Leeds Castle © raindog
It may seem hard to believe that this small, cold, wet island once held dominion over three quarters of the globe. The pomp and circumstance of previous centuries may have dwindled, and the monarchy takes almost daily batterings in the local press, yet the United Kingdom and its people remain fiercely proud, and the beauty and cultural wealth of the country would impress any visitor. The past century has seen a vast transformation as the UK has come to terms with its diminished role on the world stage, from colonial empire to a member of the EU, but the United Kingdom is still a world leader in numerous ways and tops many a travel bucket list.
The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as some smaller islands, and the geography sweeps from mountainous highlands, to green and pleasant rolling countryside and vibrant cities. The country is jam-packed with two millennia of heritage, so despite its seemingly small size, holidays in the UK of any length of time feel too short.
London is the UK's biggest city, a fantastic and frenetic metropolis teeming with people of all races, creeds and walks of life. Here the old contrasts spectacularly with the new, offering some of the world's most famous sights and an unrivalled nightlife. The medieval cathedral cities, like York and Durham, reveal the rich history of a bygone age, while the industrial cities of Liverpool and Newcastle harbour an exciting nightlife. Edinburgh's International Arts Festival draws talent from around the world to its ancient, picturesque streets.
Travelling through the country reveals the United Kingdom's diversity, from quiet country lanes and inland waterways to majestic stately homes and castles. Thatched cottages in the Cotswolds region paint a picture of perfect quaintness, where life appears to revolve around the village pub. The beauty of the Lake District remains almost untouched, and the dramatic, wild highlands of Scotland cannot fail to stir the soul.