Tyne & Wear, England, UK (Photo: Barnyz via Flickr)

“This scepter’d isle”, as Shakespeare once branded it, has shaped the world and been shaped by it. Today cities like London are testament to that, teeming with a kind of variety and diversity unparalleled elsewhere. Numerous historic sites tell the story of England’s moulding. Roman ruins, Anglo-Saxon settlements and Norman castles pepper the country. A patchwork of rolling hills, neatly tended farmland and manicured gardens form the landscape. While finding real wilderness is never quite possible in England, there are many areas of genuine beauty throughout well-managed National Parks such as the Lake District or Dartmoor. Remoter parts of the country have their own distinct personality. The rugged coasts of Cornwall hide sheltered fishing villages and a history of smuggling. Meanwhile, country mansions like Ponden Hall in Yorkshire seem to be derived directly from a novel by the Bronte Sisters. There is a pride in England for tradition and accomplishment, which can be witnessed in the dedicated preservation of history. Old buildings are cherished and cared for with a delicate touch that suggests they will see many more generations to come. Capital city London is the beating heart of England, with its austere charm and seemingly limitless list of attractions, many of which are free. No matter where you go there will always be a pub and cheery locals. There is less rain than many think, but it is the unpredictability of the English climate that one must prepare for. The best times to visit are often spring and autumn.