England, where Old Sport means something else

Hadrian's Wall at Crag Lough by Flickr user Matthew Kirkland (creative commons)
Hadrian’s Wall at Crag Lough by Flickr user Matthew Kirkland (creative commons)

England has more to offer than you might imagine. For those of us based in North America, anything Old World will always seem slightly antiquated. They just have so much history over there! And as a break from the francophone – if that’s the kind of break you’re after – you really can’t do much better than the green and pleasant land that is England – or at least Britain. There is plenty to see in Scotland and Wales as well as England, and they do get terribly upset if you start to say England when you mean the whole island.

We’ve talked about London elsewhere and, whilst there is an infinite number of reasons to check out what is still one of the world’s great cities, it is worth bearing in mind that there is an awful lot of England (sorry, Britain) beside the capital.

In fairness, Scotland and Wales offer some spectacular geography, but the hills and the lakes are smaller and shallower than the ones we have at home, so you need a better reason to make the trip than simply taking in the landscape. Whiskey and great seafood are two very good reasons!

Perhaps more practically, these two warlike nations boast a tremendous number of ancient castles and battle sites. For example Hadrian’s Wall, which the Romans built as a defence against Scottish invaders in the third Century AD, is still a glorious feature of the Northumbrian landscape.

For sports fans there are some truly unique experiences to take in. Whether your preference is for football (soccer), some of the best horse racing anywhere, rugby, cricket, athletics, tennis, cycling or sailing, there is a never-ending supply of high-level sporting spectaculars imbued with that distinctly British sense of nostalgia.

Horse racing by Flickr user Paul (creative commons)
Horse racing by Flickr user Paul (creative commons)

The Brits love their sport, and they love betting on it at the same time. If you get the chance to take in a horse racing meeting, with the Grand National and Cheltenham all to come in 2016, you will see the full English class system played out before your eyes in the most wonderfully caricatured way. They call it the sport of kings in the UK and royal patronage is very much a part of the package.

From quick-witted bookies to lords and ladies (and all points in between) they all somehow rub along in the most remarkable fashion, check out ladies day bets over at http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/events/ladies-day – some in top hats and some in baseball caps; it really does have to be seen to be believed.

And if you’ve a yen to really get to grips with the Old World feel for a British sporting outing, you can enjoy some of the finest shooting and the very best salmon rivers anywhere on earth. The rare combination of climate and geology make Scotland’s rivers the perfect spawning ground for salmon, whilst the carefully maintained grouse moors of the English uplands provide the setting for aristocratic sporting outings that have barely changed in the past 200 years.

The locals will also tell you that those same natural characteristics make for great food and drink – especially the whiskey. We couldn’t possibly comment!