Authentic Travel in England

England has been on my mind lately because my mother just got back from a trip there, and her photos and stories reminded me of why I love traveling in Europe. Then I read an article in the New York Times Travel section about “sharing history.” It referenced Prague and other places in Europe where a traveler, if careful to choose wisely, can connect with the hundreds of years of history that have come before us. Traveling in England offers such experiences, with its rich history and exceptionally beautiful towns and churches.

lansallos church

Lansallos Church in Cornwall, England, from the 1400s

The 2+ months I spent in England when I was younger involved busier places, mainly London but also the “must-see” towns of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Salisbury, and others. While those places are all wonderful, my mom’s agenda was different.What intrigued me the most about her recent stay in England was that it was so far off the average tourist’s radar, allowing for her to settle into local life and explore the area’s history and nature without sight of another tourist.

Fowey

The town of Fowey in Cornwall

Such an experience goes by different labels, sometimes as “slow travel,” other times as “authentic travel,” and more recently as “sustainable travel” because of the traveler’s interest in staying longer and visiting “quietly,” thereby better connecting with a place. Call it what you will, but it is definitely one style of exploration that I love: being far away from the “must-sees” and immersing myself in the atmosphere of a unique place, with its history peeking out through the details found around every corner because I have the space and time to notice them.

I have not written much about my parents and how they have influenced my love of travel and the world, but suffice it to say that they are both inspiring travelers in their own unique ways. My mom loves to stay at places such as this one:

castle Cornwall

Caerhays Castle in Cornwall, the dramatically beautiful southwestern corner of England, offers a way to share in the area’s history without spending much. It’s out of the way, but I guess that’s part of the appeal with views like this:

cornwall castle

Cornwall is full of walks kept up by the National Trust, up and down hills and past historic sights like this old hilltop cemetery.

english cemetery

One of the wonderful aspects of traveling such a slow, easy way is the way we can take in the little things, such as this beautiful herringbone wall, typical of the houses in Cornwall.

old stone wall

Cornwall is bordered on three sides by water, and its rugged cliffs create beautiful scenes. One can only imagine what has occurred at this precariously positioned “Net Loft” over the years.

net loft

While there my mother and her friend took many long walks, including this one around the villages of Polruan and Fowey, the old town visible across the water in this view:

view of Fowey

I’ve seen many photos like this of tree-lined paths in England but have yet to experience them for myself. Such a walk is enough to make me want to visit there.

walks in Cornwall

Many of the walks end at the coast. Again, no one was around, just the nature, local farms, and years of history that have settled on Cornwall’s hills and villages, visible to those who are willing to take them in slowly, the way a traveler should.

Cornwall view

What do you think? Would you enjoy visiting Cornwall? Have you been to England? If so, what were your impressions?

15 Comments

  • I’ll be going to England at the start of next month. Hope I’ll have time for a few authentic sights. If not, I’ll have to come back to this post:)

  • H-Bomb says:

    I’ve been to England many times (London, Cambridge, Bath, Salisbury, Brighton, Arundel, Canterbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Windsor/Eton, all of which were great places to share history), but have not yet seen Cornwall. Based on your photos and descriptions I would definitely like to! Among the English places I’ve been to, I think you would paticularly like Arundel, which has a nice castle but without the hordes of tourists.
    H-Bomb recently posted..H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 3: a very strange house in MexicoMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I’ve also been to most of the places you mentioned (and loved it all) but have not heard about Arundel. Thanks for the tip.

      • H-Bomb says:

        I was fortunate enough to have the town (which was about a 75 minute train ride from London) recommended by a friend who was from England. Also on that friend’s recommendation, while in Arundel I went to the Black Rabbit, which was an awesome pub on the River Arun with a great view of the castle. Just something to file away for when you get there. 🙂 Here’s an admittedly mediocre photo I took in Arundel in 2004:

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/hbomb/6851461/

        And another note about Arundel Castle, which I suspect you will find of interest: although it was built in the 11th century, many of its rooms were rebuilt in the 19th century and now feature Victorian furnishings.
        H-Bomb recently posted..H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 3: a very strange house in MexicoMy Profile

  • Cindy says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post about my trip, Jenna! It really was a magical experience, largely because the parts of Cornwall I love most have a timeless quality – which you conveyed very well.

    I can’t wait to go back. Wouldn’t it be fun to stay as a family in a National Trust or Landmark Trust cottage? 🙂

    Mom

  • I love England! Cornwall is on my places to visit list. Your photos are fantastic!
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  • Jeff Titelius says:

    Now you’ve done it…you’ve ignited my wanderlust once again my friend! How I long to visit England and this inspiring tale of your mom’s travels is such a lesson to us all…take your time…go slowly…get to know a place and its people’s for a most enriching experience!! Great article Jenna!!!
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..Guided Tour of Lake Garda in Northern ItalyMy Profile

  • I’m Canadian and have been living in England for the last four years. One thing I’m always keen to get across to visitors to the UK is to make sure to get out of London! There is so much diversity of culture across this relatively small country and if you don’t get out of London, or the South, you’re missing out on quite a lot. My personal recommendation? Head up North to the ancient Roman city of Chester. I’ve lived here for three years and I’m delighted by it everyday.
    Amanda – A Crafty Traveler recently posted..Friday Photos #49 – GardensMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks for your insights! There is a lot of England for me to see (I traveled there but it was years ago), and I will try to make it to Chester!

  • Maureen says:

    I was born in the Uk but moved away when i was 5 to Australia so did not remember much about my country of birth, i then moved to the States in my early twenties and my family moved back to the Uk in the nineties, so every year i went to visit in the summer, my parents, husband, daughter and i would stay in different places every year for a vacation from the Northumberland Coast of England near the Scottish Border, to the Yorkshire coast and down to Cornwall, i cannot begin to tell you the many beautiful places we stayed, but i tihnk my favourite of all was in Lowick in Northumberland, we stayed in a 300 yr old house on a working farm, the scenery was breathtaking to say the least, we enjoyed picking fresh strawberries, to sitting eating a picnic lunch on the beach and the beautiful Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle.

    I have also been to beautiful Debyshire, Bath, Surrey, London, and cannot wait to return every year, sadly my mother passed away in 2008, but i will always cherish the memories we had together on our adventures, now my daughter and only child has made London her home, so now i can look forward to many new adventures with her.

    • Jenna says:

      Sounds lovely! The UK indeed has so many beautiful places. How nice that your daughter is living there so you can visit regularly!

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