National Parks In The UK: Unveiling Natural Wonders Beyond The Cities

A Traveler’s Guide to the UK’s National Parks

National Parks In The UK
Photo by Veronica White on Unsplash

From the rugged, untamed beauty of the Scottish Highlands to the enchanting dales of Yorkshire, the United Kingdom hosts a stunning variety of natural landscapes often overshadowed by its bustling cities. If you want to make the most of your experience, it’s vital to get out of the dense and crowded cities – and see the UK at its most natural and beautiful in National Parks.

Getting to the UK

Before you start exploring the national parks, you’ll need to get to the UK. Here are some tips to help you do it effectively:

  •       Get electronic travel authorization. Starting in 2023, people in some countries will have access to the UK’s ETA program, which allows you to apply online for near-immediate digital travel authorization. It’s much faster and more convenient than applying for a visa, and in 2024, it’s going to be rolled out more broadly.
  •       Plan your itinerary (loosely). Take the time to plan your itinerary. There are many places worth visiting in the UK, so you’ll manage your time more effectively if you know what your highest priorities are. That said, you should avoid overbooking since it’s relaxing and enjoyable to have free time for open exploration.
  •       Pack for a variety of conditions. The weather in the UK is notoriously fickle and unpredictable, so make sure you pack clothes that allow you to thrive in a variety of different conditions.
  •       Know how you’re going to travel. London and most other big cities in the UK have excellent public transportation options, but if you’re traveling to the National Parks, you’ll likely need to rely on another mode of travel.

National Parks in the UK

There are 15 different National Parks in the UK, all of which are worth visiting at least once. Among them, 10 are in England, 2 are in Scotland, and 3 are in Wales.

  •       Dartmoor National Park. South of Devon, this park has access to open moorlands, granite tors, interesting historical monuments and tons of educational information on local history. You can enjoy afternoon tea in Ashburton or hike along Meldon Reservoir.
  •       New Forest National Park. One of the more recent National Parks added is New Forest, which was made a National Park in 2005. Whether you’re interested in hiking, camping, or even horseback riding, you’ll find a wide variety of plants and animals here.
  •       South Downs National Park. South Downs is a massive 1,600 square km, and it has several amazing country pubs to enjoy. With scenic cliffs, expansive sections of coastline, and kayaks available to rent, there’s always something to do.
  •       Exmoor National Park. Between Somerset and Devon, Exmoor National Park is home to Dunster Castle, the Valley of Rocks walk, Watersmeet House, and the beautiful Watersmeet Trail.
  •       Broads National Park. In Norfolk, you’ll find The Broads, which is home to a complex network of lakes and rivers. Sometimes called the Venice of the East, this area is perfect for fishing, kayaking, or hiking.
  •       Peak District National Park. For nearly a century, Peak District National Park has been a favorite destination for hikers, rock climbers, bicyclists, and boaters. It’s about 4 hours from London, making it one of the most remote options.
  •       Yorkshire Dales National Park. At Yorkshire Dales, you’ll find Ribblehead Viaduct, Aysgarth Falls, and boundless hills and valleys to explore. You can also take part in cheese tasting at Wensleydale Creamery.
  •       North York Moors National Park. If you love fossils and natural history, head to North York Moors National Park. There, you can find lush forests, 70 miles of cycling trails, and yes, real footprints and fossils from prehistoric life.
  •       Lake District National Park. Lake District National Park is where you’ll find the highest mountain in all of England (Scafell Pike), and it’s only 1.5 hours away from Manchester. Consider spending the weekend at Lake Windermere or climbing Scafell Pike itself.
  •       Northumberland National Park. Northumberland, as the name suggests, is the northernmost park in England and spreads out over more than 1,000 square km. It doesn’t have as many exciting attractions as other, rival National Parks – but it also tends to be less populated and less busy as a result.
  •       Brecon Beacons. This mouthful of a National Park has been in operation since 1957, and is home to the Black Mountain, four different waterfalls, and a little market town called Brecon, where you can find tons of interesting shops.
  •       Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Another park in Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast is brilliant for hikes or long walks. It’s home to nearly 1,000 square km of coastline.
  •       Snowdonia National Park. At Snowdonia, you can go rock climbing, explore river gorges, or marvel at natural waterfalls. It’s also a common destination for cyclists.
  •       Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. In Scotland, you’ll find Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Whether you’re interested in climbing, hiking, cycling, sailing, or just walking around, you’ll find beautiful views and an expansive area to move around in.
  •       Cairngorms National Park. The second park in Scotland, Cairngorms National Park, is larger than Loch Lomond and offers multiple walking and biking routes, historical castles, and cabins to stay in.

If you love getting fresh air and exercise, or if you just need a break from the big cities in the UK, these National Parks have everything you could ever want. Whether you attempt to see them all, or just visit a couple of your favorites, your trip will be enriched by these activities.

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