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Best scenic destinations in the United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, has much to offer to the traveler.  From the south of England up to the highlands of Scotland and everywhere in between, a myriad of locations attract visitors, whether local or from foreign lands.

A range of tailor-made trips and tours is available through Great British Trips and the following are just a few of the attractive and scenic destinations, offering one location in each of the four U.K. countries.

England and the Lake District

Lake District Panoramic Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
Located in North West England, the Lake District is a scenic and mountainous region famous for its forests, mountains and, most importantly, its lakes.

Situated in the county of Cumbria, this beautiful region is famous for its associations with 19th century poets, including William Wordsworth and a group of what were dubbed Lake Poets at the turn of the 19th century.

While it was popular back then with the Lake Poets, the Lake District is still an attractive holiday destination today.  An interesting point is that only one of the several lakes in the Lake District actually carry that name, and that is Bassenthwaite Lake, while others are named using the terms mere, tarn or water, with examples being Buttermere, Coniston Water, Ulleswater and Windermere.

The area offers many activities including fishing, boating, birding and hiking and the surrounding scenery is, quite simply, beautiful.

The Lake District, England
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
Photograph CC-by-SA Mike Peel

Wales and Snowdonia National Park

Established back in 1951, Snowdonia National Park covers a distance of 827 square miles and includes 37 miles of coastline.  With several diverse landscapes, Snowdonia is the largest National Park in Wales and third to be formed in the United Kingdom.

Despite being a National Park, there is a fair amount of agricultural activity in the area and some of the most picturesque villages in the country, including Betws-y-Coed and Beddgelert, are to be found there. 

The area is steeped in local history and culture, with over half the population speaking Welsh.

With several mountain ranges in the area, most hikers tend to concentrate on Snowdon itself.  While it can get a little busy, the Snowdon Mountain Railway runs to the top, offering spectacular views from the peak of the mountain.  

There are also several beautiful walks on the lower mountains with favourites being Y Garn, which runs along the ridge of Elidir Fawr, Mynydd Tal-y-Midnedd, just to the west of Snowdon and several others.  The area is a walkerís dream, with 1,479 miles of public footpaths and 164 miles of public bridleways to explore.

Of interest is that almost 20 percent of Snowdonia National Park comes under the protection of the European Habitats Directive, protecting all the various animal and bird species in the area.

Snowdonia National Park
Llyn Cowlyd, Snowdonia photo CC-by-SA Andeggs
Photo Downhill Strand CC-by-SA Bjmullan

Northern Ireland and Downhill Strand

You might not immediately think of Northern Ireland when planning a beach holiday, but Downhill Strand (sometimes called Benone Strand) is one of the longest beaches in Northern Ireland.  At seven miles long, it also holds the prestigious European Blue Flag and Seaside Awards.

Close to the beach can be found the village of Downhill and close by the Mussenden Temple can be visited, located high above the Atlantic on the cliffs near Castlerock in County Londonderry. 

Part of the National Trust property of Downhill Estate, the surrounding grounds and the manor house on the property, Downhill Castle, are open to the public all year around.

Scotland and the scenic Hebrides

Scotland has 40 National Scenic Areas (NSAs), all with outstanding scenery and beautiful landscapes.  Examples are Skye Cuillins, Ben Nevis and Glencoe on the mainland and there are some dramatic scenes to be found on the Scottish islands of the Hebrides and Northern Isles.

Here we will briefly explore the Hebrides, which is a widespread archipelago off Scotlandís west coast.  The islands fall into two groups, the Inner and Outer Hebrides and it is interesting to note that the culture of the residents has been affected over the years by various invasions of the Celtic, Norse and English-speaking peoples.

There is much evidence of the past occupation of the islands including the fascinating standing stones at Callanish, which date back to the 3rd millennium BC (pictured below).  Another interesting site is Cladh Hallan, which is a Bronze Age settlement on South Uist.  This is the apparently only site in the U.K. where archeologists have found prehistoric mummies.

Hebrides photo CC-by-SA Richard Webb

Photo Callanish Standing Stones CC-by-SA  Marta Gutowska

Due to its stark beauty, the area has inspired many artists in the past and today the islands depend on crofting, fishing and tourism, as well as the oil and renewable energy industry.

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Latest update: September 24, 2014