A particularly appealing aspect of the UK is the sheer variety of landscapes to be found around the coast of the mainland. Go to each point of the compass and you will find something or somewhere to appeal. Here’s some suggestions to prove the point.
West: Fort William and Ardnamurchan Point
Getting to the westernmost point of mainland UK takes a little effort, as it’s most definitely out of the way, but it’s worth it. Ardnamurchan Point is lonely, wild and quite unbelievably lovely. Whales, basking sharks and dolphins are frequent visitors to these waters. The point has a lighthouse dating from the mid 19th century. You can climb the 152 steps and two ladders to explore the lighthouse. The view from the light room is stunning. There’s also an exhibition centre, cafe and shop.
The nearest large town to this westerly point is Fort William. Although this is the second largest urban centre in the Highlands, it is still compact enough that you can get around the centre easily on foot. The town has a supremely picturesque location on the shores of scenic Loch Linnhe and in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain‘s highest mountain. Visit the West Highland Museum, the Ben Nevis Distillery Visitor’s Centre and take an exhilarating ride on the Jacobite Steam Railway to Mallaig.
East: Lowestoft and the Suffolk Coast
The seaside town of Lowestoft is situated on what is understandably called, being located this far in the eastern UK, the Sunrise Coast. On one side can be found the tranquillity of the Broads, which reach to the northern boundary of the area. Here you can explore the beauty of the natural world, but if the family are in need of something a little more lively, there’s the three rollercoasters and water rides of the Pleasurewood Hills theme park. Some fine museums reflect the cultural and industrial heritage of the area.
The Suffolk Coast is one of the UK’s most attractive, with miles of golden sands and Blue Flag beaches. These miles of Heritage Coast are found in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and are popular with both beach goers and those who love nature. Here you will find Ness Point, the most easterly point of the UK, which has a marker showing the directions and distances to various parts of Europe.
South: Falmouth Bay and Truro City
One of the finest diving areas in the country can be found in and around Falmouth Bay. There are plenty of reef and wreck dives to keep both the experienced diver and the enthusiastic amateur happy. The Old Walls south of St. Anthony Lighthouse are a great spot for watching marine life. Shallow reefs, drop offs and pinnacles can be found at The Manacles, and there are a number of wrecked ships waiting to be explored. Or if you’re happy to just sit back and absorb the surroundings, then The GreenBank Hotel is a great place to do so.
Truro City is noted for its superb architecture. It has a Gothic Revival cathedral which was completed in 1910 and some remarkably picturesque Georgian architecture. In fact, with so many buildings of architectural importance you can find some fascinating historic accommodation in Truro. The Royal Cornwall Museum is probably the finest place in Cornwall for learning about Cornish history.
North: Thurso and John O’Groat’s
The most northerly town in mainland Scotland, Thurso is a small town of great charm and character, situated on the Pentland Firth. Thurso can trace its history back to the days of the Vikings. The award-winning Caithness Horizons museum is a 5 star visitor attraction which tells the story of Caithness from the Devonian period of prehistory up to the present day by way of some unique artefacts. From fossilised fish to models of Dounreay Fast Reactor, it is a museum which strongly holds the interest.
John O’Groat’s is not, as some believe, the most northerly point of mainland Britain, that distinction belongs to nearby Dunnet Head, but instead it sits at the end of the longest land distance between two points in the UK. From here you can take a ferry to the Orkney Islands, enjoy a guided countryside nature walk, and there’s the delightful little village shops to explore. Don’t forget to have your picture taken at the famous ‘Journey’s End’ signpost.