The UK is getting more Areas of Outstanding Beauty to visit

·4-min read
View along a sea bank path on the Norfolk coast. (Photo by: Bill Allsopp/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
A North Norfolk sea path (Getty Images)

Here in the UK, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to gorgeous landscapes - which is lucky, as it doesn't look as if most of us are going abroad any time soon. 

Nevertheless, we all need to work to protect the gorgeous spots we've got. That's why it's so fantastic that the UK is about the get the first new protected Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in over a quarter of a century. 

Once an area becomes an official AONB it's much harder to build on it or develop it, and these new areas will be created as part of government plans to protect 30% of UK land by 2030.

The agency is still deciding which areas to add, but the Yorkshire Wolds and the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge are both under consideration. It's also pondering on whether to extend pre-existing AONBs in the Surrey Hills and the Chilterns. All are well worth a visit with your walking boots. But don't get too excited about the news just yet - it will probably take years for the new AONBs to be made official. 

So, which of the 46 AONB already in existence most deserve a trip (or at least a hashtag follow on Instagram)? They're all glorious, but these are some of the most magnificent... 

The Norfolk Coast

A row of colourful beach huts on Holkam beach with a row of pine trees behind them.
A row of colourful beach huts on Holkam beach with a row of pine trees behind them. (Getty)

If big skies, huge white beaches, seals, salt-marshes, ridiculously picturesque coastal villages with flint cottages and some of the most beautiful light in the UK are your bag then this wild strip of coast on the eastern edge of England is the place for you - just don't come here if you're after any massive hills. Ornithological types will be in heaven spotting rare breeds in the world-famous bird reserves, while the rest of us can try our hands at crabbing. 

The Wye Valley

Sunrise, River Wye, Symonds Yat, Gloucestershire, England
Sunrise over the River Wye. (Getty Images)

Recently made famous by the Netflix show Sex Education, the Wye Valley winds across the border between England and Wales. Its dramatic scenery follows the meandering Wye River as it cuts through steep, wooded gorges - with views, as they say, for days. The Lake District gets all our attention, but Wordsworth was equally inspired by this area - and it's easy to see why. 


The Ring of Gullion

The Ring of Gullion from the top of Sleive Gullion a extinct Volcano in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Blow Holes or small mountains surround the Volcano
The Ring of Gullion, as seen from Sleive Gullion. (Getty Images)

Few places are as genuinely special and unusual as the Ring of Gullion, a unique ring dyke (created by an extinct volcano) in Northern Ireland. The rugged, hilly landscape is best viewed from the heathery, boggy sides of Slieve Gullion, a mystical volcano steeped in legend and folklore.

The Cotswolds

Arlington Row in the village of Bibury, Gloucestershire. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
A quaint Cotsworlds village street. (Getty Images)

There's a reason why half the celebrities in the UK, from Kate Moss to Jamie Dornan, seem to live in the Cotswolds - with its instantly-recognisable yellow limestone houses, pretty villages and gentle rolling hills it's indisputably lovely. What's more, from its south-central English position you can follow the Thames right back to London. 

Isles of Scilly

TRESCO, ISLES OF SCILLY, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: New Grimsby, Tresco, looking towards Bryher, Isles Of Scilly on April 8, 2021. (Photo by Chris Gorman/Getty Images)
A sunset over Tresco in The Isles of Scilly (Getty Images)

Many Brits don't even realise that this small but beautiful island archipelago, located off the most southwestern tip of Cornwall, even exists - but those in the know love it for its remote position and untouched beauty. Animal buffs can spot unique plants and animals, such as the Scilly shrew and the Scilly bee, while exploring the sandy beaches, granite cliffs and green meadows. 

The North Pennines

England. Cumbria. North West Penines. View of High Cup Gill from High Cup Nick. (Photo by: Bryan Pickering/Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The untouched view of High Cup Gill (Getty Images)

Up for some wild moors, pretty villages and rushing waterfalls? Head to this huge but pristine and unspoilt AONB, nestled between the National Parks of the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland. Geology nuts will love the dramatic shapes created by millions of years of history, including the sweeping U-shaped valley of High Cup Gill. 

Watch: England's North Pennine's covered in snow

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