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National Gallery

The UK is a great place to visit but too many tourists do not get beyond London and Stratford-upon-Avon. There is so much more to see. Ancient monuments such as the stone circles of Orkney and Stonehenge, iron age hillforts, Roman towns, amphitheatres and the incomparable Hadrian's Wall in the north of England and the post-Norman conquest Welsh castles are scattered far beyond London. Many of the UK's cities have medieval cathedrals, fascinating museums and local art galleries rivalling those of the capital city. You can take day trips from London or stay outside. For example, the county town of Devon, Exeter is easily accessible by road or rail and is packed with things to do for the whole family - see the Exeter City Break Guide. Manchester is also a major city, well worth visiting.

The UK is a single entity but is also a union of very different countries and regions. The full name is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with Great Britain including England, Scotland and Wales and there also historically distinctive regions of England such as Cornwall, Cumbria and Northumbria. Cumbria, for example, has the Lake District National Park. The rivalry between the different nations is best seen at rugby and football internationals where the fans are keen to emphasise their differences. Increasing devolution has also produced different legislative and governmental arrangements in the various countries. Striking, sophisticated and forward-looking, Edinburgh rightly considers itself one of the major capital cities of Europe as you can see in the Edinburgh City Break Guide and there are must-see attractions in Glasgow, Scotland.

Weather

The climate is also highly varied. The weather in the south-east (London and its environs) is increasingly similar to that of the neighbouring areas of continental Europe with summer temperatures reaching the upper 20s and, occasionally, the low 30s. Further north it tends to be cooler while the mountainous west has more rain. Winter snow is sporadic (not to say erratic) and generally does not stay on the ground for long except in the Scottish highlands where there are ski resorts such as Aviemore.

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