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The best city breaks for nature lovers to escape the January blues

Posted by Danielle Harvey on 6 January 2022

daytime skyline image of London LondonA study from homebuilders McCarthy Stone has revealed the top UK cities for nature-lovers to visit. The scoring system combined five factors including rare species of animals, stargazing spots, National Trust sites, and outdoor activities nearby. Perfect for a pre- or post-wedding getaway, either with loved ones or a romantic break for two, these picks will whet your appetite if you're looking to escape the January blues.

panoramic view during the day of Plymouth light house and coastline PlymouthThe study saw Plymouth top the rankings, with the city scoring 345 points out of a possible 500. The scoring system combined five factors including rare species of animals, stargazing spots, National Trust sites, and outdoor activities nearby, with each city being awarded points out of 100 per ranking.The results reveal that the South Coast's outdoor offerings make the region a hotbed for nature-seekers. Top-scoring Plymouth (345 points) boasts 10 National Trust sites and four National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty on its doorstep.

Southampton follows in second, with the coastal city earning 297 points, thanks to a number of nearby nature spots.Whilst a city-break to England's capital city may not seem like the first choice for lovers of the outdors, the study ranked London in third place, scoring 255 points out of 500. This is thanks to the capital's 240 outdoor activities, making it one of the greenest cities on the list to visit.

Bristol came fourth with 242 points, followed by Newcastle and Swansea with both cities picking up 206 points to come joint fifth.

portside view of southampton harbour on a sunny day SouthamptonTable of top 10 UK cities for nature lovers to visit

1Plymouth345
2Southampton297
3London255
4Bristol242
5Newcastle206
6Swansea206
7Oxford199
8Wolverhampton188
9Birmingham185
10Bournemouth176

Clifton bridge in Bristol BristolBest cities for nearby stargazing spots revealed
Budding astronomers may also consider the southwest region when looking for a trip away, after the research found Bristol to be the UK's star city. Fourth in the overall nature rankings with 242 points, Bristol boasts four major stargazing spots and has some of the lowest light pollution levels in the country.
Nearby Cardiff followed closely behind as the second-best city for stargazing, with London securing third place. London scored 255 points in the overall ranking and boasts sites like Morden Hall Park, hailed as perfect for stargazing by the National Trust.

Cities with rare species on their doorstep
Newcastle is the most northerly city to make the overall top 10, with a total of 206 points and has been named as the number one ranked city in the UK for rare species of animals, with residents able to see red squirrels.Joint-second cities Aberdeen and Norwich, which scored 140 and 166 points in the overall totals are also well located for spotting rare animals. Aberdeen's Bullers of Buchan is home to puffins and Norfolk's Ranworth Broad is known for its otters.

Miruna Constantinescu, National Marketing Director at McCarthy Stone, said: "From stargazing to national parks, it's amazing to see the wealth of natural hotspots which the UK has to offer in such proximity to large parts of the population.
"The lure of coastal and countryside developments may seem like the obvious choice for nature-lovers but, this study has shown that you can enjoy amazing nature sites on your doorstep across the UK.
"We understand the importance of getting outdoors, especially after living under restrictions over the past 18 months, and it's great to be able to highlight some of the UK's natural beauty."

Click here, for more information on the UK's best value cities for nature lovers and to view full rankings per area.

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