1.1 Brief Geographical Outline

In Shakespeare’s chronicle play Richard II, there are some famous lives uttered by John of Gaunt, in which the beauty and uniqueness of the country is nowhere better extolled; the text is a wonderful portrayal of what “this blessed plot ”of land shows and means to its people.

“This royal throne of kings, this sceptere’d isle This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise; This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war; This happy breed of men, this little world; This precious stone set in the silver sea … This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this” England, (Act II, Scene I) The excerpt portrays “the island myth”, a nature fortress against threats coming from outside, the “plot of land” peopled with “a happy breed of men” recognizing their fortune in belonging to the island community. But, the country consists of a multitude of islands representing geographical and regional distinction, and the idea of a single island has been “one of the most misleading British myths”; however, the myth has been a useful one by creating the image of a single island people staying together against the rest of the world, the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish constituting a “cohesive unit” [50, p. 500]. “For an Englishman”, as Monica Redlich says [38; p. 13], “no matter the place where he happens to live, whatever the background, that place is the best of all in the world, is the most special one; for one; it may be Devon, for another the Welsh border, for another London, for another

East Anglia; but each of them knows that his particular corner of England is the best possible one. Even the drawbacks are better – which is to say worse – than those of any other district; its frost are unsurpassable, its mud in winter time scarcely to be believed. We must return to this matter for one cannot understand England or the English if one does not remember it”. The Englishman loves his place and his home, and, not accidentally, they say that “for an Englishman his home is his castle”. The full name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; the names United Kingdom, Great Britain and England are often confused, even by the United Kingdom inhabitants [53; p. 1]. Sometimes, the name “Britain” is used with reference to The United Kingdom. The country is located off the north-western coast of Europe, its total land area covering 94,231 square miles (244,110 sq. km) with 300 miles across at its widest, and about 600 miles from the top of the northern point to its southern coast. The United Kingdom consists of four geographic and historical parts: England, Wales and Scotland which constitute together Great Britain, the larger of the two main islands, and Northern Ireland, part of the second large island which also includes the Republic of Ireland, (Ireland or Eire) politically independent and not part of the United Kingdom. There are also numerous isles spread along the coast, large enough or quite tiny: the Isle of Wight to the south of England, and the Isles of Scilly to its southwest; the island of Anglesey lies off north-western Wales, while the Isle of Man is above it, in the Irish Sea, facing the Lake District; the Hebrides lie to the west of Scotland, while the Orkney and Shetland islands lie to its north. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands off the French west coast are not part of the United Kingdom, being self-governing Crown Dependencies; they have their own independent legal system, legislatures and administrative bodies, with the British government responsible for their defence and foreign relations, and being entitled to interfere in case of unproper administration.

206 sq. 1542). km/29. miles) is the most northern and mountainous part of Great Britain but the less densely populated one. there used to be people in Britain who had never seen .England is the largest (129. which made crossing from England to France far from pleasant. With a territory consisting of smaller or larger islands. miles) lies west of the English lowland.052 sq. a tunnel constructed under the English Channel connects. but with a well-known industrial south. and politically by the Acts of Union (1536. The distance from the south coast of England to the most northerly part of Scotland is 960 km (600 miles). miles) consisting of 6 counties.799 sq. the Irish Sea surrounds the land. particularly in and around its capital. It has a common frontier with the Irish Republic (200 miles long) which represents. To the west.179 sq. However. The seas are not deep. making that no place in the United Kingdom be more than 80 miles from the sea. km/7. is relatively small but varied. the two countries. with a growing industry. both of them. legally. Scotland (77.637 sq. The area of Northern Ireland (13. but they are frequently rough and difficult to navigate during storms. Wales (20.438 sq. which became part of the United Kingdom in 1922. Scotland joined England and Wales by forming a single Parliament and the country became Great Britain. Nowadays. the United Kingdom is a country surrounded by sea. Wales and England were unified administratively. as a result of its position and high ground. Belfast. together with the Strait of Dover separating England from Europe.968 sq. miles) and most densely populated part of the United Kingdom. being composed almost entirely of rocky outcrops dissected by deep valleys. while the distance between England’s and Wales’ coasts are 480 km (300 miles). The English Channel lies to the south of England (between the United Kingdom and France) while the North Sea lies to the east. The seas around Britain are generally shallow and provide exceptionally good fishing grounds.634 sq. the only land border of the United Kingdom. km/50. in fact. while the north-western coast of Ireland and western Scotland face the Atlantic Ocean. km/5. In 1707. being the most industrialized one as well.

as well as proper communications have been possible. sailors and merchants. a fact which is no longer the case in our days. the standardization of social.the sea. The distances being relatively small. The fact that Britain is an island has determined and explains many of the consequences of its special development. it has mainly made of its inhabitants a seafaring nation. travelling across the . economic and institutional norms. the development of political union.

On the other hand.seas and oceans of the world. permanently. and sand castles. a decisive factor both for the country’s economic development and for its imperial expansion. the sea’s retreat creating either the chalk and limestone . the coast being sometimes flat. either for a fortnight stay or just for a couple of hours spent on the beach. the north-western coast offers images of a wild beauty: here. There is much indentation along the coast of Devon and Cornwall with the hills running close to the sea and becoming cliffs. They are well-known for the great number of visitors they receive. p. There are also big seaside resort towns which have grown up on the coastline: Brighton. Bournemouth or Southend in the south. the sea is quite familiar to the Englishman and he. widened by the sea-drowned glaciers. shipyards. but. and of a less dramatic effect. its most beautiful parts are to be found in the south-west of England and in the west of Scotland. is the result of the natural forces whose actions are still in a permanent process. it has created. the high tides provide safe anchorages along a large number of rivers and estuaries of the country. and Blackpool in the north-west. with the coastline sinking under or rising above it. turns to it as to his friend. the sea moved backwards and forwards. and much else besides [38. either forming elongated peninsulas or emerging in hundreds of small off shore islands. many river valleys (fyords). a gentle climate. among others. 15]. As regards the southern and eastern coast. a lot of perfect natural harbours. Besides. Another important geographic feature of the main island of Great Britain is its deeply indented coastline. It also meant “invasion or security from invasion. Brighton piers. instinctively. Thus. it is composed of chalk cliffs which vary in size. The coast is of a great diversity and beauty and it is said that it offers “something for everybody in every mood”. maybe. penetrate deeply into the mountains which are stately rising from the sea. as a consequence. the sheltered bays and caves. easily accessible to deep-water shipping. over time. longing for and coming back to their “precious” homeland. The coastline which can be admired today.

connected. is. An average Englishman asked “to imagine a typically English scene will almost certain include in it some familiar hill top or a row of blue-shadowed hills in the background”. The “hill” plays an important part in the life of the people and in their way of thinking as well. the shortest stretch of water separating the two land masses (29 miles/32 km).2 The Relief and Economic Development The archipelago that forms the United Kingdom. the prevailing landscape of the country is the hilly one. irregular in shape and beautiful in the diversity of its scenery. . a few districts in eastern England where the land is smooth and flat and West Wales and North Scotland which have some real mountains. in some places. p. The Strait of Dover represents. largely. 1. 11]. It was the consequence of the glaciers melting in the last Ice Age. the sea consuming the land slowly and relentlessly. they give point and purpose to a country walk. the result of its underlying structure. and the separation of the island from the continent. they make the old rhyme about” over the hills and far away ”a symbol of adventure and the unknown” [38. Northern Ireland is the westward extension of Scotland’s rocks. The hills are part and parcel of the English culture. by land links which disappeared under the shallow waters of the Strait of Dover and the North Sea. the process of erosion is still on. they change colour continually with the changes of sunlight and cloud. In its turn. being part of the people’s life as “they separate one town or village from another. the second important presence in the scenery of Britain are the hills. but. as this country is a land without spectacular high mountains. With some exceptions.uplands or the beaches along the coasts. causing the sea level to rise. Besides the sea. but of a wide variety with both large and small hills. thousands of years ago. of its nature and disposition: the archipelago represents the westward extension of European mainland. now. they act as shelter from the prevailing wind.

and highly developed industrial areas. the glaciers moved southwards leaving their mark over the most of the area. sub-tropical periods alternated with sub/arctic ones.The great variety of Britain’s geography is the result of a long geological history: its oldest parts were formed by the mountain chains rising from the sea-bed. there were important climatic changes when warm. Great Britain is traditionally divided into two major regions. Highland Britain includes Scotland. Highland is not so much suited for agriculture. while Lowland. From the point of view of physical relief. a separation between the older rocks of the north and west created by the earth movements from the younger ones in south and east. in this way. and deciding the sitting of the future rivers. being largely good for animal grazing. as well as Devon and Cornwall (southwest of England). the scenery became softer and less folded. rounding off the mountain peaks and moving waste materials to lower areas. gradually wearing away the raised land. Other weather agents (wind. the Lake District (in north/west England) the Pennines (central upland). water) had also an important part to play. a large part of Wales. because of the type of rocks it is made from. where they were turned into new rocks. Highland and Lowland. shaping the details of the valleys and plains. due to the earth movements. there are also important urban settlements here. a sort of imaginary line running diagonally on the map of the island from the mouth of the river Exe (southwest) to that of the river Tees (northeast). Generally speaking. being considered to follow the geological edges which mark the wrinkles of the landscape. ice. Between the earth movements. during the warm periods there were large swamp forests which covered the lowland areas. with its fertile soils. . thus. in fact. (their fossil remains buried by sand soil and mud formed the coal deposits of the island) while in the cold ones. the rest of the country is known as Lowland. offers good agricultural conditions.

343 meters) above sea level. There are many long and narrow fresh water lochs. there are occasional areas of lowland. the Highlands of Scotland are not entirely of great altitude. some of them exceptionally deep. Scotland lies in this area.000 feet (Ben Nevis. the highest peak is Ben Nevis. Numerous mountains torrents and brooks descend from the highland masses which are furrowed by wide valleys. the second high being Snowdon (3.560 feet) in North Wales. The highest part of the Highlands is represented by the Grampian Mountains (1.406 feet (1. adding variety to the landscape. its altitudes are low. covered with grass and heather and only. even Ben Nevis is rounded in shape and “benevolent”. In Wales. exceeding 4. deeply trenched with valleys and lochs. long lines of sand dunes fringe them. with deep wooded valleys. However. There are large areas of unspoilt and wild landscape here.The Highland. Snowdon dominates the landscape which is largely mountainous.000-3. consisting of three main topographic regions: Northern Highlands and Southern Uplands with Central Lowlands separating them.500 feet above sea level). the region being characterized by high grounds (nearly 300 peaks) of granite outcrops. Loch Lomond deserves a special mention for its wonderful scenery. reaching their highest altitude with the Cairngorms. which is only 4. In comparison with the continental mountainous regions. sharply contrasting with the mountain scenery around. the scenery offered is not at all specifically alpine. patched with snow. which enhance the wild beauty of the lonely landscape. . the highest mountain of Great Britain stands a bit farther to south west). sometimes. The Highlands cover the northern part of the country. while Lock Ness is a famous place for the largely debated monster which is supposed to live there.

The Western coast is intersected by long. as tourism to these islands has recently become of growing importance. rugged and picturesque. the island’s main crops being oats. The Highlands of Scotland also include numerous islands. (university town. manufacturing centre. Elgin. etc. making the coast rugged and irregular. the largest parts of mainland and the heather-covered moorland being uninhabitable. The richest and most productive of all islands is Islay. famous for their wild beauty. however. Stock raising and dairy farming are of great importance. DEVON (LACKE) in the Highlands. with only light houses and few inhabitants. The most important towns of the Highlands are Aberdeen. narrow sea lochs or fyords which cut deep into the land. situated in the extreme south of the Inner Hebrides. many remote places along the west coast have recently developed as summer residences. port and place of oil support facilities). The population is not dense DARTMOUTH. The Hebrides (consisting of Outer Hebrides and Inner Hebrides) can be considered a broken archipelago. Many of these remote islands are small and rocky. the Orkneys and the Shetland. the most important being the Hebrides. especially in summer time when they are visited by pleasure cruisers. potatoes and some other vegetables. The cliffs vary in character according to the nature of the rock. Peterhead. . Their landscape is very attractive. Inverness. it is known for good trout and salmon fishing due to its many fresh water lochs and rivers with which it is provided. formed of eighty inhabited islands.

but this trench is. and the Southern Uplands. they are also known for sheep raising. the beauty of the scenery is also remarkable. resistant masses of volcanic rock. making a compact archipelago of about one hundred islands and islets. by no means. there are many separate groups of hills here. a continuous plain. There is a well-known hand-knitting industry here using traditional patterns.The Orkneys are growing in importance with the development of oilfields in the North Sea. appreciated for the fine wool produced by a native breed able to live out in all weathers. out of which only no more than twenty/twenty five are inhabited. The Central Lowlands lie between the Highlands. but there are shallow lakes of various sizes. because of their position and severe climate conditions. the Shetland Islands are unique. some farm land can be found in some parts of the island. The Shetland Islands lie in the far north. of a wall-like feature. many fresh water lochs and sea inlets. (The Castle of Edinburgh is built on a hill of this type of rock). with rugged ridges. is possible in summer time. the harsh conditions are said to be beneficial for the wool quality. . which has greatly contributed to the islands’ prosperity. There are long summer twilights. In many ways. appearing off the Orkneys. and the valley of the Clyde descending from the Southern Uplands. a reminder of the northerly latitude. the last two form the deeply penetrating estuaries of the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth. There are three chief valleys in the Central Lowlands: the valley of the Tay and of the Forth descending from the Highlands. here. The Shetlands are famous for sheep raising. and isolated crags formed of sturdy. There are not many lochs in this part of the country. It constitutes a broad depression. and fishing of herring shoals. the boundary being. largely kept on common grazing land.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. in comparison with the Northern Highlands. Perth. the general aspect of the region is of broad plateau surfaces separated by numerous dales covered with woods. including shipbuilding. Abb’s Head (north-east). from the North Channel (south-west) to St. both of them being mainly based on volcanic rocks and granite.700 feet). but it is also a banking and insurance centre. together with the rugged imprint of former glaciers. with a farming notable for its high yields. Leith. its university being founded in 1582. The Southern Uplands lie to the south of Central Lowlands. Glasgow is also known for its book-producing and publishing firms. The main important towns are Edinburgh. Close to the manufacturing districts lie rich agricultural lands. The main hill masses are the Cheviots. each of them specialised in some specific production. Dundee. and its highest point is only 2. famous for its fine setting. the main crops are barley. Glasgow. Paisley. Otherwise. In the east. It is one of the country’s chief ports and a leading distribution centre. the Valley . they. administration is the main activity of this city. In the town there are industries of quite considerable importance as rubber production. etc.. architecture and historical interest. being an important textile centre as well. as a consequence of the important industrial position of the region.800 feet above the sea. as heavy industry.The population of this region is comparatively dense. There are many rivers flowing in the west of the region and following the slope of the plateau towards the Solway Firth. Edinburgh is a university town. Glasgow is known for a great variety of manufacturing industries. much of this part of Scotland consists of high ground. situated especially in the east of the region. culminating with Broad Law and Merrick. baking and milling industries. however. which is the highest summit in the region (above 2. the relief is more subdued here. give a mountainous quality to the landscape. oats and potatoes.

as well as fishing. the urban population is concentrated in a number of small market and textile towns. small but important as a dealing centre with dairy products. There has been an important growth in new industries. of European output” [54. Stranraer is another town. side by side with the woollen industry. . The density of the population in the Southern Uplands is not very high. 19]. “Scotland accounts for more than half of Britain’s output of integrated circuits and for more than 10 p. A serious impact on its economic development was due to the discovery of oil and gas under the North Sea. such as chemicals. but less dramatically than it happened in other parts of the UK.c. There are more than 100 whisky distilleries. electronic engineering and some forms of mechanical and instrument engineering. As regards the economic development of the three regions forming Scotland. steel and ship building) have recently declined. the traditional industries (coal. Thus. food and drink products) which are still important. with its population either grouped in small villages or scattered in hill and lowland farming units. The largest and most important town of south-west Scotland is Dumfries well known for its textile industry embracing a variety of knitted garments for home and foreign markets. sheep raising has been practised for a long time. This region is also known as the Border country. whisky exports valuing over £ 2 million.of the Tweed and its numerous tributaries form a broad lowland expanse. As regards the traditional industries there are some textiles (high quality tweeds. and it is important as well because of Sir Walter Scott whose special province it was. One of the most picturesque and best-known locks is the wild and lonely Loch Skene. for the most part. a large number of jobs being estimated to have arisen as direct or indirect result of North Sea activities. especially in north-east Scotland. The eastern part of the upland carries a great deal of moor. the region is rural. dairy farming is developed. but.

much of the land representing grazing for cattle and sheep. general development. Scotland can be characterized by harsh physical conditions. its largest part being covered by Lough Neagh (147 sq.241 feet above the sea) while the uplands here. with peat-covered summits. more than 60 p. of Scotland’s land area is devoted to this activity.Services have also expanded: there are four Scottish based clearing banks having limited rights to issue their own banknotes. km). the largest in Britain. as a consequence. synthetic rubber. settlement there.c. showing excellency in the production of vehicle components. its industry (situated mostly in the eastern part) is diversified. In general. however. have been difficult over time. a shallow fresh water lake. especially in the north-east area and in the islands. The difference in the geological structure is represented by an outpouring of basaltic lavas which formed a huge plateau. nowadays. agriculture. Fishing is an activity well represented. miles/381 sq.c. of the total value of Britain’s fish landing comes from Scotland. the land is flatter (500 feet) with the exception of the Mourne Mountain – a cluster of granite summits rising sharply in the south-east (the highest peak Slieve Donard is 2. but also its conquest. presenting the same type of mountain scenery. Northern Ireland (at its nearest point only 13 miles/12 km from Scotland) could be considered an extension of the Scottish Highlands. and with few exceptions. Northern Ireland has for long been a traditional manufacturer of textiles. As regards agriculture. Economically. are a continuation of the Southern Uplands of Scotland. 2. oil-drilling equipment. and its principal crop is barley.796 feet (853 m). especially linen. and the timber production is also notable. (Sperrin Mountains. and there is also a large number of insurance companies. a cold climate and isolation because of its remoteness. 80 p. . used in producing whisky and beer. electronic instruments. Nearly half of Britain’s forest area lies in Scotland. The productivity of the arable land is high.

as well. it has developed a large shipyard. it includes livestock products. its location made it a port of great importance for Northern Ireland. where a considerable number of passenger liners and aircraft carriers were built. most of the region representing a plateau with much grass-covered moor land. Only in the south. and Carnedd Llewelyn – 3. their slopes go down into the sea. the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons can be seen standing out. As regards. excepting the eastern side where they border the English plain. There are some other towns situated in valleys.485 feet. the activity of former volcanism being visible as well. many farmers grow flax and fruits in the suitable districts. Wales central area does not include similar high surfaces. are also worth mentioning).Most of the province population.000 feet are to be seen (Snowdon massif is the highest part of Wales. stands at the head of the wide Belfast Lough. their ancient summits were worn down by cycles of erosion and glacial processes. Belfast. Here. The Highland region of Great Britain continues to the south with the Highland of England and of Wales. such as Londonderry.561 feet high/1. Cader Idris and the Berwyn mass. The scenery is smooth and rounded with a remarkable even skyline. it consists of four upland masses descending from north to south: The Pennines. the Cambrian Mountains and South West peninsula. deep wooded valleys. Ballymena. . agriculture. the capital. The Cambrian Mountains (known as the Welsh Massif) form the core of Wales. in Snowdonia and in its southward extensions. but Carnedd Dafydd – 3.085 m. where the river Lagan reaches the shore. However. again. Newry etc. while the main cereal crop are oats. in their wonderful solitary splendour above the upland. were mountain areas above 2. there are still fine peaks. the Cumbrian Mountains. is concentrated in Belfast and in the neighbouring counties. there is a big production of potatoes. The general scenery they offer is that of a hilly region dissected by long. 3. especially known for its clothing industry. With some exceptions.427 feet. especially in North Wales. generally sparse and scattered.

it occupies nearly 80 p. many of them at the forefront of technology.c.To the north west of the Welsh massif lies the Isle of Anglesey. but also in north east (especially light industry). etc. they have started to develop not only in the south. and the decrease in demand for the Welsh coal. the traditional industry of steel making remains important. and Welsh borderland. Pembroke and others in the northwestern area. There are several valleys that radiate from the highland core to the coastal regions which have a milder climate. a remnant of a very ancient land mass. the sea proximity made the coal transportation easy. The southern area is the most densely populated. chemicals. an extension of the English plain. Swansea and Newport in the south. being sheltered from the high winds. of Wales’ land area. which can be considered. The most important towns of the region are Cardiff. About 12 p. of Wales territory is covered by woods. . due to its industrial development. This part of Wales is well known for the ferrous metals manufacturing and cool mining. the capital of Wales and an ancient city. but lower than the Welsh Massif. and dairy farming in the lowlands. information technology. automotive components. the mining industry ceased to be of utmost importance. oats and mixed corn. hilly. As regards agriculture. presenting a bit different nature: the south eastern part. Besides this higher area. side by side with the development of a more diverse range of manufacturing industries. In time. the region becoming one of the biggest coal-mining centres in the world. The most extensive crops are wheat.c. physically and structurally. A high quality coal started to be extracted here as early as the 13th century. because of the difficulty of coal extraction. Bay. barley. Other main activities are sheep and cattle rearing in the hilly regions. and Colwyn. However.). there are other two zones in the region. (electronics.

116 feet above the sea). The valleys. This mountainous district is also widely known for its association with the history of English literature. and small water falls. Coniston Water. There are numerous swift and clear streams. The Pennines have few sharp peaks. (The Cheviots are the northerly extension of the Pennines and the surface of this arch is remarkably smooth. and. are also called “the backbone of England”. is only 3. the trees standing out against a background of rugged cliffs of white grey rocks” [53. and running straight down the centre of the country. with the name of William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and other “Lake poets”. There are clear glacial actions which created the “hanging valleys”. especially. “At lower levels the larger dales are more richly wooded. p. The southern part of the Pennines is a more grassy upland.210 feet. The largest lakes are Windermere. and. separated by narrow ridges and sharp peaks. two individual masses tower over the surrounding area (the highest. heavy snowfalls and rain falling. Derwent Water and Ullswater.The rest of the Highlands regions represents England. Sheffield. in spite of the fact that the altitude is not high. along the river Tyne gap. because of low temperatures. considered to start in the north. rounded heights). and left signs of their passage. The Central Pennines are lower and densely populated (Manchester. The plateaux in the north are of a less hospitable character. The region is well known for its great natural beauty − it is considered the most beautiful part of England. . and Helvelyn. − the lakes occupying many icedeepened valleys and showing a wonderful variety. To the south. with bare. 3. characterized by dry valleys and steep-sided gorges. The northern part of the Cumbrians is formed of tough slate rocks cut into deep gorges. To the north-west of the Pennine system lie the Cumbrian Mountains. The Pennines. constituting a compact and isolated mountain group. cover small areas.3]. so that the moor land between them look almost featureless. who celebrated the special beauty of this area in their poetry. Derby and Leicester being the most important towns in the area). and chiefly consist of plateaux situated at different levels. although deep. They include the famous Lake District or Lake Country or Lakeland. there are greater expenses of level upland formed from the lava and the ash thrown out by ancient volcanoes. Scafell Pike. Nottingham.

a bit farther. There are six uplands here: Exmoor (Dunkey Beacon is 1. The largest town of the Lake District is Carlisle. St. on the river Eden. a dreadful sector of English coast. The main towns in the south west England are Plymouth (the largest town of the peninsula and a naval base). but full of magic.704 feet) Dartmoor (High Willhays is 2. with strange granite. it is these poets’ merit to have drawn the people’s attention on what is now accounted for the most beautiful part of England. here and there. with some differentiation between the groups of areas. of waters. .038 feet). The most so. the region is mainly a tourist attraction. mysterious stretches of grass and heather. Falmouth (reputed for its shipyards). people were less impressed by/or concerned with nature’s beauty. (The only exception in size is Torquay. The fine and diversified coastline attracts many tourists who enjoy visiting the resort towns. Carn Brea. located on the south coast of the peninsula. there is a network of deep and narrow valleys which alternate with flat-topped zones of rising inland. The South-West of England includes the largest peninsula of the country. Bodmin Moor. Exeter (a university centre). granite can be seen again on the Isle of Scilly. The landscape of the region has a certain uniformity of summit heights. coming out torsi. Besides different industrial developments. the spectacular extremity of Land’s End. fairly small. trees and heathen-covered slopes of the area. Dartmouth (with a deep and large harbour). which receives a large number of tourist).It seems that before the Romantic Movement in the late 18th century. Austell. which was represented by Wordsworth and the other poets who drew their inspiration from the perfection of the natural scenery.

(It is known as the Cotswolds. 6]. The flat. This part of England consists of alternating rocks. Surrounding the Forest Ridges is a belt of vale country called the Low Weald. The boundary of the lowland runs from the mouth of the Tyne in north east of England. To the east of the Fens. (North and South Downs are uplands. graceful Chilterns. Lincoln and Pickering. green springy turf. a line of hills gently sloping to the east and south. and in the valleys are tiny villages with an ancient church in the centre”. producing a succession of chalk cliffs which face the . The first major scarp feature consists of Jurassic rocks and stretches from Dorset to the north Riding. p. the waters of the English Channel have eaten parts of the chalk wall. descending against the Welsh Massif and the lower river Severn in the west. From one great wave of green grass one can see far away over the crests of other waves. treeless grassland). it opens to the Midland Plain with the scarp face of the Cotswold Hills. including a strip of low-lying ground around the Solway Firth in the northwest. clayey rocks including the vales of Oxford. to the mouth of the Exe in the southwest. The Downs cover a wide area of England. the Forest Ridges. with its fresh. provides a spacious kind of landscape which is very typically English. covering the area from the Dorset coast in southern England.13]. reaching the sea at Dover. stretching from Dorset in the southwest to the moors of Cleveland. lying in long sweeps of scarp and vales. In the southeast. Behind this scarp lies a wide vale of soft. Northampton uplands and North Yorkshire moors). stretching from Flamborough Head in Yorkshire to the western Downs of Dorset. p. rolling. Ashdown Forest). but it rises gradually in the attractive. and the South Downs ending at Beachy Head. the outcrop is very low (150 feet). most of the area is taken up by the zone of the weald region of Kent and East Sussex (the central hilly part of the area has different names: the High Weald. from the Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs to the North Downs. and continuing in the Cleveland Hills to the coast of North Yorkshire. “The wide. The western edge of the chalk layer is also part of the English lowlands. “The chalk outcrop is a more conspicuous and continuous feature than its sandstone and limestone predecessors” [53. undulating down land.The Lowland zone. [38. On the coast. so called because of their aspect: open. the scenery contrasts strongly with the adjoining zones. White Horse. even reclaimed landscape of the Fens is underlined by these clays.

Horticulture is well developed here. William Shakespeare is connected with Stratford-upon-Avon. . dairy is common in the western part. A lot of towns and villages stand on a river. Stoke-on-Trent. as well as in the west Midland.European mainland and glitter in the light of the sunny days. 1. others are less known: Stratfordupon-Avon. and in the southwest. As regards population. Britain is rich in waterways. around Liverpool and Manchester (north-western industrial area). As regards agriculture. in Newcastle and Sunderland (north-eastern part of the country). pig and poultry farming. Bradford and Sheffield (Yorkshire). manufacturing is still important in some fields. Many regions and towns in England are associated with important English writers and artists. besides. The region of Lowlands has considerable changed economically during the 20th century. some of the places are quite famous. while sheep and cattle are reared in the hilly and moor land areas of the north. The east and south area concentrate most of the arable land. William Wordsworth. Arnold Bennett with Stoke-onTrent.3 Britain’s Rivers and the Landscape Beauty As a consequence of so many hills. Stockton-on-Tees. High technology industries have recently developed in East Anglia. the Brontë sisters with Yorkshire. a fact obvious from their names. in Leeds. Weston-by-Welland and many others. their white colour made the Romans call the territory they were eager to conquer. Thus. around Birmingham (west Midlands). in London and south coast England. it is concentrated in the largest towns and cities. Thomas Hardy with Dorset and John Constable with the beauty of Essex and Suffolk landscape. already mention for his association with the Lake District. “the Albion”. it is most significant in West Midlands and in north of England.

the Dee. you will scarcely even be disappointed. after draining a large. the Aire and the Trent. into the Atlantic Ocean. it rises from the Cotswolds. the Test. while other rivers as the Ouse. the Arun. 16]. the shallow. and “wherever you are in the British Isles. it forms the Thames estuary before flowing into the English Channel. and you will spend many pleasant halfhours leaning over ancient stone bridges or strolling in quiet meadows. drain into the Humber. running along impermeable rocks. or “to the bridge”. and in Wales. Other important rivers flowing into the English Channel are the Tamar. they flow independently into the North Sea. . Between England and Wales. the Tay. and inquire the best way to get there. the slow Midland streams winding through rich pasture lands. the Fowey. Once again “everybody knows his own favourite minor river or unimportant stream”. the Ouse. or to “the stream”. South eastern England is dominated by the large drainage system of the Thames. or small streams flowing along tree-dark valleys in the north. In Northern Ireland the major rivers are the Erne. while the Clyde is flowing west. The rivers draining east are longer and faster. To the south. the Forth and the Tweed are all flowing east. the Foyle and the Bann. p. clear waters flowing over bright pebbles somewhere in Hampshire. is diverse and picturesque: the swift and short rivers in the Highlands with their tumbling brown waters fringed by heather. flowing over relatively short distance. another group of rivers flow into the Wash: the most significant is the Great Ouse. if you reckon on taking your evening stroll to “the river”. the Teifi and the Tywi. the significant westward-flowing rivers are the Eden and the Mersey. the Dee. and increasing rapidly after rains. as it happens with the hills or the seacoast. flowing south west into the Bristol Channel after its meeting with the Avon. Once again. the Wear and the Tees. the Spey. and will see far more of the real England than you ever could from the main highway” [38. Coming from the northern Pennines are the Tyne. flat area of the Fen county. In northern England. the landscape which this multitude of rivers offer. is the Severn. the Exe.Looking at Britain’s map the important rivers can be easily discovered: in Scotland. and after crossing the Oxford Clay and being joined by many tributaries. from north to south.

these atmospheric systems fluctuate rapidly. an inexhaustible topic of conversation. to a large extent. climate has a bad reputation partly justified. with few sunny days. and Britain is crossed by winds coming from different source regions. the warm North Atlantic Current that heats the sea and the air of the regions it crosses. Great Britain’s climate is more temperate than it would be. As the weather changes with the wind. The fact is not accidental. ranging from Arctic polar to tropical ones. there are some . it generally falls into the cool temperate humid type with some obvious regional diversity. but because of its position. it is natural that the characteristic feature of Britain’s weather should be variability. there are permanent modifications of the main thermal and moisture characteristics of the air masses circulation over the country’s area. As regards the classification of climate. Besides. in their turn. there are four definite seasons. being. varying both in frequency and intensity throughout the seasons and from year to year.4 British Weather. between the European landmass and the relatively warm Atlantic waters. each of them being. that speaking about it has become a habit. But. in summer. the climate offers so many exceptions to so many rules. at the same time. the British weather is the source of innumerable jokes. The climate in Britain is determined. But its climate is also influenced by the Gulf Stream. the extremes are not severe: in winter. and not only. rarely falling below zero. either maritime or continental. foggy and windy. Lying in middle latitudes. In theory. In their paths. the weather is changeable. temperate climate. it is considered to be permanently rainy. by the country’s position related to the form and distribution of land and sea.1. thus. a Conversational Topic As well-known. although by definition. Britain has a mild. the polar maritime masses of air reaching the country determine a line of equal temperature from north to south of about 400F (40C). considering its northerly position.

as. from September to November. being the time when leaves and fog is prevailing. the foreign tourists are advised to take some winter clothes for their summer holidays in Britain. 23]. the rainfall distribution also depends – and even to a great extent – to the exposure to the Atlantic Ocean and the place topography: in the mountainous areas there is more rain than in the plains of the south and . it can never be taken as a rule. because. however.) Anyway. However. when for three weeks. and spring days in winter. autumn. it seems that rain is distributed well enough throughout the year. There are situations when varieties of airstreams can bring winter cold in spring. this climatic changeable characteristic with its unpredictability being virtually “a national institution and for some a conditioning factor in the national character” [38. May and April are considered the driest months. that is why. and never forget their umbrellas when leaving the hotel in the morning while the sun is brightly shining in the sky. again. we cannot help mentioning the wonderful season and magic atmosphere described by John Galsworthy in the interlude “The Indian Summer of a Forsyte” in his trilogy “The Forsyte Saga”. All these traditions are only pure theory. on the British Isles the weather is a long series of exceptions to its traditional rules which say that spring lasts from March to May. being even sunnier with long hot days when everybody can get sunburned. autumn days in summer. but never exceeding 900F (320C). each of them at different times in different regions. As regards. when southerly or south-easterly airstreams bring some waves of heat to the south of England. while the wettest months are from October to January.regional differences. In fact. even in the south. being gentle and sunny with blooming flowers and singing birds. this happens on some rare occasions. Here. Thus. June. The discrepancies between weather forecasts and the real weather is something usual. in July. (An unforgettable example is the summer of the year 1992. any month might be equally wet or the wettest. p. in practice. a concept very popular with the foreigners associate Britain with perpetual rainfall. nobody can guess from one day to another which season will meet him next morning. while in winter (December-February) people expect snow and bright sparking frosty days. rainfall pattern. there was hardly a sunny day in Plymouth. with temperature increasing from north to south. in some particular years. and splendid summer days at the end of October. summer from June to August.

but. (The average number of snow falling days can vary from 30 in north-eastern Scotland to five in southwester England). But. Sometimes. Since its creation in 1919. where different kinds of trees growing together in friendly proximity can be seen: oak. much of Britain was forest. in a special way. however. there are heavy snowfalls. in some cases. we are warned that. there are Kielder and other forests in Northumberland.east. a Preoccupation of the British In remote times. increasing with altitude. a sentence as “lovely weather for the time of year!” could mean that the person really enjoys the sunshine. of the country. with glazed frost and icy roads causing great inconvenience. As said before. of course. or it could be nothing else but small talk. and occasional little whirlwind can uproof the houses.5 Plant and Animal Life. some feeling of affection. but. the woods are still fairly small and scattered outside the enclosed cultivated fields. in order to make the time pass. Besides. large areas of woodland can be found in north-eastern Scotland. larch and crabb-apple side by side with scrubs and flowering bushes. or even to declare. Here is an amusing example of what communicating across cultures means! 1. causing collisions and other unhappy events on roads. locally immobilizing traffic. this might not be a mere reference to weather. according to official records. However. having important plantations. Anyway. and from southwest to northeast some precipitations turn into snow in wintertime. most of the time the sky is overcast in the British isles and. the worst weather circumstance is caused by the famous British fog or “mist”. nowadays. Thus. . they are quiet and interesting areas. woodland covers less than 10 p. railways and along the coast. but. to have “weather” as a topic of conversation is something usual in Britain. the average daily hours of sunshine vary from less than three in northeast to about four and a half along the southeastern coast.c. it could also express someone’s desire to get acquainted to someone else. the Forestry Commission was active in afforestations.

a large population could not live there. supplying a vertical line to the sloping country scenery. The purpose for which it was cultivated was the protection of deer. present day tendency towards destroying the hedgerows. All over the British Isles there are apple and pear trees. the sight of the trees in blossom is not to be forgotten. mirroring itself in the waters of a lake or river. no less the willow. greengages and cherries. except for northern Scotland where the pine is the most characteristic. considered harmful to crops. and almost every farm or country house has its orchard. The forest covers an area of 145 sq. moors and marshes. and Breckland in Norfolk are also worth mentioning. or the acacia and the silver birch with their outstanding grace. In south Devon there are palm-trees growing along the coast. the general image the trees offer is not that of a forest as we might expect to see. “New Forest” in Hampshire is also a place to be mentioned. blackberry and elder. a natural transition from trees to hedges and a way. and. sometimes. also belong to the British landscape. in springtime. honey-suckle and dog roses. the tree dominating the forest is “the oak”. miles of woodlands. but that of groups or individuals. the poplar. magnificent and impressive in their unusual attitudes. crab-apple and hawthorn. being laid out by William the Conqueror for his own royal pleasure as a hunting-ground. as the elm. but because of its soil. there are famous orchards. by offering them everything they needed for their survival. In Worcestershire and Somerset.Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. the hedges are full of flowering bushes. Gwynedd in Wales. and what not. There are some famous places. It is said that there is a certain. The area is nowadays open to holiday makers. but some other trees. Anyway. the beech and the thorn. to the west of England. Typically British are also the luxuriant hedgerows. both impressive and practical. where one can also find plums damsons. because they are. as for example Sherwood Forest in Midland where Robin Hood and his merry men used to live stealing from the rich lords to give to the poor people. People have lived on that area since prehistoric times. As regards the species of trees. for example. the ash. of separating one field from another. watching the ground for centuries. and the field from the country lane. or “Epping Forest” to the north east of London. .

Corsican pine and massive hedges of rhododendrons. But vegetation can be even more specific. a similar vegetation covers the high grounds in eastern Northern Ireland and the Mourns. others say that a short term effect of hedgerows destruction would be a gradual reduction of scenic quality and of the landscape variety. because of the deep purple colour of the vegetation which add “a splash of colour” to the landscape. sometimes mixed with bilberry or bell heather. nowadays.although they are a natural habitat for birds and insects. in autumn. some mountain summits in Scotland are covered by arctic-alpine vegetation. heather bilberry and grass moors are most extensively found. the small peninsula. bleak spot. where palms and eucalyptus trees. a combination of mountain and moor. About a forth of the total area of the British Isles is represented by moorlands and heathlands. as well as the great blaze of colour coming from the delicate and beautiful flowers from Africa. being mainly covered with black acidy peat and outcrops of rock. forming a never-to-be-forgotten panorama. is that Inverewee is washed by the Gulf Stream. the scenery is quite special. After about twenty years. all of them made “good shelter”. only later on. loch and sea. who started it in the mid 60s of the 19th century. constituting one of the main features of the landscape. these giant beautiful trees are part of the gardens. and. huge pines and firs. in the northwest of Scotland. on the other hand. The place is a fascinating spot. the common heather is dominant. Osgood Mackenzie. while in the highland zone. The image of the British wild nature would not be complete without shortly mentioning the gardens of Inverewee. South America or New Zeeland can be seen together. Now. Mackenzie started by running a fence over the neck of the peninsula in order to keep out sheep and deer. But. Thus. the variety of the scenery is extraordinary there. a small peninsula just north of Gaitloch. created a barrier against the cold winds and storms of the place by planting a thick belt of Scots firs. and. . at that time. but it was the work of a Highland laird. The surprise and secret of all these plants growing there. In the lowland area. in its diversity. where the soil is lightly sandy. at that northern latitude. peat moss. the gardens are the property of the National Trust for Scotland. the name of which is Ane Ploe Ard (in the Gaelic language) was a bare.

squirrels and mice. and they represent part of the people’s life. as a sign of respect for those who so tenderly care for them. in the windows flower stands or in pots hanging from iron fences or just on the walls of the houses in London or in any other towns or villages. moles and shrews. beneath the trees. Not only once. in the tiny gardens in front of the houses. (famous along the shores of Lake Windermere). There are still plenty of rabbits and two species of hare. he either could have had the . and the common flowers like clover and daisy and buttercup with their delicate beauty. there are badgers. There are flower contests festivals in Britain. reindeer. such as rats. and the people are really proud with their achievements in this activity. have become extinct. On some parts of the coast there are seals. the average British is familiar to all these little beings. if possible. which is more than a hobby. Some species of deer do still survive. there are some species of rodents. You can see them everywhere. As regards reptiles. to touch their delicate and coloured petals. but most of the formerly abundant larger mammals. as the red deer in the Scottish Highlands and in Exmoor Forest. The amphibians are represented by five species of frogs and toads and three species of newt.The beauty of the British landscape owes a lot to the wild flowers. attentively looked after. otters. as boars. like the blue speedwell. the poppy cornflower and chicory. foxes. bears and wolves. and. it is a cultural characteristic. stoats and weasels living in rural areas. there are three species of snakes. and the roe deer in wooded Scotland and southern England. ready to welcome those who take the trouble to stop for a minute for admiring them. so beautiful and gentle that they inspired the romantic poet when he saw them: “Besides the lake. Flowers are really loved in Britain. In addition. fields of cowslips and weaves of daffodils. and other more and more flowers scattered in the summer fields. in February. till late in autumn. the scarlet pimpernel. The wild animals populating the British Isles are similar to those of Europe. The first to appear are the aconite and snowdrop followed by others coming upon with a rush: carpets of blue bells and banks of primroses. From his earliest childhood./ Fluttering and dancing in the breeze” (William Wordsworth). of which only one is venomous. and of insectivores such as hedgehogs. the graceful pansy. you are tempted to stop in front of them to admire. and three species of lizard. which pattern the scenery from early spring.

as. there are more than two hundred species in the British Isles. but there are still rich fishing grounds in the North Sea. or even the swallow. salmon. a special attention should be paid to some birds often met in the fields. or the cuckoo. an important and varied part of the British landscape. sanctuaries and reserves. Irish Sea or off the western coast of Scotland. wheeling above the country cottages. equally. “the cloud of fire” as Shelley called it. all of them living in the suburban gardens and having a density here. The birds are. everywhere. However. the lark. and promote their conservation by assisting the creation of refuges. mackerel. the thrush and the pigeon. or even far inland. haddock. perch. while. merely considered some sport or recreation because of the water pollution. the robin and the house-martin as well. side by side with the small and agile ducks. such effort contributes to the elimination of the negative effects of environmental changes on bird life. the owl’s scream is sad and impressive. herring and plaice in the offshore one. such as the sparrow. Britain is renowned for its many species of fish: trout. pike and others which could be found in the fresh waters. whose coming around the 15th of April is considered a real event in Britain. the nightingale making the delight of a summer evening. Among the best known and usually seen are the town-dwelling birds. and cod. or he knows them from the stories of Kenneth Graham’s “The Wind in the Willow’s” or of Beatrix Potter’s. Surrounded by water. . higher than in the woodland. In some lonely places. the blackbird. for examples.luck to see them as a child while strolling in the woods or along a river or when crossing some lane. during the night. nowadays. one may see the magnificent wild swans sailing majestically on the water’s face. maybe. the seagulls: above the Thames bridges in the heart of London. whose immortal animals have become his personal friends. whose song could make the pleasure of a country walk. and. on the coast where they come around any sitting person begging for some crumbles. more than one-half of them being migratory. crossed by many rivers. Fresh water fishing is. There are many ornithological organizations which encourage a more sympathetic attitude to birds. but very often in the parks as well.