Winning tip: Pendle Hill, Lancashire
There can’t be many views as far-reaching as this. George Fox climbed Pendle in 1652. He saw the silver line of sea bordering Lancashire and below him a vision of a multitude of followers, which led him to found the Quaker movement. Today, the panorama is still inspiring, with the addition of Blackpool Tower. On a rare, clear day you can make out the headland of Penmaenmawr in north Wales, and the Yorkshire Dales’ Pen-y-ghent, the hill of winds, and all the still wild country in between. The best ascent of this legendary hill is from the village of Barley.
Hilltop escape, Edinburgh
The city offers countless popular spots for snapping that perfect panorama. But, if you’d rather a more tranquil location, without the selfie seekers, Caerketton Hill at Swanston is well worth the trek. Lying to the south side of the city, Swanston village sits on the fringes of the Pentland Hills (a 15-minute drive or short bus trip from the city centre). The walk takes you through the village, once home to Robert Louis Stevenson and rumoured to be where he wrote Treasure Island. The steep path meanders through the countryside to the top of Caerketton Hill, where you will pass the local herd of highland cows. After about a mile, you will be near the top and have the finest view in Edinburgh, with spectacular scenes of the castle, the Forth Road Bridge and across the Firth of Forth.
Seven kingdoms, Isle of Man
Seven “kingdoms” can be seen from the summit of Snaefell (snow mountain), the highest mountain on the Isle of Man. Not only does the view include the coastlines of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales but that of the Isle of Man itself. The other two kingdoms? Why, heaven and the sea, according to the Manx. On a clear day, you can see the fells of the Lake District, the mountains of Mourne and Wicklow, and the Scottish Southern Uplands. Travel to the summit on the Snaefell Mountain Railway, built in 1895 and beautifully maintained, with impressive views of the Laxey Wheel en route, the largest working waterwheel in the world.
Scottish Caribbean, Isle of Skye
There are many breathtaking views on the Isle of Skye but the biggest surprise was Sgurr na Stri – a fairly long day’s hike, which is well worth the effort. The view from the top is spectacular. The dark Cuillin mountains surround turquoise water that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean.
A blustery Ben, the Highlands
The climb to the top of Ben A’an, in the middle of the Trossachs, was only around an hour long but tough going in places. It winds through managed forestland, up craggy springs, and climbs over bouldering rocks. But the 360-degree view over Loch Katrine is breathtaking – it’s a very special place I’ll always remember.
Teesside majesty, Middlesbrough
This stunning view from the northern edge of the North York Moors is best savoured after the challenging climb on two wheels from Carlton in Cleveland. The former industrial majesty is juxtaposed against the patchwork farms of North Yorkshire and, on a clear day, the North Sea. There’s an outstanding restaurant at the top called Lord Stones, serving afternoon tea, Sunday roast and everything in between.
Ancient ruins, Morecambe Bay
There’s something magical about standing in the eighth-century ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel at Heysham Head, looking across the ever-changing Morecambe Bay. It’s a wonderful view whatever the weather: mist adds to the mystery conjured up by the ruins and nearby stone graves; it can be breathtaking watching showers sweep across the bay but it’s especially splendid in winter, when the Lakeland fells across the bay are topped with snow.
To the lighthouse, Northampton
Northampton couldn’t be much further from the sea, yet we have a building we refer to as the lighthouse. The National Lift Tower, 127 metres tall, looms over the town as a reference point, an enduring Brutalist symbol standing alone. It reminds me of going home because it means you always see something of Northampton before you can see the town itself. My favourite view of the lighthouse is from a large pond nearby, extending deep into the water and drifting into hazy ripples, as well as its perfect reach skyward.
Lovely listed pier, Bangor
Grade II-listed Bangor Pier is perfectly positioned on the Menai Straits and offers magnificent views of Anglesey and the Welsh mainland. There is a 50p entrance fee and dog owners will be pleased to hear there is currently a trial in place allowing pets to join their owners for the relaxing stroll. There are very few stalls, as the pier’s main purpose is to provide breathtaking views in a peaceful atmosphere. Head there on a clear day, during the warmer months, for the best views. It can be deceptively windy on the pier, though, so be armed with layers of clothing just in case.
Breakfast at St Paul’s, London
We love the roof terrace at One New Change opposite St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It’s free to go up (unlike other famous viewpoints) and opens from 6am. We like to buy croissants and coffee from a nearby bakery and have our very own Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment, with the wedding-cake cathedral dome so close you feel you can reach out and touch it. And in the lift you can enjoy seeing St Paul’s refracted in the panels of One New Change.
Amazing aqueduct, Shropshire
We found the gorgeous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which has Unesco world heritage status, on the border of Shropshire and north Wales, while we were exploring the beautiful area. Incredible manmade ingenuity in a stunning natural setting.
Magic isle, Loch Lomond
Stand atop the only hill on the tiny, magical island of Inchcailloch and look north along Loch Lomond for a classic panorama of the Scottish Highlands. Look south for a gentler landscape. In May, the island is carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic among oak and alder. Ospreys fish in the loch. A ferry service runs from the boatyard in Balmaha, 20 miles from Glasgow, to the island. The only facilities are walking paths, picnic tables and two composting toilets, so choose good weather. In the Clan MacGregor burial ground, the Highlanders enjoyed their wakes so much that they sometimes forgot to bury the body. Refuel afterwards at the Oak Tree Inn beside the boatyard.
Painter’s perspective, Richmond Hill
Overlooking the Petersham Meadows and the glorious bend of the Thames, the view from Richmond Hill has become a favourite of mine. The view has been safeguarded by an act of parliament passed in 1902 and has famously been painted by the likes of JMW Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds. For the best spot, climb up to Terrace Walk in the summertime at sunset to find groups of friends watching the sun melt into the river – perhaps with a sundowner from the Roebuck pub – and local artists painting at their easels.