Forget fish and chips, Buckingham Palace and chunky black cabs – they might be some of the first images to spring to mind when people think of taking a trip around the UK, but they’re nowhere near the most memorable. Oliver Bell, the co-founder of Oliver’s Travels has spent the last few years seeking out the best beauty spots in the UK so we asked him to share his favourite views…
The UK’s diverse and beautiful landscapes provide some truly stunning views that will stay with you far longer than the memory of a fish supper (as tasty as they might be). From the coast to lakes to mountainous peaks, we’ve found 10 spectacular panoramas that will take your breath away – and probably make a far better postcard than another picture of Nelson’s Column.
Clifford’s Tower, Yorkshire
It might be more of a city view than some of the others on this list, but when the view is of a city as beautiful as York you’ll be forgiven for not missing the rolling fields that England is more famous for. Found on a large mound in the south-east of the historic walled city, the views from the ramparts takes in the whole of York’s charming range of architecture, not least of which is the imposing Minster, the city’s beautiful cathedral that dates back to the 12th Century.
The Goring Gap, Oxfordshire
A view half a million years in the making, Oxfordshire’s Goring Gap was carved through the chalk ground by the river Thames at the end of the last ice age. With steep, wooded banks and the charming villages of Goring and Streatley on either side, Goring Gap is a quintessential British scenery with a dash of the dramatic thrown in for good measure. Head to Streatley Hill and look towards Bassilden for a wonderful look at the river winding through fields and trees, as well as a grand view of the Chiltern Hills.
Penrith Beacon, The Lake District
Make famous by the classic British film Withnail & I, Penrith is a classic English market town. It’s a short, easy walk from the town to Penrith Beacon, which sits atop the appropriately named Beacon Hill – and from there you’ll see the whole of Penrith laid before you, and beyond that, fields and farmlands lying calm under the shadow of the majestic Pennines. The Cumbrian Mansion isn’t too far away and makes a picturesque base for amazing walks.
Seven Sisters, Sussex
From the heart of the Lake District to the sunny south coast, the series of cliffs known as the Seven Sisters provide visitors not only with amazing walks across the high chalk cliffs, but also some of the most dynamic and sensational coastal views the UK has to offer. It’s nigh on impossible to choose the best view – whether looking out to sea from the top of one of the Sisters or back across the pristine white cliff faces from the seashore, you’re bound to feel humbled by the scale and energy of the place.
Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons
As the highest mountain south of Snowdonia, you’d naturally expect there to be some fine views from the top of Pen y Fan. The thing is, the stunning beauty of Wales takes these views to the next level. Wales is easily one of the lushest and most beautiful countries in Europe (if not the world!) and the accompanying views are characteristically gorgeous – as well as expansive. If the weather’s right, you can see from Cardigan Bay as far north as Shropshire.
The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
Heading to Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway (or Clochán an Aifir as it’s known in Irish) is a world-famous tourism spot for a reason. OK, so there might be higher and wider panoramas on this list, but the other-worldly spectacle of thousands of tessellating basalt columns is a wonder to behold, made even more impressive by the restless sea crashing against the shore. Don’t get too distracted though – the green headlands of the Causeway Coast that stretch to either side are well worth sitting down and admiring too.
Bamford Edge, The Peak District
Arguably the most challenging view on this list, it’s a fairly demanding hike to get to the top of Bamford Edge, but it’s well worth it – so long as you have a head for heights! This rocky outcrop provides the hardy adventurers who reach it with a breathtaking view over the whole of the Hope Valley and down to the Ladybower Reservoir. Definitely not one for the faint-hearted, and a stout pair of walking boots is pretty much a necessity – but then there’s always the equally beautiful Kinder Castle to relax in after a satisfyingly tiring day of hiking.
Durdle Door, Dorset
Heading back to the south coast of England for number 8, the charmingly-named Durdle Door is a natural limestone formation that creates a huge arch out to sea. Acting as a natural barrier between two stretches of sandy beach, it’s the perfect spot to sit back with a picnic and admire the curious artistry of nature, while the coastal paths leading east and west from Durdle Door also provide some amazing views of the structure itself, as well as the rest of the beautiful surrounding countryside.
It’s unlikely that Margate will make many lists of the best views, but that may be because visitors are looking the wrong way at the wrong time of day. Ignore the burbling arcades and fairgrounds of Margate’s seaside town centre and look out to sea at the end of the day – you’ll be treated to one of the most arrestingly beautiful sunsets you’re ever likely to see. It’s isn’t hard to see why their colour and light inspired JMW Turner. Of course, it’s pretty weather-dependant as to whether you’ll get blazing beauty or a damp squib, but late summer and early autumn are good times to go.
Glen Coe, Scotland
There are enough incredible views in Scotland to fill up a whole book (never mind a separate Top 10) but for archetypal rugged Scots beauty, Glen Coe really can’t be beaten. Located at the southern end of the highlands, Glen Coe is a glacial valley surrounded by several peaks. Visitors have the option of taking a stroll down the valley floor and enjoying the sight of the Three Sisters and Aonach Eagach ridge towering above them, or heading west to scale the saucily-named Pap of Glencoe – it’s a bit of a climb, but from the top you’ll be treated to a truly memorable view over Lock Leven and out across Scotland’s stunning west coast.
Oliver Bell is the co-founder of Oliver’s Travels, and has spent the last ten years hunting through Europe, the Caribbean and beyond for the most unique and luxurious cottages and holiday homes. They make a perfect base for a bit of relaxation and pampering after a hard day taking in some beautiful views – why not check out their their full portfolio of UK luxury holiday cottages and castles?