As it goes, we consider the British a relatively mild people, and England a relatively mild space. The entire island seems to be perpetually dusted in gray and its inhabitants are dressed to match. There is neither sun nor snow but clouds and rain abound, and though the countryside boasts some surely beautiful rolling hills, there are neither mountains nor valleys. We don’t usually visit England for the extremities. But actually, here are some serious English extremes.
Highest Point: Ben Navis Mountain
A mountain named Ben Nevis, rising to 4,409 feet on the western edge of the Grampian mountains in the Scottish Highlands, is higher than the inevitably more famous Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in the Lake District and Slieve Donard in northern Ireland, making it the tallest mountain in all of the UK. And that’s right, it’s totally in mild old England.
Deepest Point: Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, meaning “Cave of the Black Spring” in Welsh, dives 1,010 feet deep into the earth. The cave contains cascading river passages and breathtaking subterranean rock formations. It’s actually a world-renowned caving destination; the brave and adventurous travel from all corners of the globe to explore some 50 miles of navigable, if narrow, passageways.
Tallest Building: The Shard
We all wondered what that thing was that had begun to stab its way through the London skyline south of the Thames. It pierced its way out of the earth and into the sky above, glass panel by glass panel. Now The Shard stands tall at 1,020 feet, claiming its place as not only the tallest building in Britain, but in the entire European Union.
Sunniest Place: Eastbourne
Eastbourne, a seaside resort in East Sussex, seems to be overrun by many retirees, but that’s just because they’re doing it right. The town proudly holds the record for the most hours of unhindered sunshine recorded in a month. In July 1911, the town basked in just under 384 hours of sunshine. (In case you were wondering, your average July is 730.484 hours long. That’s nighttime included, so judge accordingly.)
Darkest Place: Galloway Forest Park
The sky above Galloway Forest Park in Scotland boasts Britain’s darkest expanse. Dark Sky Reserve recognizes the park as one of the very best spots for stargazing. Bring on the shooting stars, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Aurora Borealis.