WEST MIDLANDS

Selfridge's Building, BirminghamThe West Midlands calls itself the Heart of England. It's Shakespeare country; It's the birthplace of St. George, the patron sait of England; and it's the rolling, gentle countryside home of the Shropshire Lad.  The West Midlands can offer the overseas visitor everything that they had always dreamed about England.  Bringing together the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Birmingham, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Warickshire, the West Midlands can be pleasant, invigorating, exciting, relaxing and interesting all in one day.

Staffordshire is often overlooked but the county has some beautiful countryside, including Cannock Chase and the Peak District, the exciting amusement park Alton Towers, and Lichfield's beautiful Gothic cathedral.
Shropshire is an idyllic county. The inspiration for A.E. Houseman's 'A Shropshire Lad' and for countless other writers, the region is quiet, rural, and very pretty. There is some interesting history in the county town of Shrewsbury, an old medieval market town with a beautiful redstone castle and over 660 historic listed buidings besides. The town of Much Wenlock is gaining greater fame in the leadup to the 2012 London Olympics as it was the birthplace of the modern Olympic movement.

Birmingham is England's second largest city. Once an industrial powerhouse, the ravages of the Second World War and some unfortunate attempts at rebuilding have left the city looking particularly ugly. Fortunately, recent years have seen some great bars, boutiques, and restaurants open up, and Birmingham's reputation has started to rise.
Herefordshire is famous for apples and pears and thus for its cider. It is a rural county, offering traditional villages and pleasant landscapes.

The Malvern Hills of Worcestershire should not be missed. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the hills are known for their pure spring water, which is bottled these days. There is a stunning Iron Age hillfort called the British Camp.  The county town of Worcester is well worth a visit. It possesses a grand 12th century cathedral and it was the site of the final battle in the English Civil War. Furthermore, it was the birthplace of Worcestershire Sauce and the original Lea and Perrins factory can still be seen there.

Warwickshire has a number of interesting sights including Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, and Coventry's three cathedrals but these pale before the tourist hotspot that is Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown. It's best to visit outside of the summer season and during a weekday because this little town can get very crowded.



Click on the link to download your 18-page PDF version of WEST MIDLANDS.  It covers the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Birmingham and Herefordshire.