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Where? – 17 – Places in Paintings

There are loads of landscape paintings out there, but often the view is a general scene, with little clue as to the location.  However, many of Turner’s landscapes are clearly located, and there’s loads of them too.  I could have made a whole post with just his paintings, but I’ve added in a few other artists, to include some famous works and to ensure a good range of places.

As usual, print out a blank outline map.  You can use the one below.

The best way to learn where things are is to put them on a map, but if I just give you a completed map, that won’t help much, so grab a blank map and a pencil, and find somebody for a bit of competition.

Each location has a link to the painting.  Maybe that will help with the geography…or maybe not.  Anyway, do have a guess, by marking your map with a small circle and writing the name of the place next to it.

We’ll start with paintings by Turner (1775 – 1851).

  1. Beachy Head  
  2. Dover
  3. Durham
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Harlech
  6. Melrose
  7. River Clyde  
  8. Isle of Skye
  9. Snowdon
  10. Connemara by Henry
  11. Dublin by Ashford
  12. Eton by Canaletto
  13. Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow Mountains by Barret
  14. River Stour by Constable
  15. Salisbury by Constable
  16. Westminster by Monet
  17. Weymouth by Constable

When you are ready, scroll down, past my photos, to find the answers.  If you are having a competition, then 2 points if your spot touches mine.  If everyone is way out, then the nearest gets 1 point.

Isle of Skye

Finally check your inbox for a map with all the dots in roughly the right place, ready for labelling. (Sign up form is in the side bar.)


Scilly’s Changing Habitats

As the sea level rose around Ennor, so the land was reducing in size.

With over 150 bronze age burial mounds in the islands, (dating from 2000BC), it seems there were quite a few people in residence, in what was a gradually reducing land area.

The natural vegetation for an unpopulated Scilly Isles, would be deciduous forest.  Samples of peat show that there was woodland – mainly oak, with some elm and ash.

However, by the time of the late iron age village of Halangy Down, (which was believed to be occupied into the 2nd century AD), the forest had been almost completely cleared, to make way for farming, as the population grew and the land size reduced.

There are few trees on the islands today, most being planted as windbreaks.

The loss of the woodland habitat led to the loss of the animals that would have lived in that habitat.  Many animals, that are common just 28 miles away in Cornwall, are not found on the Scilly Isles.

However, it hasn’t all been loss.  Some species have arrived on the islands.  Shipwrecks have caused this to happen by accident, but some introductions have been deliberate, such as the planting of Tresco’s sub-tropical gardens.  Seeds from there have dispersed across the islands, with the help of the wind and birds.

Introducing a new species often upsets the previous balance of nature.  Hedgehogs were brought in as pets and have since escaped and multiplied.  They are fairly safe on the islands, without foxes etc to hunt them down, and are disrupting the food chain by consuming too many slugs and snails.  They also eat bird’s eggs and nestlings.

But for the birds there is also a success story.  I’ll tell you about that next week.

Comparing Beaches

Now that you know how to draw a beach profile, you have a record of the shape of the beach on the day that you made your measurements.  But is it always like that?  Pose some questions and then think about what you need to do to find out the answers.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Is the beach profile the same the morning after a storm?
  • Is the beach profile the same on a sandy beach as on a pebbly beach?
  • Is the beach profile the same at the north / east end of the beach as at the south / west?
  • Does a beach in front of cliffs have the same profile as a beach in front of sand dunes?

To find out the answer to any of these questions you are going to need to do some more fieldwork.  You will either need to visit the same location at two different times or visit two contrasting locations.  You will then have two beach profiles which you can compare.  Which one is steeper?  Which one has a smoother shape?

Can you explain your results?

Can you see any problem with the method?  An alternative way of measuring would be to vary the distance between the poles to position them at the points where the slope angle changes.  You would have to measure the distance between the poles each time and account for this when drawing the profile but it would give you a more accurate diagram.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

The stream known as Afon Disgynfa rises on the slopes of the Berwyn mountains. It goes from a highland stream to a valley river (Afon Rhaeadr) in seconds, with a drop of over 70m, at Pistyll Rhaeadr.


It is undoubtedly a tourist attraction, though it clearly isn’t Britain’s tallest single drop waterfall, as it drops down in several stages.


There is a natural rock bridge across the stream, between one part and the next.


At the bottom of each vertical drop the water crashes to a halt. The impact, both of the water and of any rocks that are being carried, gouges out the rock immediately below the waterfall, creating a plunge pool.


“Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple,
Snowdon’s mountain without its people,
Overton yew trees, St Winifred’s Well,
Llangollen’s Bridge and Gresford’s bells.”

Is Pistyll Rhaeadr worthy of its seven wonders status?

The Wonders of Wales

The original seven wonders of the ancient world, the “must see” attractions of their time, were all man-made constructions of some kind. Since this original list, the concept of “seven wonders” has been adapted and used in many places, usually retaining the idea of having seven of them, but often including “must sees” from the natural world.

This Welsh list of attractions focuses on north-east Wales, and comes from an anonymous poem of the 18th century, which was probably written to encourage tourism:

“Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple,
Snowdon’s mountain without its people,
Overton yew trees, St Winifred’s Well,
Llangollen’s Bridge and Gresford’s bells.”

It includes a waterfall,

a mountain,

and some ancient trees

as well as man-made constructions, so Blog About Britain is going to take a closer look next week.

But what about the rest of Wales and some of the more modern wonders that weren’t even thought of in the 18th century. Western Mail readers were given a list of 48 from which to choose an updated seven wonders. The winner was the Great Glasshouse at the Botanic Garden of Wales, with Snowdon in second place.

Here you can view the 48 photos that represented these places.
Which would you choose?

Where? – 6 – Islands and Island Groups

Before the break we found out the location of some of the mountains and hills, rivers and towns in the British Isles, as well as the National Parks and the names of the surrounding sea areas.  This series has proved so popular that I’ve put together a few more posts for you.  Today we are going to discover the location of islands and island groups.

The best way to learn where things are is to put them on a map, but if I just give you a completed map, that won’t help much, so print out the map below and grab a pencil, find somebody for a bit of competition, and let’s see what you know already.

We’ll start with the islands and island groups that are actually drawn on the map.  Write the name in the sea next to the island.  If there are several close together put an arrow between the label and the correct island.  (The advanced challenge is to get all the arrows as straight lines without any crossing over each other!)

  • Anglesey
  • Arran
  • Barra
  • Benbecula
  • Coll
  • Colonsay
  • Harris
  • Islay
  • Isle of Man
  • Isle of Skye
  • Isle of Wight
  • Jura
  • Lewis
  • Mull
  • North Uist
  • Orkney Islands
  • Rum
  • Shetland Islands
  • South Uist
  • Tiree

Now here’s a few more that are indicated with the green dots because they are either too far out, too small or too close to the coast to be drawn separately.  For these ones put the number in the dot. If you don’t know, have a guess.

  1. Achill Island
  2. Aran Islands
  3. Foulness Island
  4. Isle of Portland
  5. Isle of Sheppey
  6. Isles of Scilly
  7. Lindisfarne
  8. Lundy
  9. Skellig Islands
  10. St Kilda
  11. Walney Island

When you are ready, scroll down, past my pictures, to find the answers.

Isle of Portland
Skellig Islands
Isle of Man
Isles of Scilly
Isle of Skye


The Site of London

Our sprawling capital city houses millions of people and covers a huge area. It has obviously grown massively since it was founded, as Londinium, by the Romans soon after they invaded Britain in AD43. But where exactly did the Romans put those first buildings?

Various Roman roads converged here, as it was the most downstream point where the River Thames could be crossed, in those days by a wooden bridge, close to the site of the present day London Bridge.

The settlement of Londinium was on the relatively high, dry ground at the northern end of the bridge.

The Romans constructed a defensive wall, around the city, from Blackfriars in the west to where we now find the Tower of London, in the east. The River Thames was the boundary on the south side.

Remnants of this wall can still be seen, in among the modern buildings.

Other clues are in the road names.

Incidentally, the first stone bridge was begun in 1176. That was the one with houses built on the bridge. The building plots were an attempt to recoup some of the costs. An oil painting by Claude de Jongh, “View of London Bridge”, painted in 1632, shows detail of the bridge and its buildings.

It lasted for 600 years and until 1729 was the only bridge in the area.
It was replaced in the 19th century by the stone bridge, which was subsequently sold, carefully dismantled and rebuilt in Arizona, USA in 1968. The current bridge was opened to traffic in 1973.

If you’ve signed up to receive my worksheets, then check your inbox for a map activity; taking a look at the old city through the clues in today’s road network.

Maps Maps Maps


I’m always looking at maps, often to plan a blog post. I borrow more maps from the library than I do books and I can sit and look at a map in the same way that someone might sit and read a book. You can learn so much.

Maps use symbols to represent features and usually have a key to tell you what they mean. But if you know what they mean, then you can “read” the map much more fluently.

You can download a free set of flashcards for the OS Landranger maps from here:

You can just use these as flashcards but if you would like access to my multi-level activity guide, then sign up for my newsletter and choose “Geography worksheets and ideas for further study.”


Where? – 3 – Sea Areas

Last week we discovered the location of the 16 longest rivers in the British Isles.  The indentations in the coastline can help us to locate the rivers and many sea areas close to the coast have their own names too.

Print out a blank outline map.  You can use the one below.

The best way to learn where things are is to put them on a map, but if I just give you a completed map, that won’t help much, so grab a blank map and a pencil, find somebody for a bit of competition, and let’s see what you know already.

We are going to name the areas of sea on the map, starting with the names that cover large areas and then moving to smaller specific locations close to the coast.

Here are the large areas:

  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Irish Sea
  • North Sea
  • English Channel

Now the small areas close to the coastline. You won’t have space to write the names in most cases so just use the numbers.

  1. North Channel
  2. St George’s Channel
  3. Cardigan Bay
  4. Morecombe Bay
  5. Solway Firth
  6. Menai Strait
  7. The Solent
  8. Strait of Dover
  9. Bristol Channel
  10. The Wash
  11. North Minch
  12. Sea of the Hebrides
  13. Pentland Firth
  14. Firth of Forth
  15. Donegal Bay
  16. Galway Bay
  17. Dingle Bay

When you are ready, scroll down past my pictures to find the answers. The picture captions may give you some clues!

Aberystwyth overlooks Cardigan Bay
The island of Ailsa Craig seen from the North Channel
Snowdonia can be seen across the Menai Strait
The English Channel from the Dorset coast
The North Sea looking towards Doggerland
Dingle Bay, Ireland
The Atlantic Ocean from Connemara, Ireland
St George’s Channel from south-east Ireland
The Irish Sea from the Isle of Man

And here are the answers.  Why not add at least some of the sea areas to your rivers map from last week.