British Isles


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Red deer rutting. Puffins strutting. Salmon leaping. Bottle-nosed dolphins jumping. Beachcomber beetles burrowing. Natterjack toads churring. Otters cavorting. Bluebells carpeting. White-tailed eagles fishing. Purple emperors gliding. Adders writhing. Starlings swirling. Yews towering. Water voles munching. Grey seals pupping. And basking sharks cruising.

James Lowen lists a few of Britain’s wildlife highlights in 52 Wildlife Weekends

Given Bradt’s reputation for covering exotic or off-beat destinations, people are sometimes surprised to learn just how many guides we have that focus on the British Isles. It’s easy to take for granted those things immediately around us, but the truth is that our own backyard offers attractions to rival holiday destinations anywhere in the world: the dramatic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and the Dorset coast; beer in a medieval pub and afternoon tea with scones in an elegant café; castles with turrets and churches with dainty spires; Cotswold stone and Shakespeare’s England;  whisky distilleries and micro breweries; Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall; the Giant’s Causeway and Titanic Belfast; Offa’s Dyke Path and Snowdonia National Park; the Millennium Stadium and Wembley; the British Museum, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Tate Modern; rich history and the very best of culture, shops, museums, galleries, restaurants and nature. Visit Britain promotes the country under the strapline ‘Britain is Great’. It’s difficult to argue.

When we received a proposal for Eccentric Britain, our first reaction was to dismiss it – it was way outside our usual subject matter. Then I read some extracts and didn’t see how we could not publish it, it made me laugh so much. So we did it, and found we’d published a best-seller. The press loved it, so did the readers. Risk-taking can be fun.

Hilary Bradt

Of course, Bradt’s coverage comes with a Bradt twist – we try to delve into hidden corners, to find the colourful and unfamiliar. Our first British Isles title was Eccentric Britain, a book that the Daily Telegraph called ‘wonderfully barmy’, and which includes such highlights as a toe-wrestling competition in Derbyshire, the Patwalloping Festival in Devon, the Giant Yorkshire Pudding Race in Yorkshire and details of the country’s quirkiest people and places. We now have Eccentric guides to London, Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh too. 

Bradt’s ‘Slow Travel’ guides take time to point the way.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Our ‘Slow Travel’ guides to British regions are unique: personal and engaging in a way that you won’t find in any other mainstream series. Written only by local authors who know their regions intimately, these books encourage visitors to ditch their ‘must see ticklists’, ease their pace and take time to enjoy some of Britain’s most distinctive and special corners. The books include all the practical information you’ll need, of course, but they also feature interviews with interesting residents, uncover local traditions and folk tales, and reveal the authors’ favourite places to eat, drink and walk. The Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Yorkshire Wolds, Devon and Exmoor, South Devon and Dartmoor, Cornwall, Norfolk, Suffolk, the Cotswolds, Dorset, Northumberland and Durham, South Downs and Sussex National Park, and the New Forest have all received the Slow Travel treatment. Others, including Dumfries and Galloway, are coming soon.

We wanted to get away from the usual ‘top sights’ formula and encourage our authors to bring out the nuances and local differences that make up a sense of place – such things as food, history, nature, geology, or local people and what makes them tick. So without our realising it at the time, we had defined ‘Slow Travel’, or at least our concept of it. For the beauty of the Slow movement is that there is no fixed definition; we adapt the philosophy to fit our individual needs and aspirations.

Hilary Bradt

Beyond that, Bus-Pass Britain and its sequel, Bus-Pass Britain Rides Again, have gathered together the nation’s most cherished bus journeys, while 52 Wildlife Weekends: A Year of British Wildlife-Watching Breaks provides inspiration for you to get back to nature around the British Isles. 

British Isles articles

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Britain’s best heritage railways

Our pick of the best steam railways in the UK. All aboard! 

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London’s creepiest attractions

A tour of the city's most grisly places ...

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A Wild Times gallery

In her book Wild Times, Jini Reddy explores the ways in which we can reconnect with the natural world, to go beyond observing the landscapes and begin to really interact with them. 

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England’s vineyards

Our selection of some of the more unlikely locations for vineyards in England... hicc!

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