North West England
North West England is a diverse region to the north of the West Midlands and west of Yorkshire and North East England. It also shares smaller boundaries with North Wales, the East Midlands and South West Scotland. The south of the region is largely urban and home to the dynamic cities of Liverpool and Manchester. To the north is some of England's best countryside in the Lake District.
North West England has many major towns and cities. For others, see county listing.
The North West is an area of varied landscapes ranging from beaches to lakes and forests to cities. It consists of the counties of Lancashire, Cumbria and Cheshire as well as Greater Manchester and Merseyside. The area consisting of Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington is primarily an urban conurbation. Lancashire and Cumbria are primarily rural with a few large town and cities, and Cheshire is mainly flat agricultural land.
The North West shows a wide diversity in people and dialect: the most common dialects in the region are Scouse (from Liverpool), Lancastrian (Lancashire and Furness), Mancunian (also known as Manc) and the Cumberland dialect (North and West Cumbria). There is also North West English, which is a combination of the above mainly spoken outside the accent areas. Most visitors will be hard-pressed to notice significant differences between the dialects but there are many to the trained ear. The people are generally friendly and do welcome tourists.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the main industry in the North West was textiles, and there is still evidence of this (especially in South Lancashire), but today the textile industry has all but disappeared from the region, giving way for the chemical industry (especially in Cheshire and Merseyside), and defence (especially around Barrow-in-Furness and Preston). Many big national and international retailers are headquartered in the region.
Nine times out of ten, the regional weather is mild and overcast, with frequent heavy outbreaks of rain. Temperatures on some summer days can reach the mid 20s degrees Celsius. The best advice is to wear layers (it's very rare to see a North Westerner without a jacket on).
Most international flights to the region arrive into Manchester (approx 9 miles from Manchester city centre), where most of the regions key tourist destinations can be reached from the airport railway station, with Manchester Piccadilly about 15 minutes away by train.
There are also low cost intra-European flights availiable from Liverpool (approx 7.5 miles from Liverpool city centre) and Blackpool (about 3 miles from Blackpool town centre).
The North West can be reached from other regions as follows
National Express and Megabus operate long distance coach services to the North West.
The rail backbone of the region is the West Coast Main Line connecting London to Glasgow via the North West, these trains are operated by Virgin Trains. The hub of all other long distance trains is Manchester Piccadilly, from where you can connect to regional trains (either directly or via Manchester Victoria).
Liverpool while not as well connected as Manchester still gets direct rail links from London, Birmingham, East Anglia and the North East.
Other cities with long distance rail links include Warrington, Chester, Wigan, Preston and Carlisle.
The North West is a small area and is easy to get around by car. It takes around three hours to travel from North to South and about two hours to travel East to West. There is a dense network of motorways and dual carriageway roads. However certain parts of the area are very densley populated, so traffic congestion is a common occurrance, especially between 7am and 9am and 4pm and 6pm. Also, as with everywhere else, the motorway frequently undergoes works, and accidents are an almost daily occurrance, so motorway can suffer congestion at any time.
Bus services are useful in rural areas where trains do not run, and for short journeys. They are cheap especially if "day tickets" are bought which allow travel all day in an area. There is also a place for buses within the major cities, as buses are fairly frequent. Bus travel can be slow owing to frequent stops and traffic congestion. Long distance coach services are infrequent in the North West apart from on the Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds route.
The North West benefits from a good network of commuter and rural trains, most trains within the region are operated by [www.northernrail.org Northern Rail]. While trains are not as quick as those seen in Europe, they are normally quicker than travelling by car, and some lines are quite scenic (especially outside urban areas). If you intend on travelling around the region, then a North West Rail Ranger offering unlimited travel within the region (costing either £54.00 for four days travel in any eight or £66.00 for a week) is worthwhile.
The North West is home to wide varied range of foods. If in the North try Cumberland Sauasage, Cumberland being a former county which is now part of Cumbria, or lamb from the Lake District. The coastal regions are a source of great fish and cockles and mussels which can be easily bought from a local chippy or at source in the fishing ports of Morecambe and Heysham.
The North West is also home to Lancashire and Cheshire Cheese, both have a crumbly feel and mild flavour both of which can hold their own against other 'superior' cheeses.
If however you prefer something more filling then there is always fish and chips available in all towns in the North West, which can be had with Curry Sauce or Mushy Peas. But then there is Lancashire Hot Pot a dish of sliced onions and potatoes etc...
But if you prefer something sweeter then there is only one answer. Blackpool Rock, or Kendal Mint Cake, or Eccles Cakes, or Bakewell Tart from Manchester, or Chorley Cakes.