If you’re after natural beauty and sweeping vistas, you needn’t leave the United Kingdom. From stunning coastlines to deep, dramatic caves, this country is full of gorgeous, natural wonders. We’ve rounded up 10 examples of Mother Nature being her best self.
1. Durdle Door, Lulworth, Dorset
You’ll find this famous spot along England’s breathtaking Jurassic Coast, and if you haven’t already visited, you’ve certainly seen photos. Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most photographed landmarks.
This lovely limestone arch has been formed over millions of years, after being continuously eroded by the waves. There are some brilliant walks to tackle nearby—such as the renowned South West Coast Path—or you can relax on the nearby beach on a quieter day (of which there are few, to be honest). You might even want to go for a swim through the natural archway.
2. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
This stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site exists thanks to a volcano that erupted some 50 to 60 million years ago. However, Gaelic legend has it that the rocks were placed in the sea by mythical giant Finn McCool, enabling him to cross over to Scotland to have it out with Scottish giant Benandonner, which is a far better story.
This natural beauty consists of 40,000 basalt columns, which makes for a truly fascinating phenomenon still studied by geologists around the world. When visiting, it’s worth tackling the stunning coastline walk from Runkerry House to the cliffs of Hamilton’s Seat right above the causeway for the most dramatic views.
3. Duncansby Stacks, Caithness, Scotland
Duncansby Head is, in fact, the most northeasterly point of the British mainland, although it is often believed that this title belongs to its westerly neighbour, John o’ Groats. All this means, though, is that this incredible spot remains a lot quieter than the ever-touristy John o’ Groats. The Duncansby Stacks can be found just off the coast in all their glory. The Great Stack comes in at over 60m high, rising just above the adjacent cliff.
4. Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Formed over a million years ago, Cheddar Gorge is Britain’s biggest gorge—reaching depths of 137m and measuring at three miles wide. It was carved by meltwater floods, leaving behind an awe-inspiring ravine, an underground river and a number of mysterious caves. The most famous of these is Gough’s Cave, where Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as the Cheddar Man, was discovered in 1903.
5. Fingal’s Cave, Isle of Staffa
Part of a Nature Reserve in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, Fingal’s Cave is a sight to behold. Found across the Irish Sea from the Giant’s Causeway, it was actually formed by the same lava that created the Causeway. This spectacular spot, found on the uninhabited Isle of Staffa, has inspired writers and artists for years, due to its incredible beauty and mysterious echoes caused by water splashing inside the cave. In Gaelic, Fingal’s Cave is called ‘Uamh-Binn’, which means ‘Cave of Melody’.
6. The Needles, Isle of Wight
One of Britain’s most famous coastal landmarks, The Needles were once a part of the island’s mainland before the sea and the elements had their way. They are actually named after two far more needle-like points that fell into the sea after a storm in 1764, but three stubborn towers of chalk remain. You’ll find them at the most westerly point of the island, and are best spotted from either the Needles Old Battery or from the chairlift that takes you down to Alum Bay beach.
7. Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Snowdonia, Wales
Home to some of the finest slate in the world, Llechwedd was an absolute powerhouse in the 19th century. Nowadays, the spot is an award-winning tourist attraction offering trips 500ft underground via Britain’s steepest cable railway. Below ground, you’ll discover cathedral sized caverns, as well as the tunnel systems that miners used to call home.
Snowdonia National Park is home to no fewer than seven heritage railways—a legacy of the booming slate mining industry that employed an army of 17,000 men and saw half a million tonnes of slate being exporting around the world per year. The best is arguably the scenic Snowdon Mountain Railway, as well as the extremely cute Talyllyn Railway.
8. Seven Sisters, South Downs National Park, East Sussex
The Seven Sisters are a series of magnificent chalk cliffs within the South Downs National Park in East Sussex. They were formed when rivers cut valleys into the chalk, resulting in seven spectacular hills. The stark contrast of the green hills against the white chalk makes for a stunning scene; one that many film producers have chosen to feature in their movies, such as Harry Potter and Atonement.
These incredible cliffs are sadly eroding, at a rate of 60cm per year on average. But erosion is exactly how the chalk cliffs stay so clean and white.
9. Scafell Pike, Lake District
Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain, and it’s no easy climb at over 3,000 feet above sea level. The views from the top are definitely worth it, though, and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous, mountainous panoramas. The stoney summit is also rather special as it features debris of ancient, igneous rock from the Ordovician geological period which dates back almost 500 million years.
10. Gaping Gill, North Yorkshire
Gaping Gill forms part of Britain’s longest cave system, spanning 40 miles in length. Buried 100 metres below the Yorkshire Dales, this massive cave is over 300,000 million years old and could fit the whole of London’s famous St Paul’s Cathedral inside. It also features a 350ft waterfall—the highest unbroken waterfall in England—so it’s safe to say it’s pretty unreal.