Forestipedia writer | Helping you to discover the best places on your travels
The UK's National Parks offer some of the most breath-taking and treasured landscapes! But what is a National Park? Where are they? And why should you visit them?
National Parks are the lungs of the country. They are areas that are protected because of their beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage. Our National Parks welcome visitors, providing opportunities for everyone to experience, enjoy, and learn about their special qualities.
Scenic view of Cairngorms National Park
The first National Park opened in 1951 at the Peak District, which takes in the site of the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932. This famous episode, aimed at lobbying the government and landowners to open up access to Britain’s countryside, laying the foundations for the National Parks Act of 1949. The act led to the designation of 15 National Parks over the following decades, the latest being the South Downs in 2010.
Scenic view of Dartmoor National Park
There are 15 National Parks in the UK. Each one is looked after by its own authority and work together as National Parks UK. They are independent bodies funded by central government to preserve the land and promote opportunities within for you to enjoy.
Scenic view of Exmoor National Park
The UK’s National Parks span from the Cairngorms in the north of Scotland to Dartmoor in Cornwall. They cover over 10% of the land mass of England & Wales and 7% of Scotland.
There are 13 National Parks in England & Wales including:
There are 2 National Parks in Scotland:
Scenic view of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
The Lake District National Park is the largest National Park in England at 2,292 square kilometres (885 sq mi) and second largest in the United Kingdom after Scotland's Cairngorms National Park.
Scenic view of Lake District National Park
The most visited National Park in the UK is the Lake District, with 16.4 million visitors in 2014. The second largest National Park is the Yorkshire Dales, with 9.4 million visitors.
Scenic view of Yorkshire Dales National Park
There are so many things to do in each National Park at any time of the year. They are vibrant, breathing spaces, where people live and work, where you can sample local food, learn arts and crafts, buy unique gifts, and find museums of rural life. They are massive outdoor playgrounds where you can cycle, climb, canoe, sail and glide. They are glorious canvasses of the British landscape where you can walk, enjoy picnics, stargaze or simply stand and stare. They are wildlife havens where you can watch birds, see rare plants, spot elusive wild animals and visit forests, rivers, lakes, meadows, and moorland. The question is, why wouldn’t you visit?
Scenic view of Northumberland National Park
Forest Holidays are ideally situated for visiting the National Parks. 5 of our 11 locations sit within UK National Parks: Ardgartan Argyll and Strathyre are in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Cropton and Keldy are in the North York Moors, and Beddgelert is in Snowdonia National Park.
Scenic view of North York Moors National Parks
A further four Forest Holidays locations are well under an hour’s drive from a National Park: Deerpark is 45 minutes from Dartmoor, Blackwood Forest is just half an hour from the New Forest, Thorpe Forest is under an hour away from the Broads, and Sherwood Forest is 45 minutes' drive from the Peak District. The Brecon Beacons, just over an hour away from Forest of Dean, is a longer journey but gives you an excuse to visit Wales.
Scenic view of Peak District National Park
1. Soak up the breath-taking views of Kildrummy Castle in the Cairngorms
2. Spot red squirrels in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
3. Take the Hethpool Wild Goat Walk in Northumberland
4. Visit the Laurel and Hardy Museum in the Lake District
5. Witness the purple carpet of heather over the North York Moors
Scenic view of Pembrokeshire Coast
6. Discover Ease Gill Caves, the longest cave system in the UK under the Yorkshire Dales
7. Choose from 1700 climbing and bouldering routes at Stanage in the Peak District
8. Visit the Ugly House in Snowdonia
9. Decipher the distinctive painted signs of the Broads villages
10. Enjoy some of the 60 iconic views of the Pembrokeshire Coast
Scenic view of Snowdonia National Park
11. Stargaze from the one of the few World Dark Sky Reserves in the Brecon Beacons
12. Find the 20 inspirational sculptures on the Shipwrights Way in the South Downs
13. Spot the rare dragonflies and damselflies in the New Forest
14. Take in the views from Great Hangman, Britain’s highest sea cliff, in Exmoor
15. Go Letterboxing on Dartmoor
Scenic view of South Downs National Park