This region is a mix of dreary industrial sections and incredible scenery, particularly in the Peak District National Park, centered in Derbyshire. Byron said that the landscapes in the Peak District rivaled those of Switzerland and Greece. He might have overstated his case just a bit, but he wasn't too far off target. In the East Midlands, you'll also find the tulip land of Lincolnshire, the 18th-century spa of Buxton in Derbyshire, and the remains of Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. George Washington looked to Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire as his ancestral home. If you have Pilgrims in your past, you can trace your roots to the East Midlands. Except for Sulgrave Manor and Althorp House, where Princess Di spent her girlhood, Northamptonshire is not on the tourist circuit. If you do decide to stop here, the best place to spend the night is the industrialized county town of Leicester, which is also a base to explore many sights in the countryside, including Belvoir Castle, the setting for Steven Spielberg's movie Young Sherlock Holmes, and Bosworth Battlefield, site of one of England's most important battles.
Derbyshire is noted primarily for the Peak District National Park, but it also has a number of historic homes -- notably Chatsworth, the home of the 11th duke of Devonshire. The best places to base yourself here are in Buxton and Bakewell.
In Nottinghamshire, the city of Nottingham is a good center for exploring what's left of Sherwood Forest, the legendary stamping grounds of Robin Hood.
If you're headed for Lincolnshire, the highlight is the cathedral city of Lincoln itself.