It very fashionable among the British to constantly complain about the weather, which is ironic when you consider that Britain's drizzly and temperate weather is one of the leading reasons behind its incredibly beautiful countryside, as well informing the design and building of much of its best architecture. The British climate has sculpted wonderful gorges and given us hundreds of rivers from the broad waterways that support commerce to the little "burns" and "becks" of more northerly regions. Constant wind and rain carved out mountains, eroded batholiths and shaped coastlines. There's a reason Shakespeare called it a precious island set in the silver sea; it really is lovely.
How well do you know the features of this rather foggy and damp land? Everyone recognizes the biggest city, London, and the most notable geographical features such as the White Cliffs of Dover--but are you also familiar with where you'd find the Wash? Could you identify the highest pass in the Highlands? Would you know where to enjoy the sunniest day in Britain, or how to identify a limestone pavement?
It's time to put geography class and your travels to the test, with this British geography quiz--and if you score higher than 30, you're probably the Queen!
If you see "AONB" on a map, what does it mean?
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a space that is designated as especially lovely, and is thus under a certain level of protection. They can be areas that include towns or villages, but it is difficult to get permission to build more things in such an area.
What is the name of the organzation that first mapped the UK in excrucating detail?
Founded in 1791, the Ordnance Survey provided the first genuinely accurate map of the UK. The organization is still in operation today, as a state-owned agency with over a thousand employees.
What do all these have in common: the Globe, the Barbican, the Palladium?
London is home to many theaters, and these are some of the most important ones. The Globe is reconstructed to be exacly like the version in Shakespeare's time, though it is notable that the seats are a little further apart because people are taller than they were in Tudor times.
What is the name of the geographical feature that has been used as the primary travel route for people heading north from London ever since Roman times?
Watford Gap is in Northamptonshire, between London and Birmingham. It's a convenient way to get to the North without having to march your army or drive your car over a very steep slope!
What do all these areas have in common: Chilterns, Pennines, Cheviots?
All of these are hills, and all are very beautiful. The Chilterns are near London but are protected from too much development, and as a result contain some of the priciest real estate in the world. The Pennines are further north, while the Cheviot Hills are on the border of England and Scotland.
What is HS2?
HS2 is a planned train route that may connect London to Birmingham, and later to Edinburgh. It has not been built yet and there is a lot of resistance, but if it is built, it will trim travel times between the UK's major cities and transform access between them.
What is the tallest building in London?
The Shard is a very tall skyscraper in the City of London. Like all the major skyscrapers in the city, it is known by a nickname, though it certainly has a rather more elegant one than some buildings, such as the Can of Ham.
Which of the below is the geographical feature just above the town of Cheddar?
Cheddar Gorge is aptly named, partly because it's a gorge, and the town of Cheddar is right there, and partly because once you eat the cheddar they make there, you won't be able to go back to the stuff that calls itself cheddar in supermarkets. The town's cheddar is aged on racks inside the extensive Cheddar Caves system. You can visit the cheese and see it aging, which is definitely worth a trip, as it is probably the nicest-smelling cave in the world.
What noted construction spans the River Avon in Bristol?
The Clifton Suspension Bridge was built by famous Victorian architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It linked two areas in Bristol, a very important city due to its location on the Severn Bore where England and Wales meet.
By what other name is Yr Wyddfa known?
Yr Wyddfa is the Welsh name for Snowdon, the largest mountain in Wales. It is in Snowdonia, which is a large national park and one of the most beautiful places in the world. Even though the mountains are not particularly huge, some of the climbing in the area is very tricky.
What national park is strongly associated with Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth?
The Lake District is where Wordsworth lived and wrote his famous poem, "Daffodils." It is a beautiful region in the northwest of England, and is protected. In summer the weather is very pleasant, though spring and fall are much less busy, albeit rainier.
What is the newest national park in the UK?
On 1 April 2011, the South Downs became the newest park. The area actually already has quite a lot of towns and villages in it, but it was protected to prevent them from spreading too much and creating suburban sprawl in a particularly beautiful area. As a result, the South Downs are a very green and lovely place to visit.
How would you be traveling if you were going across the Solent?
The Solent is a stretch of water that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland. It's the quickest way to get there other than flying to Sandown Airport, which is always an option.
What is the biggest town on the Isle of Man?
Douglas is the biggest town, with a mighty 27,000 residents. The Isle of Man is very careful about who gets to move there, in order to save homes and keep them affordable for residents, so only 80,000 lucky people get to live there. It is a Crown Dependency and thus not quite part of the UK, though it is one of the British Isles.
What trio of waterside features form a notable center of entertainment in Blackpool?
Blackpool is a seaside town that became a big deal in the Industrial period when Victorian laborers would go there to chill out on Sundays. The three piers were full of fairground rides and entertainment. The North had a troubled time after the closure of much of the coal industry, but Blackpool is coming back as a haven for gambling and is actually a much nicer town than its reputation sometimes suggests.
What is the oldest cathedral in the northeast?
Durham Cathedral is coming up on 1,000 years old and very beautiful, though simple and small compared to some cathedrals. It absolutely oozes age, and is well worth a visit. It is home to the shrine of St. Cuthbert, and a great example of Norman architecture, being built around 1093.
What do they call a lake in Yorkshire?
There are a number of regional variations in what things are called in different parts of the UK. A tarn is a lake in Yorkshire, and one of the most famous is Malham Tarn, which is a lime lake thanks to seeping through limestone rocks.
What geographical feature in Britain includes clints and grykes?
A limestone pavement is a feature caused by erosion that looks like it must have been made by artificial means. The "clints" are the slabs, and the "grykes" are the gaps between them.
What is the name of the semiprecious stone commonly found in the Peak District?
Bluejohn is named for the fact that it comes in two colors: blue and yellow, or in French, "bleu" and "jaune". It is mined in the Peak District and is a very pretty semiprecious gemstone.
What is the most outermost of the Outer Hebrides?
St. Kilda is a collection of islands way out from the mainland. It is all owned by the National Trust, which means that it is a protected area. As a result, it is a great nature reserve that is full of breeding birds and other wildlife.
Which of the below is NOT one of the Cinque Ports?
The Cinque Ports are a network of towns on the south coast that was designed as part of England's protection against France, as well as against pirates. Rye and Hythe are the other two Cinque Ports. Some of the ports aren't coastal any more, as soil deposits around Rye in particular have moved the coastline. If you do plan to visit, Rye is an insanely gorgeous Tudor town, and Dover has one of the best castles in the world.
How do you tell an indigenous British bluebell from a foreign Spanish one?
Spanish bluebells are bigger and fatter than British ones and have bells on both sides of the stem. British ones are also a slightly darker shade of purple-blue.
How tall is a Munro?
The Munros are Scottish mountains that are over 3,000 feet. While this sounds like a nice hike by comparison to most mountain ranges, it really isn't: some of these mountains are pretty darn challenging, and they go up a lot higher than 3,000 feet in places. Others really are a nice half-day meander, if you are in fabulous physical shape.
Which is the biggest county in Scotland?
Inverness-shire is not just the biggest county, at over 2.5m acres, it also has the amusing distinction of having three S's in a row. This county contains Inverness, with its relatively small but handy airport, and contains a northeasterly portion of the Scottish Highlands. It is a breathtaking region and well worth seeing.
Which of these is the oldest pub in England?
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks dates back to the 8th century (and no, that is not a typo). There are other pubs that debate its claim, and a number that can prove they are between 700-100 years old, but Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is probably the most valid of them!
Where would you find the waterfall called Janet's Foss?
Janet's Foss is a lovely little waterfall that the Bronte sisters used to visit regularly. "Foss" is a northern word for a waterfall, sometimes modernized to "force" in some names, hence even if you haven't heard of it, you can deduce that it must be up north, where Yorkshire is!
What are the weird humps on the ground all around Stonehenge called?
A barrow is a traditional grave that results in a hump like a little hill--hence the name, which derives from an older word for mountain or hill. The area around Stonehenge has been populated for so long that it is full of them, with some dating back 5,000 years!
What is the name of the sea inlet that gives Edinburgh access to the North Sea?
The Firth of Forth is an estuary that connects Edinburgh to the sea and makes the city very defensible. The Firth is crossed by the Forth Road and Forth Rail Bridges, which are both built to be much stronger than is necessary due to a prior Forth Bridge collapsing. Thus the next version had to be radically over-engineered.
What is the hottest place in England?
The Scilly Isles are pronounced "silly," but they are certainly not! They enjoy an almost French-like climate and are located off the Cornish coast. It's worth noting that while Jersey and Guernsey, which are both Crown Dependencies, are hotter, they are not part of the British Isles or of England specifically.
Which is the longest river that is entirely in Wales?
The Tywi is entirely within Wales, whereas the Severn is technically on the Welsh border and thus not 100% contained within Wales. At 220 miles, the Tywi is the biggest river that is wholly within Wales.
What was the name of the pre-Norman kingdom in which London is now located?
Essex is still a county, and was formerly an independent kingdom during the Anglo-Saxon Age. London was part of it back then, though it later became part of the county of Middlesex, until it grew so big it became its own county.
In which of these areas could you find wild ponies?
You can find wild ponies in all of these places. Technically they have owners, but they live wild on these public lands. People love to see them and so they are generally very safe and very popular--and they tend to like and trust humans!
Which is the largest loch in Scotland by area (as opposed to by volume)?
It's not surprising that there is more than a road to Loch Lomond, according to the traditional eponymous song, because it is very big. Loch Ness is deeper, and thus contains more water, but Lomond has a bigger surface area. Loch Lomond is also mind-blowingly beautiful, so if you ever want to visit it, be warned: it's totally worth it.
What was traditionally mined in Cornwall?
Cornwall is the most southerly county, and home to plenty of mines. The mines are no longer active, but there are still tin deposits down there. It's a very prosperous region that doesn't really need to rely on dangerous work anymore, however, so the days of mining there may be over.
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