Landscape photography is constantly growing in popularity, and it’s no surprise. Humans have an intrinsic love of the outdoors, and the sprawling urbanisation is causing more and more people to crave the quieter areas of the world.
Not to mention the ever more affordable cameras suited to landscape photography.
The United Kingdom, and especially England, has the highest population density in Europe at the moment. There are 395 people for every square kilometre, and with over 90% of those living in urban areas it’s understandable that people are looking to escape the hustle and bustle.
Fortunately, despite it’s small island status and huge population density, there are still many areas of the UK that classify as rural. Furthermore, it has one of the most varied landscapes in Europe and can offer anything from dramatic seascapes to cliff-laden mountainscapes. The opportunity is endless, but it’s difficult to know where to start.
That’s what we’re here for, and here are our top six locations in the UK for landscape photography, covering every country in the UK!
1. Isle of Skye – Scotland
What list of top landscape photography locations would be complete without mentioning the Isle of Skye? Yes, the cliche shots have been done to death and tourism in the area is higher than ever, but I always advocate taking those cliche and often taken photographs because they’re photographed a lot for a good reason!
Besides, anybody who’s been to Skye knows that conditions are never the same there, and the island is much larger than most people realise. There’s plenty to shoot besides the iconic shots of the Old Man of Storr and Elgol, but if all else fails you have those gems to fall back upon.
Many landscape photographers starting out bemoan the UKs lack of subject material, looking further afield to the likes of Iceland and New Zealand. However, I guarantee that Skye will take your breath away when you arrive, and it can keep you photographically entertained for years afterwards.
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2. Dorset – South England
If you’re based a bit further south than the Highlands of Scotland there’s still plenty to shoot. Head down to the southern coast and you’ll find the county of Dorset, and while it is a little more crowded than up north there’s photographic potential in heaps and spades.
Durdle Door is the obvious choice, with it’s dramatic arch making a perfect focal point and perfectly framed by the cliffs and golden beaches surrounding it. However, it doesn’t end there by any means.
After shooting the iconic Durdle Door you can wander along the rest of the World Heritage Site that is the Jurassic Coast and take in the stunning seascapes. Admittedly the majority of the photographic material in Dorset revolves around the coast, but as an island nation we can’t complain at that! It’s some of the most stunning coastline in the UK, with Kimmeridge Bay, Lulworth Cove, Portland all being well worth a visit.
One location I would highly recommend that’s a bit further inland is Corfe Castle, which looks gorgeous at sunrise with a low hanging mist surrounding it.
3. Snowdonia National Park – North Wales
Heading into our third country on the list, we end up in the Tolkien-esque mountain landscape of Snowdonia in north Wales. As is often the case, we have easy access to some gorgeous coastal locations such on the Anglesey coast, but the main focus here has to be the rugged mountains!
Home to Wales’ highest mountain – Mount Snowdon – there is typically dramatic scenery all around the sprawling national park. There are mirror flat lakes reflecting towering mountains, vibrant vegetation, disused quarries, and quaint villages to name a few.
Some highlights include the ‘Lonely Tree’ at Llyn Padam, the Ogwen Valley from Cwm Idwal, Llanddwyn Island on the Anglesey coast, and the medieval setting of Conwy Town (which comes complete with castle.)
You may not be able to pronounce most of the names, but you’ll certainly remember them after visiting!
4. Lake District National Park – North West England
Recently upgraded to a World Heritage site, the Lake District is one of the photographic gems of the UK. It has everything a landscape photographer could ever desire – Home to England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike, littered with a variety of lakes and tarns, and boasting hills and mountains that vary from grassy hillocks to sheer cliffs of bedrock.
It is a place of incredible variety, with hills and mountains ranging from grassy hillocks to overbearing sheer cliffs of bedrock. Then there’s the countless lakes and tarns all around, the stunning mountain passes, the mixture of both deciduous and coniferous forests, and a coastline that is far too often overlooked. Not to mention the highest mountain in England – Scafell Pike, which happens to be at the head of England’s deepest lake, which in turn offers the nation’s favourite viewpoint.
A few highlights include Wastwater, Wrynose and Hard Knott Pass (not for the faint hearted,) Ullswater, Derwent Water, and sheer beauty that is Blencathra. You could spend decades in the Lake District and never get bored of picking up your camera and heading outside!
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5. GlenCoe – Scottish Highlands
Back to Scotland now, and to a location deemed so dramatic that they filmed a scene from James Bond there! As you expect from the Scottish Highlands there is an abundance of dramatic mountains, and weather as changeable as you could ever imagine.
It also boasts, in my opinion, the greatest road in the entire country. The A82 actually starts just north of Glasgow, but follow that road upwards and you eventually start climbing to the bleak moorlands of Rannoch Moor before the imposing Buachaille Etive Mor comes into view. After that it’s just breathtaking moment after breathtaking moment, descending the valley past the Three Sisters of Glencoe.
Fortunately there are dozens of lay-bys to stop in and take in the view, and any of these serve as the perfect starting point for an exploration of the wonderful scenery. You can even take a ski-lift up nearly to the summit of Creag Dhubb, which offers incredible views down the valley of Glen Etive.
If you get bored of landscape photography (unlikely) you can always venture down Glen Etive and get some wildlife shots of the herds of Red Deer that roam the area. It’s a location not to be missed!
6. County Antrim – Northern Ireland
Hopping across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland and we find some spectacular sights, and none more so than County Antrim.
County Antrim is most famously known for the Giant’s Causeway; an area steeped in mythology and consisting of about 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns. These, as you can imagine, make for countless photographic compositions and add something special to your photographs. It’s perfect for some long exposure work with the crashing waves and is the most iconic location in Northern Ireland.
County Antrim has more to offer than just the Giant’s Causeway though, and one of my favourite locations is Dunluce Castle, a beautifully situated medieval castle that perches on the edge of sheer cliffs dropping into the sea. Photographic viewpoints don’t get much better than this!