Episode 2: Northern England

Filmed on location in: Northern England

Northern England. A region of rich variety and extraordinary contrasts, from the great cities that powered the British Empire to the picturesque moorlands, lakes and dales that inspired literary icons. This is the home of mythical hero Robin Hood and real-life legends The Beatles. Inspired by a spirit of creativity, its people embrace their past and are ambitious about their future.

Deep in the north of England spectacular drone aerials reveal an ancient stone boundary that stretches almost the breadth of the country. This is Hadrian’s Wall, a powerful reminder of the days when the Romans occupied this land. Built to defend against the fierce tribes of Scotland, this was once the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.

Elsewhere we discover the legacy of a dramatic human and economic transformation. In the 19th century the Industrial Revolution altered this region like never before. Almost overnight it changed from an agricultural economy to one dominated by factories and manufacturing. The model industrial village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire, built in the Victorian era for the workers of a huge textile mill, contains not only houses, but also schools, libraries and public baths for the workers and their families. These impressive Victorian buildings are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The workers also needed somewhere to holiday and they flocked to Blackpool on the north west coast. Originally a fashionable spa town, it is now home to England’s most popular amusement park. Soaring high above the carousels and waltzers of the central and north pier, the aerials reveal Britain’s highest rollercoaster – the Big One.

For a different type of thrill we visit Alnwick Castle, famous as the place where Harry Potter learned to fly. In the first Harry Potter film, Alnwick’s battlements are the backdrop for Hogwarts and fans can take broomstick lessons in the grounds of the castle, though they may not actually leave the ground.

During the 19th century Manchester’s warehouses and quays bustled with the cotton trade. Since the decline of the industrial age the city has rapidly emerged as a business and design leader with architecturally innovative buildings like One Angel Square, one of the cleanest and greenest structure in Europe. However its most iconic structure is Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, the world’s biggest soccer club. Less than 50 miles away, Liverpool also thrived during the industrial past. More recently it is famed as the Beatles’ home town. Many of the Fab Four’s world-famous songs, such as ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’, were inspired by the city’s landmarks.

Northern England’s landscape is a dramatic mix of moorlands, dales, valleys and lakes. The brooding Yorkshire Moors are the setting for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights while the Lake District in the Northwest inspired one of Britain’s best-loved poets, William Wordsworth. Today, these landscapes continue to inspire people in different ways. We observe the spectacular sight of a hot air balloon soaring over Lake Windermere and vintage style cars driving through the heather covered moorlands.

Further south, Nottinghamshire is home to the ancient woodland of Sherwood Forest, once the hunting ground of kings and princes and famously the home of Robin Hood. Today this 100-acre site is protected as a nature reserve and attract many tourists. Fans of a darker fictional character are drawn to another site on the North Yorkshire coast. In the small town of Whitby, the sinister-looking ruins of the local abbey inspired author Bram Stoker to write the blood-soaked legend of Dracula.

Further along the east coast we come to a very different monument, the iconic sculpture known as the Angel of the North. Designed by artist Anthony Gormley, the 65-foot-tall winged figure is arguably the most famous statue in England. It is a fitting tribute to Northern England, a region where the past intertwines with the future, where poets, musicians and writers were and are inspired, and where legends live on.

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