We are now very much into summer, and with the ‘staycation’ holiday choice on the rise in the UK, we look at the best National Parks the UK has to offer.
With miles and miles of mountains, moorland, lakes, coastlines and impressive scenery, the UK is home to some fantastic National Parks for the whole family to enjoy – 15 in total. Whether you enjoy walking, cycling, hiking or water sports, you’ll find a place for almost all outdoor activities at these National Parks.
Lake District National Park
The largest national park in England, the Lake District covers 885 square miles of Cumbria – and is now named as a World Heritage site. Home to the England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, the Lake District boasts tremendous views of some the most popular locations, such as Keswick, Derwentwater and Windermere. It’s no surprise it is the most visited National Park in the UK, with over 15.8 million annual visitors.
This national park is a must-visit. With around 16 main lakes, you can take to the water on your canoes and kayaks, or go scrambling down some of their waterfalls. If the water isn’t for you, then give one of their walks a go – there are a selection of routes suitable for all ages and skill levels.
Northumberland National Park
If you’re looking for a more tranquil park, visit Northumberland National Park. Located between the Scottish border and the industrial North East of England, it’s home to the remains of the famous Hadrian’s Wall which date back to Roman times. You can take a stroll along the Hadrian’s Wall path and walk amongst the wild goats which still roam the landscape.
The National Park boasts the largest area of protected night sky in the whole of Europe. It’s Dark Sky Park is protected from forms of artificial light to provide the truest stargazing experience – promoting astronomy in the region.
Snowdonia National Park
Established back in 1951, Snowdonia has the best of both worlds – boasting 23 miles of beautiful coastline and is home of Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain. You’ll never be stuck for things to do, with sand dune backed beaches and rocky coves close-by to the impressive coastline, as well as steep river gorges and waterfalls.
As a living working area, Snowdonia is steeped with culture and local history. The National Park houses picturesque villages with 26,000 local people – and over half of the population speak the Welsh language.
Cairngorms National Park
Located in the North East of Scotland, Cairngorms is the largest National Park in the British Isles, housing five out of six of Scotland’s highest mountains. With 55 peaks standing over 900 metres, hikers will be in their element with the dramatic mountain landscapes – there’s plenty of walking routes available to choose from that showcase some of Scotland’s beautiful scenery.
As the winter months arrive, skiing is a big activity available throughout the park.
Being home to the biggest native forests means there are stacks of unique wildlife to discover. When visiting Cairngorms, you can expect to come across a quarter of the UK’s rare and endangered species, including the wildcat, the capercaillie and the mountain hare.
Dartmoor National Park
As well as being the only National Park in the whole of England to allow wild camping, Dartmoor National Park is also less than an hour away from Exeter and Plymouth. With an array of walking and cycling routes available, there are plenty of opportunities for you to make the most of everything the National Park has to offer whilst taking in breath-taking views of vast moorland and discovering the area’s rich military history.
Providing a wild space to camp, you can pitch your tent in a space that’s perfect for your needs – something different to other National Parks, offering an opportunity to experience and discover new wildlife.