Must-See Natural Wonders in the UK
The United Kingdom may be famous for man-made structures like the Big Ben and the London Eye. However, these are not just what the country has to offer. Apart from these structures, the UK has natural wonders which should be visited because of their enchanting beauty.
These must-see natural wonders in Britain showcase so much of the country’s natural history. Formed due to different natural events like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other extreme weather conditions, these outdoor sites would leave you in awe and with a deep appreciation of the country’s natural beauty.
In the Isle of Staffa in Scotland, Fingal’s Cave was formed from an ancient volcanic eruption and lava flow. Those who visit Fingal’s Cave are amazed by the hexagonal basalt columns that make up its walls. Felix Mendelssohn, a popular German composer from the 1800s, visited the place. He was so astounded by the cave’s beauty that he was able to compose the Hebrides Overture. Aside from Mendelssohn, other famous personalities who have visited the place include Queen Victoria, John Keats and Pink Floyd.
If you are a wildlife enthusiast, several types of birds like puffins, kittiwakes, gulls and shags can be seen here. Marine animals like seals, basking sharks, dolphins and pilot whales have also been sighted on occasion.
To visit Fingal’s Cave, you can ride a cruise that passes through it. You may also travel to the Isle of Staffa and hike into the cave.
According to scientists, Giant’s Causeway was formed by the same volcanic eruption and lava flow that formed Fingal’s Cave. It has around 40,000 massive interlocking basalt columns. This place was discovered by the Bishop of Derry in 1692 but became more popular when Susanna Drury, an Irish Painter in the 1700s, made a watercolour drawing of the Giant’s Causeway.
While there are several places in the world where you can find basalt columns, Giant’s Causeway is the most popular among them. In fact, because of its popularity, it was included as one of the stops in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.
In terms of wildlife, seabirds are known to frequent the area including guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills. From May to August, puffins are a common sight in this area. You can reach Giant’s Causeway by train and bus or you may also bring a car and drive to the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre.
One of the favourite natural wonders in the UK, Lundy Island is mainly composed of granite. It is nestled on the Bristol Channel and is accessible via helicopters in winter and ships or ferries during summer. The island features different terrains such as rocky cliffs, grassy slopes with various trees and the vast Atlantic. Furthermore, except for the rustling of the wind, this place is so quiet, making it the ideal place if you want to relax and at the same time, let your eyes feast on these postcard-worthy vistas.
Lundy island, which is barely five kilometres squared, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its diverse wildlife. It is even dubbed as ‘the Galapagos of Britain’. Here, you’d fine several seabird species such as puffins, Manx shearwaters and gannets. On the grassy areas you may find sika deer while in the waters, you may spot dolphins and grey seals.
Green Bridge of Wales
The Green Bridge of Wales is located on the south coast of Pembrokeshire which is known for its rock formations. The Green Bridge of Wales, one of the rock formations here, features natural arches made of carboniferous limestone. It has a height of about 24 metres and a span of about 20 metres. Its top is covered with vegetation which is why it is called the Green Bridge.
Parts of the Green Bridge of Wales have eroded over time after being battered by storms. Chemical erosion has also dissolved the limestone. In October 2017, Storm Ophelia hit the area and caused significant damage and part of the limestone came off. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has said that they expect natural erosion to occur. However, there is no way of determining how much damage these different weather conditions could do to this natural structure. Others have expressed concern that it might meet the same fate as that of the Azure Window in Malta, so it’s important to be able to visit the place before it’s gone.
When you visit, expect a spectacle of birds like the rock pipits and skylarks adorning the skyline or standing around the area. To better appreciate the splendour of the place along with its wildlife, stand on the viewing platform and enjoy the wonderful scenery.
Gobbins Cliff Path
About an hour and a half away from the Giant’s Causeway is the Gobbins Cliff Path. The path was created in 1902 by Berkeley Deane Wise. It provides people with an opportunity to view the breath-taking cliff side and have a close look at the marine wildlife while walking through a man-made path.
Visitors are given a fully guided walk which is around 4.4 kilometres long. The guided walk lasts for around 2.5 hours. Visitors go through Wise’s Eye (named after the original creator and founder of the path), walk along bridges, enter caves and a tunnel while hearing stories about the area from the experienced guides.
Several types of birds can be seen at this spectacular place, especially during the breeding season. Puffins are highly abundant around the Gobbins Cliff Path and are known to lay their eggs here. Meanwhile, razorbills and guillemots frequent the area during breeding season. In one part of the path which is closer to the water, you may be able to see some seals, jelly fish and other species of fish. If you are lucky, you may even spot dolphins swimming.
White Park Bay
White Park Bay is a bay with a five-kilometre beach that’s situated close to the Giant’s Causeway. There are cliffs on the east and west side of the beach which are made of chalk. The chalk is actually limestone composed of calcium carbonate.
There are sand dunes at the back area of the beach. This fossil rich site is also known as one of the few places which have ‘singing sands’. Because of the roundness of the grains, the sand gives out a squeaking or “singing” sound as you walk on them. If you are a beach-lover, then this place is definitely one of the places you must visit for a peaceful and relaxing vacation.
Apart from the soothing sights of the blue sea and green rolling hills, this place also features different wildlife, from rainbow-coloured wildflowers to butterflies and moths. Furthermore, you can catch sightings of birds like reed buntings, whitethroats and grasshopper warblers. In the water, you may also spot porpoises and basking sharks.
Lundy Island photo by size4riggerboots
Fingal’s Cave photo by dun deagh
The Landing at Lundy Island photo by Richard Allaway
White Park Bay photo by falco500