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How the ‘least cultured’ place in Britain reinvented itself

How the ‘least cultured’ place in Britain reinvented itself

It seemed proper to start with the creative backstory, so I begin at the Silk Museum. In the 16th century, Macclesfield was renowned for making buttons. When it became fashionable to cover them in silk, ever-innovative Macc thrust itself into that industry, too. The first silk mill was established in 1743; at its peak, the...

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The world’s most expensive visas for UK holidaymakers

The world’s most expensive visas for UK holidaymakers

Each year, the Henley Passport Index measures the number of countries travellers can visit visa-free.  The UK usually ranks reasonably highly: in 2024, with 192 countries visitable visa-free, it came third, level with Denmark and Belgium. France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain are all, collectively, the most powerful, with their passport-holders able to visit...

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London’s 10 best walks – including four Royal Parks

London’s 10 best walks – including four Royal Parks

There are many unsung heroes of London – one of the best of them is the Thames Path, a National Trail since 1996, which follows 184 miles of the 215-mile-long river. Without it, London would be a different place.  It’s a resource for runners and cyclists, idlers and flâneurs, artists and mudlarks,and above all for...

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What dismal Oxford Street can learn from the rest of Europe

What dismal Oxford Street can learn from the rest of Europe

People say it was the pandemic that did it, but it’s just as easy to blame Topshop. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, the brand’s flagship store stood just outside the entrance to Oxford Circus tube station and was the epitome of Cool Britannia. At one point, Kate Moss posed stock-still in the window –...

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The Sussex town fighting to reopen its French-owned beach

The Sussex town fighting to reopen its French-owned beach

“For some of us it has made it feel safer,” says local resident Abi Blanshard. “Some of the dark bits, the underpasses, you can be a bit reluctant to walk through. It just feels a little bit nicer, a bit cleaner, safer. My partner works down at the food bank and the people he’s spoken...

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The five best Thames walks

The five best Thames walks

Best for… A bit of a climb Start/end point: Dorchester Distance: 4km / 2½ miles to 14.5km / 9 miles Map Wittenham Clumps, Oxfordshire’s “twin peaks”, rise 120m (394ft) and 110m (361ft), providing a fine vantage over a lovely stretch of river. Start in winsome Dorchester – aka the Roman town of Doric – where...

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10 British woodland wonders to discover this summer

10 British woodland wonders to discover this summer

All is not quite as it seems in this ancient semi-natural woodland lining the southern bank of the Ure. Gnarled sessile oaks speak of great age, now interspersed with wych elm, sycamore, rowan, ash and silver birch. But those moss-greened ruins peering out from the greenery aren’t actually the remains of Roman temples or medieval...

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Is Britain the world’s biggest holiday rip-off?

Is Britain the world’s biggest holiday rip-off?

Getting around The high cost of train travel within the UK is another thorny issue. Say you want to reach your Cornish holiday apartment by train, taking a leaf out of Greta Thunberg’s book and doing your bit for the planet. The cheapest off-peak return from London to Penzance on Aug 5 currently costs £143...

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The 20 best grand British seaside hotels

The 20 best grand British seaside hotels

Once upon a time, there was nowhere so redolent with glamour as a Great British seaside hotel in the summer season and – for a while – the Grand Hotel in Scarborough led the pack. The Grand opened in 1867 and was reputedly Europe’s largest hotel. Yet recently, one mayoral candidate branded it “the shame...

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Meet the rail-mad millionaire with Britain’s only privately owned train

Meet the rail-mad millionaire with Britain’s only privately owned train

British businessman Jeremy Hosking is one such man. His train, The Chairman’s Set, is comprised of repurposed former Caledonian Sleeper coaches – in classic 1950s British Rail “blood and custard” livery – and is, officially, Britain’s only privately owned train (the Royal Family have one, of course, but as theirs is owned by DB Cargo,...

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