For such a small country, England has a lot of unique places to visit. History is everywhere you go and you can literally walk through the ages and sometimes, simply stumble upon a piece of history you weren’t expecting to find. I love how many unusual, quirky, and totally unique places, buildings, monuments, and attractions there are in this small island country. To top it off, the English are well known for being eccentric, so you can also find some unique and frankly odd places to visit! Here are my favorite unique places to visit in England.
1. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick, Lake District
The first time I ever saw Castlerigg Stone Circle I was driving down a country lane in the Lake District and had no idea it was there. A couple of cars had stopped by the side of the road opposite a field and people were climbing over an old stile and into the land beyond it. Being inquisitive, I pulled over and followed them. What I found was so special it’s unbelievable that this was in a field with no signs to guide anyone to it, no entry fee, no rules. It was simply an ancient stone circle. It’s one of the most perfect ancient stone circles you’ll ever see, and there isn’t a gift shop or an information hut in sight. You can walk right up to the stones and in and out among them, you can touch them, or you can sit down with a picnic in the middle of them if you want. For more on where to picnic in the UK, take a look at 8 Fantastic Places To Picnic In The UK.
From Keswick, head down to Ulverston to visit Shed 1 Distillery and you’ll find a pretty unique gin experience. Take a distillery tour and follow it with a botanical inspired afternoon G&Tea at the Shed. You’ll start off with a welcome G&T and then you’ll be entertained with an informative chat in the distillery where staff will talk about their gin and how they produce it. After that, settle down in the Visitor Space with some botanical inspired sweet treats in this unique afternoon G&Tea. The flavors in the sweet treats relate to the botanicals used in each of the gins.
2. Shakespeare’s Resting Place, Stratford-Upon-Avon
You can find famous graves all over the country, but there’s only one bard of England, and his resting place is in a small church in his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon. I was surprised by how easy it was to visit this unique attraction. The church is lovely and the walk through the graveyard to the church doors is charming. On the day I visited, it was gloriously sunny, but still, there was barely anyone at the church. Maybe I was lucky, but I waited for only a short amount of time for the people before me to finish their visit before I was allowed in. There’s no charge to go into the church, though donations are encouraged, and volunteers will answer your questions and give you information on the Shakespeare family and their graves. William Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathaway, and their eldest daughter Susan are all resting at the front of the church just before the altar. It’s thought that Shakespeare’s parents are somewhere in the churchyard but if they are, their graves are unmarked and no one knows for sure.
Where To Stay
To connect even more to Shakespeare’s resting place, stay at Hotel Indigo, a 500-year-old building that was once a private residence, standing across the road from where Shakespeare once lived and where he died. Although Shakespeare’s former home is no longer there, this house, where the resident could have looked out of the window and seen the bard himself, is very much still standing and is now an incredible hotel. Be prepared for original features, sloping walls and floors, and a fantastic location. Eat at The Woodsman, where the food is incredible and the cocktail trolley, that’s wheeled over to your table, feels like pure decadence.
3. Crosby Beach, Merseyside
I’ll never forget the first time I made it over the sand dunes at Crosby Beach and saw the Anthony Gormley art installation, Another Place. An art installation on a beach, that consists of 100 cast iron figures gazing out to sea, has got to be one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. Some of the figures are standing in the water and some are dotted around upon the sands, and they are all identical. When you first see it, it’s a strange experience. Partly eerie and partly beautiful, it’s almost like you’re intruding on the peace and calm of these figures as they contemplate the waves.
It’s a windy coastline! The weather will depend on what time of year you visit, but whenever you go, you should be well prepared for the wind. Take a hat to keep your ears warm and have a hooded coat. I wore a Dare2B waterproof jacket that has a wired peak hood, so no matter how windy it is, your ears are protected. It’s also waterproof for the rain and for a good walk along the beach where those Irish sea tides can be fierce.
4. Rutland, The Smallest And Tastiest County In The UK
For such a small county, the smallest in the UK, Rutland has a huge foodie pedigree and is actually known as “The County of Good Taste.” Hambleton Hall, on the banks of Rutland Water, has the longest standing Michelin star in the UK — 22 years! You can also enjoy the UK’s best bakery, Hambleton Bakery, which is an offshoot of Hambleton Hall. Leeson’s Family Butchers is known for its award-winning Melton Mowbray pork pies and The Olive Branch at Clipsham was voted “UK’s best pub 2021” by The Good Pub Guide and, as of two weeks ago, Best Pub at the GQ awards. Rutland Food and Drink Week is October 25–31, and Discover Rutland has just launched a “Food and Drink Trail” for people to take in the best artisan producers and winemakers.
As well as being a foodie destination, Rutland Water, the second-largest reservoir in Europe, is its centerpiece, attracting outdoor lovers from all over. Aquapark Rutland has the largest collection of inflatable water obstacles in the UK and the highest, The Rutland Mammoth, with a vertiginous drop of over 16 feet, as well as the largest slides.
5. Changing Of The Guard, Windsor
Ok, so I know this is more of an event than a place, but the place it occurs at is pretty unique. How many other places can you find an 11th-century royal castle, still the home of the royal family today, that stands right in the town center? But the most unique thing that I love about Windsor is watching the changing of the guard. You have to get there early to see this, as it starts at 11 a.m. and people will begin congregating to make sure they get a good look sometime before that. Check which days it’s happening, as they are subject to alter, though it’s usually every other day. Have your camera ready. You’ll hear the new guard coming from Victoria Barracks on Sheet Street before you see them. This is a unique spectacle that you won’t see anywhere else, as it does include this old royal castle.
Where To Eat
Honest Burgers on Thames Street looks directly at the castle walls across the road from its doors. The menu is impressive for a burger joint and there are some good vegetarian and vegan options too. But this is a burgers and beers joint really, and the staff here is impressively knowledgeable about which beers go with which burgers. There’s a great atmosphere and the food is amazing.
6. Combe Gibbet
High up on Inkpen Hill, a relic of our past stands tall and proud — Combe Gibbet. This unique monument is a reminder of how we used to deal with our criminals, and it’s a pretty gruesome one at that. Gibbetting was the post-mortem punishment of hanging the bodies for all to see, as a warning, which is why such prominent places in the community were chosen. This particular one is a replica and you won’t find any original gibbets left in the landscape at all, though there are parts of some in museums. Even though it’s a replica, it’s very unique. It’s the only double gibbet for a male and a female prisoner there ever was in England. The walk up to the gibbet is also quite beautiful and the views from the top are spectacular.
Where To Stay
Down beneath the hill, The Crown and Garter Inn is the perfect place to dine and stay. This is the inn that the prisoners were taken to after hanging and you can now stay in the converted barn they were laid out in behind the pub. On a less gruesome note, this is a lovely country inn with modern rooms, and the food here really is to die for!
With more getaways to explore in the region, check out all there is to do in England: