Most dramatic places in the UK

Places to Go

Most dramatic places in the UK

The UK is home to some pretty wild landscapes, from the sandy beaches and rugged cliffs that line the coast to the wonderfully varied interior full of rolling hills, sprawling forests, and climbing mountains.

Among the beautiful places to visit, the UK boasts an impressive collection of dramatic landmarks and areas that turn every photo into a masterpiece, from Scotland’s soaring mountains to Cornwall’s waterside castles. These dazzling destinations make for incredible days out, with walks aplenty, picnic opportunities around every exceptional corner, and a veritable feast of photo opportunities. 

Fancy adding a touch of the dramatics to your holiday? Experience the UK’s wow-factor with these oh-so-striking scenes…

 

Ben Nevis, Scottish Highlands

People walking up the cobbled path up Ben Nevis with mountains in the background

It’s hard to turn a corner in Scotland’s spectacular Highlands without coming face-to-face with a jaw-dropping scene. From the film-worthy drama of Glenfinnan Viaduct to the staggering sights around Glen Coe, there’s something for every traveller, whether you’re looking for a walk with a view or a famous landmark you can see from the road. High on the list of the most dramatic places to visit in Scotland has to be the country’s resident behemoth, Ben Nevis. The tallest mountain in the UK and a former volcano (its eruptions are very much a thing of the past), Ben Nevis offers hikers and climbers some of the best walking trails and views in the country, with the surrounding glacial valleys and shimmering lochs providing a truly unmissable backdrop.

 

Waterfall Country, Brecon Beacons

The famous Sgwd yr Eira waterfall in Wales with a rainbow shining in front

It wouldn’t be a round-up of the UK’s most dramatic places without a tumbling waterfall or two! Luckily, Waterfall Country in the sprawling Brecon Beacons boasts four magical waterfalls to explore. The famous Four Falls Trail takes you on a tour around each of the incredible falls, with Sgwd yr Eira (known as the waterfall of snow) taking centre stage as the only waterfall in the UK you can walk behind. The curtain of water makes for a totally unique visit – and a seriously showstopping photo op as you disappear behind the plunging wall of water.

 

Snowdonia (Eryri) National Park, North Wales

The dramatic mountains of Tryfan and Ogwen in Snowdonia National Park in Wales

Another mountainous terrain to fill the camera roll, Snowdonia (Eryri) National Park has long promised a truly dramatic setting. Walk to the top of the tallest mountain in England and Wales, visit the endlessly pretty towns and villages that pepper the landscape, and visit Dolgoch Falls for a thundering display made up of three incredible waterfalls – Snowdonia promises an entire selection of sensational scenes. For more historic drama, Harlech Castle promises an imposing façade with the added oomph of Snowdonia as its backdrop, making it an excellent family-friendly day out.

 

Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire

The dramatic ruins of Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire

A haunting mix of beauty and gothic charm, Whitby Abbey paints a rather sensational silhouette high upon the cliffs in North Yorkshire. Walking through the spectacular ruins, it’s easy to see why Whitby Abbey inspired Bram Stoker’s iconic Dracula. To this day, Whitby enjoys close gothic ties, with an annual festival celebrating the town’s surreal background. Walk around the ruins and the stunning surrounding grounds, soaking up the sea views as you go, before popping into the fascinating museum, which offers a deeper look at Whitby’s intriguing past.

 

Durdle Door, Dorset

Someone walking down the cliff path towards the famous stone arch at Durdle Door in Dorset

Dorset’s coast is full of beautiful beaches and impressive landmarks worthy of a visit and a mention on this list, but there’s one instantly recognisable spot that brings visitors back time and time again - the romantic setting also makes it particularly popular with proposals. Durdle Door, with its iconic arch and chalk-white cliffs, promises simply staggering views from every direction, with the rugged geography making it hard to believe you're still in the UK. The beach is dog-friendly year-round, making it perfect for a sun-soaked day in a spellbinding setting or you can pull on your walking boots and head out on the South West Coast Path for an equally dramatic seaside stroll to nearby Lulworth Cove.

 

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Looking across the beach at low tide at the castle of St Michael's Mount in Cornwall

Cornwall is home to many dramatic sights, from the towering stacks at Bedruthan Steps to the famous coastal vista of Kynance Cove, but the county’s water-bound castle is hard to beat when it comes to granite-hewn grandeur. Set in the lapping waters off Marazion, St Michael’s Mount commands your attention wherever you are in Mount’s Bay. Enjoy a sandy stroll across Marazion Beach with the castle in the background or wait until low tide to cross the cobbled causeway and explore the island fortress for yourself – with a history of giants, pirates, and monks, it’s a fascinating day out!

 

Buttermere Lake, Lake District

The dramatic mountains surrounding Buttermere Lake in the Lake District

When it comes to drama, the Lake District delivers scene-after-scene of cinematic showstoppers around every jaw-dropping corner. One of our favourites, Buttermere Lake promises mirror-topped waters that reflect the towering fells above, creating a truly dreamy scene in which to escape. There’s a lovely circular walk that wraps around the lake, providing the perfect trail for your dramatic visit - picnics with a view are a must!

 

Valley of Rocks, Devon

A field with the towering rock formations of the Valley of Rocks in the background

Home to a herd of wild goats that leap across the jagged coastline like it’s a flat surface, North Devon’s popular Valley of Rocks is well known for its spectacular (and sometimes hair-raising) sights. The valley itself lies parallel to the sea, with many fascinating rock formations jutting up from the earth to create the riveting views we know and love. There’s a terrific walk around the Valley of Rocks, with the cobbled streets of Lynton promising some great cafés for a refuel after your coastal ramble. Of course, with Exmoor at its back, you can easily turn your visit to the Valley of Rocks into a full exploration of Exmoor National Park, giving you full access to some truly staggering landscapes.

 

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

Someone cycling through the dramatic valley at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset

With rolling hills of gold and green and many peaceful towns and villages dotting the county, Somerset is renowned for its laidback atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t enjoy its fair share of drama. Perched on the outskirts of the Mendip Hills National Landscape, Cheddar Gorge is one of Somerset’s most visited landmarks, with the craggy limestone cliffs leading to a series of fascinating underground caves. Walk across the towering landscape or delve beneath for a step back in time as you hear stories of ancient skeletons in England’s oldest showcaves. Of course, it wouldn’t be a visit to Cheddar Gorge without a trip to nearby Cheddar, where you can pick up some of the nation’s favourite cheese.

 

The Needles, Isle of Wight

The chalk white cliffs and sea stacks at The Needles on the Isle of Wight as sunset

With a seemingly endless supply of beautiful beaches and glorious coastal havens to discover, the Isle of Wight promises a salt-kissed day out wherever you’re based. Rivalling Stonehenge on the list of most photographed rocks in the world, The Needles on the west coast of the Island makes for a truly dramatic sight. Chalk white and jutting up from the deep blue waters of the English Channel, The Needles consists of a series of stacks ending in the famous red and white lighthouse. You can see these fascinating geological formations from the sea with a boat trip, by sky from the nearby chairlift, or from the cliffs after a stunning walk from Freshwater Bay.

 

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Looking across the water at the dramatic exterior of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland

One of Northumberland’s most famous landmarks, nothing screams drama more than the coastal colossus of Bamburgh Castle. Towering above the sweeping sands of Bamburgh Beach, the castle’s waterside position creates a truly remarkable scene that can be enjoyed from every angle, perfect for rugged rambles. The castle itself has a dramatic history as well as setting, from attacks by Vikings to the infamous War of the Roses. The interior of the castle promises just as many wow-worthy sights as its mighty exterior, with the King’s Hall and armoury drawing many curious visitors.

 

Malham Cove, Yorkshire

The cracked limestone ground at Malham Cove at dusk

Another of Yorkshire’s incredible landmarks and one of the most beautiful places in the UK, Malham Cove has long been a draw of the stunning Yorkshire Dales. The immense limestone feature stands at an impressive 260 feet high, offering either a looming sight from below or a sweeping view from above. There’s a superb circular walk here, which gives you ample views from all vantage points, as well as bonus visits to nearby Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss waterfall – dramatic spots in their own right! Head to nearby Lister Arms for a post-walk feast as you look back through your photos from the day. 

 

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

The iconic standing stones at Stonehenge

One of Wiltshire’s top historic sites, Stonehenge is shrouded with mystery, posing questions as big and insurmountable as the stones themselves. We may never know how or why the stones came to be here, but that just makes a visit to this ancient site all the more intriguing! There’s a short walk around the world-famous monument or you can extend your stroll further still as the surrounding Salisbury Plains promise many beautiful walking trails to explore. Pop into the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to discover the history of this fascinating landmark or spend your visit coming up with your own theories for how Stonehenge came to be.

 

Birling Gap, Sussex

People on the golden beach beneath the towering chalk cliffs along the Birling Gap in Sussex

When it comes to the most dramatic places in the UK, the coast really does deliver, especially South England’s impressive bone-white cliffs. From the famous White Cliffs of Dover to the Birling Gap in Sussex, this stretch of coastline brings the drama at every chalky turn. Walk the incredible untouched stretch along the Birling Gap for a bracing jaunt in the fresh sea air or settle into the pebbly charms of Cuckmere Haven for a sun-soaked day under the watchful gaze of the Seven Sisters. And with the rolling South Downs behind you, it’s wonderfully easy to enjoy both countryside and coast during your visit.

 

Excited to start planning your next dramatic adventure? Explore our lovely holiday cottages across the UK for a jam-packed visit full of beautiful destinations.

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