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The physical diversity of the UK

Coastal landscape near Porthcurno, with the National Trust owned Logan Rock, one of the iconic rock formations of Cornwall's Land's End Peninsula, in the background, Penwith peninsula

Key idea Specification content
The UK has a range of diverse landscapes.


An overview of the location of major upland/lowland areas and river systems.

Reading – Diverse landscape of the UK

The physical diversity of the UK (PowerPoint)

The UK has a varied landscape as the relief of the land changes in different parts of the country.

Relief is the way the landscape changes in height. Upland areas are high above sea level. They are often (but not always) mountainous. Lowland areas are not very high above sea level. They are often flat. The shape of the landscape is largely determined by:

rivers and glaciation.

The diversity of England:

LO – understand the the UK is divided into two broad regions the uplands and the lowlands. By the end, of the lesson, you should be able to describe the location of each using geographical terminology and specific examples (location).

The uplands and the lowlands

Upland areas are mainly found in:

  • Scotland – The Northwest Highlands, the Cairngorm Mountains, the Grampian Mountains and the Southern Uplands. Ben Nevis is the UK’s highest peak and is found in the Grampian Mountains.
  • England – The Pennines, Lake District, Dartmoor and Exmoor. Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and is found in the Lake District.
  • Wales – Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and is found in Snowdonia.

Lowland areas can be found in the following places:

  • around The Wash (East Anglia and Lincolnshire)
  • Lincolnshire
  • the Fens in East Anglia – the lowest place in the UK
  • the Midlands
  • the London Basin
  • the Vale of York

Major rivers of the Uk 

The erosive power of rivers has shaped the relief of Britain.


Name Approximate length (km) Countries run through
Severn 354 Wales and England
Thames 346 England (South)
Tyne 321 England (North East)
Trent 298 England
Great Ouse 230 England (Centre)
Wye 215 Wales and England
Tay 188 Scotland
Spey 172 Scotland
Tweed 156 Scotland and England
Avon 154 England (Midlands and South West)

Task 1

Define each of the following: (a) upland and (b) lowland. In your answer you need to include location (examples)

Skills – using the textbook (pg 117) answer the following questions: 1, 2, 3 and 4

Task 2

Atlas skills – use the following pages 11 (population), 13 (counties), 14 (relief), 16 (weather) explain how the relief of Britain affects each of the following – (a) population density and (b) the weather.

Task 3

Locate the major rivers of the UK and name the largest urban centre found on each e.g. River Thames = London. However, you can name more than one major urban centre per river.

Try and locate the source of each of the major rivers. Clue, usually in a highland area e.g. source of the Thames (photograph below) is in the Cotswold Hills.


Course of the Thames


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