The United Kingdom is a diverse and beautiful country, known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and varied geographical features.
The country is divided into administrative divisions known as counties, each with its own distinct character and charm.
In this article, we will delve into the largest counties in the UK by area, highlighting their unique attributes and captivating landscapes.
1. Highland, Scotland:
Highland is a historic county located in the northern part of Scotland. It is known for its vast and stunning landscapes, rugged mountains, picturesque lochs (lakes), and rich Gaelic culture.
Covering an expansive area of approximately 25,656 square kilometers (9,947 square miles), Highland is one of the largest regions by land in the United Kingdom.
Highland is characterized by its diverse terrain. The region encompasses the majority of the Scottish Highlands, a mountainous area that includes the famous Cairngorms National Park, which is the largest national park in the UK.
The county is home to some of Scotland’s highest peaks, such as Ben Nevis, which stands at 1,345 meters (4,413 feet) and is the highest mountain in the British Isles.
The region’s coastline stretches for about 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) and is characterized by dramatic cliffs, remote beaches, and picturesque fishing villages.
Highland’s population is relatively small compared to its vast size. The region is sparsely populated, with the majority of the population residing in a few key towns and cities.
Inverness, the administrative capital of the Highlands, is the largest city and serves as a gateway to the region. Other notable towns include Fort William, Aviemore, Ullapool, and Wick.
2. Yorkshire, England:
Yorkshire is a historic county located in the northern part of England and is renowned for its vast expanse of beautiful landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage.
With an area of approximately 11,903 square kilometers, Yorkshire is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom.
It is subdivided into four regions: North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, and East Riding of Yorkshire. Yorkshire boasts diverse landscapes, from the rugged beauty of the Yorkshire Dales to the stunning North York Moors and the picturesque Yorkshire Wolds.
Yorkshire is diverse and encompasses a range of landscapes. The county is bordered by the North Sea to the east, providing stunning coastal scenery with picturesque seaside towns such as Scarborough, Whitby, and Filey.
Moving inland, Yorkshire’s landscape transforms into rolling hills, dales, and expansive moorlands. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, covering a significant portion of the county, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
It features dramatic limestone formations, picturesque valleys, and quaint villages, offering opportunities for hiking, cycling, caving, and birdwatching.
The North York Moors National Park is another prominent natural attraction, characterized by vast stretches of heather-covered moorland, woodlands, and secluded valleys.
3. Cumbria, England:
Cumbria is a county located in the northwestern part of England, bordering Scotland to the north and the Irish Sea to the west.
With an area of approximately 6,768 square kilometers (2,613 square miles), Cumbria is also one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom.
The Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Cumbria. It covers a significant portion of the county and is famous for its picturesque lakes, rugged mountains, and verdant valleys.
The park boasts a diverse range of natural features, including the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike, standing at 978 meters (3,209 feet) above sea level.
Other notable mountains in the region include Helvellyn, Skiddaw, and Great Gable. The tranquil lakes, such as Windermere, Ullswater, and Derwentwater, offer opportunities for boating, kayaking, and fishing.
Cumbria’s coastline is another notable feature, with picturesque stretches of sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and charming coastal towns. Places like St. Bees, Whitehaven, and Maryport offer stunning views, opportunities for coastal walks, and a glimpse into the county’s maritime history.
While Cumbria is one of the largest counties in the UK by land area, its population is relatively small, with around 500,000 people spread across its diverse landscapes.
This population distribution contributes to the county’s rural and tranquil atmosphere, making it a desirable destination for those seeking natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a slower pace of life.
4. Powys, Wales:
Powys is a county located in central Wales and is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom by land area.
Covering approximately 5,196 square kilometers (2,007 square miles), Powys is known for its vast and varied landscapes, historic sites, and rural charm.
Powys is bordered by several other Welsh counties, including Ceredigion to the west, Gwynedd to the northwest, Denbighshire to the north, Shropshire to the east, and Monmouthshire to the south.
The Brecon Beacons National Park, located primarily within Powys, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
The park offers stunning mountain ranges, including Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain. Visitors can explore the park’s extensive network of walking trails, go mountain biking, enjoy horse riding, or indulge in water sports in the rivers and reservoirs.
The park is also a designated International Dark Sky Reserve, making it an excellent destination for stargazing.
5. Northumberland, England:
Northumberland is a county located in the northeastern part of England and is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom by land area.
Covering approximately 5,013 square kilometers (1,936 square miles), Northumberland is known for its rugged landscapes, rich history, and outstanding natural beauty.
Northumberland is bordered by Scotland to the north, the North Sea to the east, and the counties of Cumbria and County Durham to the west and south respectively.
The county’s landscape is diverse, ranging from picturesque coastlines to rolling hills, moorland, and the vast Northumberland National Park.
The Northumberland coastline stretches over 100 kilometers (62 miles) and is renowned for its beauty and unspoiled nature.
Inland, Northumberland is home to the Northumberland National Park, which spans an area of 1,049 square kilometers (405 square miles).
The park is characterized by wild landscapes, including the Cheviot Hills, the Simonside Hills, and the vast Kielder Forest, which is the largest man-made woodland in England.
6. Lincolnshire, England:
Lincolnshire is a county located in the eastern part of England and is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom by land area.
It spans approximately 6,975 square kilometers (2,694 square miles) and offers a diverse range of landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage.
Geographically, Lincolnshire is characterized by its flat and fertile terrain, making it an important agricultural region.
The county is bordered by the North Sea to the east, providing a coastline that stretches for about 130 kilometers (80 miles). The coastal areas feature sandy beaches, dunes, and salt marshes, attracting visitors and offering opportunities for seaside leisure activities.
Inland, Lincolnshire’s landscape is dominated by vast expanses of farmland, known for its arable crops, vegetables, and grazing livestock. The county’s agricultural heritage is celebrated through various fairs, markets, and festivals, showcasing local produce and traditions.
7. Devon, England:
Devon is a county located in the southwestern part of England and is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom by land area.
Covering approximately 6,707 square kilometers (2,590 square miles), Devon offers a diverse range of landscapes, stunning coastlines, historic towns, and natural beauty.
Devon is known for its varied terrain, encompassing picturesque coastlines, rolling hills, moorland, and fertile valleys.
The county is bordered by the English Channel to the south, providing approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) of coastline, which includes sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and charming fishing villages.
The North Devon and South Devon coasts offer contrasting landscapes. The North Devon coast is characterized by dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and the renowned Exmoor National Park, which extends into the county.
The South Devon coast features sandy beaches, sheltered estuaries, and popular seaside resorts such as Torquay, Paignton, and Salcombe.
The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stretches into East Devon, showcasing impressive cliffs and unique geological formations.
Inland, Devon’s landscape is marked by rolling hills and picturesque valleys. Dartmoor National Park, known for its granite tors, heather-covered moorland, and wild ponies, provides extensive opportunities for walking, hiking, and outdoor pursuits.
8. Aberdeenshire, Scotland:
Aberdeenshire is a county located in the northeast of Scotland and is one of the largest counties in the United Kingdom by land area.
Spanning approximately 6,313 square kilometers (2,438 square miles), Aberdeenshire is renowned for its stunning landscapes, historic castles, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage.
Aberdeenshire offers a diverse range of natural beauty. It is bordered by the North Sea to the east, with a coastline stretching over 200 kilometers (124 miles).
The coastal areas are characterized by sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and picturesque fishing villages, including popular destinations such as Stonehaven, Cruden Bay, and Pennan.
The coastline is also home to a variety of marine wildlife, and visitors may have the opportunity to spot dolphins, seals, and seabirds.
Inland, Aberdeenshire boasts a mixture of rolling hills, fertile farmland, and the majestic Cairngorms National Park. The park, located partly within the county, is the largest national park in the UK and offers breathtaking landscapes, including mountain peaks, deep glens, and ancient forests.