United Kingdom Geography

United Kingdom Geography

The United Kingdom encompasses Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland. Other territories such as the Channel Islands, Man and the Crown Colonies are also “de facto” part of the British State.


Britain is traditionally divided into a mountainous area to the north and west and a lowland area to the south and east. A boundary running from the mouth of the River Exe, in the southwest, to that of the Tees, in the northeast, is a stark expression of this division. But, in general, it can be understood that it is dominated by all rough hills and low mountains. In the northern part are the Ross Mountains, the Grampians, the Southern Uplands, and the Cheviot Mountains. In the western part are the Pennine mountains, the Cambrian or Cambrian mountains in Wales and Cornwall which are an extension of the Hercynian folding of Europe. The Scottish Highlands and the Ulster Mountains resemble the Caledonian folds that can be seen in the Scandinavian peninsula, covered by more recent materials, of volcanic and glacial origin. All these mountain ranges are not too high. Between the different mountain ranges there are sometimes narrow lower lands, such as the Lowlands (Scotland) or the Midlands (England). The plains or peneplain area is concentrated in the southeast of the island of Great Britain, being a continuation of the great plain of northern Europe. It is a sedimentary basin.


The rivers are rather short, but their flow is moderate which allows some navigation. They have some economic importance. The longest, with 354 km, and mighty in the country is the Severn River, which originates in Wales and also crosses England, then empties into the Atlantic Ocean through its estuary in the southwest of the country. It is also the largest river in England. Its main tributary is the Tern River. The second in length is the Thames, the river that is the longest in England, at 346 km, crosses London and empties into the North Sea. The Swale, English, a tributary of the river Ure, which in turn becomes the river Ouse; where the Ouse meets the Trent at Trent Falls (Faxfleet) and creates a large tidal estuary, the Humber. From here to the North Sea, it forms part of the boundary between East Yorkshire on the north shore and North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire on the south shore. Although it is an estuary from the point of view of its formation, many maps describe it as the River Humber. There are also several Scottish rivers that flow into the North Sea: the Tay, which at 188 km is the longest in Scotland, flows into the Fjord of Tay); Spey (flows into the Moray Firth), Tweed and the Dee. The longest river in Northern Ireland is the Bann, which is 122 km long. The longest river in Wales is the Towy (in Welsh Tywi), 103 km long.

As a result of its industrial history, the UK has an extensive canal system, most of it built in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, before the rise of competition for railways. The UK also has numerous reservoirs and marshes for storing drinking water and industry. Hydropower generation is quite limited, providing less than 2% of British electricity mainly from the Scottish Highlands.

Lakes abound in Scotland, where they are called lochs, with another famous region, the Lake District in north-east England. The largest lakes in the United Kingdom, according to their countries, are:

  • Northern Ireland: Lough Neagh (381.74 km²)
  • Scotland: Loch Lomond (71.12 km²)
  • England: Windermere (14.74 km²)
  • Wales: Bala Lake (in Welsh, Llyn Tegid; 4.84 km²)

The deepest lake in the UK is Loch Morar with a maximum depth of 309 meters. Loch Ness (Loch Ness) is the second, with 228 meters of depth. The deepest lake in England is Wast Water, which drops to 79 meters.


It belongs to the maritime, oceanic and temperate climate. The southwest winds prevail over the North Atlantic current, so the severity of the climate is moderated. It is influenced by the Gulf Stream (The Gulf Stream).

More than half of the days it is cloudy. The cloudiness is extreme and the rainfall is abundant. Scotland is the wettest country every month of the year, except for May, June and December, when it rains the most in Wales. The rainiest month is January, with an average of 170.5 mm. Scotland is also the cloudiest country throughout the year, apart from June and July when there are more clouds in Northern Ireland. Fogs are frequent in cities.

According to bridgat.com, British weather is highly variable and can go very quickly from a cold, rainy day to a sunny day in just a few hours. It also varies quite a bit according to height and regions. The contrasts are mainly due to the oceanic winds, which soften the temperatures.

United Kingdom Geography