Wednesday, 28 March 2012


My ten favourite counties
10.Gloucestershire.  Why?
The Cotswolds! Buildings crafted from Oolite. The view from the ridge above Broadway. Cheltenham, with its beautifully pretentious architecture. Cirencester and its Roman ampitheatre. The rustic charm of Chedworth Roman Villa.
9.Hampshire.  Why?
Winchester, ancient capital of Wessex! Butser Iron Age Farm, with its annual Wicker Man burnings. The Watercress line between Alton and the picturesque Alresford. The Roman walls of Silchester. Watership Down. The Mary Rose and HMS Victory at Portsmouth.
8.South Wales.  Why?
Okay, not a county but a cluster of counties - a Gwent, a Monmouthshire, bits of various Glamorgans... castles! Raglan, Chepstow, Skenfrith, Caldicot, to name but a few, there's a castle on every corner. Tintern Abbey, inspiration to Wordsworth, a towering edifice above the Wye, one of the many rivers that cross this land and make it fertile.
7.Dorset.  Why?
The Jurassic Coast! Traces of our fossilised past along miles of beaches. Wareham, with its Saxon earth walls. The Dorset Downs, punctuated with barrow cemeteries and ancient habitations. Maiden Castle, our greatest Celtic fortress. Lawrence of Arabia. Dinosaur museums.
6.Shropshire.  Why?
The misty glory of the Welsh Marches! The incredible view from the Long Mynd toward Wenlock Edge, one of the best in England. The broken, austere beauty of Clun Castle. The medieval beauty of Ludlow. The glorious Abbey remnants at Much Wenlock. The power of old industry at Ironbridge.
5. Somerset.  Why?
The olde-worlde grandeur of Wells, rustic site of 'Hot Fuzz'. The charm of the Ebbor Gorge. The might of Cheddar Gorge and the mystery of its caves. The curious magnetism of Glastonbury, that Pagan/Christian melting pot. The ramparts of the ancient South Cadbury hillfort, legendary site of Camelot.
4.East Sussex.  Why?
The South Downs and its views, both landward and seaward. The hillfigures at Wilmington and nearby Litlington. The sense of historic change at Pevensey and Battle. The Weald, and the sparse Ashdown Forest of AA Milne.
3.Kent.  Why?
The Garden of England, orchards and oast-houses. Canterbury, that bastion of faith and spirit. Rochester, clinging proudly to the Medway shore. Dover, the windy first line of defence with its ivory cliffs and layers of historic meaning. Eynsford, the picture postcard village come to life.
2.Wiltshire.  Why?
The vastness of the Plain. The epic scale of Avebury and its environs, megalithic giants abound. Salisbury, the spire reaching into the very clouds. Old Wardour, with the deer watching you pass. The crux of the nation in the Stone and Bronze Age. The way Stonehenge emits an air of weariness at the tackiness of its modern treatment.
1.Cornwall.  Why?
There are Dolphins In The Bay!

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