Why you should explore Britain’s windy butts and crotch crescents
One of the many reasons that Britain is so fascinating is the way its place-names reflect its rich and diverse history and culture. While many of those names invite a little investigation into how they came about, some are unintentionally hilarious. As Spring reaches Britain, Sue Petrie, British Airways, Regional commercial manager: trade, shares a few names, their origins and things to do nearby.
The Scottish town of Dull embraced its name and paired with the town of Boring in Oregon in the USA. There’s no record ofBrokenwind being paired with either of the Backsides in Scotland, or with Backside Lane in Oxfordshire, Bedlam Bottom in Hampshire or the Butt of Lewis. The latter is a pillar of rock jutting from the Atlantic off the Scottish Isle of Lewis and is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the windiest place in the UK.
Birdwatchers love the area for its seabirds, and the Village Café in the nearby hamlet of Gearrannan Blackhouse has earned rave reviews for its seasonal, locally sourced cuisine and especially its seafood. The village has been restored in style of the traditional so-called Blackhouse: double-drystone walls and thickly thatched roofs of Hebridean crofters. A few can be rented as self-catering accommodation and with their fireplaces and underfloor heating are a good way to deal with the winds blustering off the nearby butt.www.gearrannan.com
Lower Swell in Gloucestershire has made many schoolboy chuckle, especially as the River Dikler and the Golden Ball Inn are nearby. But the pub is an ideal base for exploring the North Cotswolds and the food is from local farms. The Sunday roasts have had good reviews and the beer is from Donnington Brewery, which has supplied pubs in the area since 1865. The original water mill that powered the brewery still does so today and water is drawn from the mill pond from brewing just as it was 150 years ago. There are a number of easy walks in the gently rolling Cotswolds nearby. www.thegoldenballinn.com
Back Passage in London’s EC1 sounds like a scatological euphemism, even though it’s just an alley. But it’s close to East End attractions though, including the Museum of London, a vast facility showcasing the history of the great city from the prehistoric to modern day. It has more than 1.1m objects on display. There are massive exhibits dealing with the London area in Neolithic, Iron, Bronze Roman (this alone has 47 000 objects on display), Medieval and Georgian times. Exhibits of modern times including multimedia displays showing traffic flow, energy demands and the movement of homeless people. Entrance is free. www.museumoflondon.org.uk
Crotch Crescent in Marston, Oxford, is the subject of many a grinning selfie, but look a little further at the fascinating historic town and its beautiful stone buildings, woodlands, galleries, museums, gardens and walks along the famed canals. Apart from free access to the 38 colleges, like Christ Church College, founded by King Henry VIII in 1546, you can follow the footsteps of some great figures from popular culture, like Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, and see the surroundings that inspired Alice in Wonderland. There’s a tour of the locations of the Morse and Lewis TV series, and you can visit the Eagle and Child and other pubs frequented by JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and the other members of their writing circle, the Inklings. www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/restaurants/southeast/theeagleandchildoxford
The Lake District has not only Cockermouth but also Great Cockup and Little Cockup. But it’s no mistake that the area is a playground for lovers of the outdoors. The region in England’s northwest is a bewitching combination of lakes (16 major ones and dozens more tarns, or natural dams), a magnificent stretch of rugged mountains and charming towns like Keswick, Ambleside and Kendal.
It’s a haven for lovers of watersports of all sorts as well as hiking and cycling, with thousands of kilometres of trails. You can also visit the homes of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth and see how the verdant countryside influenced their writing.
Petrie’s recommendation: if you’re fit, head to the summit of Scaffell Pike, at 978m the highest point in England, for wonderful views and serious bragging rights. Hire a boat and do some rowing, sailing or kayaking, or take a cruise on one of the lakes. Then treat yourself to a visit to one of the local microbreweries or distilleries, like the Lakes Distillery, in a beautifully restored building in Cockermouth, to sample its gin, whisky and vodka. There’s a bistro on-site offering good local fare, and it’s open for supper too. www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/