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  • shanimirwis

My favourite places in the UK

Updated: Jan 3

The UK is full of wonderful places to visit - effortlessly stunning scenery, gorgeous coastline, quaint towns and charming villages. We're quite spoilt for choice! And being British, we're taught to embrace all seasons, so there's no bad time to hop off on a UK adventure! Here's a list of the places I love most in the United Kingdom, in no particular order. Promise!

1. Bath

The Great Bath in The Roman Baths, Bath, England

The city of Bath, in Somerset, is a World Heritage site and famed for its Roman baths. It was a popular spa town in the Georgian era and attracted the rich and royal in its heyday! Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were frequent visitors (Austen actually lived here for a few years) - and there is a delightful Jane Austen Centre commemorating her life and works. Bath makes a perfect weekend break; be sure to check out the Great Bath (pictured above), Pulteney Bridge and the Royal Crescent.

2. Peak District

The Peak District was designated the UK's first National Park in 1951. Close to several major UK cities, it attracts millions of visitors every year, who walk, cycle and climb its beautiful landscape. It is all so picturesque, and some of the best spots include Mam Tor, Stanage Edge, Dovedale, Winnats Pass and Kinder Scout. The autumnal fog makes for epic sunrises, and the sunsets are pretty good too! The towns and villages are particularly quaint (Bakewell, Castleton and Hathersage - to name a few), and Chatsworth House is a beauty to behold. The Peak District has so much to offer and is a walker's paradise; it is one of my all time favourite places in the UK. If you prefer to drive around rather than walk, head in your car along Snake Pass (from Glossop to the Ladybower Reservoir), Winnats Pass (from Sparrowpit to Castleton), and Buxton to Leek (with views of the rocky Roaches). You can just drive past The Roaches or park your car and go for a little climb (they are right by the road and afford fantastic views across the Peaks). Bear in mind that it can often be foggy in the Peak District, particularly in autumn and winter, so take care when driving in these high peaks (Snake Pass is often closed in winter due to icy conditions).

3. Cornwall

View of the coast in Newquay, Cornwall

Sun, sea, surf and sand. Cornwall has it all. The landscape is breathtaking and if you catch good weather (and even if you don't), this is one of the nicest places in the UK. The beaches are postcard perfect - some of them even look like the Caribbean! Check out Fistral Beach, St Ives, Porthcurno and Perranporth - to name just a few. It's not just about the surf though; be sure to visit St Michael's Mount, the Eden Project and Tintagel Castle for some alternative things to do in Cornwall. For more inspo and a deep dive into why Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the UK, check out my blog post of the best places to visit in Cornwall. And if you enjoy hiking, I recommend this absolutely breathtaking coastal walk, which ends at the UK's most westerly point, Land's End.

4. Cotswolds

The houses on Arlington Row in Bibury in the Cotswolds
Arlington Row in the unmissable village of Bibury

Picture every period drama you've ever watched and you'll have arrived in The Cotswolds! The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the second largest protected landscape in England, after the Lake District. Some of the more popular villages include Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Blockley and Castle Combe. Fun fact: Arlington Row in Bibury is pictured on the inside cover of British passports (pre-Brexit) - and William Morris called it the "most beautiful village in England." A two-hour drive from London, it's possible to visit one of the many Cotswold villages for a day-trip stroll. They can get incredibly busy, so try to visit on a weekday, and even then try and get there early to avoid the crowds and eager Instagrammers!

5. Dorset

The Dorset coastline is beautiful and it is most famous for its magnificent Jurassic Coast! There are a number of walks you can do to really drink in the sea views. Try and time your trip for a sunny day, as the sea looks brilliant when it is bright out ☀️ Durdle Door is one of the most popular spots on the Dorset coastline. We started at Bat's Head and hiked over three steep hills to Durdle Door - it was an intense bit of hiking! Alternatively, you could start on the other side at the lovely Lulworth Cove and take the more popular route to Durdle Door (but the steps that way are also a killer). Both routes are equally beautiful. For something a little more strenuous, you can hike the 26 miles from Weymouth all the way to Corfe Castle. You can park up in Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, DT4 7SX to begin the hike - but as it isn't a return hike, you'd need to get the bus back to your car, which takes about an hour and a half). If it's a relaxing day at the beach that you're after, there are pretty beach towns like Weymouth, Swanage, Bournemouth and Poole to explore.

6. Cambridge

King's College in Cambridge on a cloudy day

This one's a no-brainer! Cambridge, the university city, needs no introduction and it should definitely be on your list of places to see in the UK. Only an hour or so from London by train, the city of Cambridge can easily be visited as a day trip. Highlights include (but not limited to) punting on the River Cam, a stroll through University Botanic Gardens and a visit to King's College. If you're not one for punting yourself, you can join a 45-minute punting tour (if you're going off-peak you may not need to book in advance but on a busy summer weekend, you'll probably want to book ahead). The tour takes you along the backs of the colleges and it's really informative!

7. Dunstable Downs

Another place near London - Dunstable Downs in southern Bedfordshire is under an hour's drive from London along the M1. The Downs are part of the Chiltern Hills and also the highest point in Bedfordshire - making it an excellent sunset spot. It's a beautiful place and great for a short walk (or a very long one, if following one of the hiking trails). It's also a popular spot for kite flying and paragliding!

8. The Lake District

A cloudy autumn day on Lake Buttermere with the house and orange leaves reflected in the lake
Perfect reflection on Lake Buttermere

My oh my, this place needs no introduction! Frequented by artists, poets and authors in the late 18th-19th century ("I wandered lonely as a cloud" - ringing any bells??), the Lakes inspired many who saw it and thus drew holiday makers (and a railway) to the area in the 1800's. Since then, people flock to the Lake District to take in the nature, hike a fell or enjoy a boat trip on one of the picturesque lakes. You can escape the frequent rain and duck indoors at Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top, or the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere. All in all, the landscapes in the Lake District are lush, expansive and breathtaking in any season. Head there to witness the beauty for yourself (but you might want to avoid the summer crowds and time it for the gorgeous autumn hues instead). It is one of my preferred places in the UK.

9. Ben Nevis

Two people on the summit of Ben Nevis hiking on their way back down

The highest mountain in the UK at over 4,000ft has magnificent views over Scotland. This is no walk in the park though - it can be a gruelling trek and requires a good level of fitness and hiking experience. It is glorious at any time of year but summer is always recommended - there will usually be better weather, good visibility and less snow. I climbed it in the depths of winter (it was snow-covered from halfway up) and this meant I needed crampons, all the thermals and an ice pick. There is a useful post about how/when to climb on this website. Once you've conquered the highest mountain in the UK, you can tackle Scafell Pike and Snowdon next - the tallest mountains in England and Wales, respectively.

10. South Downs National Park

A bench on a viewpoint looking out over the South Downs National Park

The newest of England's national parks (designated in 2010), the South Downs is a beautiful, lush area with a seemingly endless expanse. There are so many walking options available with lovely lookout points along the way. There's also the South Downs Way - a footpath which stretches about 100 miles along the entire length of the South Downs National Park, from Winchester to Eastbourne. It's a place I keep returning to to discover more! Popular hikes include the Seven Sisters hike from Seaford to Eastbourne, Devil's Dyke, and Beacon Hill.

11. Surrey Hills

View from Newlands Corner of the Surrey Hills landscape

This is an easy day trip from London, as it's only just over an hour's drive away. Beautiful hills and glorious countryside views make this a lovely place for a picnic or a hike. I've been a fair few times and I never get tired of it - and there are lots of walks available for different abilities. A favourite circular walk can be done at Newlands Corner - about 1.5 hours of relatively easy walking, with a few steep sections. For something a little harder, try the Inspiring Views walk which starts at Car Park 5, Winterfold Donkins Car Park, Greensand Lane, Guildford GU5 9EN. And if you have time and aren't too tired, check out the Silent Pool on your way home.

12. Giant's Causeway

Person standing on the boulders of Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

This is like nothing I've seen before and one of the coolest places in the UK! Situated in Northern Ireland, huge stone boulders line the coastline, making up this very dramatic Causeway. It is the most visited National Trust site in the UK, and with good reason! You can read more about it and the Causeway Coastal Route in my Northern Ireland blog post.

13. Hadrian's Wall

View of Hadrians Wall at sunset, at Walltown Crags

Stretching from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west, the Hadrian's Wall Path is an 84 mile coast to coast National Trail. The trail itself takes about 6 or 7 days to walk but if you just want to see a small section, why not drive and choose a place along the route to stop, or even do a short walk. The vantage point from the wall is spectacular in most places, with great views over the landscape. Notable places to visit along the route are:

  • Housesteads Roman Fort for its well preserved ruins and exhibition. You can walk from here to Walltown Crags - it's a 9 mile walk (one way) of basically uninterrupted wall and takes about 3 hours. It passes other notable spots on the way, such as Sycamore Gap.

  • Steel Rigg (near Housesteads) has the closest car park to the famous tree at Sycamore Gap.

  • Cawfield Quarry is beautiful.

  • Walltown Crags (pictured above) is one of the finest sections on the route - it has nice remains of the wall and lovely views.

  • Birdoswald Roman Fort has a great stretch of wall.

View of the Yorkshire Dales from the top of Malham Cove

14. Yorkshire Dales

One of the loveliest areas I've visited in the UK, the Dales is a sprawling landscape of endless greenery. It's no wonder Yorkshire is referred to as God's Own Country! Countless waterfalls, picturesque villages, wandering sheep - it really is a breathtaking place. Malham Cove is a popular place to visit for its unique limestone rocks and great views over the Dales. Or why not take a walk, or cycle along the winding roads? If you're after good views and a strenuous climb, you can take on one (or all three!) of the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent. Check out my guide to the Yorkshire Dales for a more detailed itinerary.

Final favourite place in the UK...

Sunset view over London and the Shard

15. London, baby!

This one goes without saying! London is such a full city - rich in history, architecture, culture, art and so much more! There is an endless amount to see and do - check out my list of the best free things to do in London for some more inspo.

Hope that gives you some ideas for your UK travels! Anything I've missed that I should check out? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy travels!

Shani x

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