If you love exploring the natural world, England is a great place to start. All across the country, from the south coast to the Yorkshire Dales, you’ll discover dramatic natural landmarks that make for excellent photo opportunities. Whether you’re seeking tumbling waterfalls, towering cliffs or something a little more unusual, read on to discover 13 of the best natural wonder
The Needles, Isle of Wight
Best seen from the Needles Old Battery up on top of the chalky white cliffs, the Needles are one of the most recognisable sights of the British coastline. Jutting out from the coast of the Isle of Wight, three white jagged rocks protrude from the waves, contrasting beautifully with the blue sea. The rocks that earned the landmark its name are actually long gone, having fallen into the sea back in the 18th century, but the three remaining structures are well worth a visit.
Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
One of the most beautiful sights on the south coast, the Old Harry Rocks were once linked to the Needles by chalk cliffs that eroded thousands of years ago. The singular white chalk stack that stand the further out to sea is actually the rock that the name refers to, but the whole collection of white cliffs and chalk formations is commonly collectively called ‘Old Harry’. Part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the area is managed by the National Trust and is situated on a popular walking route.
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
The largest gorge in the whole of England is certainly an impressive sight, completely dividing the surrounding countryside into two halves. The dramatic limestone gorge is over one million years old and has many interesting show caves to explore with just as impressive sights underground as above. A three-mile walking route around the top of the gorge offers extraordinary views down to the valley below and across the surrounding landscape.
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales
At the top of the cliff that towers over Malham Cove lies one of the most impressive limestone pavements in the country. Created by a retreating glacier during the last Ice Age, the unusual surface attracts many people each day, who climb the cliff to walk on the pavement and admire the spectacular views of the surrounding area. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might recognise the limestone pavement from a scene in the first Deathly Hallows film.
Durdle Door, Dorset
Part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Durdle Door is one of the most recognisable natural landmarks in England. The view of the striking rock formation is most impressive from on top of the cliffs, but an equally enticing experience has to be swimming under the archway on a warm summer’s day. There is a path to the beach from Lulworth Cove that offers dramatic views on the way down.
Gaping Gill, Yorkshire Dales
The largest underground chamber in England is located at the foot of Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s famously rumoured to be large enough to house St Paul’s Cathedral in its gigantic cavern that boasts a main chamber that is 31 metres high. The entrance to the cave system is an impressive sight, but if you’d like to descend into the cave there are two days a year when local potholing clubs will lower you into the cave on a winch.
Lud’s Church, Peak District
Located within an area of the Peak District known as the Black Forest, Lud’s Church is one of the most unusual natural formations in England. Walking through the trees, visitors must descend into the cleft via a steep stone staircase, taking them down into a chasm that is 100 metres long and 15 metres high. The passageways are very narrow, opening up into wider areas that are covered with moss and ferns and provide a very otherworldly ambiance.
Hardraw Force, Yorkshire Dales
The highest waterfall in England, Hardraw Force falls an impressive 30 metres into the river below where visitors flock to admire the cascade. To reach the waterfall, you must first pass through the Green Dragon Inn and pay a small toll before walking beside the river. If you visit in winter, you may even be treated to the sight of the waterfall completely frozen into a 30 metre tall icicle.
Scafell Pike, Lake District
At 978 metres tall, Scafell Pike in the Lake District holds the title of England’s tallest mountain. The views of the mountain from below are equally as impressive as the vistas of the surrounding landscape from its summit, making this a must-visit destination even if you don’t plan on climbing to the top.
Lake Windermere, Lake District
Also in the Lake District, Windermere is the largest natural lake in England at 10.5 miles long, 1 mile wide and 220 feet deep. The lake is surrounded by small villages and picturesque woodland with several small islands in the centre, providing the perfect location for an interesting day out. Take to the water, climb the surrounding fells or take a slow stroll around the water’s edge to admire the impressive lake.
Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
Located close to Harrogate, Brimham Rocks have been intriguing visitors for centuries with their strange silhouettes. The rock formations are caused by millstone grit eroding over the centuries, producing the weird and wonderful shapes that attract visitors today. Many of the formations are named after what they resemble, such as the Dancing Bear, the Turtle and the Rocking Stones.
White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
Perhaps the most iconic of all British landmarks, the White Cliffs of Dover tower over the English Channel, welcoming visitors to the country with their signature chalky appearance. Part of the North Downs, the cliffs are particularly impressive when approaching on a ferry, but a hike along the cliffs also offers many dramatic viewpoints. Visit on a sunny day to see the cliffs at their best.
High Force, County Durham
Standing at 22 metres high, High Force may not be the tallest waterfall in the country but it does have the largest volume of water falling over its drop. One of the most dramatic cascades in England, this impressive waterfall is particularly enchanting due to its surroundings, cascading over black cliffs and framed by a picturesque forest.