Monthly Archives: June 2017

Britains newest UNESCO for Travel

William Wordsworth once described the UK’s Lake District as “the loveliest spot man hath ever found”. And the people at UNESCO seem to agree.

The national park has just been rewarded UNESCO World Heritage status, joining the likes of Bath and Stonehenge in the UK – as well as bucket-list international sights like the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon.

Delegates from the Lakes first tried to obtain UNESCO status in 1986, so we at Rough Guides think the announcement is cause for celebration.

Here are five ways to celebrate the Lake District’s new UNESCO World Heritage status, from osprey-spotting at Bassenthwaite Lake to a white-knuckle afternoon at the Via Ferrata.

 

1. Spot wild ospreys at Bassenthwaite Lake

Wild ospreys recolonised Bassenthwaite in 2001 and, although there’s no guarantee, they have returned every year since to nest and breed on the lakeshore here.

At the upper viewpoint, high-powered telescopes are provided. On most days during the season (April till August or September) you’ll be able to see these majestic birds fishing and feeding, hovering over the lake, then plunging feet first to catch their prey

 

2. Test your nerves at the Via Ferrata

The Via Ferrata (“Iron Way”) uses a system pioneered in the Italian Dolomites as a way to get troops and equipment over unforgiving mountain terrain.

By means of a permanently fixed cableway and clip-on harness, you follow the miners’ old route up the exposed face of the mountain, clambering up and along iron rungs, ladders and supports to reach the top of Fleetwith Pike.

The Classic route is exhilarating enough. Die-hard thrill seekers can take things one step further with the Xtreme route, with more vertical climbs and cliff-face ladders.

 

3. Visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle

One of the Lake District’s most mysterious landmarks, Castlerigg Stone Circle sits atop a sweeping plateau, dwarfed by the encroaching fells. Some 38 hunks of Borrowdale volcanic stone, the largest almost 8ft tall, form a circle 100ft in diameter. The stone circle probably had an astronomical or timekeeping function when it was erected four or five thousand years ago, but no one really knows. Whatever its origins, it’s a magical spot.

The ways to see the city’s alternative side

Hamburg is perpetually on the brink of falling out with itself. On the one hand, it’s a city of convention and millionaires – Hamburg has the highest concentration in Germany – with all the associated trappings.

But Hamburg’s alternative side is in rude health and full voice too. Ranging from seediness and vice all the way to seething anti-establishment protest, here’s how to experience the full gamut of Hamburg’s edginess for yourself.

 

1. Take the rough with the sleaze

Your flight here was probably half-full with stag-do-goers, their sights set on the bawdy bars and brothels of the 1km-long Reeperbahn. Hamburg’s Kiez – as the red-light district is known here – has made a long career of chewing men up and spitting them out. Even the Beatles (who spent their professionally formative years in Hamburg) had their eyes opened by “Sin Mile”.

But it’s also a tourist destination for those with no interest in titillation. Come for the people-watching alone: you could fill a novel with the gritty stories and characters associated with venues such as Zum Silbersack bar and Mojo Club.

You can also ignore the sex entirely – many locals do. The St. Pauli Theater overlooks the Reeperbahn, studiously ignoring the goings-on before it, while the Kiez also boasts Cuneo, one of the city’s finest Italian restaurants.

 

2. Embrace the skull and crossbones in St. Pauli

The Reeperbahn may be located in the St. Pauli neighbourhood, but this area doubles as the beating heart of Hamburg’s anti-establishment identity. The local football team, with its skull and crossbones regalia, is the most visible symbol of this attitude, and FC St. Pauli’s culture of punk, tolerance and anti-establishment resistance is tremendously refreshing. Catch a game if you can.

Step off the Reeperbahn and the mood changes utterly. St. Pauli is a peaceful, leafy, village-like place down streets such as Wohlwillstrasse and Grüner Jäger. On the former you’ll find St. Pauli’s tourist office, which looks like a minimal, artfully dishevelled café-cum-art space. Its gift items include indie bands playing cards, vegan and Fairtrade products, and badges depicting a Swastika-crushing fist.