Places to Think in the UK (& the Songs to Match)

sitting in the UK

Sometimes you take a vacation to socialize, let loose, and party with friends. Perhaps your goal is to meet up with family and get swept up in the whirlwind of long lost relations. Maybe you travel to cram in as many possible sights and sounds and experiences as you can possibly manage.

But sometimes you take a vacation to think. Your life has sped up to a point where it’s going so fast that it’s practically passing you, and you’re about to get run over by it. These aren’t the vacations where you go to Cacun– these are the times when you retreat to your roots, you find the place you belong, or you go where no one can find you. And you think.

For Katie and myself, that place is the UK.

Below are some of our favorite places in the UK to just stop, sit, and think. And of course, the music to go along with it. Because you can’t have introspective contemplation without the right music, right?

Bath, England

You find yourself in the ancient city of Bath on a Sunday afternoon. It’s raining (of course) so you seek refuge in one of the many adorable cafes that line the city streets. As you order tea, you hear the muffled swirl of conversations around you– the students to your left are discussing the galaxy, and the man to your right is buried in a tomb of Jane Austen novels. Later, you wander out into the foggy night, and you walk along the river, smelling the fresh rain, enjoying the twinkling lights, and feeling blissfully alone in a city full of thousands of people.

Best spot to sit? 

The Boston Tea Party Cafe– the cream tea is to die for.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

Beirut- “Goshen”

Glen Coe / Glen Etive,  Scotland untitled (15 of 65)

Glen Coe is essentially “the gateway to the Highlands” of Scotland, and one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever experienced. The road stretches on before you, the mountains surround you, and on either side there is nothingness. You can walk to the edge of the earth practically, and feel the raw energy that comes from untampered nature. For a good time, you can seek out a tiny little road that leads to Glen Etive– a (mostly dirt) one track road, you follow it for miles, passing streams, waterfalls, mountains, and also the spot where they filmed part of James Bond’s “Skyfall” (but you have to spot it for yourself, there are no signs and pure dumb luck if you find it.)

Best spot to sit?

Pick a patch of grass, perch next to a stream, or check out Glen Etive and stand in the location used to film “Skyfall.”

Song to listen to while you ponder?

Wolfmother- “Vagabond”


Adele- “Skyfall”

Tintagel, Cornwall –  England

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At the bottom of a very long hill along the coast of Cornwall lies Tintagel, an ancient stronghold that is famed to be the seat of the real King Arthur. Perched up on a cliff (only accessably by a bridge and narrow set of scary stairs) lies the ruins of an old castle, overlooking craggly shores and deep blue waters. At the base of Tintagel is a sea cave aptly named “Merlin’s Cove.” Whether you believe the Arthurian legends or not, I dare you stand on those seaside cliffs and not feel the heartbeat of Britannia beneath your feet.

Best spot to sit?

Perch on part of the ruins, or climb down to the water’s edge, sit down on a rock, and stare out to sea.

Song to listen to while you ponder?  

Timshel- “Mumford & Sons”

Oxford, England

Could there be a better place to think than in a place where centuries of the world’s greatest thinkers of have walked, studied, and written? Doubtful. Walk up the cobbled stone streets beneath the gleaming spires, through Hereford’s Bridge of Sighs, and amidst the Bodleian library and I dare your mind not to clear with perfect acuity.

Best spots to sit?

University Parks, Blackwell’s book store, Oxford Rendezvous on High Street (amazing crepes), or a punt on the Isis with a bottle of champagne.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

The Libertines, “Music When the Lights Go Out” 


Snowdonia, Wales

At the base of Snowdonia National Park, in the definition of a very sleepy town, is Llanberis, where an old fashioned steam train lives that will take you up the Snowden peaks, past tumbled rocks dropped seemingly by careless giants, dotted with cloud-shaped shadows, and to a view that will make your breath stop.

Best spot to sit?

Top of Snowdonia or by the little lake in Llanberis near the train station.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

Edvard Grieg “In the Hall of the Mountain King” 


Bracelet Bay, Wales

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Minutes outside of Swansea in Wales lies Bracelet Bay. Desolate and bleak, it is the perfect spot to brood, have the wind whip your hair into your face, and recreate your best Heathcliff pose. Jump from the rocks, explore the little caves that dot the cliffs, and best of all– climb.

Best spot to sit?

Climb up the rock face, curl up, and take a nice nap. You deserve it. Just don’t look down.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds  “Oh Children”

Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Scotland

untitled (62 of 100)Right on the outskirts of Edinburgh sits Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat- twin hills that look over the city, and serve as public walking spots, hangouts, and general sight-seeing spots. As you walk-up and up, farther and farther, you’ll see old couples passing you casually, school children racing along, and dogs playing on the edge of the cliffs like it’s an every day occurance. But the hike is worth it once you’re at top the hill, and look out over the city in one of the multiple breathtaking views.

Best spot to sit?

Pick a spot where you can look out over new town– or perhaps get a lovely view of the Queen’s Castle. You can always keep walking and hike up to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh, and snag the bird’s eye view.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

Kaiser Chiefs- “I Predict a Riot”

Derwentwater, Lake District, England

lake district

Inside the Lake District National Park near Keswick is Derwentwater Lake, made famous by both Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Williams Wordsworth, its thinking cred has quite the illustrious pedigree. From the sweeping hills surrounding the lake, the high blue skies, perfectly puffy clouds on a September day, to a deep lake with endless idyllic boats to borrow regardless of your skill set, once there you find yourself wondering if there could be any place on earth more delightful.

Best spots to sit?

On a tiny boat in the middle of the lake, surrounded by the epitomy of the English countryside. If you’re the climbing type, any of the walking trails leading you to  the top of the hills where you can sit and ponder lonely clouds and daffodils.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

Jean-Yves Thibaudet “Georgiana” from Pride & Prejudice

The Underground, London –  England

Photo via Creative Commons by Fussy Onion

An odd choice to be sure, but with your headphones on, sometimes there’s no better way to be entirely alone amidst the pure frenetic energy of London. You can be among the people, but not of them, taking in the belly of one of the world’s most bustling cities, engaging in international people watching, and letting your thoughts race as fast a the Tube itself.

Best spots to sit?

In a seat if you can get it, preferably during non-rush hour times.

Song to listen to while you ponder?

Nina Simone- “Sinnerman”

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What are your favorite places in the UK to sit and think? Do you think we should have put a different song on one of these places? Comment below or tweet us @Litdarling.

[divider] [/divider] [two_third_last]All photos (unless otherwise stated) are by Katie [/two_third_last]
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