Whilst Britain no longer has any active volcanoes, it was once a hotbed of volcanic activity. The legacy of Britain’s ancient volcanoes can still be seen today, in the spectacular scenery they created.
Millions of years ago, the geography of Britain was very different to how it is now. Volcanoes, tropical climates and ice ages contributed to the creation of some of the country’s best-loved landscapes.
It’s hard to imagine now, as you stroll through some of the most peaceful settings in Britain, that these places hide a rumbling, volcanic past. If you look carefully as you explore the countryside, you can still see evidence of the volcanoes that helped shape the face of Britain’s iconic landmarks.
Here at Parkdean Resorts, we’ve unearthed some of the best places around our holiday parks to view the effects of Britain’s fiery past.
The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland
The Cheviot Hills are one of the most iconic features of Northumberland National Park. Tumbling valleys, hillsides and crystal clear streams, together with open areas of moorland, provide endless walking opportunities and spectacular views.
The Cheviots are the remains of one of Britain’s prehistoric volcanic centres, and the hills and surrounding landscape were created by lava eruptions millions of years ago. The Cheviot, the highest summit in the Cheviot Hills, is one of Britain’s extinct volcanoes.
The wild landscape of the Cheviots also provides an excellent habitat for wildlife. The heather moorland, hills, woodland and valleys create a wide range of homes for many different species. Deer, hare and red squirrels can be spotted in the woods and valleys and otters and wading birds can be seen in the streams. Look out for the wild Cheviot goats, which can sometimes be spotted wandering along the hilltops.
There are endless sites of historical interest waiting to be explored, and ancient remains of hill forts and burial mounds dot the landscape. Under an hour from Cresswell Towers Holiday Park, you’ll find the magnificent Linhope Spout; an 18 metre waterfall tumbling down the hillsides to a deep plunge pool below. There’s parking available at Hartside Farm, so you can head off on a mile and a half walk to the waterfall, taking in the beautiful scenery.
Video sourced from Graeme hare
Dartmoor National Park, Devon
The history of Dartmoor stretches back over millions of years. As you look around the rolling hills and heather moorland that makes Dartmoor so unique, it’s hard to believe that this idyllic landscape was created by violent volcanoes, tropical climates and ice ages.
Around 300 million years ago, the creation of Dartmoor’s famous granite rock began. Devon was once close to the equator, located on a boundary between two sections of the earth’s crust. These sections collided, causing volcanic eruptions which flowed over the land. As the magma cooled and hardened, it created the rock formations we see today. In the years that followed, the rock at the surface eroded away, exposing the granite underneath. This created the “tor” formations that can be found all over Dartmoor.
Volcanoes aside, Dartmoor has the largest number of archaeological remains in Europe. All over the moors you can find ancient settlements, stone rows and burial sites telling the stories of the people who once made this their home.
The National Park is popular with walkers and climbers who visit the area to explore its unique landscape. There are over 400 miles of footpaths and open moorland to discover, and the tors make rock climbing a popular activity.
With Torquay Holiday Park just half an hour away from Dartmoor National Park, it’s the perfect location to explore this dramatic volcanic landscape.
Video sourced from Dartmoor National Park
The Whin Sill, County Durham and Northumberland
The Whin Sill is one of North England’s most iconic natural features, running from Middleton in Teesdale in the South to Bamburgh in the North. A sill is a flat sheet of rock, formed when magma cools and hardens under the earth’s surface. The Whin Sill provides evidence of this underground volcanic activity, which is now visible on the earth’s surface.
The Whin Sill was formed around 300 million years ago, when magma reached around 1000°C and rose up deep from within the centre of the earth. This molten rock was pushed upwards, spreading out between layers of limestone, shale and sandstone under the earth’s surface.
One of the best places to see the famous Whin Sill is High Force, just over an hour from Crimdon Dene Holiday Park. This waterfall is around 21 metres high and flows over a large exposed area of the Whin Sill. A gentle woodland walk takes you to the base of the waterfall, where you can take in the breath-taking views for yourself.
Parts of the Whin Sill can also be viewed along Hadrian’s Wall, which the Romans built along this natural line of defence. You can also see the Whin Sill along Northumberland’s coast, with castles like Bamburgh and Lindisfarne also built upon the high rock, making the most out of the landscape.
Video sourced from High 5 AI
Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Snowdonia’s wild landscape was created by a series of enormous volcanic explosions, and evidence of this activity can still be seen today on a visit to the scenic national park. Close to some of the highlights of Snowdonia, Ty Mawr Holiday Park offers the perfect place to explore some of the most spectacular volcanic scenery in the area.
Around 450 million years ago, Wales was on the border of two ancient tectonic plates. These plates crashed together, causing a series of massive volcanic eruptions. This volcanic activity, both on land and in the sea, transformed the face of Wales over millions of years - creating the spectacular scenery you see today. Mount Snowdon is mostly composed of volcanic ash, standing over 1000 metres high.
There’s plenty for everyone to enjoy on a visit to Snowdonia. From hiking to a gentle stroll, there are countless walking opportunities throughout the national park where you can spot some of the natural formations created by Britain’s volcanic past. Snowdonia is also a great location for cycling, with routes available for all abilities.
There’s even a steam train which will take you to the summit of Mount Snowdon, so you can enjoy the spectacular views from the crest of the mountain, taking in the full work of Britain’s ancient volcanoes.
Video sourced from John Edwards