The great industrial shadow of the 19th century cast such darkness over England's northwest that the area has been relatively neglected by visitors. Most Americans rush through, heading for the Lake District and Scotland. But in spite of its industry and bleak commercial area, the northwest still has a lot to offer, including some beautiful countryside that remains unspoiled.

We will concentrate, however, on only three of its more important cities -- Manchester, Liverpool, and Chester -- plus a side trip to Blackpool, a huge Coney Island-style resort. You may want to visit it not so much for its beaches as for its kitschy, old-world appeal.