THE SEVEN NATURAL WONDERS OF THE UK
Merrell has partnered with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to establish the Seven Natural Wonders of the UK – a list of natural landmarks that are unified by their shared beauty, uniqueness, and geological significance.
The Seven Wonders showcases the finest work of Mother Nature on these shores – landscapes carved out over millions of years that have stood the test of time through Ice Ages and intense volcanic activity. The result is a number of earthly marvels – from the natural artistry of the Giant’s Causeway to the rugged beauty of Loch Coruisk & The Cuillins.
The Natural Wonders have been devised to inspire native exploration and celebrate nature’s greatest gifts in the UK. A longing for travel, discovery and new experiences has been suppressed by the pandemic, and with restrictions on international getaways set to continue this year, the Seven Wonders acts as inspiration for those embarking on a UK adventure.
Research commissioned by Merrell revealed that only one in 10 Britons had heard of all seven of the locations and a significant 40% of UK adults have never visited any of the Natural Wonders.
But how familiar are you with UK’s most iconic landscapes? Follow the trail below to discover the Seven Natural Wonders of the UK.
Wastwater, Lake District
54.4428° N, 3.2920° W
Surrounded by some of the Lake District’s tallest mountains, Wastwater lies in arguably one of the wildest and most dramatic valleys of the National Park. The valley of Wasdale was created by Ice Age glaciers carving out U-shaped hollows in the hard volcanic rocks. Although the Ice Age began about 2.4 million years ago, it was the latest period of intense cold, about 10,000 years ago, that caused the striking features seen today in the Lake District.
William Wordsworth famously commented on the splendours of the wider Wastdale valley that ‘Wastdale is well worth the notice of the Traveller who is not afraid of fatigue; no part of the country is more distinguished by sublimity.’
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
55.2408° N, 6.5116° W
The Giant’s Causeway lies on the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. The area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 due to it being “a spectacular area of global geological importance.”
The geological features of the Causeway were formed around 50-60 million years ago, when the Antrim Coast was subjected to intense volcanic activity. The most characteristic and unique feature of the site is the regular polygonal basalt columns – estimates suggest that there are approximately 40,000 columns around the Causeway. The formation of the columns was a result of successive lava flows which cooled rapidly when they met with the sea.
Dovedale, Peak District
53.0667° N, 1.7833° W
Located in the Peak District, Dovedale is a stretch of the Dove Valley where the Dove River tumbles through impressive limestone ravines.
The limestone rock of Dovedale and the wider Peak District consists of the fossilised remains of marine life from the Carboniferous period, 350 million years ago when the area was underneath a shallow tropical sea. At the end of the last Ice Age, vast quantities of meltwater cut through the layers of limestone leaving behind the limestone rock formations like those found in Dovedale.
The Needles, Isle of Wight
50.6626° N, 1.5898° W
The Needles form the western tip of a backbone of chalk that crosses the centre of the Isle of Wight, with three distinctive, jagged, chalk stacks that extend into the sea. However, the fourth and taller, needle-like stack that gave its name to these rocks, known as ‘Lot’s Wife’, collapsed during a storm in 1764.
Only the stump of the former 120 ft pinnacle is now visible at low tide and forms a dangerous reef off the coast. The vertical chalk stacks of the Needles are a result of heavy folding of chalk which results in hard chalk, resistant to erosion.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
50.6212° N, 2.2768° W
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 due to the global importance of its rocks, fossils and geological landforms, the Jurassic Coast is a 95-mile stretch of coast from Orcombe Point in Exmouth, Devon to the Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage in Dorset.
The site provides an almost continuous sequence of rock formations covering the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, known collectively as the Mesozoic Era, and is internationally renowned for its contribution to the study of earth sciences over the past 300 years.
Loch Coruisk & The Cuillins
57.2062° N, 6.1666° W
Loch Coruisk, meaning ‘Cauldron of Waters’ in Scottish Gaelic, is an in-land, freshwater loch situated in the heart of the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye. Whilst the head of the loch is surrounded on three sides by the imposing volcanic Black Cuillins, the southern end connects to the sea by the Scavaig River which discharges into Loch Scavaig.
Following a visit to Dunvegan Castle, Sir Walter Scott visited Loch Coruisk in 1814, describing it as ‘that dread lake’ in his poem ‘The Lord of the Isles’. The dramatic and isolated beauty of the loch has also inspired many artists over the centuries, including William Daniell (1769-1837) and J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851).
Pistyll Rhaeadr, Wales
52.8552° N, 3.3788° W
At 240 ft tall Pistyll Rhaeadr is one of Britain’s highest waterfalls. Situated just inside the Welsh border the waterfall is formed from streams originating in the Berwyn Mountains, falling in three stages to form the Afon Rhaeadr below.
The 19th-century author George Borrow described the beauty of the waterfall in his book ‘Wild Wales’ as ‘an immense skein of silk agitated and disturbed by tempestuous blasts, or to the long tail of a grey courser at furious speed. I never saw water falling so gracefully, so much like thin, beautiful threads as here.’
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