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, mountains and nature reserves, castles, cathedrals and ruined abbeys
Glenthorne Beach to Foreland Point Sherborne Old Castle Avon Gorge
St Catherine's Chapel Old Wardour Castle St Mary Redcliffe Port Eynon to Common Cliff
Westonbirt Arboretum Hailes Abbey Oystermouth Castle

Locations


Coastlines
Coastlines
Beaches and cliffs along the coasts of Devon, Dorset and Somerset in England, and Bridgend, Swansea and Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. Explorable from above via the coast path, or below by walking directly along the shoreline

Mountains
Mountains and Hills
The Brecon Beacons are the only true mountains in southwest UK but there are other scenic, high elevation regions including the moorland of Exmoor and Dartmoor, and the hills of the Malverns, Quantocks, and Mendips

Nature Reserves
Nature Reserves
Nature reserves may contain meadows, ancient woodland, heath, gorges, hills, lakes, wetlands, coastal bluffs, abandoned railway lines and old quarries, and many are of interest because of the natural landscapes in addition to the plants and wildlife

Castles
Castles
Medieval castles and fortified mansions, most in various stages of ruin, though a few are still intact and partly furnished. They range in location from city centres to remote countryside

Cathedrals
Cathedrals and Churches
Cathedrals of the southwest, and a selection of some of the largest and most historic parish churches, together amongst the best preserved buildings from the early medieval period

Ruined Abbeys
Ruined Abbeys
Religious ruins, mostly of ancient Catholic monasteries that were closed during the Reformation, many still displaying spectacular architecture, in atmospheric settings


All Locations, also including gorges, neolithic sites, roman remains and waterfalls


What's New?




Counties


England

Berkshire

Donnington Castle is a ruined, 13th century fortified manor house

Bristol

Avon Gorge is a spectacular limestone gorge along the River Avon, while Bristol Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe are the two oldest and most famous religious buildings

Devon

Devon has much spectacular coastline, including Axmouth to Lyme Regis, Beer Head, Glenthorne Beach to Foreland Point, Sidmouth to Ladram Bay and Valley of Rocks to Woody Bay, together with a fine selection of castles, such as Berry Pomeroy, Dartmouth, Okehampton and Totnes. Two other highlights are Exeter Cathedral and Lydford Gorge

Dorset

Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove and Lyme Regis to Seatown are two especially famous sections of the Dorset coastline, while the county contains over a dozen ancient castles, including Christchurch, Corfe, Portland, Sandsfoot and Sherborne. Shaftesbury Abbey is perhaps the finest medieval church

Gloucestershire

Ancient buildings in Gloucestershire include Berkeley Castle, Gloucester Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey and Hailes Abbey, this latter a very photogenic ruin. The county is home to an especially large and varied collection of nature reserves, the best being Crickley Hill, Daneway Banks, Lancaut, Lower Woods, Sapperton Valley and Swift's Hill, and also Westonbirt Arboretum

Hampshire

Four highlights of Hampshire's ancient architecture are Netley Abbey, Odiham Castle, Portchester Castle and the Roman settlement of Silchester

Herefordshire

Goodrich, Kilpeck, Longtown and Wigmore are the best ruined castles in Herefordshire, while medieval churches of note include Dore Abbey Hereford Cathedral and Madley

Oxfordshire


Tuckmill Meadow is small nature reserve, with grassland and marsh

Somerset

Brean Down, Lilstock to St Audrie's Bay, Minehead to Hurlstone Point, Porlock Weir to Glenthorne Beach and Sand Point are amongst the most scenic sections of the Somerset coast, while other landscapes, some protected as nature reserves, include Cheddar Gorge, Crook Peak, Leigh Woods and Walton Common. The most impressive religious buildings are Bath Abbey, Glastonbury Abbey and Wells Cathedral

Wiltshire

The varied attractions of Wiltshire include churches (Malmesbury Abbey and Salisbury Cathedral), prehistoric sites (Avebury and Stonehenge), castles (Ludgershall, Old Sarum and Old Wardour) and nature reserves, such as Coombe Bissett Down, Dunscombe Bottom and Lower Moor Farm

Worcestershire

The Malvern Hills are the most impressive landscape feature in Worcestershire. Historic churches include Great Malvern Priory, Little Malvern Priory, Pershore Abbey and Worcester Cathedral

Wales

Blaenau Gwent


Silent Valley Nature Reserve, a wooded valley near Ebbw Vale

Bridgend

Bridgend is a small county, with two excellent coastal nature reserves, Kenfig and Merthyr Mawr, plus a few castles including Candleston and Coity

Caerphilly

Caerphilly Castle, an extensive 13th century fortification surrounded by moats and lakes

Merthyr Tydfil

Two attractions of Merthyr Tydfil are Morlais Castle, a 13th century ruin on an exposed limestone hill, and the deep, wooded valley of the Taf Fechan River

Monmouthshire

There are nine medieval castles in Monmouthshire, the best being Caldicot, Chepstow, Grosmont, Raglan and White. Llanthony Priory and Tintern Abbey are two spectactular monastic ruins. There are also many nature reserves, such as Prisk Wood, hidden valleys like Clydach Gorge, and outlying hills of the Brecon Beacons, such as Skirrid Fawr

Neath Port Talbot

The two main historic sites in Neath Port Talbot are the partial ruins of Margam Abbey and the more extensive remains of Neath Abbey

Newport

Caerleon has extensive remains of a first century Roman settlement. Great Traston Meadows Nature Reserve comprises marshy grassland on the Gwent Levels

Powys

The many castles of Powys incude Bronllys, Dinas, Crickhowell, Dolforwyn, Hay, Montgomery and Tretower, but the county is most famous for its landscapes, including most of Brecon Beacons National Park; such locations as Black Mountain Fans, Caerfanell Valley, Fan Fawr, Henrhyd Falls, Llangattock Escarpment, Pen y Fan, Table Mountain, Waun Fach and Waterfall Country

Rhondda Cynon Taf

Llantrisant Castle is a minor, overgrown ruin, while Sychryd Gorge is a spectacular gorge containing waterfalls and old mines

Swansea

The Gower Peninsula forms most of the county of Swansea, famous for castles (Loughor, Oxwich, Oystermouth, Pennard, Penrice, Swansea and Weobley), and of course the coastline, some of the best locations being Caswell Bay, Port Eynon, Three Cliffs Bay, Whiteford and Worm's Head

Torfaen


Henllys Bog Nature Reserve is a small, remote site containing several rare plant species

Vale of Glamorgan

The Glamorgan coastline is lined by beaches and spectacular, eroded cliffs, such as Aberthaw to Stout Bay, Dunraven Bay, Nash Point to Stout Bay, Ogmore-by-Sea and Sully Island to Lavernock Point. Historic sites include Ewenny Priory and the castles of Barry, East Orchard, Ogmore Castle, Old Beaupre, Penmark and St Quintin's

Parks

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

Wildflowers

Descriptions and photographs of some of the many flowering plants of southwest England and Wales

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 Torfaen Blaenau Gwent Neath Port Talbot Oxfordshire Berkshire Bristol