How Much Do You Know About the UK Geographically?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: Chan Srithaweeporn/ Moment/ Getty Images

About This Quiz

Britain's geography may not include any particularly huge mountains, impossibly wide rivers, or canyons so deep you can get lost in them for days. It's a tidy sort of geography instead, one that is more about charming little valleys, modest ranges of hills, and adorable winding rivers that are generally swimmable (albeit sometimes only by particularly strong swimmers). Even the high peaks are often within the climbing capacity of non-expert climbers.

Still, for what it lacks in drama, the landscape is still incredibly beautiful. It's all at a scale that the human mind can process, for a start. It's also very green, thanks to its constant dousing with rain. There are plenty of exciting features, even if they're mostly not dangerously large, from gorges to cliffs to lengthy cave systems. You're never too far from a decent-size town, even as you explore the wild, and if you want to go inland, you can do so without ever being a huge distance from the coast.

How familiar are you with this sweet and lovely land? It's time to take this quiz and prove that you know the geography of the United Kingdom as well as it can possibly be known! Let's get started!

How many London Underground stations are no longer in use?

The Tube is one of the largest subway systems in the world, as well as one of the oldest. It boasts an incredible 400 escalators, with the one at Angel station being the longest. There are 270 stations in use today.


In what county do you find the rather cheeky piece of hill art known as the Cerne Abbas Giant?

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a chalk figure that many people erroneously believe dates back to pre-Christian times. However, the giant is not nearly that old, unlike other hill figures, and was probably constructed in the 17th century.


What is the most northerly county on the Pennine Way?

Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Northumberland are all on the Pennine Way. This notable trail is popular with serious hikers who like to follow the Pennine Hills across the border into Scotland. The Pennines are known as the backbone of the UK.


What do they call a stream in the Scottish Highlands?

There are many names for waterways in the UK, but in Scotland, they call them burns — unless they're big, in which case they are a river. In the north of England, these same smaller rivers are known as becks.


Which of these languages is a revived British tongue?

Many languages have been spoken in the UK, from Welsh Gaelic to Anglo-Saxon to Norman French. However, Cornish did once go almost extinct and was revived in the last 200 years by enthusiasts seeking to hold onto their local culture.


What is the name of the island monastery visible from the coast near Berwick-upon-Tweed?

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is home to a magnificent set of illuminated manuscripts known as the Lindisfarne Gospels. You can see the island from the train as you head along the North Sea coast, but if that is as close as you get, you're missing out! Stop sometimes, and take a half-day to visit.


On what river is the city of Liverpool?

The Mersey River is the main waterway sustaining the city of Liverpool, one of the most important ports in the north of England. Significantly, it connects Liverpool to Manchester, the leading commercial centre of the region.


What is the furthest you can get from the sea on British soil?

Due to various inlets and bays, the coastline of the UK wiggles its way inland to quite some distance in places. That means that wherever you are, the sea is never more than 75 miles away. Anyone for a day at the beach?


Which of these is the most commonly-grown crop in the UK?

Despite a greater variety in the British diet in the last 30 years, the staple crop wheat remains the most popular crop in the country. However, as the climate warms, different varieties may be grown, or other crops entirely.


Which notable British designer created the Clifton Suspension Bridge?

A leading light of industrial-era design and construction, Brunel built the railway that connected London to Bristol, and then the Clifton Suspension Bridge at the Bristol end. On the day of the opening, he got stuck in a cable car beneath the bridge and had to climb out and fix it himself.


Which of these is NOT an island off the coast of Great Britain?

The Isle of Man and the Isles of Scilly (pronounced "silly") can sound made up to many people, but they're quite real. Similarly, Americans often forget that New Jersey is not the first Jersey, and profess surprise to hear that the original is a real place!


What village in Derbyshire is home to a row of homes known as the plague cottages?

The village of Eyam faced an astonishing number of deaths in the plague outbreaks of the 1660s. The Plague Cottages list how many residents died in each house, and the level of overcrowding implied makes abundantly clear why the disease travelled so easily.


At the height of the British Empire, on which continent could you cross coast to coast from north to south without leaving British colonies?

The British Empire did not last very long, but it was absolutely vast at its height. It was so big that the sun never set on it, and it included colonies reaching from Egypt in the north of Africa to South Africa on the opposite end. You could travel the whole continent without departing the empire's dominions.


How far is it believed you can go in the UK before the accents you hear around you will change?

Accents are culturally essential in the UK, often believed to signify a considerable amount about the speaker's social class and level of education. Only "received pronunciation" tends to transcend geographical lines, though it generally conveys a higher socioeconomic class.


What is the claim to fame of the town of Yate, near Bristol?

J. K. Rowling is Scottish, though she was born in England in the small town of Yate. She moved north of the border and grew up there, remaining in Scotland as an adult.


What is the coldest temperature ever recorded in the UK?

This shockingly cold temperature was recorded in Braemar in Scotland in 1982. Thanks to exquisite record-keeping, it's quite easy to track and verify extreme temperature records in the UK.


Which of these towns is made up?

There are some really silly place names in the UK, three examples of which can be seen above. Some of them had a different meaning when they were founded, while others are just the great British sense of humour at work.


What is the longest river in the UK?

There are no very long rivers in the UK because the country is not big enough to accommodate them! The Severn is thus the longest, clocking in at a relatively modest 220 miles. It bisects Wales, and a trip along it is a beautiful journey indeed.


Which of these countries does NOT have more English-speakers than the UK?

Australia's very small population for its enormous size means that it has fewer English speakers than the UK. Nigeria, Pakistan and India each boast much larger populations who speak English fluently, many of them alongside several other local tongues.


What Victorian-era building was constructed to house the Great Exhibition of 1851?

The Crystal Palace was taken to pieces after the Great Exhibition and moved to a new location, though still in London. Tragically, it burned down in 1936, with the remaining towers being destroyed during World War Two by the British ourselves because they were acting like a big shiny beacon for Nazi bombers!


What was the Roman name of the modern British town of St. Albans?

Verulamium was a Roman town on the site of today's St. Albans. There are extensive ruins in the area that are still being excavated, though many are now unreachable due to having been built on since, often more than once.


What is the official flower of Scotland?

The flower of England is the rose, while Wales lays claim to the daffodil and Ireland to the shamrock. Scotland's flower is the thistle, a suitably beautiful but tough bloom that represents its home nation admiration.


Which nation of the UK does NOT have its national flag represented on the Union Jack?

The Union Jack is a combination of various British flags, but it notably omits the Welsh symbol of a red dragon on a green and white field. The crosses of St. Andrews and St. George are the main features.


What is the tallest building in London?

London's skyline has blossomed in the last 30 years, as sentimentality about overshadowing St. Paul's gave way to pragmatism about needed commercial space, and new construction materials and techniques meant that building higher on the same ground became cheaper and easier. The Shard is currently the highest building at 1,016 feet.


To which British city does the Channel Tunnel connect the French port of Calais?

Dover is the beneficiary of the Channel Tunnel, though the trains tend to go straight from there via Folkestone to London. Dover remains a vitally important seaport, which opens up several complex questions for a post-Brexit world.


In which British city can you see the raised shipwreck of the Mary Rose?

As the British have always been a hardy, seafaring folk, naval history is essential. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has plenty of it, notably including the Mary Rose, a ship that sailed for nearly three decades before being sunk in 1545.


What is the name of the tallest tower on the Houses of Parliament?

Big Ben is the bell inside St. Stephen's Tower, whose famous bongs ring in the New Year and sometimes other significant events, such as the ends of wars. The Palace of Westminster, more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a Grade I listed building.


What longitude are you at if you stand on the Greenwich Meridian?

The Prime Meridian runs through Greenwich, and while to some extent placing itself at zero is a prerogative that London drew from the imperial age, there is a certain logic to it, as the UK lands at the "middle" on world maps that split the Pacific instead of the Atlantic ocean. You can stand with one foot on either side of the meridian and enjoy being in two hemispheres at once!


In which street did the Great Fire of London start?

The Great Fire took place in 1667 after a fire broke out at a bakery in Pudding Lane. It was a terrible event that destroyed much of London, though lemonade was made from the fiery lemons when the city was rebuilt to be more efficiently laid out and more beautiful. It also helped to turn the tide against an outbreak of the plague.


What is the largest lake in the UK?

Clocking in at a mighty 151.4 square miles, Lough Neagh is bigger by area than any other lake in the UK. Loch Ness is longer, and many Scottish lochs are deeper, but Neagh has the highest surface area.


How much of the UK's land area is covered by National Parks?

The British only have 10 national parks, but they are very big as a percentage of the country, clocking in at an impressive 8% of the total land area. Some people live in them, but additional construction is extremely rare and thoroughly regulated.


In what year did London cease to be the most populated city in the world?

London's population tripled in the period coming up to 1925, but the city's total population was still not enough to prevent it from being supplanted by New York as the world's largest. These days the largest cities are nearly all in Asia, including Dhaka, Shanghai and Tokyo.


What percentage of the British population live in towns and cities?

Despite a relatively small landmass and a high population, Britain manages to retain its rural character throughout much of the land. This is because the population is highly concentrated in urban areas, which benefits both the planet and the economy.


If you are in the Solent, what landmass is directly to your south?

The Solent is nearly 20 miles long and only 5 miles wide at its widest. This means that sailing in this narrow strait requires a good deal of expertise, as it is a very busy strip of water and often populated by many larger vessels.


In which county would you find the Wash?

Four rivers empty into the estuary called the Wash — the Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse. This vast shallow bay flows out to the North Sea, and the area is a haven for all sorts of wetland wildlife.


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