The UK is full of natural beauty spots with epic coastlines, hidden coves, misty mountains and everything a nature-lover could desire in between.
Here are ten of the UK’s best natural wonders to inspire your next adventure in the great outdoors. Please check the latest local restrictions before booking a trip and always follow government health advice.
Cader Idris, Snowdonia
Wales is awash with wonderful scenery, but it's hard to beat Snowdonia: a landscape of rocky mountain peaks, glacier-hewn valleys, sinuous ridges, sparkling lakes and rivers. Cader Idris mountain (893m) is named in honour of a giant called Idris, who allegedly created the rugged landscape during boulder-throwing duels with rivals.
It's also said to be the stomping ground of Gwyn ap Nudd, lord of the Celtic underworld, the howling of whose hounds is a portend of doom. It offers some of Wales' most spectacular hiking, the various trails to the summit easily tackled in a day.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Towering rock stacks, sea-carved arches and fossils aplenty, plus some of the best beaches in the country. The Jurassic Coast is England's first natural World Heritage Site, putting it on a par with the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon. Natural beauty spots along the route include the famously photogenic Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and the Golden Cap.
Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
Accessible only by boat, this columnar sea cave on the island of Staffa inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture after the composer heard waves echoing in this cathedral-like natural structure. The cave walls and surrounding cliffs are made up of vertical, hexagonal basalt columns that look like pillars (Staffa is Norse for "pillar island"). You can land on the island and walk into the cave via a causeway.
Scotland’s Northwest Highlands
The Highlands abound in breathtaking views, but the far northwest is truly awe-inspiring. The coastal road between Durness and Kyle of Lochalsh offers jaw-dropping scenes at every turn: the rugged mountains of Assynt, the desolate beauty of Torridon and the remote cliffs of Cape Wrath.
Devon’s wild heart covers 368 sq miles, a vast national park that feels like straight out of a Tolkien tome, with its honey-coloured heaths, moss-smothered boulders, tinkling streams and eerie granite hills (known locally as tors).
On sunny days, Dartmoor is idyllic: ponies wander at will and sheep graze beside the road. But when sleeting rain and swirling mists arrive, you'll understand why Dartmoor is the setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles: the moor morphs into a bleak wilderness where tales of a phantom hound can seem very real indeed.
Seven Sister Chalk Cliffs, East Sussex
Dover's iconic white cliffs grab the most attention, but the colossal chalky walls of the Seven Sisters are a much more spectacular affair. This 4-mile roller coaster of sheer white rock rollicks along the Sussex shore overlooking the waters of the English Channel, an impressive southern border to the South Downs National Park and most dramatic at the towering headland of Beachy Head.
William Wordsworth and his Romantic friends were the first to champion the charms of the Lake District and it's not hard to see what stirred them. Already the UK's most popular national park, the Lake District also became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2017, in recognition of its long history of hill farming – but for most people it's the chance to hike the hump-backed fells and drink in the gorgeous scenery that keeps them returning year after year.
The Yorkshire Dales – named from the old Norse word dalr, meaning "valleys", and protected as a national park since the 1950s – are beloved as one of England's best hiking and cycling areas. The park's glacial valleys are characterised by a distinctive landscape of high heather moorland, stepped skylines and flat-topped hills, punctuated by delightful country pubs and windswept trails. In the limestone country of the southern Dales you'll find England's best examples of karst scenery (created by rainwater dissolving the underlying limestone bedrock).
Corryvreckan Whirlpool, Scotland
The Corryvreckan Whirlpool is one of the world’s three most powerful tidal whirlpools, squeezed between Jura and Scarba. The name in Gaelic means "cauldron of the speckled seas" and is said to be where winter goddess Cailleach Bheur washes her clothes. You can see it by a boat cruise or on a cliff hike when the tides are in your favour.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
This spectacular rock formation – Northern Ireland's only Unesco World Heritage site – is one of Ireland's most impressive and atmospheric landscape features, a vast expanse of regular, closely packed, hexagonal stone columns looking for all the world like the handiwork of giants.