The geographical facts about the UK are not going to astound you. This small island country made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland doesn’t have anything that is the largest, longest, widest, deepest or highest in the world. But, just like every other country, no matter how big or small, geographical facts about the UK are of national significance – and downright pretty and scenic too! So continuing our journey around the continents and their geographical superlatives, here are the pertinent facts of UK geography.
Let’s kick off the geographical facts about the UK with the highest mountain. It is the 4409 foot Ben Nevis and is in Scotland. Scotland actually has most of the highest mountains in the UK. In fact of the top 10, all but one is in Scotland and that is Mount Snowdon in Wales, which at 3405 feet is the 3rd highest mountain in the United Kingdom. The mountains of Scotland and Wales are gorgeous and much beloved by visitors for their scenery and opportunities for outdoor pursuits.
This honour goes to the River Severn which has dual nationality, flowing through both England and Wales from its estuary on the Bristol Channel. You might be surprised to know that it is only 220 miles long – compare that to the mighty Nile which is the world’s longest river at 4,132 miles! The River Thames is a close second at 215 miles.
Many people would assume that the waters of the English Lake District would appear in the facts of UK geography. Not so – the 2 largest lakes in the UK are actually in Northern Island. Lough (pronounced Loch) Neagh is the biggest and is actually 3 times bigger than the next largest – Lower Lough Eme. Loch Lomond is Scotland’s largest lake, for Wales it is Lake Bala and for England, it is Lake Windermere. If you were to include man made reseviors in the biggest bodies of water in the UK, many of them would appear high up the list ahead of many well known lakes.
I did say you wouldn’t find the geographical facts about the UK astounding but here’s one that in comparison is interesting. The UK’s tallest waterfall is Eas a' Chual Aluinn in Scotland. Its name in Gaelic means ‘waterfall of the beautiful tresses’. With a height of 656 feet it doesn’t sound that high, but that makes it 3 times as tall as Niagara Falls. The difference is that Eas a’Chual Aluinn is a mere trickle by comparison in volume terms.
I really struggled to find this one – our valleys aren’t so spectacular because our mountainous areas don’t really forge valleys, and certainly no canyons. However, we have plenty of spectacular gorges in the UK. Some of them are Cheddar Gorge – yes, where the cheese originated, Lydford Gorge, the Avon Gorge, and Gordale Scar – all of which, interestingly, are in England.
The honor of being the deepest cave in the UK goes to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu in Wales which has a network of passages running for 30+ miles and goes to a depth of just over 1,000 feet. England’s deepest cave is Peak Cavern (814 feet), Scotland’s deepest is Cnoc nan Uamh (272 feet) and the deepest cave in Northern Island is Reyford Pot (633 feet). The Easegill System in Yorkshire is the UK’s longest cave network and runs for approximately 45 miles.
The UK isn’t exactly well known for having a lovely climate and it’s been steadily getting wetter and colder. The summers have almost disappeared! Many places record cold temperatures below freezing in winter, but there’s one little village in the Highlands of Scotland that seems to get more than its fair share of billing as the coldest place in the UK. Altnaharra is regularly buried by snow and has even recorded temperatures as low as the South Pole.
You’ve probably never heard of Poole – it’s a busy seaside town on the south coast of England. Its claim to fame however, is that it has the largest harbor in the UK, but what is amazing, is that is it the 2nd largest natural harbor in the world behind Sydney Harbor. Sadly, Poole lacks the majesty of Sydney and it doesn’t have anything to compare with the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House.
The UK’s longest beach is Chesil Beach. It is an 18 mile long shingle spit on england’s south coast. It connects the Isle of Portland with the mainland and is a barrier to the Fleet Lagoon. The longest sandy beaches are Berrow Beach in Somerset, SW England and Pendine Sands in Wales. Berrow is thought to be the 2nd longest stretch of sand in Europe.
There are currently 15 designated national parks in the United Kingdom. None are in Northern Ireland, England has the lion’s share with 10, with Scotland boasting 3 and Wales 2. National Parks in the UK do not have the same definition as elsewhere. National Parks in other countries are usually government controlled and are usually without a permanent population. Not so in the UK where they are managed locally and regulated by the National Parks Authority. The UK also has areas of countryside which are determined and classed as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. National Parks include the Cairngorms (the largest), Snowdonia, The Lake District and the Peak District.
Well, I did say that the geographic facts about the UK wouldn’t bowl you over by how amazing they are but I hope you found them interesting. I’d love to hear more facts of UK Geography if you have any?
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