Best Viewpoints in the UK and How To Get There

The UK offers a vast range of stunning outdoor scenery, from majestic hills to towering coastal cliffs. Below is a selection of some of the UK’s best viewpoints that offer breathtaking sights and a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors by walking, cycling or car.

Edinburgh: Arthur’s Seat

One of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks, Arthur’s Seat offers spectacular views across the city and to the Firth of Forth. From the top one can see Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace within Holyrood Park and Calton Hill. At the base of Arthur’s Seat are the Salisbury Crags, which are also an excellent place for walks. The ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, also near the base, are definitely worth stopping by on your way to the top of Arthur’s Seat.

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If you’re travelling by car from the south, you can approach Edinburgh by following the A1 coastal road. If you’re travelling from the north, follow the A90 which crosses the Forth Road Bridge. For the route from the south west, the M6 motorway joins the A74 north of Carlisle to form the M74, which links with the M8 north east of Glasgow. If you continue east along the M8 you will join up with the Edinburgh City Bypass and you should continue to the city centre. There’s a car park outside Holyrood Palace and one near the manmade loch below the chapel ruins.

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A road winding round Arthur’s Seat will get you quite close to the top, either by bike or car. To reach the highest point however you’ll have to travel on foot but the walk is not a difficult one. Ideally you should try to walk all the way from the base of the Crags to the top of Arthur’s Seat, which will take you about 45 minutes to an hour depending on your pace.

Beware however and watch out for a rabid haggis or two, they like to nip at your ankles…vicious wee things…

Wales: Snowdon

Snowdon is within the Snowdonia National Park and is the highest mountain in England and Wales, reaching 1085m or 3560 feet. You can enjoy this beautiful landscape by car, as the Park has various A roads running through it. The A470 for instance runs north-south through the Park and is intersected by the A5 (Betws-y-Coed-Bangor), the A494 (Dolgellau-Bala), as well as the A487 (toward Porthmadog and Caernarvon). Take care whilst driving on these roads so that the unsuspecting cyclist or walker is not forced to dodge swiftly or leap gracefully out of the way (or more likely go careering or diving off the road, directing particular hand gestures and mouthing something that you can’t quite hear in your direction).

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The Park itself has numerous mountain biking and cycling trails that can accommodate people of all riding levels, including trails through forests and trails that are free of traffic, so whether you’re out for a relaxing ride or you’re more the insanely hardcore, downhill speed freak type, there’s bound to be a suitable route for you. With regards to Snowdon itself there are seven main routes to the summit with car parks at or near the base. There are easier and/or quieter paths, for example the Llanberis Track, and there are also more difficult paths, such as the Snowdon Horseshoe which should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers and in good weather.

Cornwall: Lands End

Scorching sun (or at least a close cousin depending on the time of year), stirring sea breezes and beaches made for basking are all admirable charms of Lands End. What sets Lands End apart however is that it just happens to be the most westerly point of England. If you’re travelling by car, on the M5 to Exeter take the A30 and follow it through Devon and past Bodmin, Redruth and Hayle until you reach Penzance. When you reach Penzance, watch for signs signalling the A30 to Lands End. The northern and southern parts of the Cornwall Coastal Footpath converge at Lands End and provide beautiful walking routes to enjoy the surrounding scenery. You may want to steer clear of cliff edges though or you might be taking a little unplanned swim. A range of caravan and camping parks as well as hotels are just some of the local accommodation on offer.

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Caithness: Dunnet Head

Back to Bonnie Scotland with Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on mainland Britain and a peninsula in Caithness. To reach it by car, from the A836 you should take the B855 north to Brough and follow it for two miles or 3 km until you reach Dunnet Head. You may want to make use of the Dunnet Head Campsite overlooking the Pentland Firth, which separates Caithness from the Orkney Islands. Only tents are allowed but you have access to excellent walking and cycling options. Alternately you can book a walking holiday, which involves accommodation (camping or B&B/self-catering in a renovated croft) and self-guided walking routes, complete with maps, instructions and photos. The scenery around Dunnet Head is fantastic, with cliffs rising 100m above the sea. There are also a range of activities available besides cycling and walking, such as dolphin spotting, horse riding and kayaking.

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You can escape the pursuing haggis by taking a boat trip (they’re not very good swimmers due to the problem of water-clogged fur); however you may cross paths with a selkie. It’s therefore up to you whether you want to risk romantic heartbreak or opt for sturdy ankle-covering walking boots to fend off the beasties.

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County Tyrone: Belfast To Ballyshannon Through The Sperrins

The Sperrins are the largest mountain range in Northern Ireland and have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are airports and ferry ports within an hour of the Sperrins Region, so why not sample some famous Irish hospitality by riding the Belfast To Ballyshannon cycle route? This 242 mile cycle route is a coast to coast route that passes through the Sperrins, then through the lakes in Fermanagh, ending at the Atlantic Coast on the beaches of Donegal. Most of the cycling on this route takes place on minor roads. The nearest town is Jordanstown, which you can visit by following the Lagan and Lough Cycle Way. Alternately to reach it by car you can take the M5 out of Belfast heading towards Carrickfergus.

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