For such a small island, Britain has a lot to offer when it comes to history and natural geography. Our world famous rolling countryside, sleepy villages and medieval monuments have become eponymous with the ‘sceptred isle’ that Shakespeare poetically described, but if you had to choose 5 places in the UK to visit, what should they be?
The natural wonders below have been chosen not just for unique geography or geology, but for the appeal of the surrounding area as well, because if you’re going to plan a trip, then why not stay for a night or two and explore? So pack some outdoor clothing, (this is the UK we’re talking about, don’t forget the waterproof jacket) book a room, grab the overnight bag and hit the road.
A one hour car ride North from Glasgow brings you to Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest lake. It’s 24 miles long and up to 5 miles wide in places, so walking round the whole thing might be more than a day trip, but there are lots of villages and activity centres along the way that are worth a visit. Boat trips take to you to the many little islands that can be found in the lake, and there are very few places that are as serene and picturesque as this idyllic stretch of water.
Dan-yr-Ogof Show Caves
Although not as well-known as the white cliffs of Dover and the Giant’s causeway, this underground phenomenon was voted Britain’s top natural beauty spot in a Radio Times poll. Nestled in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, the network of winding passages and huge caves stretches for more than 10 miles, making it the largest in Europe, and walking through the one mile or so open to the public is an unforgettable experience. When the tour is over you’ll find yourself back in one of the most charming areas of British countryside around, with lots of great walks, little villages and rugged natural beauty spots to explore.
Located on Staffa Island, an uninhabited remote little spot in the Southern Hebrides, Fingal’s cave has been inspiring awe in visitors for centuries. Born from the same geology as the Giant’s Causeway in neighbouring Ireland, Basalt columns rise out of the sea to form a spectacular cliff front that make this volcanic island a wonder to behold. Take the opportunity to explore some of the other Hebridean islands while you’re there, which despite their remoteness are bursting with local colour and natural beauty.
Britain’s biggest limestone gorge can be found in the Mendip Hills in Somerset, and plenty has already been written about this breath taking attraction, reflected by high levels of visitors during holiday seasons. But if you haven’t seen it yet, then it’s well worth a visit. The surrounding National Park is the UK’s main hub for caving and diving, which might inspire the more adventurous visitor, and for those looking to save their adrenalin there are plenty of relaxing walks across rolling countryside to be found nearby.
The Jurassic Coast
Spanning over 100 miles from Bournemouth to Exeter this natural wonder was the first site in the UK to make it on Unesco’s World Heritage List. The cliffs and rocks that form the coast contain the secrets to 185 million years of the Earth’s history, and due to heavy erosion from wind and sea the rock formations are spectacular. Dotted along the coast you will find a number of ‘gateway towns’ well worth visiting. One example is Branscombe, a quiet village steeped in history that contains several historic buildings protected by the National Trust.