Be inspired for your next walk in the great outdoors with our pick of the most outstanding views in England…
There’s nothing quite like taking in a magnificent view, and some of
England’s best beauty spots could be just around the corner. From the
four-mile long gristone escarpment of Stanage Edge to one of the oldest
stone circles in Britain at Castlerigg, we’ve picked out ten of the best
views the country has to offer.
One of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast, the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs run east from Seaford to Eastbourne, and the gleaming, white chalk is a rare – and incredible – sight. A disappearing wonder, the impact of winds and tides scours away at the faces of the Seven Sisters, leaving behind the base of white chalk. From Cuckmere Haven, you can admire stunning views of the iconic Seven Sisters stretching away into the distance – with its absence of modern development, it is just nature as it was intended.
Photograph: Crustacean spectacular – Seven Sisters from Cuckmere Haven, Tony Peacock
The Backs, a one-mile stretch of reclaimed land located behind several of the Cambridge colleges alongside the river Cam, offer one of the most quintessential views of Cambridge. Unsurprisingly, their beauty appears on countless postcards and chocolate boxes and in millions of photo albums around the world. The Backs are stunning all year round, particularly in the icy depths of winter as pictured, but also in spring, when they’re clothed in their annual display of crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils – a view that’s hard to beat.
Photograph: Asymmetrical equilibrium: the Backs from King’s Bridge, Thomas Endlein
Formed approximately 10,000 years ago by the power of water, Lulworth Cove is the prime Dorset attraction for an unforgettable walk along the Natural World Heritage Coastline and the challenging, rolling hills. During the summer, a motor boat service from the beach will take you on a trip to Durdle Door or Mupe bay, from where you can enjoy mesmerising views of the incredible coastline, with its natural arches, sea-stacks and high cliffs of almost-vertical chalk.
Photograph: A rampart breached: Lulworth Cove at dusk. Kris Dustson, southernscenicphotography.co.uk
Situated on the Atlantic coast of Devon, the spectacular cliffs at Hartland Quay are not to be missed. While magical in the summer, the Quay experiences some of the roughest seas in winter, providing the wild setting in which cliffs and rocks are best seen. The Quay has featured in a number of films, including Treasure Island and Solomon Kane.
Photograph: Irresistible Atlantic meets immovable rock at Hartland, Alan Ranger
Stanage is the largest and arguably the most impressive of the gritstone edges in England – and it is now a world famous climbing spot. Situated on the moors north of Hathersage, and visible from miles away down in the Hope Valley, it stretches for a length of approximately three and half miles, from its northern tip at Stanage End to the southern point near the Cowper Stone. Mam Tor forms the southern end of the great ridge’ walk between the Hope and Edale valleys – the name means mother mountain, for the instability of its gritstone on layers of shale. From here you will find one of the greatest views of this majestic location.
Photograph: Shivering mountain’: Mam Tor looking over Hope to Stanage Edge, James Grant/jamesgphotography.co.uk
The River Wye is one of Britain’s most scenic and unspoilt rivers. The yat is the entrance to a deep gorge where the Wye plunges through the Forest of Dean. One of the most prominent lookouts is from Symonds Yat Rock, which juts out over the wide loop of the Wye, with the gorge on one side and the Wye meander on the other. On the valley side, you can see the Wye meander in a sweeping horseshoe as if weaving this way and that to find the sea, while the river snakes back past Goodrich couch and castle, round Howle Hill to Ross-on-Wye.
Photograph: The landscape of the sublime’: the Wye meanders, Guy Edwardes
Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland coast, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne was home to one of the earliest centres of Christianity in northern Europe, the monastery at Lindisfarne. Rising from the rock face at the tip of the island is Lindisfarne Castle, built by Elizabeth I. The castle fell into long ruin until celebrated architect Edward Lutyens gave the castle a luxurious makeover turning it into a holiday home – medieval style – in 1901. The most popular view is from the east, with the castle isolated across the sands, but one of the best is from the castle itself, south to Bamburgh on its own lonely outcrop, with its very own castle, which was almost as heavily restored by its Edwardian owner as Lindisfarne.
Photograph: Eastern sea and sky: Lindisfarne with Bamburgh in the distance, Arnhel de Serra
The most visited stone circle in Cumbria, Castlerigg is also one of the UK’s earliest stone circles, dating to the Neolithic Age around 3000BC – and it’s commonly seen as the most beautiful. It is composed of 38 free-standing stones in a circle approximately 30 metres in diameter. Within the ring is a rectangle of a further 10 standing stones – the tallest standing at 2.3 metres high. Sitting within a field perched above Keswick, surrounded by the majestic Lakeland fells of Blencathra and Skiddaw and the wonderful St.Johns Vale, the setting provides amazing sunsets – and sun rises.
Photograph: Castlerigg circle with Catbells in the distance, Anthony West
Ribblehead sits underneath what is probably England’s most famous railway viaduct, the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct, with its 24 arches. 1.5 million bricks were used in the construction of the Viaduct and some of the limestone blocks weighed eight tons each – at its highest point, it is 104 feet above the valley floor. Ribblehead is often considered one of the grandest, and at certain times of the year, most desolate places in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a virtually treeless landscape of bare, brown sculptured hills – but its magnificence is unmissable.
Photograph: Stately Ribblehead, Ingleborough in the distance, 4Corners Images, Colin Dutton
The site of the famous RSPB Bird Sanctuary, best known for its breeding seabirds, including Northern Gannet, Atlantic Puffin, and Razorbill, Bempton Cliffs are an awe-inspiring sight. Constant pounding by the North Sea has eroded the soft chalk, creating many unusual formations, secret, and secluded bays and inlets, while more than 200,000 birds from April to August make the cliffs seem alive – with adults bringing food to their nests, or young chicks making their first faltering flights. If there’s a site guaranteed to thrill, it’s this one.
Photograph: Wild Bempton’s great roar of chalk, Paul Barker
Discover more of the best views in England in England’s 100 Best Views by Simon Jenkins (Profile Books, £25), out now in hardback.