To "be a Brit different," travellers in the know are encouraged to experience the culture, diversity, food and drink, and fall in love with the Heart of England. Although the region is known worldwide for its famous literary genius, William Shakespeare, the area also has lesser known treasures such as a pub hop by canal boat, a local food and drink festival, a trip to a monkey forest, a fine china making workshop, among other experiences.
The Heart of England's 'be a Brit different' encounters are as diverse and as varied as its key regions - Birmingham, Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, and Shakespeare Country. To help savvy travellers uncover these hidden gems, VisitBritain, the national tourist office for England, Scotland, and Wales, has spotlighted the following signature experiences.
Nestled in Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Estate's 'Monkey Forest' has more than 140 Barbary macaques roaming freely in a 60 acre forest. Nature enthusiasts will discover monkeys reign supreme in a natural habitat without any bars or cages. Humans, on the other hand, walk in a specially designated pathway at the monkey forest.
The Wedgwood Museum, which is also tucked away in Stoke-on-Trent, enables pottery enthusiasts to throw (create) a pot and develop a signature piece of china. This year, the Wedgwood pottery company celebrates its 250th anniversary with an expansion of its museum housing priceless and rare Wedgwood artefacts. The expanded purpose-built museum will also compliment the visitor centre, restaurant, Wedgwood Tea Room and other exhibitions.
By venturing to Bewdley, Worcestershire, passengers can take a picturesque steam train ride courtesy of the Severn Valley Railway. The journey follows the meandering route along the River Severn highlighting the path between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. Visitors will be enchanted with the breathtaking views as they cross Victoria Bridge, 200 feet above the River Severn.
To see other spellbinding scenery, then avid walkers should experience the Herefordshire Walking Festival in June. It enables visitors to meander along middle to long distance routes, guided walks, and 2,100 miles of public rights of way for those who prefer to wander alone. Families will discover special treats along the way such as walking with llamas around the Golden Valley, tramping through a cider orchard or vineyard, and discovering owls, beetles, butterflies and other unusual insects.
For those who fancy travelling by water, visitors should also consider a pub hop by canal boat in Stratford-upon-Avon. By hiring a boat at the Stratford Canal, passengers can drift down the waterway and venture into one of the 54 locks to grab a pint (have a beer) at one of the finest pubs in the area. Along the way, they will see well-known Shakespearean sites such as Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden's House, Shakespeare's Birthplace, and other noteworthy attractions in the region.
And, for those who enjoy fine regional produce, die hard food lovers should savor the regional flavours of Ludlow during the 11th Annual Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival. Every year, 120 top quality small independent food and drink producers highlight rare breeds of meat, real ale, cider and perry (pear cider) from the area. During this three-day gastronomic paradise, food enthusiasts should meander through medieval streets sprinkled with medieval and Georgian buildings to attend culinary demonstrations and talks, and of course, sample fine British fare.