The 12 best places in the U.K. to watch the sunrise

Aug 6, 2014 at 4:59 a.m. ET

The U.K. is blessed with many awe-inspiring places to watch the sunrise — just one of the benefits of being a small island. Of course, some locations have won significantly more acclaim than others and a fair few are even famous globally. So if you're looking to experience and soak up the very best sunrises the U.K. has to offer, here are 12 locations to ignite inspiration.

1. Worcestershire Beacon

Worcestershire Beacon

Never far from the top spot for sunrise watchers, Worcestershire Beacon is beautifully flanked by the stunning countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, plus it happens to be the highest peak in the region. A famous poem penned from this vantage point speaks of watching the sunrise over 12 counties.

2. Herefordshire Beacon

Worecesterscire Beacon

Another prime spot located in the Malvern Hills is Herefordshire Beacon, which is almost in the same league as the Worcestershire Beacon for sunrise views but isn’t quite as hard to get to the top of. The cathedral adds a unique touch of magic and you’ll find the sunsets here just as stunning as the sunrises. And if you’re making your way to Herefordshire Beacon in the autumn, you might just be treated to a soul-stirring service to accompany the sunrise.

3. Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Famed the world over for their uniquely haunting charm and endless mystery, the grounds around Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire make for some remarkable sunrises.

4. Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

You don’t have to be able to spell or pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyll to appreciate the sunrises here — luckily most refer to the place as Llanfair. It’s famed for being the town in the U.K. with the longest station name but is also the ideal base from which to explore the Snowdonia National Park for truly epic sunrises.

5. Glastonbury Hill

Glastonbury Hill

Glastonbury is more famed for its festival these days than for its other-worldly energy, but a sunrise on Glastonbury Hill is a soul-stirring experience that will stay with you for life. It's a simple walk to the top and you're guaranteed a treat — chances are you also won’t be there alone.

6. Shetland Islands

Shetland Island

According to the folks at Lonely Planet, the Shetland Islands are one of the best places in the entire world to welcome the new day. The sunrises on the eastern coasts are simply spectacular and unlike those you'll see anywhere else in the U.K.

7. Peak District National Park

Rannoch Moor

At times incredibly lonely, isolated and unforgiving, the Peak District National Park presents all manner of opportunities to watch sunrises flanked by spooky moors and rugged cliff faces. Head toward Castleton and consider a slow but challenging walk to the top of Mam Tor for unrivalled views over the stunning countryside and pretty villages.

8. Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor

Taking the whole spooky vibe a few steps further than the Peak District, Rannoch Moor has a haunting beauty all of its own. The way the heather finds itself blanketed in slowly moving mists in the early morning is quite ghostly and supremely memorable.

9. Porthkidney Sands in St Ives

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It’s almost impossible to find a place in Cornwall that doesn’t offer a breathtaking sunrise but Porthkidney Sands in St Ives may just be in a league of its own. The skies fill with a rainbow of alien colours and the natural beauty of the land really does spring to life in a way that’s quite impossible to comprehend. This special location is where unique gift company The Day That shoot their sunrise photographs every morning.

10. Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill

London’s stylish north is full of unique charms above and beyond the bustling centre of the capital. However, with its unbroken views right across the city as far east as Canary Wharf, the sunrises on Primrose Hill are quite unparalleled. Some favour Hampstead Heath but Primrose hill is infinitely more elegant and refined.

11. Dover

Not only does Dover offer a wonderful vantage point from which to watch the sunrise but the way in which the colours light up the brilliant white cliffs is simply out of this world. The prevailing weather conditions will determine the unique colour palette for each day and two Dover sunrises are rarely the same.

12. Whitby Harbour

Whitby Harbour

Last, but not least, the historic harbour of Whitby is a truly spectacular sight at any time of day or night, though it takes on a whole new life at sunrise. Flanked by the imposing and somewhat frightening cathedral that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, the way the sunrise slowly brings colour back to one of the U.K.’s most atmospheric seaside towns is a true natural wonder.

More to do in the U.K.

Things to do in London
A city guide to Glasgow
Plan a weekend for two in Cornwall

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