The Branxton Cement Menagerie
Based in the town of Branxton in Northumberland, the Cement Menagerie is a truly peculiar piece of art. Quite simply, it is a collection of life-size cement sculptures of animals – from the familiar dog to the exotic zebra – with a few human figures thrown in. All in all it resembles an eccentric English counterpart to China’s famed Terracotta Army.
Mother Shipton’s Cave in Knaresborough
According to the old legend, Mother Shipton was a witch who could see into the future. She was supposedly born in a cave in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and it has been a popular destination with visitors for many generations. Aside from this fascinating bit of folklore, what makes Mother Shipton’s Cave unusual is its petrifying well: if an object is left here it will, over time, turn to stone by the minerals in the water. This works on everything from teapots to teddy bears, so no wonder people used to believe that the well was magic…
Cheese-rolling at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester
The cheese-rolling event is held at Cooper’s Hill just once a year, but is too bizarre to leave out of this list. The game is exactly what it sounds like: the players roll a cheese down the hill and run after it, competing to overtake the tumbling dairy along the way. Even if you do not arrive in the area in time to see the contest, there are plenty of great places to visit in nearby Gloucester.
The Long Man of Wilmington
There are several chalk figures dotting the British landscape, but the Long Man is one of the most haunting. Nobody is entirely sure what the image represents: is he holding two poles? Perhaps he is ready to open a gateway, as the fantasy author Neil Gaiman so memorably portrayed him? Whoever he is, the Long Man is a must-see location for anyone interested in Britain’s legendary past.
Whitby in North Yorkshire
The charming coastal town of Whitby picked up a dark association at the tail end of the nineteenth century, when Bram Stoker decided to make it the arrival point in Britain for his immortal creation: Count Dracula. Today, the town even has a gothic guesthouse named Bats and Broomsticks – the perfect thing for a Halloween weekend, perhaps? You do not have to be a mascara-wearing goth to appreciate Whitby, although it is certainly a popular pilgrimage destination for that subculture.
There are many more wacky places to visit across the United Kingdom, of course. If you want to know more then check out the range of daily travel deals at Deal Zippy – you can even search for deals that are specific to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.