A collection of photogenic places in southwest UK, in England and Wales, generally within 70 miles of Bristol; landscapes and historic sites, scenery and heritage, including coastlines and mountains, castles and abbeys
Rhiangoll valley Hay Castle Cwm Llwch
St Catherine's Chapel East Orchard Castle Sherborne Abbey The Caves, Glenthorne Beach
Beacons Reservoir Hailes Abbey Sandsfoot Castle

England: Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Worcestershire
Wales: Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, Vale of Glamorgan

Historic sites      Landscapes




★★★ Axmouth to Lyme Regis - lengthy cliffs, remote beaches and extensive landslips along 7 miles of the Jurassic Coast
★★★ Beer Head - sheer cliffs, sea caves and scenic beaches along the Jurassic Coast
★★ Berry Pomeroy Castle - ruins of a Tudor mansion within the walls of an older castle, in a secluded, wooded setting
★★ Burgh Island - tidal, cliff-lined island opposite a popular beach
★★ Cornworthy Priory - gatehouse from a medieval monastery
★★ Dartmouth Castle - coastal artillery fort with a spectacular location, begun in the 14th century
★★★ Exeter Cathedral - beautiful building with many medieval features, including stained glass and extensive vaulting
★★★ Haytor Rocks and Hound Tor - granite outcrops in Dartmoor National Park, plus old quarries and a ruined village
★★ Lydford Castle - square tower from the 13th century, mostly used as a prison, plus some lesser remains
★★★ Lydford Gorge - deep, wooded ravine with waterfalls and dark narrows
★★★ Okehampton Castle - substantial ruins of the largest castle in the county, in a wooded valley
★★★ Sidmouth to Ladram Bay - isolated red cliffs and sea stacks; along the Jurassic Coast
★★ Totnes Castle - small but well preserved motte and bailey castle, centred on a circular keep
★★★ Valley of Rocks to Woody Bay - rock formations, isolated beaches, steep cliffs and coastal woodland


★★ Abbotsbury Abbey - relics from a once large monastery near the coast, including a picturesque chapel
★★ Cerne Abbey - limited remains of a Benedictine monastery
★★ Christchurch Castle - small but photogenic ruins of a Norman keep and house
★★★ Christchurch Priory - the longest parish church in England, and one of the finest, built in the 12th century
★★★ Corfe Castle - large, ruined castle with a spectacular location on top of a steep-sided hill; construction started in the 11th century
★★★ Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove - a sea arch and a circular bay, separated by sandy beaches and chalk cliffs
★★ Portland Castle - well preserved coastal fort overlooking Portland
★★ Rufus Castle - minor ruins on a cliff edge, overlooking the coast
★★ Sandsfoot Castle - attrative ruins of a shoreline fort, built by Henry VIII
★★★ Sherborne Abbey - ancient parish church with spectacular medieval architecture
★★ Wimborne Minster - fine Norman church, formerly part of a monastery


★★★ Berkeley Castle - intact Norman castle surrounded by fine gardens, occupied by the Berkeley family since 1154
★★ Church of St John Baptist, Cirencester - one of the largest parish churches in the country, partly 12th century
★★ Deerhurst Priory - small Saxon church with many original features; some parts are from the early 9th century
★★★ Gloucester Cathedral - imposing, city centre Norman cathedral
★★ Greyfriars, Gloucester - walls, windows and arches from the church of a medieval friary
★★ Hailes Abbey - limited but atmospheric and picturesque ruins of a Cistercian monastery
★★ Lower Woods - one of the largest ancient woodlands in south England
★★ St Briavels Castle - partly ruined, 12th century castle overlooking the Wye valley, used as a youth hostel
★★ St James' Church - ruins of a small church in the Wye Valley, the only remnant from the medieval village of Lancaut
★★★ Tewkesbury Abbey - large Norman church, famous for its well-preserved Gothic architecture


★★★ Netley Abbey - large, well preserved, 13th century monastery, later converted to a Tudor mansion
★★★ Portchester Castle - historic castle right on the coast, centred on a tall keep, within the walls of a Roman fort


★★ Dore Abbey - atmospheric, cathedral-like church occupying part of an ancient monastery
★★★ Goodrich Castle - secluded castle with a rural location overlooking the River Wye
★★★ Hereford Cathedral - beautiful building from the late 11th century, mostly in the decorated Gothic style
★★ Kilpeck Castle - minor but picturesque ruin on a large motte
★★ Kilpeck Church - Norman building with many fine stone carvings
★★ Longtown Castle - bailey walls and an elevated keep, in a countryside location near the Welsh border
★★ Madley Church - 13th century church with medieval stained glass and ancient wall paintings


★★ Bath Abbey - late medieval church at the centre of the city; beautiful perpendicular Gothic architecture
★★ Bishop's Palace - moated, castle-like residence of the bishops of Bath and Wells
★★ Brean Down - narrow limestone peninsula along the north Somerset coast, site of an old fort
★★ Burrow Mump - isolated, conical hill topped by the ruins of an 18th century church
★★★ Cheddar Gorge - famous limestone ravine at the south edge of the Mendip Hills
★★ Cleeve Abbey - well preserved buildings from a 13th century monastery, plus foundations of the church
★★ Crook Peak - rocky hill with excellent views; the most distinctive summit in the Mendips
★★ Farleigh Hungerford Castle - intriguing castle remains that include an intact chapel
★★★ Glastonbury Abbey - imposing and evocative ruins of a famous monastery, established in the 7th century
★★ Glastonbury Tor - famous limestone hill topped by the ruined tower of a 14th century church
★★ Lilstock to St Audrie's Bay - blue lias cliffs and wave-cut terraces
★★★ Minehead to Hurlstone Point - cliffs and pebble beaches along a little-visited, four mile section of the coast
★★ Nunney Castle - small but well-built and picturesque 14th century castle, surrounded by a moat
★★★ Porlock Weir to Glenthorne Beach - remote coastline with rarely seen beaches below steep, wooded cliffs
★★ Portishead Coast - low cliffs and pebble beaches along the coastline south of Portishead
★★ Sand Point and Middle Hope - promontory and headland overlooking the Bristol Channel
★★ Stanton Drew Stone Circles - four groups of ancient stones
★★★ Wells Cathedral - one of England's most beautiful cathedrals


★★★ Avebury World Heritage Site - collection of prehistoric monuments including a burial chamber, an artificial hill, a stone avenue, and the world's largest stone circle
★★ Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn - perfectly preserved 14th century barn, with an intricately constructed timber roof
★★ Ludgershall Castle - tower remains and low wall remnants, from a 12th century castle
★★ Malmesbury Abbey - parish church occupying part of an older, much larger building
★★ Old Sarum - remains of a castle and abbey; the original settlement of Salisbury
★★ St Mary's Church, Wilton - small medieval church, partly ruined, partly converted to a chapel
★★★ Salisbury Cathedral - amongst the largest and most beautiful religious buildings in England
★★★ Stonehenge - Britain's most famous prehistoric monument


★★ Bredon Barn - agricultural building from the 14th century
★★ Great Malvern Priory - ancient parish church, with collections of medieval stained glass and wall tiles
★★ Leigh Court Barn - huge, 14th century cruck-framed barn, the largest building of this type in the country
★★ Little Malvern Priory - picturesque church occupying part of a 12th century Benedictine monastery
★★ Malvern Hills - tall, narrow uplands along the Herefordshire border
★★ Middle Littleton Tithe Barn - substantial, wood and stone barn from the mid 13th century
★★ Pershore Abbey - surviving section of a larger church from a medieval abbey
★★ Witley Court - evocative ruins of an extravagant country house, destroyed by fire in 1937
★★★ Worcester Cathedral - typically grand and ornate cathedral, built partly in the perpendicular Gothic style



★★ Candleston Castle - ivy-clad remains of a 14th century fortified mansion, on a wooded hill
★★ Coity Castle - large, ruined Norman castle with later additions
★★ Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve - extensive sand dunes, beside the coast near Porthcawl


★★★ Caerphilly Castle - extensive 13th century fortification surrounded by moats and lakes

Merthyr Tydfil

★★ Morlais Castle - 13th century castle on an exposed limestone hill at the edge of the Brecon Beacons; mostly just earthworks
★★ Taf Fechan Gorge - pretty, tree-lined gorge north of Merthyr Tydfil, containing cascades and narrow sections


★★ Abergavenny Castle - city centre ruin with a long and varied history
★★ Caerwent Roman Town - varied relics from a major Roman settlement, including extensive city walls
★★ Caldicot Castle - substantial, partly restored fortification surrounded by lawns and woods
★★★ Chepstow Castle - large Norman castle on the banks of the River Wye
★★ Clydach Gorge - wooded valley containing several waterfalls, plus old railways and industrial relics
★★ Grosmont Castle - compact, peaceful and picturesque castle near the River Monnow
★★★ Llanthony Priory - ruined Augustinian priory in a remote valley within the Black Mountains
★★ Monmouth Castle - small castle in the city centre, birthplace of Henry V
★★★ Raglan Castle - spectacular medieval castle in southeast Wales, complete with moat
★★ Runston Chapel - roofless ruin of a small chapel near Chepstow, built in the late 11th century
★★ Skenfrith Castle - remains of a 13th century castle, in rural surroundings overlooking the River Monnow
★★ Skirrid Fawr - eastern outlier of the Black Mountains, circled by a 3.5 mile loop trail
★★★ Tintern Abbey - beautiful ruined abbey on the floor of the Wye Valley, beneath steep, forested slopes
★★ Usk Castle - small, privately-owned castle ruins, some parts from the 12th century
★★ White Castle - a moated castle with outer court, on a hill in a peaceful, rural location

Neath Port Talbot

★★ Margam Abbey - church occupying the nave of an ancient abbey, beside monastic remains including a chapter house
★★★ Neath Abbey - substantial remains of a major Cistercian monastery, and a 16th century mansion


★★ Caerleon Roman Fortress - remains of a first century Roman settlement, including barracks, bath house and amphitheatre


★★ Afon Nedd Fechan - river with three large waterfalls, flowing through a deep, forested valley
★★★ Afon Pyrddin - cascades and two major waterfalls along a tributary of the Afon Nedd Fechan
★★★ Black Mountain Fans - summits along a dramatic ridge above two isolated lakes, on the west side of Brecon Beacons National Park
★★ Brecon Cathedral - Gothic building, some sections dating from the 12th century
★★ Bronllys Castle - three storey keep-tower on top of a high motte
★★★ Caerfanell Waterfalls - 20 or more waterfalls along the Caerfanell River in the Brecon Beacons, and the tributary of Nant Bwrefwr
★★ Castell Dinas - ditches, mounds and the base of a tower, ruins of the highest castle in Wales
★★ Crickhowell Castle - fragmented remains of a minor Norman castle, beside the River Usk
★★ Dolforwyn Castle - excavated castle remains on top of a steep-sided hill, surrounded by woodland
★★ Cwm Llwch - valley with waterfalls and a secluded lake, below the highest peaks in the Brecon Beacons
★★ Cwmhir Abbey - low walls from a once great monastic church
★★★ Fan Fawr and Beacons Reservoir - summit in the Fforest Fawr region, and a scenic reservoir lined by trees
★★★ Four Waterfalls Walk - four large falls along the Mellte and Hepste rivers, near Ystradfellte in Brecon Beacons National Park
★★ Hay Castle - relatively large ruins of a medieval castle, beside a later manor house; in Hay-on-Wye
★★ Llangattock Escarpment - limestone cliffs below a plateau rim, site of 18th century quarries; also caves and a lake
★★ Nant Ddu - valley in the Brecon Beacons, containing several pretty waterfalls
★★★ Nant Llech and Henrhyd Falls - the highest waterfall in south Wales, and a deep valley containing several other cascades
★★★ Pen y Fan and Fan y Big Horseshoe Walk - spectacular loop hike in the Brecon Beacons, visiting four high peaks
★★ Table Mountain, Pen Cerrig-calch and Pen Allt-mawr - summits in the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons National Park
★★ Tretower Castle and Court - ruined castle next to a complete, unrestored, 14th century manor house
★★ Waun Fach, Grwyne Fawr and Nant Bwch - peaks, ridges and valleys on the north side of the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons National Park

Rhondda Cynon Taf

★★ Llantrisant Castle - ivy-covered tower and overgrown foundations from an ancient fortification
★★ Sychryd Gorge - short gorge along the River Sychryd near Pontneddfechan, containing several impressive waterfalls and some old mine relics


★★ Loughor Castle - small but interesting castle remains; a tower and earthwork, on the site of a Roman fort
★★ Oxwich Castle - impressive ruins of a Tudor mansion, on the foundations of a medieval castle
★★ Pennard Castle - evocative remains of a 12th century fortification above Three Cliffs Bay
★★ Penrice Castle - large, little-known ruins, on private land
★★ Three Cliffs Bay - large, sandy inlet on the Gower Peninsula, bordered by dramatic cliffs
★★ Weobley Castle - substantial remains of a fortified mansion from the 14th century
★★★ Worm's Head - narrow tidal island south of Rhossili Bay, surrounded by eroded limestone formations

Vale of Glamorgan

★★ Aberthaw to Stout Bay - cliffs and terraces along the easternmost portion of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast
★★ Barry Castle - gatehouse and walls, the limited remains of a fortified mansion in a residential suburb of Barry
★★★ Dunraven Bay - cliffs, beaches and eroded rock formations along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast near Southerndown
★★ East Orchard Castle - overgrown remains of a sizeable mansion, including various outbuildings
★★ Ewenny Priory - parish church within part of a Norman abbey, protected by fortified walls
★★★ Nash Point to Stout Bay - varied, little-visited section of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast
★★ Ogmore Castle - small but pretty castle remains in a peaceful location beside the River Ewenny
★★ Ogmore-by-Sea - wide, sandy beach leading to eroded limestone cliffs with caves, terraces and other formations
★★ Old Beaupre Castle - ruins of a fortified manor house, partly from the early 14th century
★★ Penmark Castle - overgrown ruins of a 13th century castle, including walls and a tower
★★ St Quintin's Castle - a large gatehouse, curtain walls and tower foundations
★★ Sully Island to Lavernock Point - cliffs, terraces, beaches and a tidal island, accessible at low tide


Brecon Beacons National Park - the largest area of wild lands in the south of the UK

County Location Map
Map of southwest UK

Featured landscapes are places which are scenic, undeveloped, and sometimes wild and remote, and so are somewhat uncommon in the south of the UK; the most extensive region is Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, while second is Exmoor National Park in Devon and Somerset. Apart from these places, and some smaller ranges of hills, the other main type of unspoilt and sometimes difficult-to-reach landscape is the coast, especially the beaches at the foot of lengthy, cliff-bound sections; there are many beautiful stretches of shoreline, not often explored, in south Wales, in Devon and Somerset, and in counties to the south.

Featured historic sites are mostly those which are both old - medieval or earlier - and substantial; usually but not necessarily a ruin. Castles and abbeys are the most photogenic of such locations, while other places include Roman and Neolithic relics, and also cathedrals, which combine spectacular architecture with varied history.

Ratings are a guide to how good a photographic subject the locations are, also taking into account the prettiness of the surroundings, the historical importance (where relevant), and the general enjoyment when visiting.

Devon Dorset Gloucestershire Hampshire Herefordshire Somerset Wiltshire Worcestershire Caerphilly Monmouthshire Newport Powys Rhondda Cynon Taf Swansea Merthyr Tydfil Bridgend Vale of Glamorgan Neath Port Talbot