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6 natural spectacles near our sites

Posted by Katy Peck on 25 August 2019
Related property: Merlewood
6 natural spectacles near our sites

Britain is full of breathtaking sights, from spectacular avian displays to awe-inspiring landscapes. With our UK properties nestled in beautiful locations all across the country, you’ll never be too far from something incredible. To help get you started on your UK adventures, we’ve picked six of our favourites below:

Morecambe Bay near Merlewood

Quicksand may sound like something better suited to an adventure movie than the UK, but the treacherous sands at Morecambe Bay, 35 minutes by car from Merlewood, tell another story. The bay has the largest area of intertidal sand and mudflats in the country. Its infamous sands have claimed many lives over the centuries. Throughout the day, the fast tides quickly change the hidden channels of water, transforming areas which were once solid into quicksand.

Despite the dangers, the bay is famous for walking. Those who wish to make the journey across the endless, sandy landscape must enlist the help of a guide to lead them the four miles through the changing sands and waters. The 26th Queen’s Guide to the Sands, local fisherman Michael Wilson, was appointed this year (2019) after his predecessor retired following 55 years in the role. The royally-appointed guide is paid a nominal salary of only £15 a year and leads hundreds of walkers across the sands, usually for charity. You can find a timetable of walks on the official website.

Limestone Pavements near Lodge Yard

Malham Cove is an amazing 70 metre cliff made from white limestone, found one hour's drive from Lodge Yard. The cliff itself is a fantastic display of glaciation, but just as interesting are the limestone pavements which can be found high above the cove. These are some of the best examples of karst (soluble rock) scenery in the world, created by advancing and retreating glaciers millions of years ago.

Limestone pavements, as suggested by their name, are flat areas of exposed limestone that resemble an artificial surface, with its distinctive pattern taking on the appearance of paving slabs. The deep fissures (or grikes) between the slabs (or clints) are created when slightly acidic rainwater erodes away the stone and are home to rare shade-loving plants such as wood garlic and harts-tongue fern. As mentioned, Malham Cove has some terrific examples, which were made even more famous by their appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

Visitors to Malham Cove can park at the National Park visitor centre and enjoy plenty of walks around the cliffs and up to the pavement – just make sure to watch your feet, as the limestone formations are very uneven.

Aurora Borealis near Tigh Mor Trossachs

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, have fascinated mankind for as long as anyone can remember. But did you know that they occasionally put in an appearance in Scotland? Although the best chances of seeing them are in the north, they have been seen all across the country. Keen skygazers have even been treated to a glimpse of the famous lights in the Cairngorms, just a couple of hours by car from Tigh Mor Trossachs.

The Northern Lights are caused when charged particles are accelerated into the Earth’s atmosphere along magnetic field lines. The energy is enough to turn the night sky alive with colour, from flickering greens and yellows to fiery reds and purples. They can last for seconds or minutes, but are always magical. For many people, seeing the Northern Lights is high on the bucket list and the magic of this unforgettable natural display is sure to stay with you long after the colours have faded away.

Although the lights are still rare in the UK, January is generally thought to be the best time to cast your gaze upwards. Predictions on when Aurora might be visible in the UK can be found at AuroraWatch UK.

Starling Murmurations near Coo Palace

Our latest property, Coo Palace, is not too long a drive from Gretna Green; a destination once frequented by young lovebirds hoping to take advantage of Scotland's more relaxed marriage laws. Today, it’s possible to catch sight of a completely different type of visitor… starlings! Tens of thousands of them, in fact.

The starlings tend to stop in Gretna Green between November and February, as part of a bi-annual migration to Britain. When they gather together in preparation to roost, they create spectacular dark clouds which swirl, twist and tumble across the sky. These ‘murmurations’, as they’re called, can consist of up to 100,000 birds, creating amazing patterns. There are many reasons starlings may do this; confusing predators, warmth and communication are just some ideas.

Although there’s no guarantee, you’ll have the best chance to catching this awe-inspiring sight in the rural areas around Gretna; visit at dusk in November.

Severn Bore near Buckland Court

One of the only true water phenomena which can be found in Britain. The Severn Bore is a large surge wave that can be seen in the estuary of the River Severn. This is due to the shape of the estuary, which narrows and becomes rapidly shallower as you move upstream. Water from the incoming tide is forced down this ever-decreasing channel, causing the wave to be formed.

The Severn Bore is one of the biggest in the world and a real draw for visitors. If you visit the river when a bore is due, you’re bound to see large crowds on the bank... and even a few people clutching surfboards or canoes in the water. The wave can reach heights of 10ft and move at speeds of 13mph, making it a favourite of extreme sports enthusiasts. The bizarre sight of surfers flying along an English river is not one to be missed!

The best place to see it is Minsterworth or Stonebench (both 40 – 45 minutes’ drive from Buckland Court). The times of the bore are governed by the tide and can be found on the website.

Cheddar Gorge near Lower Knapp Farm

90 minutes drive from Lower Knapp Farm, you’ll find the UK’s answer to the Grand Canyon – Cheddar Gorge. Perhaps it’s on a slightly smaller scale, but we think you’ll still find a sense of wonder when you admire the impressive vertical cliffs. The limestone walls rise 137 metres to the top of the gorge and are edged by caves containing dramatic rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites. The unique rock formations were all formed by meltwater at the end of the ice age, making this a site rich in both beauty and history. Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was actually found here in 1903.

Two caves – Glough’s Cave and Cox’s Cave – are open to the public, containing light displays and other attractions. For those who wish to aim a little higher, the 274 steps of Jacobs Ladder will take you up to the lookout tower, where you can enjoy the spectacular views. There’s also a three-mile clifftop walk, where you can really make the most of the scenery.

We carefully choose each of our UK sites to make sure they’re perfectly located for enjoying the many delights that Britain has to offer. To learn more about how you can enjoy a stay in our 30+ holiday properties, get in touch or request a free brochure.

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Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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