How well do you know this green and pleasant land we call home? In part two of our Exploring England series we're revealing three more cities perfect for exploring along with their countryside charms – so you can experience the best of both town and country on a microgap escape. What is microgapping? It's taking a break from the norm, changing your perspective and maximising your enjoyment of this country we call home, without needing weeks to do it. Part one covered the south, east and west - and now it’s time to head north.
The Lyceum, Crucible and Studio Theatres make up the biggest theatre complex outside of London, while the Millennium Gallery houses a museum and art gallery to rival any down south. As the home of the Arctic Monkeys, Joe Cocker, The Human League and Pulp among many others, the city’s reputation for music is well-deserved, and you’ll want to experience it for yourself in one of the many live venues, such as Plug Sheffield.
More unusual attractions include a number of fun and challenging Escape Rooms, and Swegway Park, an indoor hoverboard park.
Planning your trip to Yorkshire? Don't miss our guide to the best things to do in Yorkshire.
Experiences to tick off include paragliding at Mam Tor, taking a rock climbing lesson, paddleboarding and sailing on one of the reservoirs, or wild swimming in one of the many remote ponds (doing it while learning to paddleboard doesn’t count!). The treetop GoApe course at Buxton is always a challenge, while gentler pursuits include taking a hot-air balloon ride over the beautiful moorland landscape.
The stately Chatsworth House, star of film and TV, including a major role in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, is another popular attraction. Join a guided tour of the house or parkland, browse the shop and, of course, enjoy afternoon tea.
Football fans will enjoy a guided tour of Liverpool FC’s Anfield, where you’ll have a chance to try your interview technique in the Press Room among other inside views. And from a cathedral of football to a real one: climb the 500-ft-high tower of the Anglican cathedral – if you dare – for great views of the city.
Liverpool’s nightlife is equally impressive, from the cocktail bars and Latin nights of Seel Street to the clubs of Concert Square, the traditional pubs along Hardman Street to the LGBQT Clubs around Stanley Street. Wherever you go, you’ll meet friendly scousers who really make Liverpool the welcoming city it is.
The houses and buildings stand among now-mature landscaping which makes the village a great place to tour on foot or by bike. A bike & go scheme means you can conveniently pick up a bicycle from the station. Don’t miss the Lady Lever Art Gallery showing paintings, sculpture and ceramics from around the world. A tour of Thornton Manor, once the Leverhulme family home, is another must-do, if only to see Lord Lever’s outdoor bedroom!
United to Gateshead with seven bridges, it’s easy to get around by foot, bike, bus or Metro. Former industrial areas such as Ouseburn and Quayside, with views of the Tyne Bridge and Gateshead Millennium Bridge, are perfect for strolling around to take in friendly pubs, lively clubs and the many restaurants.
Among the more unusual sights is the 4km-long Victoria Tunnel, dug in the 1840s for coal wagons and used as an air raid shelter in WWII. The two-hour tour of the tunnel is a lot more interesting than you expect and gives a good overview of the area’s industrial history. You’ll also want to take a bus or drive to see Antony Gormley’s 200-tonne Angel of the North sculpture, looming over the A1(M) in all its rusty splendour.
The beach is a great spot for walks and also for surfing, sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding. Cullercoats Bike & Kayak offer equipment for hire as well as lessons in in everything from canoeing to coasteering.
Afternoon tea, fish & chips or dinner at the lovingly restored Spanish City centre remains a local tradition, as does strolling along the Promenade and Links. All in all, it’s the perfect English seaside experience.