Here’s a preview of my very own list of things to do before I kick the can, right here in the UK.
Built by Druids during the Bronze Age, Stonehenge is one of the world’s great wonders. The series of stones is believed to be a burial ground (human bones have been found there); however, there are countless theories about the origin and purpose of them -- aliens, anyone? Thanks to the idiots who thought it’d be fun to carve their initials into the stones, it’s no longer possible to get up close. Luckily, the site is surrounded by beautiful countryside so you have plenty of wandering to do. If you don’t mind large crowds, visit on the day of the winter or summer solstice to witness the sun rise over the majestic rocks.
One of Britain’s few truly spectacular natural phenomena, the Severn Bore is a large surge wave that can be seen in the estuary of the River Severn. The tidal range is the second highest in the world -- sometimes reaching up to 50 feet. River surf enthusiasts often tackle the waves here, which really have to be seen to be believed. Don a wetsuit and join them -- plan your trip using the timetable here.
Built in 753BC and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, Hadrian’s Wall is one of the oldest and longest in Europe. The wall was completed in an impressive six years and stretches for 73 miles across the north of England, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Once garrisoned by around 9000 soldiers, it is now possible to walk the entire length (although it will set you back several bucket list days).
This one should feature somewhere on everyone’s bucket list. Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK, granting tired and weary climbers some of the most breathtaking views of the Scottish Highlands. Need some more convincing? Unlike its taller siblings Mont Blanc and Everest, Ben Nevis can be scaled without professional climbing skills. You can even reach the 1344-metre peak in a single (albeit very long) day!
A tourist cliché this may be, but I’ve always been fascinated by the British monarchy. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 (the first monarch to take up home here was Queen Victoria). Unless you’re up for scaling the gates (and spending the night in a cell), you’ll have to politely join the queue in the summer months and pay for the privilege of having a nosey around the State Rooms. The Queen first opened the palace to the public in 1993, in a bid to raise funds to help restore Windsor Castle which was badly damaged in a fire.