The Principal Physiographic Features Of England

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One of the principal physiographic features of England, as well as of the entire island of Great Britain, is the deeply indented coastline. This has created an abundance of excellent natural harbours, easily accessible to deep-water shipping, a factor that was decisive in the economic development and imperial expansion of England.

The high tides which prevail along the eastern coast mean that a number of rivers and estuaries in this region provide safe anchorages.

The most important historically include ports such as Newcastle upon Tyne, on the River Tyne; Middlesbrough, on the River Tees; and Hull and Grimsby, on the Humber Estuary and North Sea respectively, all on the north-east coast; Great Yarmouth, on the estuary of the River Yare and Harwich on the estuary of the rivers Stour and Orwell, both on the East Anglian coast; and London, on the River Thames in the south-east. Historically, the most important ports on the south coast include Dover, Folkestone, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Poole. The western coast, including the south-western peninsula, is considerably more broken than either the eastern or southern coasts, and has numerous anchorages, both large and small. The most important are Plymouth, on the estuary of the River Tamar on the southern coast of the south-western peninsula; Bristol, on the Bristol Channel; and the port of Liverpool, at the mouth of the River Mersey on the north-west coast.

The terrain of England is very diverse relative to its size, and can change quite dramatically within short distances. The main uplands are in the north and west of the country. The principal highland region, the Pennine Hills (or Pennines), forms the backbone of northern England.

It is composed of several ranges extending south from the Cheviot Hills to the Peak District, just north of the valley of the River Trent as well as numerous spurs and extensions that radiate in all directions.

The highest point of the Pennines and the highest peak in England is Scafell Pike (978 m/3, 209 ft above sea level) in the Lake District, in Cumbria, which forms one of the most scenically beautiful regions of England.

The land lying between the Welsh border and the southern extremities of the Pennine Chain and Bristol Channel is an extension of the rolling plain that occupies most of the rest of England.

The central region of England is known as the Midlands.

The flattest part of England lies to the east of the Pennines and the Midlands, running south from the Yorkshire Moors (an upland outlier of the Pennines) through Lincolnshire to the rich farming lands of East Anglia. The lowlands include the Fens, a vast, drained marsh area created over centuries by the silting up of The Wash, the broad estuary of a number of rivers, including the Ouse and the Witham. To the south of the Bristol Channel an elevated plateau slopes upwards, culminating in the bleak uplands and moors of Cornwall and Devon on the south-west peninsula. Dartmoor (610 m/2, 000 ft ...

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