World Heritage Sites are special sites around the world which illustrate the diversity of earth and human development across thousands of years. They have great cultural and natural significance and need to be preserved and protected for many years to come. In 1978, UNESCO created a list of these unique places which has now grown to over 1,000 sites globally, including 33 in the UK.
Here, we've rounded up eight of our favourite UNESCO World Heritage Sites across England and Wales including where to stay nearby within our Collection, all less than 45 minutes by car.
Fountains Abbey was originally founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary's church in York. In 1693, John Aislabie inherited both the abbey and Studley Royal Park and created one of the most spectacular water gardens in England. It was once referred to as 'The Wonder of the North' by author Mark Newman due to its silky canals, mirror-glazed ponds and grassy verges surrounding the romantic ruins of the abbey. Visit any time of the year for postcard-pretty strolls, but we suggest going in April and May for bluebell sightings.
Nearby Collection inn: The Durham Ox, Crayke
The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscapes were shaped during the 18th and early 19th centuries from intense coal and tin mine activity. Today, the remains of engine houses, mines, villages, ports and harbours are a testimony to the contribution these counties made during the Industrial Revolution both in Britain and internationally. One of our favourite tin mines to visit in North Cornwall is Wheal Coates (1802-1889) - a Cornish icon that overlooks Chapel Porth Beach and the coastal stretch towards St Ives Bay.
Nearby Collection inn: Gurnard's Head, Zennor
Built by Queen Anne to commemorate the victory of the first Duke of Marlborough after defeating France and Bavaria at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, Blenheim Palace is a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture and one of the most glamorous stately homes in the world. The sculptured grounds are just as grand, having been designed by Britain's great gardener, Henry Wise. Inside, admire Sir Winston Churchill's birth room, filled with paintings from his travels, whilst outside, wind your way through the Marlborough Maze, tucked away in the Walled Garden.
The foundations of the impressive Canterbury Cathedral go back to 597 AD when St Augustine was sent from Rome to Kent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christians. Some 1,400 years later and the cathedral, filled with Romanesque and Perpendicular Gothic architecture, is a glorious reminder of his success in bringing Christianity to England. As well as visiting the cathedral, head to St Augustine's Abbey which stands just outside the city and is part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site. It was here that the Anglo-Saxon Kent kings were buried.
The striking Jurassic Coast is England's only natural World Heritage Site and stretches for an incredible 95 miles from Orcombe Point in Exmouth, Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset. Formed by rocks which have witnessed three geological time periods - Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous - this dramatic coastline provides insight into over 185 million years of earth's fascinating history and the evolution of life. On your next visit, try your hand at fossil hunting on the beaches between Charmouth and Lyme Regis.
Are you brave enough to cross the longest aqueduct in Britain? 11 miles in length - Pontcysyllte (which translates as 'the bridge that connects' in English) is one of the world's most extraordinary creations from the Industrial Revolution. It was built between 1795 and 1805 by two exceptional civil engineers, Thomas Telford and William Jessop, to transport boats from the lowlands of England up to the rugged Welsh terrain. Walk alongside the canal or travel by canal boat and admire the sweeping English and Welsh countryside views 38 metres above ground.
Nearby Collection inn: The West Arms, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog
As the world's first iron bridge, the Ironbridge Gorge is an iconic symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It was constructed between 1777 and 1779 over the River Severn by Abraham Darby, a pioneering industrialist whose discovery of smelting iron with coke instead of charcoal led to the rapid development of the iron trade in Britain. Until 1990, everyone had to pay a toll to cross the bridge, however now, the public can enjoy free access to this splendid piece of history.
Shrouded in mystery, Stonehenge is one of the most famous groups of megaliths - a large stone used to form a prehistoric monument - in the world due to its size and sophisticated architectural design. The structure dates back some 5,000 years to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Although there is no definite evidence of its purpose, some say that it was built to track the movements of the sun. Visit the monument today and discover how the stone builders worked and lived all those years ago.
Discover more World Heritage Sites across Britain through the images below
City of Bath, Somerset
The Lake District, Cumbria
Westminster Abbey, London
New and Old Towns of Edinburgh, Scotland
Last updated: 14.04.22
Photo credit: Unsplash (Ray Harrington - Wheal Coates; Malcolm Lightbody - Canterbury Cathedral; Nick Fewings - Jurassic Coast; Eryk Fudala - City of Bath; James Armes - Lake District; Charles Postiaux - Westminster Abbey; Connor Mollison - Edinburgh) and Pexels (eHeritage - Fountains Abbey; Pixabay - Ironbridge Gorge; Stephen + Alicia - Stonehenge)