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Twelve Great Photography Destinations in the UK

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Few places in the world encompass so little geographical space as the United Kingdom and yet pack in so much beauty, scenery, and history. It seems that everywhere you turn there is something that begs immortality in a photograph. When you visit, you will be rewarded with a feast for your eyes, ready to capture.

Northern Wales is a stunning mix of tiny, tidy villages, sweeping mountain vistas, and simple British countryside views of timeless farms and shaggy sheep. Castles that once guarded the shores from invaders or the border marches with Britain still loom unexpectedly, most in picturesque ruins. Wilderness can still be found in the heights of the mountains that were once quarried for the stone that built Stonehenge.

Bath is not only worthy of being subject matter itself, but is a great base from which to easily reach locales like Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. If you visit in early spring, you might be lucky enough to catch the fantastic standing stones as I did, in ethereal falling snow. Bath is wonderful if you like architecture; the resort town boasts lovely Georgian houses and manors.

Stonehenge at Sunset

Stonehenge at Sunset

London, once the centre of the known world, must be visited. Don’t waste time trying to capture the changing of the guard. Seek out the gems of the city. Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Tower, all have stood the test of time. Westminster Abbey is worth a day just to record the tombs of great figures who have passed beyond their days amongst us. Hyde Park will open not only historical reminisces of the beau monde that one strolled it, but the polyglot humanity that romp there to this day.

The Cotswolds will induce you to turn on your camera and seize pictures of living history. The thatched villages have stood for hundreds of years and are the same as they were in the times of Henry the Eighth. The sheep that carry on their backs the wealth of this district graze placidly in emerald fields, and the pastoral scenery will draw you along in long rambles during your stay. Gracious manors paid for by the sheep reward the architecture-minded visitor.

Old Spot Piglet at Cotswold Farm Park

Old Spot Piglet at Cotswold Farm Park

The Yorkshire Dales are wide open, sweeping up to the sky, broken only by the white limestone cliffs. From those stone outcroppings long-ago farmers cut the materials for the walls that crisscross the countryside in lovely counterpoint to the green fields. In the national park, great grim escarpments of black stone rear up above the heather-covered moors, evoking the sense of grim loneliness that has long been associated with the harsh winter weather of this district.

The Lake District will always be associated with Wordsworth’s daffodils, but it is an area of great scenic beauty at any time of the year. While wandering the lakes and mountains of the district is amply rewarding, don’t forget that there are many lovely churches, such as the one where Wordsworth himself was laid to rest, and Beatrix Potter’s home. In this place full of flowers and wildlife, you will be rewarded with wonderful photos as long as you come armed with some patience.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Dartmoor is known for its tors, jutting hills of bedrock that project above the rest of the countryside. In this place of lonely bogs and rocky hills, standing menhirs—monuments dating back to prehistory—can be found and photographed here. The wild horses that inhabit the area, Dartmoor Ponies, look magnificent photographed against the serene backdrop of the remote land.

Cornwall, one of the most ancient parts of the UK, abounds in historic locales to photograph, but even more, the stunning seascapes and cliffs are worth the visit. Lighthouses, St. Michael’s Mount, and golden sand beaches await you there. Only a little off the coast, the isles of Scilly are a must on your trip, too.

Walled Garden at St. Michael's Mount

Walled Garden at St. Michael’s Mount

The Cairngorms, a place of fierce wilderness in a civilized land, are worth the challenge. The experienced climber can attempt them in the winter for unparalleled photographic opportunities. For the less bold, the purpled heather moors are not to be missed as part of your tour of beautiful places of the world. If you are very lucky you may capture a shot of wild deer grazing.

Loch Lomond, one of the oldest Scottish National Parks, is worth a boat tour, where from the decks you will be able to capture shots of cliffs, tarns, and quaint villages. Off the placid surface of the lake, you will be able to visit the local castles, Boturich, Balloch, and Dumbarton. There are many walks you can plan through the countryside, where you might find the delightfully shaggy and curious Highland Cattle to take pictures of.

Edinburgh is well worth a visit for the architecture and ambiance of another ancient city and capital. From Medieval to Edwardian to Modern, you can truly time-travel in your walks about this bustling city. For fantastic views of the city, try Dean’s Bridge or Calton Hill.

Donegal, Ireland is truly different, and a wonderful place to visit for photography as well as to experience Irish culture. Castles, sheep, beaches, and always more sheep will enliven your work and enrich your stay here.

With all this breathtaking scenery you’d be a fool to skip sharpening your photography skills. Thankfully there’s a wide range of photography magazines out there to help and also plenty of places to share your favourite photos. It’s even possible to win some goodies for your favourite British photos with our latest National Photography Competition. Good luck if you take part and don’t forget to add your favourite British locations in the comments below.

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  • Derek Beattie

    All great destinations with their own merit, truly impossible to narrow great destinations in the UK down to twelve. My inclusion would be The County of Sutherland in the far north of Scotland, a truly wonderful destination abounding with spectacular land and sea scapes and wildlife on a majestic scale.

  • Baronius

    If you’re going out as far as Loch Lomond, take a little extra time and visit the coast and the isles. You can’t take a bad picture in Iona (weather permitting).

  • http://www.greatbritishlife.co.uk/ GBL Mary

    I couldn’t agree more Derek, too many lovely places to narrow down! Beautiful photo too.

    Thanks Baronius for the tip :) So much to see so little time!

    Thanks for your comments.