This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here Close

Discover the delights of the UK's National Parks

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? 

Brecon Beacons National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park

What is a National Park?

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.

Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park

Why are National Parks open?

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.

Landscape of Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park

How many National Parks are there in the UK?

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.

Landscape of Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park

Where are the UK’s National Parks?

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:

  • The Broads
  • Dartmoor
  • Exmoor
  • The Lake District
  • The New Forest
  • Northumberland
  • The North York Moors
  • The Peak District
  • The South Downs
  • Yorkshire Dales
  • Brecon Beacons
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Snowdonia

There are 2 National Parks in Scotland:

  • Cairngorms
  • Loch Lomond & the Trossachs

Landscape of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Which National Park is the largest?

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.

Landscape of Lake District National Park
Lake District National Park

Which UK National Park is the most visited?

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.

Landscape of Yorkshire Dales National Park
Yorkshire Dales National Park

Why visit UK National Parks?

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?

Landscape of Northumberland National Park
Northumberland National Park

Stay at Forest Holidays and visit a National Park

Forest Holidays are ideally situated for visiting the National Parks. 5 of our 10 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.

Landscape of North York Moors National Park
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.

Landscape of Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park

15 secret pleasures to enjoy in our National Parks

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

Landscape of Pembrokeshire Coast
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

Landscape of Snowdonia National Park
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

Landscape of South Downs National Park
South Downs National Park

The National Parks are part of the fabric of the nation, ready to be explored and enjoyed. Which one will you visit first? Find out more about the National Parks and book your Forest Holiday.

GTM-NDN4LMN