Places that make my heart glad: The UK

My in-laws (Mother, Father and Brother) are here – they arrived on Monday and it’s been lovely to have them. But their Yorkshire accents and British sense of humour have made me homesick for my own little island across the ocean. I tend to miss mainland Europe more than the UK (friends and family obviously excepted) but this week, my heart’s been pining for sausage and mash, thatched cottages and Marks & Spencers.

These are my favourite places in the UK.


This is my home. I grew up here, I love the place deep in my gut. It’s still so rural, so beautiful and so peaceful although sadly it changes a little more every time I go home. My family live near the gorgeous city of Salisbury with its lovely cathedral, about ten minutes from Stonehenge.

This is my favourite UK run, with my favourite Wiltshire photos.

Cottages near my village
Salisbury Plain in the spring

Stonehenge on a cheery May morning
The world’s most beautiful cathedral – Salisbury


We lived in Yorkshire for five years before we moved to California. It grew on me. Just as well… I married a Yorkshireman and gave birth to another one. We lived in Leeds, which never really won my heart (although its people did). But about an hour outside Leeds is the Yorkshire Dales – a land of rolling green hills, dry stone walls, beautiful villages and sheep. And the Dales hold a special place in my heart.

Green fields and stone walled villages
A cold January hike in the Dales
I miss viaducts like CRAZY!!!
It was perfect cycling country


I lived in London for eight very happy years in my 20s. It’s an amazing place to live as a young person – I had an utter blast. I lived in Muswell Hill, a suburb in northern London, with trees and parks and little cafes. If I hadn’t fallen in love with the Husband and been lured to Leeds, I think I’d still be there.

St Paul’s and the Thames
The Oxo Tower, my favourite bar in my cocktail-swilling days!
London Eye
My old suburb of Muswell Hill. I wanted one of those red houses SO badly.         Source


I went to university in Aberystwyth, in deepest Wales. This land of intense green fields, rain, sheep and immense beauty is so special and so lovely. And the people have the loveliest accents.

Aberystwyth – not a bad place to go to Uni


Scotland is a new discovery for me. I’d been to beautiful Edinburgh a few times but it wasn’t until I was 6 months pregnant and we spent a week in Scotland that I realized how breathtaking it is. It reminded me very much of the wilds of Scandinavia. We climbed Ben Nevis, Scotland’s biggest mountain, we visited the Isle of Skye and stayed in the most wonderful lochside hotel. Scotland is gorgeous!!

Eilean Donan Castle. Near Skye.
Stunning, eh?
Graveyard overlooking Loch Ness

I could write a post about each of these individual places and fill it with beautiful photos. I haven’t mentioned Bath, Somerset, the Peak District, the Lake District…places that I love dearly. I haven’t talked about the grumpy people who live there, who, once you break through initial reserve, are the funniest, loveliest people in the world. The UK is an amazing place to visit – when the sun shines, no country is more beautiful. Good luck picking that day!

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Nic J says:

    We’re still all here – eating chocolate hobnobs, drinking Tetleys, watching people argue on Emmerdale and Eastenders, and complaining about the usual things: the weather (whatever it is doing), the government, the price of fuel, the weather, Jeremy Clarkson’s taste in jackets, etc. You’ll be amazed and slightly disturbed by how much everything here HASN’T changed in the time you’ve been away! x

  2. Cathryn says:

    I don’t miss the grumbling…people here are so positive and I love that!! But there’s a lot that I DO miss!! Like you, Johnson xxx

  3. Wow, gorgeous photos Cathryn! I’ve never been to the UK, but it’s definitely on my places to visit.
    What part of California did you move to? I’m a California native living in North Orange County. I like it, but when it comes to biking trails, I’m sure it doesn’t compare to the beautiful Yorkshire countryside!
    I like your blog & will be following. 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you!!! So glad you’ll be following. Yes it is beautiful in the UK but the weather is pretty grotty! I do think the cycling is better there – quieter roads cross the country and make it easy to cycle long distances without hitting big roads. Here (in the SF Bay Area) the roads are bigger, busier and scarier…we haven’t done much cycling here for that reason. We don’t want to risk our little boy on these roads. I find that frustrating, I know if we were in the UK we would be cycling much more. I’m down in your neck of the woods next week – can’t wait for a little So-Cal time!!!

  4. Liz C says:

    So glad you miss us wonderfully grumpy Brits!! Agree with all your appraisals it’s made me desire to go back to Wiltshire I miss it with a passion – many fond, happy and a few sad memories there. Like you Scotland wasn’t on my radar till I fell in love with a Scotsman! On a good day I don’t think anywhere can beat the beauty of the highlands or the west coast. We miss you here too 🙂 xx

    1. Cathryn says:

      It’s mutual, lovely girl

  5. I taught English overseas with a girl from Wales, and between her accent and my Alabama accent, the Chinese kids we taught came out with some lively English. You could always tell who taught them which words by how they pronounced them.

    So does that mean you could run to Stonehenge from where you grew up? Amazing!

  6. Cathryn says:

    I bet the accents were hilarious!!! Yes, Stonehenge is about 2 miles from where my parents live still…I’ve never run to Stonehenge but that seems like a great idea for next time I’m home!

  7. Bean says:

    Wow! Just wow. Amazing photos. My husband and I really, REALLY want to visit the UK. It is just all so amazing! When we finally scrap together enough money (would help if I stop registering for all these races) I am hitting you up for some insider tips on travel and best places to see. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Madeleine says:

    Lovely pictures! It’s funny because I sit here in rainy Britain looking at your photos of your lovely runs in CA and think how much nicer that looks! We have so many hills round here (outside Bath) that it makes for some hard training but ultimately i know it’s good for me! No half marathon or marathon course is ever as bad as here! I follow your blog and was thrilled for you that you cracked your sub-2 half. I really want to do that. Closest I’ve got is 2.03. Am training for the London marathon this year so am going to run Bath Half in March and hoping that by that stage in my training I should be confident enough to push myself to try for a sub-2 time… Watch this space!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you for such a lovely comment, you made my day!! I think there are always benefits in any country, sometimes you have to leave to see them more clearly. But Bath is gorgeousl, I always thought I’d move there one day. Thanks also for the sub two congrats, you’ve totally got that coming…my closest before was 2.04. Try the Wokingham half in Feb. Pancake flat. I should be home in jan/ feb and may well race around bath…it would be so cool to meet up and race!

  9. Madeleine says:

    We should do the Longleat 10k in February (certainly not pancake flat but beautiful setting). What did you do differently in your training – did you simply consciously run your training runs at a faster pace? Or did you do more intervals etc? And did you follow a particular training plan?

  10. Cathryn says:

    Sent you an email.

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