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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK


3 historic locations not to be missed

The United Kingdom and its overseas territories currently possess 28 locations which have been honoured with the distinction of UNESCO World Heritage Site. With UNESCO sites travelling the length and breadth of the country, you could take a lifetime to explore them all. While the prospect of visiting all of the sites may be a bit daunting, particularly the ones found in Bermuda, the Pitcairn Islands, and Saint Helena, it can make for a lovely weekend adventure to visit just a few and discover the secrets that they hold. No matter where you live in the UK there is sure to be a World Heritage Site somewhere near you just waiting to be explored.

Many of the UK World Heritage Sites are very well known, such as Stonehenge, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, and the Tower of London, but there are so many more that are just a little off the beaten track and definitely worth a visit.

Blenheim Palace-Oxfordshire

Granted UNESCO status in 1987, this monumental country house is said to be one of England’s largest houses. Built between 1705 and 1724 as the residence of the dukes of Marlborough, this unusual English Baroque palace is an architectural oddity set in gardens landscaped by the famous Capability Brown. Visit the room where Sir Winston Churchill was born in 1874, or take a stroll through the 2, 000 acres of parkland during your visit here. As one of Britain’s greatest palaces you can step back in time and feel like you’re living in a real life Downton Abbey.

Derwent Valley Mills-Derbyshire

As one of the newer members of the list, granted status in 2001, Derwent Valley Mills is a testament to Britain’s place in the industrial revolution and the development of the modern factory system. It was here that the template for industrial communities was established by Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the water frame, which revolutionised the cotton industry. In a site which stretched 15 miles down the Derwent river valley from Matlock Bath to Derby, you can visit the mill complex, including several cotton and silk mills and the settlements which were established for employees. They even have the largest collection of bobbins in the world at the Masson Mill Textile Museum, now that’s a sight you won’t want to miss!

Heart of Neolithic Orkney-Orkney Islands, Scotland

If you’re heading north, take a trip off the coast of Scotland and visit any of the four sites which were designated by UNESCO as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney in 1999. The most famous of the four sites is Skara Brae, a stone built neolithic settlement on the Bay of Skaill which dates from 3180 BCE–2500 BCE. This cluster of houses is older than both the pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, and provides fascinating insights into the lives of some of Scotland’s earliest inhabitants. The remaining three locations which make up the UNESCO site are two stone circles, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the passage grave of Maes Howe are also not to be missed. While this World Heritage Site takes a bit more effort to visit, it is one of the more unique places to visit in the UK.

Amanda is a guest blogger from Web Cottages who provide self catering holiday cottages across the UK and Ireland. Visit us at Web Cottages and we are sure to have a holiday home that is a perfect base for your next adventure.