From candy floss skies to swirling seascapes, Ianthe Butt tells us the best sunset spots to visit
Whether sporting raspberry ripple-tinged clouds or painted in vibrant flame hues, there’s nothing as magical as a late summer sunset right here in the UK. Grab a picnic blanket, pack your favourite alfresco tipple, and make for one of these off-grid beauty spots for a golden hour bask. From tucked-away beaches to high-drama fortresses, here's six of the UK’s most spectacular sunset spots…
The sunset spot: Rhossili Beach
Some of the UK’s best beaches can be found on Wales’ Gower Peninsula, and the jewel in its crown is Rhossili Bay and its three-mile golden sandy beach. Spend the afternoon hiking through Rhossili Down before descending to the sands. It’s impossible not to be wowed as sun melts into the horizon, setting the sky ablaze and silhouetting serpent-shaped island Worms Head. Adding extra intrigue is the Helvetia shipwreck, exposed on the shoreline at low tide.
Where to slumber: Revamped 18th-century cottage Guinevere’s Gower Holiday Cottage at The King Arthur Hotel in Reynoldston, with its traditional beams and chic navy check furnishing, is a real charmer.
The sunset spot: Sycamore Gap Tree
Not only do the remnants of Hadrian’s Wall, the sprawling partition built to guard the northern frontier of the Roman Empire in AD122, snake across the wilds of Northumberland National Park, it also provides the framework for a unique sunset vista. Standing tall in a break in the wall is a lone sycamore tree – particularly striking when silhouetted at sundown. To find it, follow a walking route starting and finishing from The Sill Discovery Centre.
Where to slumber: For rainbow-bright decor, book Walltown Byre, a three-bedroom home just six miles from Sycamore Gap.
The sunset spot: Ilkley Moor
While the views across Ilkley Moor are impressive during the day, its heather-carpeted moorland is even more stunning at sunset. Make a day of it with a longer walk starting at West View Park, with a dip at 18th-century spa bath White Wells, passing impressive rock formations Ilkley Crags and the Twelve Apostles stone circle along the way. Then, settle in to see the famous Cow and Calf outcrop and boulder, silhouetted against stretching moor views at sunset. Alternatively, opt for an hour-long walk starting from the Cow and Calf car park.
Where to slumber: For pub grub and grand bedrooms with chaise longues or carved sleigh-style beds, book the nearby Wheatley Arms.
The sunset spot: Sandbanks
Proving that you don’t need to head to the Greek isles for a mindblowing sunset is Dorset’s Sandbanks. Named the UK’s top sunset-watching spot last year, this Jurassic Coast favourite, all silky sands and shimmering waves, is transformed with peach and tiger-stripe shades at sundown. Nab a bench seat to watch boats bobbing by the shore as the shades phase through a kaleidoscope of colours, or pootle along the beach for about an hour towards Bournemouth Pier.
Where to slumber: The Nici in Bournemouth’s West Cliff is all Miami glamour, with artwork-filled lounges and cocktails in gold pineapple-shaped tumblers.
The sunset spot: Dunnottar Castle
itting atop a rocky headland jutting into the North Sea, the ruins of medieval fortress Dunnottor Castle in Aberdeenshire look utterly cinematic when the day comes to a close. Watching the commanding ruins of the historic former home of powerful Scottish family the Earls of Marischal against a canvas streaked in crimson, apricot and violet (or even sprinkled with brooding clouds) is breathtaking. Spend the day at Stonehaven, taking a dip in the Art Deco open-air swimming pool, before following the coastal path past Stonehaven War Memorial to Dunnottar Castle ahead of sunset.
Where to slumber: Aberdeen’s about half an hours’ drive away, and Malmaison Aberdeen has comfy bedrooms and touch-of-tartan decor.
The sunset spot: Catbells
For 360-degree Lake District panoramas, astonishing views across Derwent Water and the rippling fells, don walking boots and hike to the summit of 451m Catbells, close to Keswick. The climb is short and steep, with some scrambling spots – you can expect to work up a sweat – but it’s well worth it to see the so-called ‘Queen of the Lakes’ and the fells which cradle it bathed in bright rays of golden light, which give this iconic landscape an extra special ethereal glow.
Where to slumber: Unknot tight muscles at the Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa’s showstopper hydrotherapy pool, which has views out to the Catbells mountain range.