Scotland's Lonely North

Broad views over empty moors and sea cliffs, a few villages, and a main highway that's a single lane wide—it's astonishing that such an empty region could survive in crowded Britain in the 21st century. But here it is.
SCO: Highland Region, Sutherland District, Northern Coast, Kyle of Tongue, Ben Loyal (Ben Laoghal), 2509' peak, View over Kyle of Tongue towards Ben Loyal, bathed in late afternoon sun breaking through storm clouds [Ask for #246.775.]

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Watership Down

A rag-tag band sets out across an alien, hostile landscape, pursued by enemies, their lives threatened at every moment. This could be Allied soldiers behind enemy lines, or hobbits in Middle-Earth. But it’s not—these are bunnies.

ENG: South East Region, Hampshire, North Wessex Downs AONB, Watership Down, RABBIT'S LEVEL VIEW of a patch of grass covered in wildflowers at the top of Watership Down, with a view into the valley below. [Ask for #253.105.]

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Doctor Syn: The Romney Marsh of the Scarecrow!

Russell Thorndyke's 1915 blood-curdling penny dreadful Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh tells of a village vicar who rides as a smuggler disguised as a scarecrow—and was himself a pirate captain in hiding! He also tells of Romney Marsh, one of Kent's most unusual regions. For instance, here's a picture of the pub Dr. Syn favored, the way it would look from his rectory window. Yes, these are all real places.

ENG: South East Region, Kent, Romney Marsh, Romney Marsh Beaches, Dymchurch, The Ship Inn viewed across the village chuchyard -- locations associated with the fictional Dr. Syn [Ask for #256.514.]

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Rough moors topped by strange granite hoodoos, dangerous mires, and village lanes lined by thatched cottages and grand churches—this is Dartmoor, one of England's oddest and most beautiful corners.

ENG: South West Region, Devon, Dartmoor National Park, Dartmoor's Western Edge, Sheepstor, Horse grazing on tor [Ask for #106.036.]

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This busy fishing town terraces up Yorkshire's sea cliffs, with a ruinous abbey crowning the clifftop. Its history embraces a Dark Age synod, Viking attacks, Captain Cook, and Victorian jet.

ENG: Yorkshire & Humberside Region, North Yorkshire, North Yorkshire Coast, Whitby, West Pier, Houses bunch beneath cliffs at the mouth of the harbor [Ask for #270.161.]

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The Beers of Burton

For more than two centuries, "Burton" meant "beer" in the United Kingdom the way "Hollywood" means "movies" in the United States. Then, suddenly, it stopped. The surprise was akin to the Hollywood studios being bought out by European television stations and moved to Iowa. It was unimaginable—yet it had happened.

ENG: West Midlands Region, Staffordshire, The Trent Valley, Burton-on-Trent, Town Center, National Brewery Centre.  Red delivery wagon from the 19th c. [Ask for #270.041.]

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Lancashire's Panopticons

The Panopticons are a public art project meant to highlight both the grand moors and industrial glory of rural Lancashire. All are impressive, and all give wide views—but over very different terrain.

ENG: The Northwest Region, Lancashire, The Pennines, Rossendale, Haslingden, The Halo Panopticon at sunset [Ask for #270.340.]

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Yorkhire's Sea Cliffs

Over the millennia the North Sea has sliced off the eastern edge of the North York Moors as with a knife, exposing its hard rocky core for all to see—33 miles of continuous pinkish-tan cliffs never less than a hundred feet high and sometimes over six hundred. Villages shoe-horn into niches in the cliffs.
ENG: Yorkshire & Humberside Region, North Yorkshire, North Yorkshire Coast, Sea Cliffs, Ravenscar, Signpoast on The Cleveland Way, a long distance footpath, points to the Ravenscar Tea Rooms, as the path follows cliffs past an isolated farmstead. [Ask for #270.122.]

Cliffs (and tea room) along the cliffs at Ravenscar. [Ask for #270.122.]

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Britain's Two Greatest Inventions

These two modest inventions produced factories, powerful engines, electrical power grids, jet airplanes, economic theory, and computers.

ENG: The Northwest Region, Lancashire, The Pennines, Burnley Borough, Briercliffe, Queen Street Mill, Steam engine, named PEACE, which still powers this fully functioning Victorian textile plant [Ask for #270.384.]

Steam engine in the Queen Street Mill, Lancashire. [Ask for #270.384.]

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England's Un-Natural Landscape

When we Americans discuss the environment, we tend to talk about natural/clean/good ecosystems v. man-made/polluted/bad ones. When we talk about "restoring" the environment, we are talking about returning a human-influenced landscape to its natural state. So it can be quite a shock to discover that England (along with Wales and nearly all of Scotland) has no natural landscape at all, hasn't had one for many centuries, and maybe never had one.
ENG: The Northwest Region, Cumbria, Lake District National Park, Central Lakes Area, Great Langdale, A narrow lane, flanked by dry laid stone walls, heads towards the cliff-sided peaks of Langdale Pikes [Ask for #262.433.]

The Langdale Pikes in the Lakes District National Park. [Ask for #262.433.]

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About Jim's Brit

Jim Hargan has written eighty articles based on his extensive travel in Great Britain, most of them published in British Heritage magazine. He is an American with a background as a geographer, and has been a full time freelance travel writer and photographer since 1994. He lives in Coos Bay, Oregon, and keeps a separate blog about it, blogPacifica.

This website is made up of Jim's articles and photographs. Jim likes to explore why things look the way they do. Britain is good for this. When you travel through Britain you move through a landscape that has been maturing for six thousand years, with every generation adding their bit. Everywhere you go, history is thick on the ground. You are surrounded by ancient and fascinating sights — Stone Age megaliths cheek-by-jowl with Celtic forts, medieval terraces, and 19th century railroads. It's Jim's job to dig this stuff out for you.

OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Northern Coastal Area, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Self-portrait of the photographer, Jim Hargan, on a remote dune. [Ask for #274.A88.]

Blog author Jim Hargan, taken near his home in Oregon.
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