The Great British Countryside
Home to 15 national parks and 46 AONB's (areas of outstanding natural beauty) the Great British countryside boasts a glut of scenic wonders in a diverse landscape of dramatic mountain vistas and ancient woodlands to deep glacial lakes.
Awaiting your discovery are medieval villages and heather-clad moorland. Witness high fells, large wetlands and the remains of ancient civilisations, including centuries-old castles, stone circles and remnants of a really long 2000-year-old wall. Let your feet rummage through the sand on hidden coastal coves, scale rocky granite tors and loosen up in the warm glow of the traditional English pub.
The Great British Countryside may well be lacking in the sunshine department, where an umbrella will likely prove more useful than a bottle of suncream but it makes a serious attempt at compensating for this with its natural scenic beauty.
In the words of the 19th-century poet, traveller and revolutionary Lord Byron:
"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more."
Experiencing The Great British Countryside
Unlike many national parks around the world, access and enjoyment of the Great British Countryside will cost you diddly squat (ridiculous car parking fees aside). This isn't to be taken for granted however as it hasn't always been the case.
Upon landowner Jane Spedding barring access to the only paths on the popular Keswick low fell, Latrigg, Henry Irwin Jenkinson decided that enough was enough.
On October 1st 1887 incensed by her actions, Henry led a strong crowd numbering 2000 to one of the blocked paths. He proceeded to remove the ‘Private’ sign before unchaining the gate and marching down the footpath.
The subsequent court case led to one of the paths, Spooney Green Lane being reopened. Consequently prompting other landowners to permit access to footpaths on their property.
As a result, Henry received a rapturous welcome in Keswick and by way of tribute, the main gate to Fitz Park in the town bears his name in honour of his dedication to the community.
Photographing the Great British Countryside
With such a vast array of picturesque locations spread far and wide, Britain offers both the photographer and the snap-shooting Instagrammer a bit of a conundrum. Where to go?
Fortunately, this is a compact little kingdom, meaning travel times are relatively short. Providing the infamously wet weather holds off you're in for a treat.
Such historical monuments as Hadrians Wall in the far north of England document a 2000-year-old past. For mountain lovers, Snowdonia is a pretty decent hand to play. This wild, rugged landscape is home to the highest peaks south of Scotland and only a stone's throw from the headlands of Anglesey.
For a more pastoral, yet just as captivating immersion, the Yorkshire Dales and the nearby beguiling North York Moors hold relics of an ancient past. Telling of a wealthy industrial heritage, and the chance of a hike in picture-perfect surroundings.
The above places are a minor dent into the possibilities of the Great British Countryside. All in all, there's enough to keep that shutter button finger busier than a one-armed paper hanger with winnits.
What are you waiting for?...Get gone. There are some useful travel resources further down the page.
Boring factual stuff about the Great British Countryside
- At least 446,897 people live in the National Parks of Great Britain.
- In 1951 the Peak District became the UK’s very first national park. The South Downs is its newest, confirmed as recently as 2010.
- The Lake District is the countries most popular national park. According to a recent survey, this region in the north-west of England receives 15.8 million visitors annually. A figure which is predicted to rise as UNESCO has now given the park World Heritage Status.
- Four out of eleven of the world's International Dark Sky Reserves are located in the UK: the Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Snowdonia and the South Downs National Parks have all been given such status. They are home to some of the best star-gazing opportunities in the world.
Have a wemooch elsewhere...
Fancy a mooch around the rolling fields and craggy hills of the Great British Countryside?
You'll need a few things to come together for it all to work out. There's some useful stuff to be clicked and pressed below.