The UK boasts a varied and vast range of landscapes that are great locations for photographers, allowing them to easily build up a rich portfolio of landscape images without ever needing to dust off the passport.
From the rugged coastline of Cornwall to the flats of Norfolk, the stunning vistas of the Lakes to the castles dotted along the Northumberland shoreline – and, let’s not forget, the wilds of the Scottish Highlands.
With so much choice on offer, knowing where to visit with your camera can prove a little overwhelming, so this feature will highlight a selection of beautiful locations to get you started.
The views we’ve picked are spread out throughout the UK, so there’s a great chance at least one will be fairly close to you, although all are worth visiting.
1. Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
Sycamore Gap, found via a ten-minute walk after parking up at Twice Brewed, is possibly the most famous tree in the UK.
This location offers plenty of opportunity to be creative. You can shoot a classic view of the tree that sits within a dip in the Roman Wall, for example, or you could choose to add an ND filter and blur any clouds in the background.
Stepping back and going wide means you can introduce rocks as foreground interest too. Furthermore, because the skies around this areas are free from light pollution, you can stay when night falls and capture a starry sky.
2. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
Cut off from the coastal Cornish town of Marazion by the tide for a few hours each day, St Michael’s Mount is a compositional gem.
When the waters recede, a brick causeway provides a much-needed leading line to guide the viewer’s eye towards the castle.
There’s plenty of parking nearby, but check tide times before visiting to capture the scene when the tide is out. To the east of the main causeway is a harbour, which is a good secondary shooting point for alternative foreground interest, especially if you visit when the tide is in.
3. Padley Gorge, Derbyshire
Although this gorgeous gorge looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s actually easy to reach and requires just a five-minute walk from a parking spot in the village of Grindleford. Better still, there’s a cafe at the entrance to the trail leading up to the gorge.
A slow shutter speed will turn the waters into a milky blur and, if you visit during the autumn, the falling leaves in the water will add an extra dimension to the image.
Make sure to pack wellies too, so you can stand in the stream and shoot low down.
4. Cley Windmill, Norfolk
The picturesque windmill, which is now a bed and breakfast, stands tall over the flat village of Cley, close to the Norfolk coast.
A little waterway runs right past the windmill and makes for an excellent leading line, perhaps with some of the upturned boats used as foreground interest for good measure.
Alternatively, walk onto the raised flood defences a short distance away and this will provide you with a wider, elevated viewpoint.
Visiting on a windy day? You can use a slightly slower shutter to capture the blur of the swaying reeds on the breeze.
5. Durdle Door, Dorset
Located on the Dorset coast, Durdle Door is one of the most popular photographic locations in the UK.
After parking at the Lulworth Estate car park (take change!), it’s a ten minute walk down to the arch, though getting back up takes longer due to the incline.
Many photographers prefer to shoot from the cliffs, but getting down to the beach can pay off, as you can use the shingle as foreground interest.
It’s always busy here, so if there are people in the frame, take multiple images and overlay them in post processing to erase unwanted subjects.
6. Derwent Water, Cumbria
Another location that allows photographers to capture multiple compositions per visit, Derwent Water in the Lake District should be on every photographer’s list.
A great place to start, preferably early in the morning, is by the boat moorings just south of Keswick. The beautiful wooden boats make for fantastic foreground interest and the jetties are great to capture with an ultra wide-angle lens that stretches perspective.
What’s more, if the water is choppy, an ND filter and a long exposure will calm things down. This location is great to photograph all year round, but there are obviously less crowds outside of school holidays.
7. Southwold Pier, Suffolk
Though the bigger Cromer Pier, 60 miles up the road in Norfolk, often gets more coverage, Southwold’s pier is a Suffolk gem – and arguably more picturesque, too.
You can park right next to the pier and you'll find you're spoilt for compositions. After shooting the colourful beach huts, you could set-up to include one of the rocky groynes on the north side, or you could choose set up on the south side of the pier and capture the lights illuminating the boardwalk when dusk falls.
A third option would be to head to the end of the pier and shoot back towards the town, as this view would also include the famous Southwold lighthouse.
8. Ribblehead Viaduct, Yorkshire
One of the best examples of industry juxtaposed against the landscape, the viaduct (which dates from 1874 for all you history buffs) spans 400 metres over the Ribble valley.
Photographers can choose to drop the car off at the nearby car park, or alight at Ribblehead train station, which is on the Settle-Carlisle line. The walking track makes for an interesting wavy leading line, but other photographers choose to backlit the viaduct to throw it into silhouette.
9. Black Rock Cottage, Highlands
This desolate cottage, dwarfed by the mountains in the background, has a rather surprising neighbour.
Just two minutes walk to the left of the cottage is Glencoe Mountain Centre, which means there’s plenty of parking, ablutions and also somewhere to grab refreshments.
This scene always benefits from an ND grad filter to balance the foreground and sky and, on a windy day, to capture a hint of movement in the passing clouds.
The location is very easy to find: simply head north on the A82 (pretending you’re James Bond from Skyfall) and you’ll see the cottage and mountain centre on your left.
10. Buachallie Etive Mor, Highlands
Bizarrely, two of Scotland’s best photo locations are within five minutes drive of each other.
Although the epic view of Buachaille looks like you’d have to hike into the moor for miles, it’s also just two minutes from the A82 and five minutes north of Black Rock Cottage. There’s a small parking area and the waterfalls are a 30-second walk from there.
Taking up a low viewpoint will make more of the little waterfalls and an ND filter will blur the flowing water too. Ideally, visit when there’s snow capping the mountain for extra atmosphere.
There's a bunkhouse just five minutes away, should you wish to stay and explore the area.
11. Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antirm
They say the best things in life are free, but use of the Giant’s Causeway National Trust facilities will actually cost money, so check the website for the tariff. That said, pedestrian access is free and the view is certainly worth any parking charge.
Located in Country Antrim, on the north coast of Northern Ireland, the steps are actually interlocking hexagonal columns of basalt rock.
Full of texture and tone, the location is ideal for experimenting with black and white and, although shooting in Raw is the best approach, setting your camera’s Picture Style or Art Filter to black and white can give you an idea of how the scene will look without colour.
All images: Matty Graham (unless otherwise stated)
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