Regular readers will know that I write a lot of articles about my favourite European spots as well as more far-flung destinations across the world, however some of the most stunning sights in my opinion can actually be found right here in the UK! With ‘stay-cations’ growing in popularity and Britain’s rich cultural and historical past, I’m not the only one who loves to explore some of the amazing sights we have a little closer to home. And if you’re one of my international readers, these must-see wonders provide great inspiration for your next visit to the UK! In this article I round-up just a few of my favourites.
I’ll start with one which is probably a little-known spot for many but is well-known to anyone who hails from Yorkshire. Luckily for me, Brimham Rocks are right on my doorstep and hark back to a particular childhood television show called the Rotten Trolls which was filmed here about twenty years ago (I won’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it!). The rocks are located in Harrogate (a beautiful town in itself) and are made up of balancing rock formations which almost seem to defy gravity. In fact, they were sculpted over hundreds of years by rain, wind and ice to create these weird and wacky shapes.
Each of the main formations even has its own name based on its unique shape including ‘The Smartie Tube’, ‘The Dancing Bear’ and ‘The Gorilla’, making it a great day out if you have kids and want to try and guess which is which! Other activities you can take part in include a guided walk and climbing. Alternatively, if you just want to take it easy, there’s also picnic benches, a kiosk and a visitor centre shop all run by The National Trust.
There’s probably few people who haven’t heard of Hadrian’s Wall, but for the uninitiated the wall was built by Emperor Hadrian in AD 122 and served as a defensive fortification. Contrary to popular belief, Hadrian’s Wall does not indicate the boundary between England and Scotland but is located entirely within England. In 1987 it was awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. The remains of the wall dominate the landscape and the fact that a large proportion if it is still intact is testament to the amazing feat of Roman engineering all those years ago.
There are many ways people choose to enjoy Hadrian’s Wall, but to truly immerse yourself in its wonder, Hadrian’s Wall walking holidays can take you Coast to Coast along the entire stretch of the wall. It’s the perfect mixture of history, scenery and relaxation that can be done at your own pace. Experienced walkers may opt for a 6-day trip averaging 15 miles per day to take in the entire wall, but if you prefer to walk fewer miles per day you can simply opt for a longer holiday or walk a smaller section of the wall. It’s the perfect holiday for ramblers and history buffs alike!
Continuing in a similar vein, Stonehenge is yet another remarkable structure left behind for us by our ancestors. It attracts visitors from all over the world, many of which stand in awe at the sheer practical feat of its construction as well as the spiritual connotations which Stonehenge holds. Of course, while Stonehenge receives visitors all year round, there is a particular draw during the summer and winter solstices owing to Pagan traditions.
There are many historical theories as to why Stonehenge was built, the most common being that it was used as a ceremonial site for burials. Human bone fragments give validity to this theory, however anyone who has an interest in Stonehenge will know that there are many theories out there. This all adds to the mystery and intrigue of the site. Researcher Steven Waller posits that the circular construction of the site was created to mimic a sound illusion – and it’s been confirmed that Stonehenge does have amazing acoustics comparable to a cathedral or concert hall. Other theorists have pointed out that the stones are arranged to match up with certain constellations, giving weight to the theory that it was used as some sort of celestial observatory. But, no matter which theory you believe, Stonehenge remains a breathtaking sight to behold.
The Seven Sisters
Nature constantly provides us with some awe-inspiring sights, and the Seven Sisters cliffs in the South Downs National Park are no exception. This un-spoilt coastline boasts 280 hectares of bright white chalk cliffs. It’s often compared to the White Cliffs of Dover, however the Seven Sisters cliffs are free from buildings and development making them much more spectacular. The one thing they do have in common, though, is the fact that the sea is continuously eroding them – 30-40 cm per year in the case of the Seven Sisters.
Unsurprisingly, visitors are warned to stay away from the cliff edge and keep dogs on a leash due to the unstable coastline. That being said, as long as you proceed with caution, hiking along the coastline can be a challenging yet rewarding experience allowing you to take in some stunning views along the way.
The Forth Railway Bridge
For my final pick I’ve chosen a slightly more modern man-made offering. Nevertheless, it’s still an incredible piece of architecture and design. In fact, it was even voted Scotland’s ‘greatest man-made wonder’ by the Scottish public.
Not only does the bridge stand out magnificently on the skyline, but if you delve a little into it’s history and you can truly appreciate all the work which went into it’s conception. It was opened in 1890 but in the height of its construction it employed 4,000 workers. Tragically, 57 people also lost their lives. Painting the entire bridge requires 240,000 litres of paint. More recently, the bridge benefited from a re-paint which took 10 years to complete. Thankfully it won’t need painting again for another 25 years! If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, it’s definitely worth a look.
And that draws to a close my round-up of my top five UK ‘wonders’! It just goes to show that you don’t need to travel that far afield (or shell out that much cash) to enjoy many of the sights that Britain has to offer. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling very lucky that we have such a amazing natural beauty and cultural heritage right here on our doorstep – so get out there and explore!