Brilliant Blues

Eight blues to put a smile on your face on Blue Monday

It's Blue Monday! Normally, that would be a bad thing - it is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, after all. But, instead, let's celebrate some of the most brilliant blues in the UK and get ready for an awesome year of exploration!

01. Blue Plaques

Alan Turing's Blue Plaque

Avid fans of Treasure Trails will be able to spot a blue plaque from quite a distance! These wonderous discs of knowledge, usually blue but sometimes green, red or brown, appear up and down the UK. They mark spots where well-known or worthy individuals were born, resided, visited or died, or locations of past historical events. 

The original London Blue Plaque scheme is the oldest in the world. The very first plaque appeared in 1867, commemorating poet Lord Byron by marking his London birthplace. However, the building was demolished two years later, along with the plaque. The oldest surviving blue plaque is that of Napoleon III. Also erected in 1867, you can find it on King Street in Westminster. 

There are currently over 900 official blue plaques across London and many unofficial ones too. Plus there are hundreds, if not thousands more across the UK as the scheme was adopted by local councils as a simple way of highlighting buildings, people and events of historical interest to locals and visitors.

You can even buy your own personalised ones to put up at home! 

Go Blue Plaque Spotting:

When you're out on your next Treasure Trail, be sure to keep an eye out for blue plaques as you go. Some you might be solving a clue on, others you'll be passing on your route, so make sure to stop and find out whose footsteps you are following on your adventure!

02. Blue skies

Blue sky and sunshine

Ever wondered why the sky is blue? Turns out it's all down to something called Rayleigh Scattering. Thanks to Lord Rayleigh, a celebrated physicist, we know that when sunlight enters the Earth's atmosphere, it is scattered in all directions by tiny molecules in the air. Blue light travels at a shorter wavelength than other colours, so gets scattered the most. This means that during the day we see a lot more blue than other colours in the sky, making the sky look blue.

Have you also ever wondered why blue skies make us feel happier? Blue skies mean no clouds, and no clouds mean there's nothing blocking the sunlight from reaching us. As well as having a nice warming effect on cooler days, sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D3 in our bodies. Not only does this vitamin contribute to healthy bones and lower blood pressure, it also helps with the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone which helps you get a good night's sleep. 

So getting outdoors really is good for us, and more good news, even if the skies aren't blue, your body will still be producing vitamin D3 using the sunlight coming through the clouds! Just don't forget your suncream and sunglasses when you're heading out on your next sunny day adventure!

03. Blue Flag beaches

Dawlish Warren, a Blue Flag beach

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside! Who doesn't love a good day out at the beach? Well, that day will be even better when you know that your chosen beach has the coveted Blue Flag status and is therefore one of the best in the world!

Visiting a Blue Flag beach means that you're visiting a clean, safe and beautiful beach boasting the highest water quality, facilities, safety and environmental management. Blue Flags are awarded yearly too, so you're safe in the knowledge that your chosen beach has been ratified in the last year and is deemed up to scratch. 

How many Blue Flag beaches are there? Well, the UK isn't quite up to Spain's numbers (629), but we have an amazing 111 Blue Flag beaches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus 52 beaches in Scotland awarded the 'Scottish Beach Award' in 2023.

These lists change every year, and new lists will be out in May 2024, but as of now, here are some of our favourite places to explore with Treasure Trails that also have top notch beaches:

Northern Ireland: Portrush

04. Blue bridges

Tower Bridge, London

Most bridges are made of stone, wood or iron in the UK, and whilst some may be painted, blue is not usually the first colour choice. That's why, if you're lucky enough to see a blue bridge on your adventures, you're spotting a rare treat!

From the Blue Bridge over the River Ouse in York, to the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough, to the Hartford Bridge nr Northwich in Cheshire, some bridges are bright, bold and blue and really stand out in the landscape. Cross the River Severn in Stourport and you'll also be enjoying a serene blue stroll over the water below.

In Queensferry, North Wales, the blue Jubilee Bridge used to lift but is now static. In Scotland, the St Andrew's suspension bridge in Glasgow City Centre is a fascinating structure of parapets and wooden decking. It was built especially for factory workers to give them a safer journey to and from work (the previous option being a short ferry across the river).

Blue Bridge Spotting on London Treasure Trails:

If you're looking to combine some blue bridge spotting with a sneaky adventure, take in Tower Bridge on the Tale of Two Bridges Trail, or spot one in St James Park on the Five London Pubs in Five Miles Trail, or seek out two as you explore the canals of Paddington's Little Venice.

05. Blue...lobster?!

Blue Lobster, Staithes

It's estimated that only one in every two million lobsters out in the wild are blue, with most being a grey/green colour before of course turning an orangey-pink when cooked. So, you're chances of seeing a real blue lobster are pretty slim, unless you head to Staithes in North Yorkshire to spot this one!

Created in 2015 by artist Emma Stathard for the Staithes Festival, this lobster is made of hand-woven wire and stood boldly in the spot pictured during the festival. The lobster has since been moved but the good news is, you can still spot it. It's at the top of the town at the start of the Staithes Treasure Trail.

06. Blue Mountains

The View across The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms (Am Monadh Ruadh) is a stunning area to visit - one of the UK's brilliant National Parks. But, are they blue? Well, technically the range is named for the mountain Cairn Gorm, which translates to 'blue cairn', or 'blue pile of stones'. But, when talking about vegetation, gorm might actually translate to green or greening, so it could actually mean 'green pile of stones'. This is the same in other Celtic languages. For instance, in Welsh, glas is blue, but the hamlet of Pant Glas actually translates to 'green hollow'.

But, it gets a bit more complicated than that. You might have noticed that the Scottish Gaelic name for The Cairngorms is Am Monadh Ruadh. What does Ruadh translate to? Red! The Cairngorms are actually 'the red rounded hills'! But, whether they're blue or green or red (or white with the wintery snow on top) we just had to include them for the stunning views and amazing wildlife. If you find yourself exploring The Highlands, make sure you pay a visit to one of the brilliant communities within the National Park - like Kingussie, Aviemore and Newtonmore - or, if you're feeling adventurous, pack the hiking gear and climb to the top of one of the many peaks.

07. Blue Whales

Blue Whale - Natural History Museum

Jan Beránek, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Blue whales are fascinating creatures. Not only are they the largest animal ever recorded to live in earth, they are also the loudest animals on the planet. Not that we can hear them from land of course, but their vocal sounds can be heard underwater for hundreds of kilometres

Clocking in at 30 metres long, their tongues weigh as much as an elephant, their hearts are the size of cars and even their babies are a whopping 8 metres long when born (that's twice as long as an adult dolphin!). Adult blue whales usually travel around the oceans in groups of 2-4, but have been known to come together in larger groups when there's lots of food to be had.

Talking of food, what does the largest animal on the planet eat? Tiny shrimp-like animals called krill, but in very large quantities – up to 40 million per whale per day.

Blue Whale Spotting:

For such a large creature, it turns out that they're not that easy to spot. As well as being an endangered species with less than 25,000 remaining in the world, you'd have to head to California, Antarctica or Sri Lanka to be in with the best chance at the right time of year.

Your best bet, to get a feel for the scale of these magnificent beasts is to head to the Natural History Museum in London and admire the blue whale skeleton suspended above your head as you enter. Make the museum part of a whole day of adventure on the South Kensington Treasure Trail.

08. Blue Trails!

Winter fun on a detective mystery Trail

Here at Treasure Trails, the colour blue means one very important thing - detective mystery time!Yes, that's right, we have three different Trail themes; red = treasure hunt, green = spy mission and blue = detective mystery.

What does a detective mystery Trail involve?

  • Well, you'll start with your case notes – these will detail the crime that's been committed and how you can help to solve the clues and crack the case.
  • Next, you'll be told where to start and will need to follow the directions leading you around your fixed route. Along the way, you'll be looking for clues set on permanent features, such as plaques, signs and buildings.
  • Each time you solve a clue, your answer will be a word or initials. These will match one of the suspects in your Suspect Gallery. All you need to do is cross that person off and then continue along to the next clue.
  • At the end of the Trail, you'll have had a really good explore of your location, had a great time seeking out and solving the clues, and will also have one person left on your Suspect Gallery – this is 'whodunnit'! - Mystery solved!

To choose your next detective mystery adventure, simply type your location into the search at the top of the page, or for inspiration, check out our Top 10 Detective Mystery Trails here.

Colours everywhere!

Every time you submit an answer to a Treasure Trail, you'll unlock Trail Blazer badges in your account.

The colour badge is just one of over 100 special badges you can unlock when you complete your next Trail adventure. But, here's the catch - you won't know which badge your Trail will unlock until you've submitted your answer!

Five of our Trails will earn you the colour badge, so it’s a rare one! If you need a hint for one place that will unlock it for you, take another peek at the blue skies...

You can find out more about our Trail Blazer Badges and Footsteps Rewards here.

Trail Blazer badges: Colour Badge