Panoramic photography is never as easy as it seems. It's not simply a matter of point and shoot, as any novice photographer has discovered. What the eye takes in can often fail to translate to the photo. But when things go right it can result in a shot that becomes the prize of a lifetime.
Of course, the best places in which to practice and master this art are the UK's National Parks. With 15 members of the National Park family located top to bottom across the country, one is afforded some of the very best and most diverse landscapes to be found. Here's a list of our 15 favourite places to try to get that perfect shot. Most, of course, will require at least a little effort to get to. But that's part of the fun, isn't it?
On the far western edge of Brecon Beacons National Park and perched atop an imposing promontory is Castell Carreg Cennen, a massive castle fortress that saw roughly 300 years of use before being overrun by Yorkists during the War of the Roses. The castle's Lord of the Rings type setting provides a 365-degree unobstructed view of the surrounding rolling hills and Cennen Valley.
The highest point in the Broads is just 39 feet above sea level, so manmade objects are usually needed for a vista. Enjoy the sweeping view over rivers and marshes from Burgh Castle, the remains of a 3rd century Roman fort that once held cavalry to repel Saxon raids on the east and southern coasts of Britain. The 'castle' formerly overlooked an estuary, which became a marsh at some point in the Broads' unique and interesting past.
Morrone ascent is a Corbett (between 2,500 and 3,000 ft) that sits above the tiny village of Braemar and makes a lovely hill circuit on a fine day. With 360-degree views of the surrounding Cairngorm peaks and over Braemar itself, this walk with a pretty riverside return route makes a great half-day excursion.
Climb to the top of Haytor Rocks for one of the most iconic panoramas in Britain. The area offers stunning views of Dartmoor National Park and beyond, to the far distant Devonshire coast. Additionally, the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre at Haytor can advise on some great walks in the area.
Dunkery Beacon, the summit of Dunkery Hill, is the highest point on Exmoor (and Somerset) at 1,702 ft. On a clear day you can see across the Bristol Channel to Wales. In as much, one can see three National Parks from this spot: Exmoor, Dartmoor and the Brecon Beacons. A good-quality camera lens might also afford one a view of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park! There are easy walks to the summit from informal car parks at Dunkery Gate and Rex Stile Head.
Incredible views are surprisingly accessible in the Lake District, with one of the area's most scenic spots being found at the Brockhole Visitor Centre. From the centre's garden terrace one has views of both Windermere Lake and the Langdale Pike mountains. Additionally, the National Park's website offers suggestions of ideal painting locations, which also lend themselves quite easily to the photographic artist.
Follow a path through the trees to this stunning, pyramid-shaped artwork installation where panoramic views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding mountains are revealed. Climb the 31 steps up to the top of the eight metre high viewpoint, sit and take in the stunning elevated views.
Locally known as one of the best places to spot red deer, Ober Heath is a breathtaking expanse of heath land along the Lymington River. And even if you don't spot any deer, it's a good bet you'll run into a few of the ponies that are a famous fixture of New Forest National Park. A number of easy walks make their way to Ober Heath from the village of Brockenhurst, which conveniently has a train station and visitor information point.
The village of Alwinton is in the heart of the seemingly outlaw bit of country that is the border between England and Scotland. In truth, the region is one of the most charming and civilised you'll find but a walk through the surrounding Cheviot Hills puts one in touch with the whiskey smugglers and drovers of its faraway past. The hills offer sweeping panoramas of a rural idyll you may not ever want to leave.
The big skies of the North York Moors National Park embrace some dramatic landscapes, but for a beat-that panorama locals plump for the view from the coastal heights of Ravenscar, looking across to Robin Hood's Bay. A broad sweep of sea, a patchwork of fields, an arc of cliffs and beach, and the old red-roofed smugglers' village nestled in a distant cleft all provide a perfect picture.
Stanage Edge is a 4-mile stretch of gritstone cliffs that run between Hathersage and Sheffield. These cliffs overlook dramatic expanses of wild, open countryside that have served as the setting for a number of films, including Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. There are a number of car parks close by, and bus and train services are not too far, either.
Whitesands Bay on the St Davids Peninsula offers sweeping views across to Ramsey Island from its north and south vantage points, and inwards to Carn Llidi. Pembrokeshire's coastline was designated a National Park because of its unique geology and landscape, and there are memorable views around every bend of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path -- part of the considerably larger Wales Coast Path.
The Panorama Walk, near the Snowdonia town of Barmouth does exactly what it says on the tin. Almost immediately the walk offers incredible views of the Mawddach estuary, the Cadair Idris mountain range, and Cardigan Bay. This rugged, windswept terrain is a favourite subject for photographers of all levels and will provide inspiration in all seasons.
Southern England is not exactly known for its peaks, but there are still plenty of spots from which to gain a broad perspective. The highest points in South Downs National Park are Blackdown in Sussex (920 ft.) and Butser Hill in Hampshire (885 ft). Fortunately, these are also some of the most picturesque spots, having served as artists' inspirations for centuries. Both enjoy spectacular views across the Weald and along the steep scarp slopes of the chalk hills.
The riders in the Tour de France 2014 may have only enjoyed a fleeting glimpse of the view from the Buttertubs Pass as they climbed to the moor top, but for us lesser mortals the opportunity to breathe in all of the Yorkshire Dales from this spectacular spot is like being rewarded with our own yellow jersey. Not to mention that the Buttertubs are worth visiting on their own -- just to learn where the name comes from.
The above are just a tiny sample of the incredible landscapes to be found in the UK's National Parks. For more ideas on where to go and what to do, visit our Top 15 ideas page.