the best national parks in the UK


Lake District National Park

Cumbria’s Lake District National Park renowned for more than one reason, but you’ll naturally want to take to the water here – boats can be hired on Windermere, Coniston, Ullswater and Derwent Water. We also recommend a steamer cruise across Ullswater. Stops include Glenridding, Aira Force, Howtown and Pooley Bridge, so they’re a great way to explore the area.

Norfolk Broads National Park

Over 125 miles of waterways are scribbled over the Broads, so paddling is popular but landlubbers will find plenty to do to – the national park is packed with wildlife reserves. Head to How Hill National Nature Reserve to admire the park’s rarest species, including dragonflies, marsh harriers and swallowtail butterflies.

Peak District National Park

You can edit all of this text and replace it with what you want to write.It’s in the name in this sprawling national park; hiking, climbing and caving are all part and parcel of a holiday to the Peak District. But, don’t miss the chance to explore Chatsworth House, one of the UK’s most stunning stately homes. A Derbyshire Downton Abbey, this 16th-century property is filled with priceless artworks and surrounded by gardens blooming with rare plants.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Snowdonia’s had its time in the limelight; this time we’re all about this south Wales national park. Top attractions in the Brecon Beacons include its caves and water sports centres, although our favourite destination is the dramatic 13th-century Llanthony Priory. The ruined Augustinian church is a hop away from book-lovers' haven Hay-on-Wye.

New Forest National Park

Wild New Forest ponies are the star attraction in this national park and you can wander among them on a steed of your own; a guided horseback ride through the park is a great way to explore the New Forest. There are several horse-riding schools to choose from, including Burley Villa School of Riding, which specialises in sessions for beginners and children.

Dartmoor National Park

Devon’s Dartmoor National Park is similarly known for its equine experiences but you’ll want to lace up your hiking boots here. Trails criss-cross the area but the Wray Valley Trail is one of the best. Built in 1866 and closed in 1959, it follows in the footprint of the historic Newton Abbot to Moretonhampstead railway. The route meanders through the National Trust’s Parke Estate and past the pretty village of Lustleigh.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

The breathtakingly beautiful Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is filled with jaw-dropping spots, though the hero here has to be lake. The biggest in Great Britain, Loch Lomond is prime for paddleboarding and other watersports. It’s dotted with small islands, so there are plenty of sheltered spots for nervous first-timers.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales are picture perfect and underneath you’ll find Gaping Gill, a cave with one of the UK’s largest underground chambers. Its entrance is a short walk from the village of Clapham, although get lucky and you might be able to enter from above – twice a year local pothole clubs erect a winch above the main chamber so that visitors can be lowered into its depths.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

If history’s your thing, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is brimming with historic sites. These include 2,000-year-old Carew Castle, one of Wales’ top attractions. It’s famous for its diverse architecture – from the west it resembles a Norman fortress, but from the north it looks like an Elizabethan mansion.

Northumberland National Park

Much of Northumberland National Park falls within the UK’s largest International Dark Sky Park. It’s one of the best places for stargazing in the UK, and top destinations for star-spotting include the Stonehaugh Stargazing Pavilion, an easily-accessible designated Dark Sky Discovery Site near Harbottle Castle.

Snowdonia

Situated on the west coast of Britain covering 823 square miles of diverse landscapes, Snowdonia National Park is a living working area, home to over 26,000 people. As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia boasts the highest mountain in England and Wales, and the largest natural lake in Wales, as well as a wealth of picturesque villages like Betws y Coed and Beddgelert. Snowdonia is an area steeped in culture and local history, where more than half its population speak Welsh. The National Park Authority’s aims are to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area, promote opportunities to understand and enjoy its special qualities; and to foster the economic and social well-being of its communities.

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