10 must-visit destinations in the UK for landscape photographers

First published:
September 15, 2021
July 28, 2023

10 must-visit destinations in the UK for landscape photographers

First published:
September 15, 2021
July 28, 2023

Cover image by Base Altitude

Our top recommended locations for your next landscape photography trip

Many British photographers flock to Europe and beyond in search of exotic locations to capture, forgetting that the UK contains some of the most beautiful, dramatic and varied landscapes in the world. From tidal islands and craggy coastlines to rolling hills and waterfalls, there’s a lifetime of landscapes to discover and photograph in the UK.

Here are some of our top destinations to get you started…

1 Elan Valley, Powys, Wales

This chain of reservoirs in mid-Wales is a feast for photographers after a playground all to themselves. There are four dramatic dams here, all harbouring reservoirs that serve Birmingham; Craig Goch, Pen y Garreg, Garreg Ddu, and Caban Coch. Each is radically different and worth treating entirely differently. For example, Craig Goch has an island within it while Garreg-ddu is all about its Victorian pump house. Within its 45,000-acres you’ll find chocolate box bridges, a deserted church and red kites galore.

The overflowing Graig Goch dam in the Elan valley.
Photo by David Bevan - f/8 | 15s | ISO 64
Author’s tip:

Come in winter close to a New Moon and you’ll see raging torrents of fast-flowing water and, buy night, some of Britain’s darkest night skies. Elan Valley is a gold-rated International Dark Sky Park.

Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, England

While the southwest corner of the UK gets swamped by tourists each year, the lesser known Scilly Isles get a mere 125,000 visitors annually. About 30 miles off Cornwall, this archipelago of five main islands – St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin's, Bryher and St. Agnes – bask in warm waters and higher temperatures than the rest of the UK. Cue a tropical climate, unique flora and fauna, and incredible coastal landscapes.

An aerial view of the Island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly near Cornwall, England.
Photo by Alex Cassels - f/8 | 1/200s | ISO 100
Author’s tip:

The car-less 297 hectares of Tresco Island, a 30 minute boat transfer from the airport, is incredibly photogenic; think rugged heathland and dramatic seascapes, quaint cottages and idyllic village life. Oh, and red squirrels…

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, England

If you’re holidaying in Cornwall and you want a photography project there are few better subjects than the iconic St Michael’s Mount. Home to the St Aubyn family, this rocky outcrop can be reached via a causeway at low tide, but it’s from Marazion, close to Penzance, that you’ll likely get the best shot. Aim to shoot around sunrises and sunsets, and during storms, to capture more dramatic and colourful skies.

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall.
Photo by Alex Baxter - f/18 | 13s | ISO 100
Author’s tip:

Although the island itself is architecturally spectacular, one of the best ideas is to photograph the exposed stone causeway, using it as a leading line in your composition. In summer the Milky Way streams behind it after dark. 

Jurassic Coast, Dorset, England

England’s Jurassic Coast is stunning. Stretching almost 100 miles of the coastline in Devon and Dorset on the south coast, its cliffs contain the fossils of dinosaurs.

The most famous place to photograph this striking coastline is from the lookout opposite Durdle Door, an arch-shaped limestone rock formation. Just to the east is the equally beautiful Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole, a rock arch above a tidal pool. The walk linking the two sites is breathtaking, but get here early to avoid problems with car parking.

A beautiful capture of Durdle Door in the morning light.
Photo by Dan Allen - f/16 | 79s | ISO 200
Author’s tip:

Since Durdle Door needs to be photographed from the coastline looking south it’s begging to be imaged with the Milky Way flowing behind it. You can only do that in summer, with our galaxy’s arc visible from about May through September.

Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, Gloucestershire, England

This region around the River Wye where Wales and England join has some wonderful photography locations. The most impressive has to be the cliff top at Symonds Yat Rock, a viewpoint from where it’s possible to photograph a mighty bend in the river. Another possibility is winter mist hovering over it down by The Sarecen’s Head at Symonds Yat, where a hand-pulled ferry still operates.

Winter sunrise over the River Wye from Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint, UK.
Photo by Julian Gazzard - f/8 | 1/3s | ISO 200
Author’s tip:

Nearby in Monmouthshire, Wales you’ll find Tintern Abbey on the Welsh side of the River Wye. Dating from 1131 and now a dramatic roofless ruin, it can be photographed close-up or at a distance – including the River Wye – from the circular five-mile Devil’s Pulpit hike above it.

6 Glencoe, Lochaber, Scotland

If you ever come across a landscape photography workshop in the Scottish Highlands the itinerary will always include Glencoe. A relatively compact and accessible area close to Fort William, it’s one of the most dramatic and spectacular locations for landscape photography in the whole of the UK. You can expect to spend hours crafting epic shots of mountains, bridges, cottages, rivers, waterfalls and lochs, all of them draped in delicate and dynamic quality of light.

The mountains of Glencoe, Scotland.
Photo by Base Altitude - f/5.6 | 1/400s | ISO 500
Author’s tip:

For something far lesser known try the Old Boat of Caol – also known as the Corpach Shipwreck – close to the village of Corpach, four miles northeast of Fort William. An old fishing vessel, it was wrecked in 2011 during a storm. It can look stunning around sunrise and sunset.

Yorkshire Dales National Park, Yorkshire, England

An area of rolling hills, abandoned cottages and ancient ruins, dramatic rock formations, waterfalls and open heather moorland, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a place to slap on the waterproof trousers and head off into the wilderness.

You can capture a snow-capped Whernside as well as a shot of it with the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct. Another one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Ingleborough hosts the Norber Erratics, Britain’s finest collection of glacial erratic boulders that haven’t moved since the last Ice Age.

Leading lines of RibbleHead Viaduct taking you to a cold and mysterious Pen-Y-Ghent.
Photo by Jordan Howarth - f/8 | 1/250s | ISO 200
Author’s tip:

Just outside the southeastern boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is also the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a region of incredible moorlands and river valleys.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Pembrokeshire, Wales

The South West Coast Path in England might get all the attention, but coastal photographers who haven’t been to Pembrokeshire National Park are missing out. Its 186-miles of craggy coastline – the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – hides bays, beaches and myriad photographic opportunities, with just some of the highlights including the Green Bridge of Wales natural rock arch and rock pillars, the 13th century St Govan’s Chapel carved into the limestone cliffs, and the Coetan Arthur burial chamber at Whitesands Bay.

Looking from the other side of the Blue Lagoon in Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire) where Red Bull cliff diving events take place.
Photo by Rob Nelson - f/4 | 1/1250s | ISO 100
Author’s tip:

A mile off the Pembrokeshire coast are the islands of Skomer and Skokholm, home to a puffin colony of 10,000 breeding pairs. You can visit Skomer on a day trip from Martin’s Haven to photograph them up close, though you will need to book a long way in advance.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Here’s another tidal island that’s accessible via a causeway only at low-tide, but since the picturesque Holy Island is so popular the savvy photographer can dodge the crowds by staying put when the tide comes in. Sure, you’ll be marooned (there are a few of B&Bs on the island), but you’ll also be alone with the Holy Island’s sights; the medieval Lindisfarne Abbey, a dramatic 16th-century crag-top castle, and detritus from the fishing industry.

Author’s tip:

Always check safe crossing times before visiting Holy Island, as it becomes separated from the rest of the world and completely inaccessible twice a day.

A dramatic orange sunset was created over Lindisfarne Castle after been subject to a dark and moody storm. Soft golden light decorates the castle and the grounds illuminating every fine detail.
A moody golden hour at the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Photo by Sassenach Photography
Editor's tip:

Just a short drive south of Lindisfarne is the equally impressive Bamburgh Castle - a favourite photo spot for dramatic seascapes

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Northwest Scotland’s other photography playground is the Isle of Skye. In just a few days you can capture everything from castles and lighthouses to mountains, lochs, waterfalls and weird rock formations.

It’s most famous for the ‘Old Man of Storr’ (pictured), a huge pinnacle on the Trotternish peninsula, but equally as incredible for landscape photographers is The Quiraing, where another challenging hike will get you views of crags and pinnacles including The Prison, The Needle and The Table. Other highlights in Skye include Talisker Bay, Loch Nan Eilean, Elgol and Neist Point.

The first light of dawn lights-up the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye.
The 'Old Man of Storr' on the Isle of Skye. Photo by Christian Rutter - f/16 | 30s | ISO 200
Author’s tip:

Although the incredibly popular ‘Old Man of Storr’ hike is busy all day – despite being quite challenging – you’ll get the best images at sunrise. That’s not only because you’ll beat the crowds but because that’s when the light cast upon it is best. Be prepared for a tough hour-long pre-dawn hike!

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