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Five British Places You Will not Believe are Real

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by John Burns (subscribe)
I am a writer and teacher, out and about in the world but with Nottingham never far from my heart.
Published January 5th 2015
You won't believe what wonders lie right on your doorstep
The world is full of fantastic places that will take your breath away - you just need to know where to look. But it might surprise you to discover that many of the world's most stunning locations are located right here in Great Britain.

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Sgurr Dearg, Skye

Pack your hiking shoes, some sandwiches and a sense of adventure, and prepare to be amazed as you explore some of Britain's most jaw-dropping sites. Below you will find our top five, but don't forget to get in touch if you think there are any we have missed.

5. Red Walls, Angelsey

We've all heard of the White Cliffs at Dover; those chalk rock faces have become etched into the very fabric of British culture thanks to Vera Lynn's patriotic song. But unless you're an avid rock climber, the Red Walls of Gogarth may have escaped your attention.

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The Red Walls of Gogarth

Located on the Welsh island of Angelsey, lying only a few hundred metres of the coast of the mainland and connected by a road bridge, Gogarth has become a paradise for rock climbers thanks to the varied nature of its climbing and its incredible setting. Up to 400 feet high in places and with sheer rock faces dropping straight down to the sea, this is a great place for experienced climbers.

If your climbing experience is rather more limited, you can still appreciate the incredible natural beauty of the rock faces by taking a train from nearby Llandudno and enjoying a ramble along the cliff tops.

4. Portmeirion, Gwynedd

Staying in Wales for the time being, the next location on our list is the village of Portmeirion in Gwynedd. Easily reachable from the towns of Porthmadog and Minffordd, Portmerion is one of the most magical places in the British Isles.

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The central plaza at Portmeirion

Walking around the village will make you feel that you have been transported to another dimension. Brightly coloured houses contrast against one another while rambling, Italianate architecture peeks out from behind leafy foliage. The place is more reminiscent of something from The Hobbit or Game of Thrones than a village on the west coast of Wales.

Constructed between 1925 and 1975 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is about as unique an architectural curio as you are likely to find on the British Isles. Set aside the whole day to explore this fascinating spot at leisure.

3. Sgurr Dearg, Skye

Visiting number three on our list will require sense of adventure and a large measure of tenacity. The Red Peak or Sgurr Dearg in the original Gaelic is a mountain in the Cuillin range on the Isle of Skye.

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Approaching the Cuillin Ridge. Image courtesy of Ray Wise via Flickr

Sgurr Dearg is renowned amongst mountaineers as the most difficult of the Munros (a group of Scottish mountain peaks all more than 3000ft in height) on account of its Innacceisble Pinnacle a fin of rock which rises 150ft from the mountain's summit. While the climbing is relatively easy, ascending the peak and its pinnacle is not recommended for lone novices, although guides can be arranged online (Skye Mountain Fever are particularly recommended) who can help you traverse the entire ridge.

It's a tiring, nerve-racking but ultimately spellbinding journey, but not one to be undertaken alone if you have no experience of serious mountaineering.

2. Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

From the wilds of Skye in the far north to the beautiful locales of the English south west, our list of the most fantastic locations in Britain is all-encompassing. Number two in our run-down is the castle of Tintagel on the north coast of Cornwall. It is thought that there have been fortifications on the site since Roman times, but archaeologists believe that the existing structure dates back to 1233.

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The cove and bridge at the foot of Tintagel Castle

The sweeping topography of the region, coupled with the evocative ruins of this once formidable escarpment, give Tintagel an undeniable sense of romance. Its close associations with Arthurian legend have also made the castle an iconic piece of the British identity.

Visiting Tintagel Castle - either as a day trip or as part of a longer walk along the Cornish coast is highly recommended. The castle and the rugged coastline around it can be easily reached on foot and parking is available in the nearby village of Tintagel. The castle itself is currently under renovation but will reopen to the public in the summer of 2015.

1. Fingal's Cave, Staffa

Last but definitely, definitely not least on our list of the most fantastic places in Britain is Fingal's Cave on the Hebridean island of Staffa. Reminiscent of the incredible geology of Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway, (which only misses out on this list because it is already so well known) a visit to western Scotland cannot be considered complete without hitting up this spot.

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The majestic Fingal's Cave, Staffa

Reachable by ferry either from the mainland port of Oban or from the nearby island of Mull, Staffa is an uninhabited piece of rock lying off the west coast of Scotland. Measuring only 33 hectares in area, the island is famous two things: its puffin nesting sites and its magnificent rock formations.

Book a boat tour from the aforementioned ports and head out to experience Fingal's Cave for yourself. On the way, look out for puffins up above and dolphins, whales and even basking sharks down below. The journey and the opportunities it offers for wildlife spotting is all part of the fun.

Once on the island, tread carefully on the slippery basalt columns and make your way around the shoreline to the cave itself. Standing in the mouth of the cave you will soon understand why this place has become the setting for countless pieces of British drama and literature and was a favourite holiday destination for Queen Victoria herself.

After taking it all in, head up onto the top of the desolate island and see if you can spot some of the bright-beaked puffin birds that call this place home. Just don't forget to keep an eye on your boat back to civilization no one has lived here since the 19th century, and so finding an emergency hotel can be tricky.

Have you visited any of these places? Think we need to add any to our list? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below.
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Why? Because some of the world's most fascinating locations are right on your doorstep
Where: UK
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