North-west Scotland’s Assynt-Coigach joined Cornwall’s Isles of Scilly among the UK’s favourite scenic destinations, according to a survey.
Some 5800 members of consumer group Which? were asked about their experiences.
Scotland does not have “areas of outstanding natural beauty” (AONB), a designation used in the rest of the UK, so respondents were questioned about its 40 national scenic areas, resulting in Assynt-Coigach being ranked in first place.
Its stunning landscape features cliffs, sea stacks and wild moorlands.
The area was given an overall score of 92%, with five stars for scenery, and peace and quiet, and four stars for walks.
One visitor described it as “wild, spectacular and unique”.
2021 marks the second year in a row that the Isles of Scilly – renowned for their white sandy beaches – were named the top AONB across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The archipelago received five stars for scenery, walks, wildlife spotting, peace and quiet, food and drink, and accommodation, with an overall score of 91%.
The Causeway Coast was the highest scoring AONB in Northern Ireland, with 84%.
The main attraction on this stretch of the Antrim coast is the polygonal basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway.
One respondent to the poll said: “A visit to the Giant’s Causeway alone is reason enough to visit. Combine this with the Causeway coastal path and the other attractions of the area to ice the cake.”
Wales’s top scoring AONB was the Gower Peninsula (82%), where visitors flock to Rhossili Bay.
Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “During the pandemic, many of us discovered the joys of a British holiday and our survey findings show that areas of outstanding natural beauty and national scenic areas have plenty to offer, with stiff competition between the nation’s favourites.
“The best news from the survey is just how many highly rated destinations we have to choose from, including many little-known destinations that you’ll be able to enjoy without crowds.”
Which? said that even the destinations ranked at the lower end of its tables received “respectable scores”.