THE MIDSHIRES – WHY GO?
Spanning the country from the Welsh borders to Nottingham, Lincoln and the east coast, the beautiful Midshires are Shakespeare’s stomping ground and home to some of England’s grandest stately homes.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Highlights of this varied region include Shakespeare’s birthplace and its historic surrounds. Stratford-upon-Avon charms with its timber-beamed Tudor cottages, boats sitting pretty along the River Avon and the famous Swan theatre, where the Bard’s great works are staged year-round. You can also visit the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother, and his wife Anne Hathaway’s thatched cottage.
Northamptonshire’s crop of stately homes includes Althorp Park, home of the Spencer family and Princess Diana’s final resting place. There’s an exhibition here full of memorabilia from her life, and extensive grounds to stroll through. Other famous houses within easy reach are fabulous Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Woburn Abbey and Sulgrave Manor.
Further west lie the Welsh Marches – the rolling border country between England and Wales. As England’s best-known National Park, the Peak District makes a superlative setting for hill walks and riding, as does the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.
Take a punt through scholarly Oxford and explore the famous Bodleian Library, Ashmolean museum, Botanic Gardens and Christ Church Cathedral. Riverside Shrewsbury has ample charms, with its half-timbered Tudor houses, castle and arcaded old market hall, while the estate of Shugborough – ancestral home of the earls of Lichfield – comes alive with staff clad in period garb.
Say cheers to a cider tour of Herefordshire through the ripe orchards and picturesque countryside. Famous for its cider making, the region has everything from major household names producing gallons of drink every second to tiny boutique brewers making pints of the appley alcohol.
MAKE A DATE
See some of the world's top riders in action at the Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford.
Have a giggle at the cartoons and caricatures at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival.
Meet your favourite author at the Hay on Wye Literary Festival.
Ten days of jazz, classical music and theatre kicks off at the Oundle International Festival.
Head to Silverstone for thrills and spills on the tarmac at the British Grand Prix.
It’s foodie heaven at both the Ludlow and Abergavenny Food Festivals.
Get all shopped out at Althorp’s Christmas craft fair.
Walk hand-in-hand underneath the Hertford Bridge in Oxford, most famously known as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ because of its Venetian style.