5 reasons why the North of England is awesome

There’s been a lot of talk lately about divisions between the North and South of the UK and, even though Scotland has made up its mind, England still has a North-South dilemma of its own. On this note, Virgin Trains have launched a new campaign which is all about ‘Arriving Awesome’ to your destination and, as part of their #ArriveAwesome campaign, have asked me to choose which area – North or South – gets my vote.

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that I’m plumping for the North… having been born in Manchester – and grown up in that area before moving to Cumbria – I can’t think of anywhere I’d sooner live. Living between two of England’s most beautiful National Parks – the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales – does of course help. So here are my 5 reasons (you’ll notice my rural bias here!) why the North of England gets my vote:

The Lake District

Beautiful scenery, dramatic lakes and the beautiful outdoors… it’s no wonder this landscape inspired so many authors, poets and artists, including the likes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.  The area is also home to England’s tallest mountain and longest lake… if you’ve not been, you’re missing out!

Lake District

The Yorkshire Dales

Like the Lake District, but without the lakes and with gentler, rolling hills, the Yorkshire Dales is beautifully lush and equally deserving of its National Park status. Home to some of the most beautiful limestone pavements in the country – if not the world – the landscape boasts a wide variety of plants and animals that reflects the underlying geology.

Yorkshire Dales

The Northumbrian coastline

Often overlooked, the stretch of coastline a short drive north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is an area that really shouldn’t be missed.  There are beautiful beaches, stunning castles, great seafood, cosy pubs and a warmth and friendliness to the people that you don’t really find anywhere else in the country.


The Peak District

This upland area, which falls mostly in northern Derbyshire, boasts a great deal of natural beauty, be it the moors and dales, or the many rivers, springs and caverns. The region’s villages can be easily accessed from cities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds but will very quickly leaving you feeling far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Peak District

North Yorkshire Moors

This special place is one of the largest areas of heather moorland in the UK. Home to amazing views, hidden valleys, picturesque market towns and a rich history, there’s something here for all the family, whether it be walking, cycling, horse-riding, water-based activities or riding on a steam locomotive in ‘Heartbeat’ country.

North Yorkshire Moors

Of course, there are many other reasons in addition to the above that I could have cited. Please tell us which area gets your vote – the North or the South – by taking part in Virgin Trains’ #ArriveAwesome Twitter race.

Images: Shutterstock

Comments (24)

  1. Tina says:

    Wow!! Those pictures are really stunning. Makes me wanna go there. Hopefully I can visit the place one day.

  2. Erin says:

    After this post I am voting north as well. We love travelling by train and contemplating a trip in the UK as well… Perhaps North England since your photos are so enticing. The Lake & Peak District drawing my upmost attention. Thanks!

  3. I am sold! Just like Ireland there are so many beautiful spots, of course the only issue for some people (myself included) is the weather. When these spots get the weather it is entirely different.

  4. Those lovely photographs and your descriptions are very convincing but I do hope to be able judge for myself one day, as I have to admit, I don’t know the north of England at all.

  5. noel says:

    The countryside in the Northern areas are Stunning, I would love to explore and do some hikes in any of those districts and stop for a nice meal and drink at any iconic pub along the way…then contemplate if I have to hike back of just catch a cabby.

  6. John Allen says:

    Great article, but don’t forget the great Towns and Cities of the North of England. In Leeds & Manchester we have 2 great progressive cities with a huge choice of Shops and Entertainment, and dozens of Market Towns each with it’s own character and choice of Shops and attractions.

  7. Paul Johnson says:

    Quite right, John… as I say at the end “Of course, there are many other reasons in addition to the above that I could have cited.” I just happen to personally favour the rural landscape.

  8. I LOVE the North of England. Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland is one of my all-time favourite locations. And the Farne Islands are well worth the bumpy boat ride!


  9. Hannah says:

    Some stunning images of the North there! I think there’s plenty of lure in the South with the capital and ‘quintessential’ England in the Cotswolds and Bath, but the North really does have some great places to visit too and should be championed more often! Great post!

  10. Anne says:

    Is really beautifull!! I wish to visit all these places. Delightful – love these landscapes.

  11. Matt says:

    Summer Wine Country most certainly is not in the North Yorkshire Moors. That’s down in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the fringe of the northern tips of the Peak District. I think you mean Heartbeat country.

  12. Paul Johnson says:

    I did indeed mean Heartbeat country, Matt… thanks for the correction. I’ll get it updated now.

  13. Train travel through those regions would indeed be awesome. Each photo shows such unique geography. The lake photo at top is especially beautiful and mysterious. I can see why the north got your vote.

  14. Matt Baron says:

    Really great article, one of the best railway journeys in the North to do is from Carlisle to Settle. During the summer months there is an original steam train which runs costing around £70 but it’s fantastic and well worth it, just for the views!

    The Lake District is my favourite place, it has true natural beauty.

  15. Anna says:

    The North is a truly beautiful place – but shame on you for no mention of the Forest of Bowland, Ribble Valley or Morecambe Bay in Lancashire.

  16. Katie Parsons says:

    Last week I visited the Lake District for the first time and was blown away by how beautiful it is. But…I’m a born and bred southerner and not sure I could ever say the north was better than the south! I did go on Virgin Trains though and they were very impressive.

  17. Sara Hardman says:

    I am biased because I’m from Yorkshire but it’s the one place I always tell travellers about when I’m backpacking. Both the Dales and Moors are stunning at all times of year. I did take a trip to the Lake District this summer and have to say looking down at Derwent Water from the ‘surprise view’ is absolutely breathtaking.

  18. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m pleased to report that #TheNorth won in Virgin Trains’ #ArriveAwesome Twitter race!

  19. Sherry says:

    Great post with awesome pictures. I lived in the UK for several years and go back annually. Will keep your ideas for reference. It is such a gorgeous country. Thanks.

  20. Jempi says:

    Paul, beautiful landscape pictures! Want to visit them all…why is life so short ;) No seriously, great review and once again, superb pictures. My compliments to the photographer.

  21. Anna Lupton says:

    Thank you for including our glorious area of the North York Moors . I had to smile as the NYMNP spend ages trying to tell people it is the North YORK Moors .We love it whatever people call it and are proud to call it our home and share it with guests who come to stay with us

  22. Sandra says:

    Not to mention, the people are friendlier too!! We do have some great countryside on our doorstep, and I hope more people are encouraged to visit it than spend all their time in London and not experience the true England

  23. Jemma says:

    Being a fellow northerner myself I could’t agree more! I grew up near to the North Yorkshire Moors and I never tire of visiting this charming corner of England along with the other northern delights such as the Lake District. The photography in this feature is stunning and really depicts the outstanding natural beauty of up north!

  24. Dimitri says:

    It’s remarkable that the best national parks are in the North of England. I got so inspired by this that I am considering visiting North Yorkshire Moors next weekend!

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