Britain's natural wonders

Britain’s natural wonders offer a glimpse into the country’s awe-inspiring ancient past; one that created cavernous gorges, spectacular limestone amphitheatres and breathtaking chalk cliffs. These spots have fascinated visitors for centuries, so why not get dreaming of a natural wonder-inspired adventure?

Find out more about these iconic landscapes at these spectacular ancient sites, all worthy of a spot on any nature-lover’s British bucket-list…

Malham Cove, North Yorkshire, England

Yorkshire Dales National Park. Malham Cove is a curved crag of carboniferous limestone.

If you’re longing to experience the stunning scenery and rugged charm of northern England, why not get inspired by Yorkshire’s Malham Cove, Mother Nature’s limestone amphitheatre. The curving crag of the Cove features an 80-metre high cliff that was created at the end of the last Ice Age by meltwater, which left an expansive, breathtaking cliff and plateau above. At the top of the cliff is a limestone pavement, scoured by the retreating glacier, thus creating a strangely regular feature that resembles rough paving slabs. The views from the pavement across Yorkshire are fantastic and the area is excellent for walking. The landscape should also pique the interest of bird lovers, as it is home to both Peregrine Falcons and Tawny Owls.

Did you know? Malham Cove appears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

 

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England

Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, near the village of Cheddar. The gorge is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest now called Cheddar Complex.

Britain’s biggest gorge was gouged out of Somerset by meltwater floods more than one million years ago, leaving a spectacular steep-sided ravine that cleaves the countryside in two. A whopping 137-metres deep and three-miles long, Cheddar Gorge provides an expansive look into prehistoric Britain.

The gorge is an unforgettable spot for cliff-top walks, rock climbing and discovering the show caves. Home to weird and wonderful rock formations and an underground river., the caves found at Cheddar Gorge are just as much a natural wonder as the cliffs themselves.  If you’re picturing an epic road trip around Britain, Cheddar Gorge is less than an hour from the historic cities of Bath and Bristol.

Did you know? Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as the Cheddar Man, was found in one of the caves here. 

 

Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire, England 

If you like discovering nature’s quirkier side, imagine a trip to Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire, lying just eight miles from the historic town of Harrogate. This collection of crazily balanced rocks have fascinated visitors for centuries. Formed by the glaciation and erosion of millstone grit sandstone over thousands of years, the formations have acquired names that (supposedly) reflect their shapes. Look out for The Watchdog, The Sphinx, The Turtle, The Dancing Bear and The Camel. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, its 454-acres are also home to herds of red, roe and sika deer that roam freely across the landscape. There are also majestic birds such as kestrels and owls, as well as a range of protected butterflies that live around this natural wonder.

Did you know? Early observers thought the naturally formed rocks were carved by druids, members of ancient Celtic culture.

 

Fingal’s Cave, Isle of Staffa, Scotland 

Across the Irish Sea from the Giant’s Causeway is Fingal’s Cave, a sea cave on the island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides that deserves a place on your nature-inspired bucket list. Formed by part of the same ancient lava flow that created the Causeway, it has been an inspiration to artists and writers for hundreds of years. Sir Walter Scott said it ‘baffled all description’ and the composer Felix Mendelssohn composed his Hebrides Overture after hearing the strange echoes caused by water sloshing around the cave.

Did you know? The name of Fingal’s Cave in Gaelic, Uamh-Binn, means ‘cave of melody’.

 

Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, Snowdonia, North Wales

Climbers scrambling, using hands and feet, ascending a steep rock face on Bristly Ridge, at Glyder Fach.

If you’re a hiker itching to don your walking boots and explore new terrain, you might enjoy imagining a trip to North Wales, to conquer Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr. These two mountains are among the most striking in a region not short on epic, rugged scenery. Glyder Fach (994 metres) is crowned by the famous cantilever rock, a massive precariously balanced slab that’s a favourite spot for climbers. Glyder Fawr (1,001 metres), which translates as ‘big lump’ in Welsh, rewards adventurers with a craggy summit littered with spiky frost-shattered rocks angled like ancient tombstones. 

Did you know? Snowdonia National Park is also home to the highest peak in England and Wales, Mount Snowdon.

28 Jun 2020(last updated)