11 of Great Britain's best views

The eleven best views of our nation.

Great Britain has breathtaking, historic and awe-inspiring views around every corner. The likes of William Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, John Constable and Charles Dickens were all indebted to the British countryside for some of their most lauded works.

Whether it's stunning cityscapes, majestic mountains or charming coastlines, there are plenty of views that can stop you dead in your tracks. Here are 11 of our favourites...

1. Ives Harbour

Sitting on Cornwall's north coast is St Ives Bay, an almost V-shaped stretch of land with St Ives at one end and Hayle's three mile-long beach on the other. With such an abundance of riches, it's little wonder St Ives is viewed so fondly by those who have spent a summer there (or even those who loved it so much they pledged to return every summer).

Arguably the greatest view in St Ives, though, is that of the harbour. With glacial blue waters, quaint wooden boats and the ever-present seal population, there is plenty to take in at St Ives Harbour. Not only that, with the town's approach being a rather steep hill, there are plenty of areas offering suitable vantage points.

© Chris White - St Ives Harbour

© Chris White - St Ives Harbour

Find walking routes, local places of interest and more: St Ives Harbour Local Information page.

OS Explorer MAP 102

2. Loch Ness

This long, narrow Loch may have made a name for itself thanks to the beast that may or may not reside in its waters, but to write the area off as little more than a place for mythbusting is to do Loch Ness a disservice. Even those who don't manage to catch a glimpse of Nessie can still be sure they'll take in views of the long, thin stretch of water that runs for 22.5 miles.

That's not all, as a visit to Urquhart Castle on the Loch banks will provide not only a glimpse into history but also a new vantage point from which to scan the horizon. Who knows, it may even be from here that visitors manage to steal a glimpse of Nessie as it pops up from under the water.

© Stuart Wilding - Loch Ness, via Geograph

© Stuart Wilding - Loch Ness, via Geograph

Find more information and things to do: GetOuside Local page for Loch Ness.


3. Clifford's Tower, York

Some 55 steps up the motte of York Castle lies Clifford's Tower, one of the best places on offer for panoramic views of the historic city of York. Originally built by William the Conqueror, the castle was first designed in order to stand proudly atop of the entire city, effectively domineering the old Viking city. Today it may not look so fearsome from the outside, as it's instead more widely known as a place to get the best views of York's dreaming spires.

© Debbie J - Clifford's Tower, via Geograph

© Debbie J - Clifford's Tower, via Geograph

Find more to see and do around York on the GetOutside local page.


4. Swallow Falls, near Betws-y-Coed

You'd be forgiven for thinking that any tourist attraction which touts its status as being among the wettest in Britain would be clutching at straws to draw people in. Not at Swallow Falls, however, as it's precisely this level of rainfall that brings in thousands of visitors every year - specifically to take in the area's thundering waterfall.

The River Llugwy - which feeds Swallow Falls - holds the record for the largest average annual rainfall in England and Wales. When considering that Swallow Falls is the largest of its kind in Wales, all of the factors combine to make for a spectacle that draws visitors from all over - even if the chance of good weather is low.

© Brian Joyce - Swallow Falls, via Geograph

© Brian Joyce - Swallow Falls, via Geograph

Find walking routes, photos and places to stay near Swallow Falls - see GetOutside local page for Cae'n-y-coed.


5. Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury has become known around the world for three things: the tor, the area's spirituality and the iconic music festival. These three seemingly disparate strands are all linked, though, by a number of common factors. First, the spirituality which pervades the town centre extends beyond the witchcraft bookshops and throughout 'Avalon'. These centre around the Tor, which has a long and rich Pagan history. Even those of a more pragmatic and logical bent have been known to take in the otherworldly spectre of Glastonbury.

Where views from the Tor are concerned, the Somerset Levels are an attraction in themselves, but going when "Glasto" is in full swing gives something altogether different. The event is, after all, widely touted as the "third biggest city in the South West" by population when in full swing.

© Bill Nicholls - Glastonbury , via Geograph

© Bill Nicholls - Glastonbury , via Geograph

Find walking routes and places to see around Glastonbury Tor.


6. Wastwater, Lake District

Here's a pub quiz question: what's the deepest lake in England? The answer is Wastwater, which isn't just 4.6km long and 600 metres wide, but stretches down to a depth of 79 metres. This means that nine Routemaster buses can be stacked end-to-end without breaking the surface, or you could easily submerge Nelson's Column and still have 27 metres left over.

This makes for a lake that's as staggering to view on terra firma as it is from below the surface. After all, views don't need to be lengthy vistas stretching all the way to the horizon. For those who want to keep their feet firmly on dry land, however, a view of Wastwater from atop the nearby Scafell Pike provides a scene taking in England's deepest lake from atop its highest peak.

© Andy Stephenson - Wastwater, via Geograph

© Andy Stephenson - Wastwater, via Geograph

Find more to do around Wast Water on GetOutside local page: Wast Water.


7. Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire

Coasts, cities or waterways are pretty enough, but many explorers look for something a little more kinetic in their ideal views. For these people, there's no need to look much further than Yorkshire's Bempton Cliffs, as it's the site of UK's largest accessible seabird colony. In fact, some 200,000 seabirds have made the cliffs their home - with some of the many species living there including the gannet, puffin, short-eared owl, tree sparrow and guillemot. Anyone wishing to take in the majesty of these seabirds should find ample help from the RSPB, which is in attendance here.
© Steve Fareham - Bemford Cliffs, via Geograph

© Steve Fareham - Bemford Cliffs, via Geograph

See the GetOutside Local page for Bempton Cliffs for walks, photos and more.


8. Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire

Montgomeryshire's Lake Vyrnwy may have a chequered past (it was one of the reservoirs created in the 19th Century to provide Liverpool and the Wirral with fresh water), but today it's a site of great natural interest and a favourite of walkers, cyclists and ornithologists alike.

Nestled among the famous green, green grass of Wales, the lake offers much to view for visitors, including the Rhiwargor Falls, Gothic revival straining tower and, of course, the 44-metre dam itself. Birdwatchers can also catch glimpses of the Peregrine Falcon - otherwise known as the fastest animal on earth as it can reach descent speeds of up to 242 miles per hour.

© Simon Johnston - Lake Vyrnwy, via Geograph

© Simon Johnston - Lake Vyrnwy, via Geograph

Walking routes around and near Lake Vyrnwy on the Local information page.


9. The Shard

London, with all its crowds of people, monuments to money and lung-busting smog may not be to everybody's tastes, but that's not to say the view from The Shard can be ignored. The building itself reaches a Vertigo-inducing height of 306 metres (or 1,004 feet), although the 72nd-floor viewing platform isn't far off, at 244 metres (800 feet).

On a clear day, visitors can see for more than 40 miles in all directions, thereby allowing views of Central London that include everything from the Olympic Park to the Tower of London and Crystal Palace transmitters. Entry isn't cheap, but visitors who make the journey aren't just presented with breathtaking views but are allowed to stay at the viewing platforms for as long as they like.

© Christine Matthews - View from The Shard, via Geograph

© Christine Matthews - View from The Shard, via Geograph

Discover more of London with the pocket-sized OS Walk London Urban Map. Featuring Richmond Park, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Greenwich Park, it includes suggested walking routes and key things to see and do around the city.

OS EXPLORER 173 Walk London Urban Map

10. The Isle of Eigg

Whilst not the easiest to access on this list, the Isle of Eigg certainly rewards those who make the journey. Anyone visiting for the first time may mistake Eigg for a tropical paradise island - were it not for the cold temperatures, of course! The white-gold beaches, misty grey waters and lush grasslands make it appear more like a work of fiction from the mind of Robert Louis Stevenson or Alex Garland than one of Scotland's Inner Hebrides.

For the greatest view on the Isle, visitors need only to head up to the pitchstone ridge of 'An Sgurr', which is the largest of its kind in the UK. A track runs to the top of An Sgurr, but be warned, it's a scramble in places, so should only be attempted by seasoned hillwalkers. Arriving at the top, however, will provide the kinds of views that stay in the memory for a lifetime.

© Gordon Brown - Top of An Sgurr, via Geograph

© Gordon Brown - Top of An Sgurr, via Geograph

Find routes on and near The Isle of Eigg (Eilean Eige)


11. Queen's View, Loch Tummel

In the heart of Highland Perthshire, high above Loch Tummel, is Queen's View. Some believe the spot to be named after Queen Victoria who visited in 1866, while others claim it is really named after Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce in the 13th century. What is agreed on though, is that the view befits the title.

Surrounded by part of the Tay Forest Park, the panoramic view over the loch is magnificent throughout the seasons with Schiehallion in the background, and on a clear day looking westward you can see as far as the Glen Coe hills.

© Richard Slessor - Queen's View, Loch Tummel

© Richard Slessor - Queen's View, Loch Tummel

Places of interest, photos and routes near Loch Tummel on GetOutside Local information page.


So what's your favourite view in Great Britain? Do you agree with our choices, and what should be added to the list? Let us know....


Edited 09/12/2020.