Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England! This week Ethan discusses a few vacation spots he recommends while visiting northern England!
When Easter Holiday Rolls Around…
I’m going to take a short break from commenting on coursework and internships, to discuss three trips that I recommend to anyone visiting northern England. At Northumbria University, Easter holiday is three weeks long. I can only assume that after two weeks of reading and writing papers, you may want to get out and about. If you can manage two train rides, a bus ride, a ferry ride, and then all of that again on the way home, then visit Cumbria’s Lake District. The Lake District is one of the National Trust’s most visited parks and constitutes some 885 square miles, includes numerous public paths through private land, and is so expansive that despite the crowds you sometimes believe you’ve got the whole place to yourself. While at the park, hike England’s highest mountain and drop by the homes of the poet William Wordsworth and the children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter (the creator of Peter Rabbit and an advocate for the National Trust).
After visiting the Lake District, take a trip to Cragside. Lord William George Armstrong, a nineteenth century inventor and arms manufacturer, built the home in 1863. It was the first home in the world to be powered by hydroelectric energy. The home’s stunning architecture and curious interior design reflect Armstrong’s inventive personality—the landscape does as well. Today, the property is covered in thick woodlands and full of caves, stone bridges, streams, tarns, and picturesque lakes. Most visitors would never guess that Armstrong designed each aspect of the environment. Believe it or not, the property was a treeless moor when Armstrong first encountered it many years ago. Only after 150 years is his dream fully realized. It’s simply breathtaking, and what’s more, it’s managed by the National Trust.
The last spot, interestingly enough, is not even in England. If you’re particularly fond of large cities, northern England may let you down, but the bustling city of Edinburgh, Scotland is a mere hour and half away by train. The railroad hugs the Northumberland coastline and offers some of the best views of the North Sea that you’ll find anywhere. Plan to spend a few days in Edinburgh; you’ll need it, and you won’t regret it. The city thrives on literary tourism. Indeed, the United Nations declared it the world’s first “City of Literature” in 2004. Visitors can drop by the birthplace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (marked now by a statue of Sherlock Holmes), hike the 287 steps to the top of the Sir Walter Scott monument, traipse around Robert Louis Stevenson’s neighborhood, and sip espresso in the Elephant House café where J.K. Rowling penned the first lines of Harry Potter. After a day visiting the haunts of your favorite authors, check out Edinburgh’s many free museums. The conjoined National Gallery and the Royal Academy for the arts is a must as well as the Scottish National Museum (their new exhibit on Scottish history does an excellent job exploring Scottish cultural and political identity). For a museum student, Edinburgh is hard to beat.
-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student