Attractions in the Midlands

The Midlands was once the ancient home of Mercia, an early medieval kingdom. The region is divided between the East Midlands and West Midlands and includes historic towns such as Nottingham, Lincoln, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Midlands emerged as a hub for the Industrial Revolution. Visitors to the Midlands can experience a range of natural and cultural attractions, including historic industrial sites and national parks.

Peaks District National Park

The Peak District National Park in the southern end of the Pennines is dominated by sweeping moorland and limestone caves. Although the national park lies mostly in Derbyshire in the East Midlands, it also covers areas of the North of England include Manchester, Cheshire and Yorkshire. Spanning 555 square miles or 1,440 square kilometres, the park is named after an ancient local tribe rather than sharp peaks found within its borders. Visitors to the park can enjoy a range of outdoor activities including walking and hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing, fishing, hang gliding and water sports. There are also a number of natural caves, potholes and old mines to explore, including the Peak Cavern cave system.

Sherwood Forest

The last remnant of the storied Sherwood Forest is found in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands. The legendary home of Robin Hood and his band of merry men, the forest is now confined to country parks and estates in the Midlands. The Sherwood Forest Country Park attracts the most visitors and is the site of Robin Hood's alleged hideout. Visitors can see the Major Oak at the country park located close to Nottingham, a premier shopping destination and home to a wealth of historic attractions. Nottingham has tributes to Robin Hood throughout the city, including a statue just outside the walls of Nottingham Castle. Other attractions include Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem Inn, one of Britain's oldest pubs, and the City of Caves, a network of man-made caves.

Warwick Castle

Founded in 914, Warwick in the West Midlands sits on the River Avon and is the site of an imposing medieval castle. Beautiful Warwick Castle was originally built in 1068 by William the Conqueror and rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. The sprawling castle features stunning recreations of castle life over the centuries, as well as a dungeon and supposedly haunted tower. Seasonal attractions include jousting, archery, live-action performances and musical events. One of the UK's most visited tourist attractions, Warwick Castle also features lovely grounds with formal gardens and a water-powered mill. Other fine castles in the Midlands are also found at Ludlow and Kenilworth.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire is the historic home of the great playwright William Shakespeare. The town is a major theatre destination and is the base for the Royal Shakespeare Company, which stages popular performances throughout the year. Visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon can see Shakespeare's Birthplace on Henley Street, a restored 16th century home with authentic artifacts. There's also Ann Hathaway's Cottage in Shottery, the childhood home of Shakespeare's wife. William Shakespeare is buried at Holy Trinity Church, which is free to visit. Visitors can also get spooked with a haunting lantern-lit ghost walk with the Falstaff Experience, which is located at a 500 year old property that also features a museum dedicated to the Tudor era.

Birmingham

Birmingham is one of Britain's largest cities and emerged as one of the Industrial Revolution's most important centres during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although lacking in historic attractions that characterize many of England's other major cities, Birmingham is a major cultural and shopping destination. Home to attractive canal walkways and a pedestrianised city centre, the city also several leading arts attractions. Aston Hall, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, IKON Gallery and Thinktank are just some of the museums and art galleries found in the city. One of Birmingham's most iconic and sometimes despised buildings is the Bull Ring, which is where visitors can explore markets and shops. A live music and clubbing hot spot, the best place for a night out in Birmingham is at one of several clubs, bars and pubs on Broad Street.

Lincoln

Lincoln Cathedral is one of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe and one of Britain's most striking structures. From the early 14th century until its spire collapsed in 1549, the building was reportedly the tallest in the world. The historic heart of the city is also home to Lincoln Castle. Construction of Lincoln Castle was started by William the Conquered in 1068, although the site was occupied since the Roman period. An original copy of the Magna Carta is found at the castle, which is also the site of a Crown Court and Victorian prison museum. A wander along Steep Hill is also a must for any visitor. Linking the modern town centre with the cathedral quarter, the cobbled medieval lane has some of the city's more interesting shops and the historic Jew's House that dates back to the 12th century.