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Insta-worthy wonders on our British doorstep

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

If you love photography and spending time in nature, it’s easy to discover captivating tropical, forested and ancient landscapes around England. One day you could be photographing palm trees and exotic plants in island gardens and the next, strolling through lavender fields or channelling your inner Viking at a windswept coastal castle. With this in mind, here are a few of the most appealing Insta-worthy sites to explore and photograph throughout the four corners of England.

Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly

Catching a first glimpse of the Isles of Scilly from the air, you could be forgiven for thinking you have been transported to a sun-kissed Caribbean archipelago with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. However, these idyllic islands, only 5 of which are inhabited, lie less than 30 miles off the UK’s Cornish coast and are accessible via airplane, ferry or private helicopter! On the second largest island, Tresco, you’ll find the beautiful, sub-tropical Tresco Abbey Gardens. A photographer’s and botanists dream, the gardens were founded in the 19th century by Augustus Smith, a nature lover and Lord Proprietor of the islands. The gardens are home to over 20,000 sub-tropical plant species, and even during mild winter months, it’s possible to view more than 300 plants in bloom. Labyrinth pathways criss-cross lush landscapes and terraces with palms and cacti wind between the ruins of an old Benedictine Abbey which once stood on the land. Monterey cypress trees, elms, sycamores and sturdy oaks line walkways and along immaculately tended borders, Lobster Claw plants, slender blue Echiums and delicate pink Pelargoniums sit side by side, swaying in the gentle breeze. There are archaeological wonders to explore, plus a museum on-site dedicated to the island, its shipwrecks and the figureheads which graced their bows. When you’ve completed your enchanted garden adventure, the island of Tresco also offers fine dining, bird-watching, hiking, cycling, kayaking and luxurious spa facilities!

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Once a Norman stronghold, strategic fortress and foreboding royal seaside residence, Bamburgh Castle on Northumberland’s windswept coast has seen much since it’s conception during Anglo-Saxon times. The castle you see today has been rebuilt and refurbished, but before its reincarnation as art gallery, museum and tourist attraction, it was guardian of the English coastline, soaring 150 feet above the North Sea, protecting Northumberland at a time when it was the most powerful of seven great kingdoms. Bamburgh Castle has had a tumultuous history. It has been home to Anglo Saxon kings, saints and monks. It was seized and ransacked by Vikings arriving on England’s shores in 993 and in 1095 it was taken over by William the Conqueror’s forces as a stronghold from which to defeat the Scots. It was also the first castle in the world to be destroyed by gunpowder during the War of the Roses. As you walk along the coast, amidst shorelines carpeted with pretty pink campions you can capture the castle’s impressive, dominative presence. Inside, gain historically-themed Insta-worthy photos in the King’s Hall with its exposed stone walls, archways and distinctive dark wood wall panels. Enjoy incredible vistas of the Farne Islands and Holy Island from West Ward and the Keep, and as you gaze out towards the North Sea, waves crashing on the shore, imagine key moments in history when Bamburgh Castle was Northumberland’s great protector. Make your visit even more special with a luxurious stay in one of the towers and experience life in day’s gone by as a Bamburgh Castle resident!

Lavender Fields, Kent & South of England

Dusky purple bursts of colour pepper the fields of Kent during summertime as the Garden of England transforms into a fragrant wonderland to hypnotise the senses. These calming herbal flowers bloom from June to September each year, creating a unique pictorial paradise for photographers. The lavenders bloom, not only Kent, but in several regions of England’s south and east, including Surrey, Norfolk, Hampshire, the Cotswolds and Hertfordshire, making them accessible to many aromatic scent-seekers. Leisurely days can be spent wandering through lavender fields, picnicking beneath centennial oaks or supporting local lavender farm shops and tearooms serving home-made fare. Many of these farms sell sustainably-sourced lavender infused goods such as essential oils, teas, honey and bathing products, so in addition to gaining awe-inspiring natural snaps for your Instagram, you can also support the community. To enjoy lavender in full bloom and for the best pictures, plan your visit between late June and mid-July before the annual harvest takes place.

Castlerigg Stone Circle and the English Lakes

The Lake District National Park in Cumbria encompasses 912 square miles, made up of lakes, tarns and waters stretching from lively Windermere and Coniston in the south to tranquil Bassenthwaite and Ullswater in the north and east. You can visit the English Lakes during any season. In springtime, fields and woodlands of the north and mid lakes are a vision of snowdrops and bluebells, but if you wish to see the flowers to which William Wordsworth refers to in his famous poem “Daffodils”, picturesque Ullswater near Penrith inspired him to create his greatest works. The areas around the market town of Keswick on Derwentwater are home to some of the best Lake District hikes and trails. Gain outstanding scenic views in summer from Catbells, Scafell Pike and Skiddaw or take a boat cruise and hop off at a village pub for a plate of Cumberland sausage and a pint of real ale! Around half an hour’s walk from the centre of Keswick sits mystical Castlerigg Stone Circle. The ancient site dates back to around 3000 BC to the Neolithic period and has been documented as one of the earliest stone circles in the UK. Arrive early morning as mist lingers above the grey stones for atmospheric photos or venture there late afternoon for unparalleled sunset views of Helvellyn. The changing leaves of autumn are spectacular wherever you choose to visit in the English Lake District, however, none are so beautiful in their bronze burnished glory than around Grasmere or Tarn Hows. The latter, a local beauty spot surrounded by hilly woodland, boasts incredible walks and vistas of Coniston and the Langdale Pikes. Winter months are particularly rewarding when spent in Windermere or Ambleside by the southern lakes. With several coveted Michelin-star restaurants on your doorstep, festive lake cruises, snow-covered peaks and roaring log fires warming village inns, there’s much to photograph for your Instagram account and you will easily become the envy of all your friends!

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