries in Stoke, glassmaking in Stourbridge, and the world’s first iron bridge at ironbridge the cradle of the industrial revolution as well as miles of canals.
For music lovers, there is the annual three choirs’ festival which rotates between Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford Cathedrals. We also have both Elgar’s and Holst’s birthplace museums as well as connections with more modern music genres such as “Black Sabbath” from Birmingham.
For the church lover, as well as some truly beautiful cathedrals such as Gloucester and Lichfield with its 3 spires and the great “Wool Churches” of the Cotswolds, there are many other smaller churches, some with Saxon origins and others of architectural importance such as Pugin’s Gem, his Roman Catholic Extravaganza in Cheadle Staffordshire.