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Finding Viewpoints

In this article we are going to look at how we can find viewpoints. We have another article viewpoint photography that looks at some of the considerations when photographing from scenic viewpoints, including mist, haze and weather, lenses, depth of field and more.

Well known places

Some viewpoints are well known, you may find that there are National Trust land, public parks, tourism facilities etc. However most may be known locally, may have car parking and even signposting when you arrive, but discovering them is not always as easy as you might imagine. We haven't found any national listing of viewpoints as you get with wildlife areas, or places where wild plants can be found, and so far we have resisted, at least for now, the challenge to create such a list on a national basis. We have however started to produce lists based on  individual counties and areas, like Gloucestershire Viewpoints and Lake District Viewpoints.

In some cases you will find local postcards show particularly well known views and in other cases they are featured in tourist literature.

Perhaps the ultimate viewpoint is on a NASA Flight, see image right, of Britain that we have edited, click on the image to see a larger version or the NASA text under it to see the unedited picture.

Britain from space  NASA image edited

Our location guides

Within our key we have a symbol for viewpoints and we plan to add more viewpoints over time. If you were to write up the ones you know, or are in your home area, we could add these now. Others of our location guides from castles to lighthouses, from windmills to cliff walks offer many views, and our key system allows you to look at any county and see what is already written up. Some topic areas within the county indexes you will need to click on as they have their own pages, now the number of items is increasing, eventually many more will as well. We don't show the viewpoint symbol unless its a major feature, so the fact that the symbol is not on every item that has a viewpoint, should not put you off exploring the location guides further. Although we have quite a lot of photos in many of our location guides, there is a limit to how many we can add before the pages take too long to load and generally we don't show the views you can get from each location.

Our viewpoint listings by county

We are building viewpoint lists, for some counties, and would be delighted if you could help us with this. In most cases we are finding and listing the easily accessible viewpoints, rather than church towers, the tops of castles and many of the other features we have detailed on this page, its mostly country parks, forestry commission viewpoints, viewpoints that can be identified from maps and the like. This will give you a good start point and will be particularly useful if you are visiting an area to get you started. Take a look at Gloucestershire Viewpoints for an example of what we are trying to achieve.


Some are shown on maps, with both motoring maps and Ordnance Survey (OS) maps having symbols. We can also, on Ordnance Survey maps guess where we may get good views by looking at the contours, a lot close together and the ground is steep. With a bit of practice you can see the shape of the land using contours, the problem you will discover is that without visiting the location you can't tell what you can actually see, as there may be trees and obstacles that block the view, from the viewpoint.

Hill forts

Most hill forts are near to the edge of a hillside, some on the top of a place with a view all around. Generally the larger the hill fort and more rings it has around it, the more impressive the view will be from it. Examples that have exceptional views are Cadbrury Castle  and Old Sarum. Often the Ordnance Survey map gives you a good idea of the view you can get from these.

Long distance walkways/Paths

Like hill forts many of these run along edges of hills, offering good views and the details on the walks often point out where particularly good viewpoints are. Particularly good viewpoints can be found along Hadrian's Wall, with many accessible via vehicle and parking in one of the many car parks along the route. See Hadrian's Wall - Featured Places for details on some of those we have covered. Also see our Walks section for more around the country.

Coastal cliffs

Being an island nation we have more coasts than others and much of this has excellent views. Much of the coastline is also accessible with long distance paths and other access points.


Some are able to be climbed, but those that cannot be are often set at points that offer a good view from ground level. See our Lighthouses section to find one near you or in the area of the country you are going to visit.


Generally if you can see church tower from some way off there will be a decent view from this, but gaining access to the tower is not always easy. Often if you spot locations and then make contact, having located the local vicar covering the area, often including several parishes today, you can arrange permission to go up the tower. Some churches and many cathedrals and more tourist area places will have tours and many larger churches now have guides present all the time its open, and they may be able to give you access if you ask. Churches with spires often have them on towers that are accessible, for example Salisbury Cathedral has a very large spire, and you can access the tower it stands on. See the Abbeys section for more.

Castles and other heritage sites

Castles were often built where they offered a good command of the land around them, like hill forts many are built on high ground near to the edge of an area that is lower. The sites themselves provide a good view but many Castles have at least some parts that allow access to a tower or higher level, giving greater views, while abbeys are often near rivers and in valleys, so do have good views.


Follies are structures added to the scenery for a scenic as opposed to other reason, many are towers, and from many of these you can get very good views. Not all are able to be climbed so you do need to research the individual case to see if its able to be accessed before travelling any distance.

Image right is a folly, Broadway Tower in Worcestershire.
Click image to see a larger version.


See Larger Image

Wikipedia Picture of the year 2007


Windmills are often at points that will catch the wind and sometimes this means they are high up, while at other times they are located for convenience and then have a taller tower, some towers you can climb. If its a working windmill however watch the sails, many a miler has forgot and been badly hurt or killed. Windmills like many of the items mentioned on this page also make great subjects to include in views.

Modern structures

Amongst the modern structures that may give decent views are multi storey car parks, large office blocks, suspension bridges, the London Eye, and many other similar.....  what can you find ?

Finding a different viewpoint

Look for lines of sight, if you can see a point then your location would be visible from that point. If as you move around you can see a point a lot of the time then it follows that it would be a good point to explore. There is a tendency to believe that you will not be able to gain access, when if you have a good reason like taking a photo, often the property owners will be only too happy to allow you access. With hillside locations, often you will find footpaths that run where you would like to go, and most of the coast is of course accessible.


By: Keith Park Section: Key:
Page Ref: finding_viewpoints Topic: Viewpoints  Last Updated: 07/2011

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