UK life Exploring the UK Northern England
The north of England has just as much to offer as the south, with beautiful landscapes, lively cities and a wealthy cultural heritage.
This part of England is home to some of the country’s most extreme landscapes.
Here you can get lost in the remote wilderness of the Northumberland National Park or wander along stretches of sandy coastline watched over by ancient castles.
The area also features the famous Hadrian’s Wall, a 120km fortified wall built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian nearly 2,000 years ago. The picturesque city of Durham, also found in this region, is home to a stunning cathedral and castle, while the largest city in northeast England is Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Once an industrialised coal and steel centre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (commonly referred to as just ‘Newcastle’) is working hard to redevelop itself as a stylish and cultural city.
Its most distinctive feature is the seven bridges that span over the River Tyne, although the city is also packed with stunning architecture and elegant buildings. Newcastle is famous for its buzzing nightlife – in particular, the area known as Quayside comes alive with crowded bars and restaurants in the evenings.
If the idea of a town combining city, coast and country all in one picturesque location sounds great to you, then Sunderland could be your perfect study destination. Once the world’s largest shipbuilding port, Sunderland has regenerated itself into a lively, urban city.
Its spectacular location on the mouth of the River Wear, the revitalised city centre, historical sites and beautiful beaches make Sunderland a popular choice for students. Nature lovers can take advantage of the stunning coastal walks, cycling tracks and surfing spots while the shoppers flock to the huge Bridges Shopping Centre and the independent shops and boutiques in the town’s Victorian streets.
Sports-mad locals support their local team Sunderland AFC at the city’s landmark Stadium of Light while others find entertainment in some of the many bars and restaurants in town or amongst the new underground music scene.
Northwest England includes the seaside resort town of Blackpool as well as the big cities of Liverpool and Manchester.
The region is proud of its arts and entertainment scenes, and you can experience these at events such as Liverpool’s Mersey River Festival and Wigan’s International Jazz Festival.
Beauty and history abound in Chester, one of the most picturesque places in the UK, which has city walls dating back over 2,000 years.
The distinctive ‘Scouse’ accent may take a bit of getting used to, but the once working-class Liverpool is now a stylish city with a thriving retail sector and social scene. While the trendy set flock to designer boutiques and cocktail bars that rival the capital, there is no shortage of department stores and cheerful pubs that are remarkably inexpensive compared to London.
Football is, of course, the sport of choice and there is a fierce but friendly rivalry between the clubs Liverpool FC and Everton, whose home grounds are pretty much down the road from one another. There is also a lively music scene and Beatles fans can relive the mania surrounding the Fab Four with visits to Penny Lane and the band’s old haunts.
The city boasts an array of galleries and museums such as the Tate Liverpool and gourmands won’t be at a loss with plenty of fine dining and gastro pubs on offer.
Football and curry may be typically English, but head up north to Manchester if you want the real deal. Small town charm mixes with big city culture in the home of the largest student population in the UK outside of London.
Hard-up students won’t be too hard-pressed to have a good time with an abundance of cheap and cheerful curry houses along the Curry Mile and great bars and quirky shops in the bohemian Northern Quarter.
For those craving some culture, there is also a great mix of contemporary and traditional architecture around Manchester and over 90 museums and art galleries.
This region is full of contrasts and includes untamed moors and dales, the seaside towns of Whitby and Scarborough and busy cities such as York, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield.
Yorkshire is considered to be one of the UK’s friendliest regions and you can get a taste of this at some of the many local events including the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York or the Bradford International Film Festival.
The broad, thick accent of the Yorkshire locals may be a little difficult to decipher at first, but like any of the accents in the UK, you’ll soon get used to it.
What do a former Spice Girl, indie band Kaiser Chiefs, singing sensation Corinne Bailey-Rae and the makers of Monopoly have in common? As well as being successful Brits, they also all call the Northern city of Leeds home. Summer sees the famous Leeds music festival take place just outside the city centre, but there is fun to be had all year round with late-licence bars and clubs dotted throughout town.
Fashionistas will rejoice at the sight of the Victoria Quarter, filled with designer boutiques and retail outlets, while those who enjoy more cultural activities will feel at home at the City Art Gallery and many other interesting museums and performing arts spaces in the city.
Sheffield is England’s greenest city, with many park and woodland areas and over one third of the city lying within the Peak District National Park.
The city is being regenerated by the continuously increasing student population, which supports the ever-growing selection of nightclubs, traditional pubs, theatres and music venues.
A famous local music haunt, Boardwalk, has seen the rise of bands such as The Arctic Monkeys, who grew up together in Sheffield and studied at a college nearby in Barnsley. Independent stores and boutique shopping have also taken hold in this developing city and there are many up-market retail choices in trendy areas like the Devonshire Quarter.