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Inside The Outdoors
UK National Parks Guide

UK National Parks Guide

10.03.2020 | Travel

In the 1950’s the first 10 national parks in the UK were created. It was hoped the national parks would help to conserve natural environments and allow the public to spend more time outdoors. There are now 15 national parks offering a wide variety of landscapes to explore from beautiful coastlines, to vast lakes and rugged mountains. In this guide we will take you through the locations and main attractions of all 15 UK national parks.


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15. The North York Moors

The moors offer a beautiful coastline full of traditional fishing villages, cliffs and beaches. There is something for everyone, with art, history, food and views you won’t forget in a hurry.

Great for: Travelling back in time. North York Moors Railway give you the chance to travel in historic carriages and behind steam locomotives on their preserved railway. With 24 miles of Yorkshire scenery and stations themed to different nostalgic eras, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into the past. Find more information here.

 

 

14. Snowdonia

There’s a wide variety of different landscapes in Snowdonia from deep river gorges, waterfalls, and a coastline complete with fine sandy beaches. There are plenty of historic buildings and picturesque villages such as Beddgelert to visit, as well as castles built by warring Princes in the 13th century including Conwy, Caernarfon, and Harlech castles.

Great for: Incredible views. Snowdonia national park is dominated by Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, which has breathtaking views from every angle. The narrow-gauge railways are a popular attraction, with the Snowdon Mountain Railway giving visitors the chance to reach the summit. Find more information here.

 

 

13. Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons boast mountains, moorland, castles and caves spread across a stunning landscape stretching 520 square miles and contain some of Europe’s finest surviving medieval castles, with the best example being the beautiful and haunting Carreg Cennen. There are plenty of reminders of times gone by with stones from the Bronze Age, Neolithic tombs, and ancient stone circles on show.

Great for: Photography fans. Waterfall country can be found within the park, offering fantastic opportunities for keen photographers with their incredibly large amount of falls accessible to the public. Find more information here.

 

 

12. Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales in Northern England are characterised by lush green valleys, heather moorland, calming rivers and waterfalls. For any foodies, it is home to the famous Wendsleydale cheese, which can be eaten while wandering through the stone built villages which sit among the flower rich meadows.

Great for: Challenging yourself. The Dales are home to the 3 peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside which are often climbed in 24 hours as part of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. Find more information here.

 

 

11. Peak District

Britain’s first national park is set between Manchester and Sheffield and offers a contrast of heather moorland hills in the North and limestone dales with rivers in the South. There are around 34 miles of family friendly trails for cyclists, horse riders, and walkers which give visitors the chance to take in the beautiful scenery.

Great for: Rock Climbing. The Dark peak is famous for its moorland top covered with heather, cotton grass bog and steep valley slopes which make it an ideal spot for rock climbing. Find more information here.

 

 

10. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs contain 22 lochs, 21 Munros, and 50 rivers to ensure there is always a fantastic view across the water wherever you are. This is a place of contrasts with rolling landscapes in the south competing with high mountains in the north.  With a variety of picturesque camping spots alongside plenty of golfing, horse riding, and climbing opportunities, there is always something fun to do!

Great for: Getting close to nature. There are plenty of forests and woodlands in Loch Lomand & The Trossachs including the UK’s largest National Nature reserve: The Great Trossachs Forest. Many incredible creatures call this forest home like golden eagles, otters and wild cats. Find more information here.

 

 

9. Northumberland

The northernmost national park in England is one of the UK’s most tranquil areas with soft rolling hills, grand mountains and dark skies perfect for stargazing. There are also beautiful country gardens and great photo opportunities at Belsay Hall.

Great for: History lovers. There’s a selection of excellent castles like Thirwall and museums such as the Vindolanda Roman Fort, which tells the tale of the forts connection to Hadrian’s Wall and why it was demolished and rebuilt 9 times. Find out more information here.

 

 

8. South Downs

This is England’s newest National Park featuring the world famous white cliffs at Seven Sisters, rolling hills, ancient woodland and charming villages. The South Downs landscape has been shaped for centuries by farming and has a rich cultural heritage. Take a bike or walk along the 160km national trail which will allow you to discover thriving market towns and historic estates.

Great for: Coastal walks. The white cliffs at Seven Sisters mean that the South Downs offer an incredible coastal walk. A great way to experience the cliffs is to walk the 5 miles from Beachy Head to Birling Gap. Find out more information here.

 

 

7. Lake District 

The Lake District is England’s largest national park and is now a world heritage site. The main areas of interest include Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, the 16 lakes and Wainwright’s famous 214 fell walk. Experience and take in the beautiful mountain scenery and landscape which has inspired many writers and artists.

Great for: Thrill seekers. There are plenty of opportunities to go sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and rowing across 26 miles of coastline, estuaries and, of course, the 16 lakes. Find out more information here.

 

 

6. Pembrokeshire Coast

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in West Wales is Britain’s only fully coastal national park with 418km of rugged cliffs, serene beaches, stunning harbours and secret coves. Pembrokeshire’s offshore islands each have their own character and landscape with daily boat trips to islands such as Caldey and Skomer. There are prehistoric tombs, Celtic crosses, and Iron Age hill forts, as well as Victorian forts, medieval churches and Norman castles to explore.

Great for: Animal lovers. Being a coastal national park, wildlife such as seabirds, seals, basking sharks and dolphins can all be spotted, making it a must for animal fans. Find out more information here.

 

 

5. Exmoor

Exmoor features woodlands, farmland, valleys and high cliffs alongside charming little villages that are just waiting to be explored. With some of the best locations for walking and cycling in Europe, Exmoor offers some outstanding views and the opportunity to see the iconic ponies and red deer.

Great for: Stargazing. Exmoor was the first place in Europe to be designated a dark sky reserve so the lack of light pollution makes it the perfect location to count some stars. Find out more information here.

 

 

4. Dartmoor

Located in Devon, Dartmoor offers open moorland and deep river valleys. There are plenty of opportunities for a gentle stroll, or a mountain bike ride, allowing you to appreciate the stunning views. There are a variety of historical sites to visit including the spinster’s rock dating back to 3,000BC, Grimspound a settlement dating back to 1,500BC and Fernworthy reservoir.

Great for: Trying something different. Dartmoor is the only national park in England to allow wild camping, making it perfect if you’re looking to get in touch with your surroundings. Find out more information here.

 

 

3. Cairngorms

Cairngorms, the largest national park, can be found in the Eastern Highlands of Scotland. There is something for everyone here from the mountainous trails of Tolmount, to the tranquil beach of Loch Morlich. The national park is a haven for wildlife and there is a great selection of places to walk, cycle or hike.

Great for: Skiing. In the winter take a trip to Glenshee, the largest ski resort in Scotland with 40km of runs served by 22 lifts. Find out more information here.

 

 

2. Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk broads are known for their beautiful scenic landscapes which have plenty of trails and paths to walk and bike through. There’s something for everyone as they are also home to over a quarter of the UK’s rarest wildlife as well as the impressive ruins of St Benet’s Abbey, which has a history stretching back over 900 years.

Great for: Boat Trips. The Norfolk Broads are the UK’s largest protected wetland, take a trip on the water and see the windmills spread across the landscape. Find out more information here.

 

 

1. New Forest

The New Forest is a historic royal hunting ground with ancient woodlands containing trees that are 1000 years old. It features 214 scheduled monuments and 621 listed buildings with a long and proud history dating back to William the Conqueror who used the Park to pursue ‘beasts of the chase’.

Great for: Exploring. There are plenty of walking, cycling, and horse riding routes to explore and some beautiful towns to visit including Burley, Beaulieu and Lymington. Find out more information here.

 

 

The national parks were created to allow people to enjoy the UK’s natural environments for years to come. They offer a wide variety of different landscapes, terrain and cultures to enjoy so grab your walking boots and head out to a national park near you!


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