After his look around Bath and the Cotswolds, Jules Lund headed north-west of London to England's beautiful Lake District and Manchester.
The Lake District is made up of mountains, lakes, England's tallest peaks, old villages of stone houses and great trails for mountain bikers. The national park is England's largest and its blend of wildlife and nature give the area plenty to offer holidaymakers. It is proud of being the place of the early 19th-century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets.
Jules joined a CycleActive tour with owner, the highly qualified and experienced Chris Ford. Jules' first impression was that with so much greenery around and he was in England's wettest region, the raincoat he was given was necessary. At the end of the tour it was all well worth it.
CycleActive matches a route to your ability and interests and will teach cycling skills you may never have thought of.
A 15-minute cycle took them to Askham Fell, home to Bronze Age megaliths and cairns. The Cockpit is the most significant, measuring 26m in diameter. Seventy-five stones mark its periphery, the tallest being just under a metre high. It's the site of an annual Fell Race. Not for the faint-hearted, fell races are a mix of road and cross country running and climbing and descending ability.
Some of the world's most stunning scenery is to be seen on the way to Lake Ullswater. The second largest in the Lake District, it's 14.5km long and 1.2m wide with a depth of around 60m. For much of its length, Ullswater forms the border between the ancient counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. The lake has beautiful clear water, and its beauty rivals Switzerland's Lake Lucerne. The beautiful villages of Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Howtown are charming and popular stopping places for boaters.
When it was time to stop for lunch, the George and Dragon was a good choice. The 18th-century coaching inn was restored by local craftsmen using stone, slate flags and the design and colours of the Georgian era.
Owner Charles Lowther's family has Viking roots and has been on the Lowther Estate for around 1000 years, covering 50 generations. Charles is the only person Jules has ever met who owns a castle. Right now it's really ruins but is being done up, and is an amazing place in the centre of The Lake District. It will have a 16th-century garden designed around the British and Cumbrian landscape and promises to be a real drawcard.
The George and Dragon has lots of comfortable sofas, intimate alcoves and chunky wooden tables. Crackling fires are welcoming after a long cycle or drive, and visitors settle in with a glass of wine or local ale.
There are 10 guest rooms with ensuites. The elegant country estate rooms have beautiful crewel work materials, quality linens and paintings and furniture from the Lowther family's collection.
A great thing about the Lake District is the choice of things to see. Tour guides are generally flexible and they make your journey work for you.
About 200 kilometres south of the Lake District, Jules was in Manchester, Britain's "second city". It was born out of the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century as a textile hub, but did exist as a smaller town in Roman times.
Since the 1996 IRA bombings, Manchester has gone under a huge facelift and is enjoying strong economic growth and a thriving arts scene. Two football teams Manchester City and Manchester United split the city into two lots of avid supporters, and to witness a game at Old Trafford Stadium is something to remember. Old Trafford Cricked Ground is a five-minute walk, and is the city's other famous sporting venue.
Apart from history, sport and textiles, Manchester is known for its rhythm and best experienced through a music tour.
Co-owner Craig Gill is a former drummer with the band Inspiral Carpets. The band notched up 14 top UK 40 hits and Craig has worked as resident DJ at the legendary Hacienda and Boardwalk clubs. His knowledge of the Manchester music scene is second to none.
Phill Gatenby is the other owner and has written books about Manchester's musical legacy.
With three universities, students make up almost half of the population of the city centre, so it follows the music scene would be popular.
Top-notch bands go back to the 1960s the Smiths, Joy Division and Simply Red and Oasis all began there.
The 2.5-hour tours start at the Free Trade Hall it's now a Radisson Hotel but has the original facade. The Sex Pistols, Bob Dylan, Joy Division, the Smiths and Simply Red all played gigs there.
Then you go to The Boardwalk, the venue of Oasis' first gig and where they rehearsed. Craig has lots of stories of when Noel Gallagher of Oasis worked for his band as a roadie. He actually auditioned for Craig's band but wasn't good enough, apparently.
You'll go to the Motorway Bridge in Hulme overlooking Princess Parkway and the city. It's the scene of the famous 1970s Joy Division photo shoot.
Sifters Record Shop is popular with Oasis fans. Seems Noel and Liam Gallagher were regular visitors to the neighbourhood shop, and they mention it in one of their songs. It's said the brothers used to do a bit of shoplifting on their visits! Sifters hasn't changed much over the year and it's an easy place to get lost for hours.
Final stop is Dry 201 Bar. It was built by Factory Records and has brass plaques on the footpath detailing many famous names in the local music scene.
The cavernous building is the place where Britain's modern bar scene is said to have begun. It has great DJs on weekends, live bands two or three times a week and a good selection of drinks. Liam and Noel Gallagher and Shaun Ryder have been banned for life from Dry.
England's Lake District and the city of Manchester.
CycleActive full-day Lakes and Castles tours cost around $150 for adults and $115 for children. They run between April and October and include fully guided cycling on tracks and back roads on high-quality mountain bike, with a helmet and route notes supplied. They offer day, weekend and weekly tours.
George and Dragon rooms range between around $155 and $235 a night. They open for lunch and dinner every day.
Manchester Musical History two-hour tours are around $18 for adults and $9 for children. They run every week.
Emirates has flights to Manchester from:
- Perth $1818
- Melbourne and Adelaide $1821
- Sydney $1840
- Brisbane $1842
These fares are available only on-line to the first 100 people to book. Conditions apply.
Prices correct at September 9, 2010.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
Cumbria CA10 2DE
Ph: +44 17 6884 0400
George and Dragon
Penrith CA10 2ER
Ph: +44 17 6886 5381
Lake District National Park
Manchester Musical History Tour
Ph: +44 79 5824 6917
Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.
Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.
Time zone: GMT.
Currency: The British pound sterling.
International dialling code: +44.