Although the combined countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are not large by country standards, they are, nevertheless, punctuated by numerous natural areas which are not only popular with natives but are must-sees on the tourist trail as well. Here is my list of the seven best. Look for the photo album in the near future.
1. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland. Located on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, this is the most popular tourist attraction in the country. It consists of almost 40,000 columns of basalt, some reaching over 30 feet high, which are crowded together, creating an unusual ensemble.
2. Highlands (Glen Coe), Scotland. This area is one of the most wild and beautiful in all of Scotland. It lies in the valley of the River Coe and is a spectacular landscape of verdant hills and valleys. It is a popular place for hikers and there are many trails which lead into the hills.
3. Lake District, England. This region of northwestern England is a favorite vacationland for many Britishers as well as tourists from other countries. Much of the activity in the area centers around Windermere, one of the region’s many lakes. The area is also associated with William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, of literary fame.
4. Loch Ness, Scotland. One of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Scotland is Loch Ness, reputed home of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Although beautiful in its own right, most people drive around the loch to attempt to spot the legendary creature which has fascinated men, women, and children all over the world.
5. White Cliffs of Dover, England. These chalky white cliffs of calcium carbonate lie on England’s southeastern shore, facing France. They are famous as one of the first images seen by individuals traveling from the mainland to England. The cliffs rise up to 350 feet and dramatically herald one’s arrival in England.
6. Jurassic Coast, Devon & Dorset, England. This 100-mile stretch of coastline in southern England is a World Heritage Site. The rugged coastline features a sea arch at Durdle Door and rises to over 600 feet high in spots.
7. Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Somerset, England. This chasm, almost 400 feet deep, is Britain’s largest. It is noteworthy for both its geology and its history — the oldest complete human skeleton in Great Britain, Cheddar Man, was found in the Cheddar Caves, within the gorge. He was estimated to be 9,000 years old.
Other sights considered:
Great Glen, Scotland
Cornish Coast, England
Mount Snowden, England