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Perhaps surprisingly to some, the United Kingdom has some of the most interesting and beautiful natural sites in the world. From peaceful waters and wild and rugged landscapes, to romantic parks replete with a myriad of wildlife, the UK has it all. Whether this is your homeland or you are planning a holiday from overseas, there are plenty of natural wonders sure to inspire; here are ten of the best.
In the stunningly beautiful heartland of North Wales lies Snowdonia, one of the most visited areas in the country. Indeed, for many, this is one of the most striking areas on the planet. Shrouded in myth and legend and home to a plethora of exciting underground passages, take the time to explore and marvel at the area from the comfort of the Great Little Train.
Known to the natives as Eryri (the place of eagles), Snowdonia has been the home of various civilizations for over five millennia. The area is thus not only breathtakingly beautiful, but a fascinating place for discovery and intrigue.
The Lllanberis Pass, created by the dissection of a massive mountain range by two shining lakes is number two on our list. Both impressive and tranquil, the unique glaciated valleys and rugged mountain ranges make the Lllanberis Pass (situated within Snowdonia National Park) a particular favourite for climbers and photographers alike.
Situated on the Highland Boundary Fault, Loch Lomond, a freshwater loch, remains the pride and joy of Scotland’s natural wonders. In fact, this is the largest lake in the country; so large that it contains numerous islands, including Inchmurrin, which remains the greatest freshwater island in the UK.
While Loch Lomond remains a favourite destination for relaxation, more adventurous souls can also enjoy the variety of water sports the lake has on offer. Whether you love kayaking or canoeing, jet skiing or speed boating, it is all here. A 24 hour safety watch is always in operation.
If you’re staying in Scotland for a while, it is hard to leave Glen Nevis out of this top ten list. For many, this area retains some of the most dramatic and poetic landscapes in the entire county. Guarded by Britain’s highest mountain, this area of unspoilt scenery is a favourite for lovers of peaceful walks sure to fire the poetic imagination.
For movie buffs, the Glen Nevis area was where much of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was filmed and many scenes from both Rob Roy and Harry Potter can also be recognised as being shot here. Make Achintee your starting point and take the marked route to Lochan Meall onto the Red Burn plateau towards the summit. Be sure not to stray from the marked route, as the cliffs are notoriously dangerous.
At the opposite end of the country, the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is the place to go if caves and caverns are your thing. The site where Britain’s oldest skeleton, affectionately known as Cheddar Man, was found, the area encompasses fascinating histories that date from its Ice Age creation and Stone Age settlements to the discoveries of the Victorian era.
Explore the caverns and caves, such as the gorgeous Gough’s Cave, with the aid of an audio guide. Marvel at the stalactite sculptures, shimmering pools and gushing fountains, or sit back and watch the kids have fun following the popular Crystal Quest. Day tickets are £16 for adults and £10 for kids.
Moving on to Northern Island, the Giant’s Causeway (the country’s only Unesco World Heritage Site) remains a popular favourite for tourists from all corners of the globe. Intriguing stone columns line the coastline, many so neatly arranged that the myths and legends couldn’t help but spread. Said to have been created by a legendary Irish warrior in order that he could travel to Scotland to defeat his Scottish rival, the Causeway retains a mystery that is impossible to resist.
The surrounding coast is also a popular haunt for cliff walk lovers, providing some of the most breathtaking cliff scenery in the whole of Europe. The Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre opened in 1986 and is now home to fascinating exhibitions and historical information that will guide you through both the science and legend of this intriguing site.
The pride of North West England is the glorious Lake District area. This remains one of the most popular short break destinations in the country with the areas of Keswick, Kendal and Windermere the most visited by tourists. The area is also home to the UK’s deepest lake, Washwater, which often tops the list of people’s all time favourite views.
While some people love the Lake District, others favour the wilder and more rugged area of Hope Valley in the Peak District. Indeed, the Peak District remains the most popular national park in the world and this is in no small part due to the selection of grand historic buildings and quaint villages that pepper the dramatic landscapes. Among the favourites here is the ‘Gem of the Peak’, Castleton, home to show caves and the ruins of a Norman Castle.
Lovers of legend will relish the ancient village of Hathersage, set on the Peak district’s outskirts, for it is here that Robin Hood was said to have spent a great deal of time. The village also has strong associations with Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ novel.
Moving south, we find the last of our top ten natural wonders, the Jurassic Coast. Always a favourite for tourists, this 140 million year old coast has been voted as the 5th greatest natural wonder in the UK. Among the highlights here is the limestone arch of Durdle Door, which remains the area’s most photographed landmark and what is said to be the finest cove in England, Lulworth Cove. The film biography of Oscar Wilde starring Stephen Fry was shot here, as was much of the screen adaptation of ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, one of Thomas Hardy’s most famous novels.
Photo by Geograph
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