Travelling through England as spring blooms to life...

OH, to be in England now that spring is here. It's a lyrical line and one we like to think about here as autumn creeps in on us and spring bursts to life in the northern hemisphere.

Spring in England is making its presence known now, flowers are popping up through the cold soil, leaves are appearing on trees and there is a feeling of happiness as the entire country shucks off the long winter and readies itself to greet thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Wish it was you?

As someone who lived in the UK for many years I know the welcome feeling as the days grow longer and longer until mid June when it seems nightfall will never come.

So many of my most important memories are of English summers - it's time to go back and make more.

Northern England calls this time with its peaceful lakes, stately homes, historic castles, wild moors, handsome cities, fascinating history and - not least important, its cosy pubs and vibrant eateries.

The folks are super friendly up north - and they love Aussie seniors.

So much about this part of the UK is already familiar to us through television programs such as Heartbeat (filmed in the North York Moors.)

The Brideshead Revisited television series was based at Castle Howard (which was also the location for the same titled film in 2008).

Chatsworth and Lyme Park stately homes and Stanage Edge, a dramatic rocky outcrop in the Peak District, have all made appearances in various versions of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

Remember the Bond villain Jaws biting through a cable in Moonraker?

It was actually liquorice from Pontefract, a Northern English town with a proud liquorice heritage, where liquorice is celebrated with a Pontefract Liquorice Festival presenting street entertainment, live music, art workshops and fun activities, as well as local produce from over 60 market stalls.

There is so much history in the area you won't be able to take it all in, starting with the spectacular Hadrian's Wall.

This is the most significant monument built by the Romans in Britain and you can walk it.

Perhaps not all of it as it stretches across the very top of England but you can stroll much of it and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of rolling fields and moorlands. (A bus runs the length of the wall for those not inclined to walk.)

There is history at every turn. It is said a young William Shakespeare may have performed at Rufford Old Hall. There's evidence to suggest that the Hesketh company of players, who performed in the impressive Great Hall in around 1581, included one William Shakeshaft - one of the many alternative spellings of Shakespeare's name.

Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top in 1905, where the surrounding Lake District wildlife inspired her famous children's books.

The Brontë sisters moved to Haworth in 1820, a small village surrounded by dramatic moorland. Now you can wander the cobbled streets and follow in their footsteps, visiting familiar sites like the Old Apothecary and Black Bull pub. At the Bronte Parsonage Museum, the beautifully preserved rooms of the Brontë family home are where you'll discover some of Charlotte's personal possessions, including her dresses and the table where she sat and wrote her famous novel Jane Eyre.

When it comes to the all-important eating part of a holiday, you are in one of the finest destinations in the world, for the place has more than its fair share of Michelin star restaurants including the L'Enclume by the river where the sublime menu includes vegetables, herbs and fruits grown in its gardens.

In Leeds, quirkily named restaurant The Man behind the Curtain pairs its food with theatre and presents tasting menus to ensure you see the full award-winning menu presentations.

But if a more modest approach is your thing, you'll find beautiful Lancashire cheese in ploughman's pub lunches all over the area. Then there are the famous Cumberland sausages, Craster kippers and potted shrimp.

Bakewell is a charming town in the heart of the Peak District famous for its Bakewell Tart, and famous for its farmers' markets, filled with honey, cheese, farm-fresh vegetables and baked goods.

There is much to discover in Northern England and now that spring is here (or there, rather), make your plans and head over.

Find out all you'll ever need to north at Northern England at: northernengland.com.au


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