The travel site, which curates content for bucket list experiences by local experts, has launched with guides from Sydney to Straford-upon-Avon.
I’ve drawn on my local-knowledge expertise as a travel writer and tourist guide to write two of the guides from my home patch in the Northwest of England and North Wales.
Read my Snowdonia guide here; and my Liverpool guide here.
Here’s a taster of the Snowdonia text:
The anchor point is Mount Snowdon (Eryri in Welsh), Wales’ highest peak at 3,000ft. The mountain Mecca is the small, Alpine-style town of Llanberis but other honeypot hubs offer alternative takes on the park. The Victorian resort town of Betws-y-Coed is the primary base for many visitors, its high street packed with outdoors shops and food-fuel cafes. Given the bucolic setting, you can see why artists and Romantic writers were first drawn here.
Timely, given that the Snowdonia National Park Authority recently voted to use the Welsh names Yr Wyddfa and Eryri rather than Snowdon and Snowdonia.
The decision that Wales’ highest mountain will be referred to by its Welsh name, rather than the English equivalent, came after a petition of 5,000 people called for change.
It looks like an own goal for Liverpool — not Klopp’s team facing the wrath of The Kop but the announcement by Unesco that it could strip Liverpool of its World Heritage status.
The port city of Liverpool is currently one of 32 Unesco World Heritage sites in the UK. The area stretching along the city’s historic waterfront and onto St George’s Hall was granted World Heritage status in 2004.
Yet controversy has raged in recent years about a series of dockland developments, leading to Liverpool being placed “at risk” by Unesco in 2012.
The heritage body this week expressed further concerns about the Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme and plans for the new Everton football stadium in a former dockland site, citing the developments had resulted in
“serious deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes”.
The City Council hit back, saying some £1.5bn had been invested in upgrading Liverpool’s heritage assets.
The delisting would be a blow to the city, of course.
Post-industrial Liverpool has reinvented itself as a city of tourism, culture, and nightlife. Some 37m visitor arrivals each year contribute to an annual economic impact of £3.3bn for the city, according to pre-Covid figures from Marketing Liverpool.
The Covid-battered cruise industry has just set sail again with around 80 cruise calls planned this year, including Anthem of the Seas amongst other.
Liverpool has a proud maritime history, serving as a global port during the Industrial Revolution and a hub for transatlantic crossings at the turn of the 20th century. The city boasts 27 Grade I-listed buildings and is touchstone for Britain’s seafaring story.
In 1912, the Titanic disaster was even announced to the world from the balcony of what is now room 22 at the Signature Hotel, the former headquarters of the White Star Line company.
Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, says the Unesco debate is more nuanced than a simple heritage-versus-regeneration trade off.
“We want future generations to learn about the city’s maritime heritage, of course, but Liverpool is a living, breathing city. It’s about finding new ways,” she says, “of using heritage to evolve.”
So, can sites survive a delisting? Two places so far met that fate: the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany.
There are currently 53 locations on its heritage danger list, including the Bolivian city of Potosi and the Everglades National Park in the United States.
Unesco also warned that Stonehenge could be added to the danger list at its 2022 review if plans to reroute the A303 road in Wiltshire are not modified. Yet, Covid aside, these destinations continue to draw visitors.
Moreover, Liverpool has an innate ability to rise phoenix-like from the ashes.
As a teenager, growing up in the Northwest of England, I saw Liverpool through the wilderness years of the Eighties, bowed and monochrome.
I also witnessed the green shoots of recovery when the International Garden Festival converted a former household tip into the UK’s first ever garden festival in 1984.
And I watched from the crowd gathered in front of St Georges Hall as the former Beatle, Ringo Starr, played live on the roof to launch Liverpool’s transformative tenure as the European Capital of Culture in 2008.
I find the city reborn these days. Tate Liverpool will host a summer-blockbuster Lucian Freud exhibition from July 24, hotels are relentlessly booked out for Premiership home games for both city teams and Bold Street bars are buzzing again with post-pandemic revellers.
Liverpool has some fight in her yet.
There’s one month left to reach a compromise before the final decision. Joanne Anderson, Liverpool’s newly elected mayor, says heritage and regeneration are not mutually exclusive and has invited Unesco to see the developments first-hand. She wrote on Twitter:
The report recommending deletion of Liverpool’s World Heritage status will take time to digest, as its quite detailed.
A full response will be made via the @DCMS but our position is clear – we will be asking the committee to defer & review our case over the next 12 months. https://t.co/Vmj0TlzeDe
So, can Liverpool salvage its status as a maritime-heritage hub?
I hope so. It would be a shame for cruise arrivals, disembarking from the Cruise Terminal on the waterfront this July, to find that their gentle stroll through Liverpool’s Mersey-docked history, walking from the Three Graces to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in the Albert Dock, no longer gets the Unesco nod.
But I’m sure that Liverpool would rise again.
As Peter Colyer, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Tourist Guides Association, told me:
“Liverpool moves onwards and upwards. We would be saddened but the loss of status, but it would not impact significantly on visitor numbers.”
“The regeneration of Liverpool,” he added, “is an ongoing work in progress.”
So Unesco be damned. As any football fan knows, Liverpool may go one down at home sometimes — but they always fight back.
This week would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. His home city of Liverpool is marking the anniversary with a series of events and exhibitions this week and beyond in memory of its favourite son.
Beatles tourism is hugely important to the city, generating £82m and created nearly 2,500 jobs, according to a 2016 report by the University of Liverpool.
The events starting this week include:
Sgt. Pepper Way, a new photographic exhibition of unseen Lennon images at the Beatles Story Museum by the New York-based photographer Bob Deutsch
a one-off Magical Mystery walking tour of places associated with the Beatles, starting from the Albert Dock and ending at The Cavern Club for live acoustic music
Strawberry Field, the former Salvation Army children’s home where the young Lennon played in the garden while living nearby, will be unveiled as the new home of the famous piano that John Lennon used to compose and record the song Imagine. The piano will be on loan to Strawberry Field courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael.
the retrospective of photography by Linda McCartney at the Walker Art Gallery, featuring candid images of the Fab Four, has been extended until January next year
National Museums Liverpool opened its new gallery Life on Board today, an opening delayed from March by Covid-19, as part of a wider re-opening of its museums, including the new Linda McCartney Retrospective exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery. My preview ran today in Telegraph Travel and the below is my original copy filed before lockdown.
I’m standing in front of a little piece of maritime history.
With its miniature sun loungers, palm trees and umbrellas, plus mini-me figurines taking a dip in the pool, the 3.5m replica model of the Arandora Star, the ship torpedoed in 1940 while carrying prisoners of war to Canada, had been in storage for years after wartime bomb damage.
But the 1936 exhibition model of this Blue Star passenger liner has been lovingly conserved over 400 hours of restoration work and now takes centre stage in a new maritime gallery opening in Liverpool later this month.
Life on board, the new permanent gallery at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool’s Albert Dock [pictured above], explores the history of travel by sea from the 18th century, via the interwar heyday of the ocean liners as floating palaces, to the current day.
Liverpool was a hub for Transatlantic crossings at the turn of the 20th century with the numerous shipping companies operating out of port city, including White Star Line (later merged with Cunard Line).
The Museum also hosts galleries devoted to the stories of the Lusitania and Liverpool connections to the Titanic story.
The gallery has been over a year in the planning and takes a case-study-led approach to exploring Liverpool’s seafaring heritage, putting human stories at the forefront of the exhibits with text and audio testimonies to illustrate.
Of the 250-odd exhibits, some have been brought out of storage, while a small number are new acquisitions for the opening.
“Our cruise story as a city is rooted in heritage but it also remains an integral part of our living history,” explains Michelle Walsh, the museum’s curator of maritime history and technology.
“We look at the modern revival of interest in cruising by setting it in the heritage context of Liverpool as a cruise port.”
The exhibition is arranged thematically, as opposed to in chronological order, starting with stories of the Merchant Navy before moving onto the Lines and Leisure section, which shines a spotlight on the golden age of cruise of leisure travel.
It was during the 1920s that the introduction of Tourist Third Cabin Class opened up cruise travel to a wider audience, making the voyage on board an integral part of the overall journey.
The era also saw architects and artists employed by shipping companies to remodel the liners with fashionable Art Deco stylings.
Interspersed amongst the exhibits are some hands-on interpretation for families with younger children, such as learning how to tie a reef knot, and getting your own temporary tattoo as a means to explain the superstitions behind the artwork favoured by sailors.
The gallery also incorporates the museum’s Archives Centre, featuring National Museums Liverpool’s vast collection of maritime and slavery records.
“Liverpool has always been a very outward-looking city, gazing out to the horizon,” says Michelle, who spent her own honeymoon on an Alaska cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).
“I believe this outward mentality is a reflection of our rich maritime heritage as a city.”
Key exhibits in the gallery include a series of on-board outfits worn by passenger Gertrude Walker, left to the museum by surviving family on Merseyside, to reflect the experience of women travelling by sea in the early 20th century.
Gertrude’s diary recorded the daily routine of first-class travel on the transatlantic ships. Meanwhile, a set of decorative glass panels from the Cabin (first) Class Dining Room of the Mauretania II, marked with signs of the zodiac, highlight the Art Deco influence on design rom the era.
One of Michelle’s favourite exhibits, however, is an architectural design model of the lime-green mid-ship lobby, or the ‘rotunda’, aboard the QE2, which illustrates how ship design evolved with the swinging Sixties.
Built on the Clyde, the QE2 made her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on May 2, 1969.
“With so many items in storage, including over 2,000 ship models, it has been very hard to make the final selection,” explains Michelle as we admire an 1917 events programme from the RMS Orduna, which lists on-board activities, such as a potato race for ladies and cock fighting for men.
“Once you start delving, there are so many important stories to tell.”
Today Liverpool’s cruise industry is again booming with plans for a new Liverpool Cruise Terminal scheduled to open in 2022/3, handling up to 3,600 passengers per ship visit.
With the gallery open, those passengers will be able to disembark near Liverpool’s Three Graces, incorporating the landmark Liver Building, and stroll along the waterfront to the museum to visit the new gallery.”
“As a teenager in Eighties Liverpool, the dock was all silted up and the cruise traffic had long since drifted away to Southampton,” says Michelle.
“But the return of the big ships has rekindled a huge sense of pride in our cruise history.”
Large numbers of people now flock to the quayside to welcome visiting ships in port.”
“As curators, we’re always there, too,” she laughs. “Basically, we’re all just massive ship geeks.”