It’s got to be said that the British Isles boast some spectacular scenery. Wild open spaces, glorious beaches, lush forests are all part of the UK National Parks – the ‘breathing spaces of Britain’.
Whether you’re looking for wild Winter walks followed by a cream tea – or a pint – cosied up in front of a roaring fire, the freshness of Springtime, new life bursting forth at every turn, the feel of the Summer sun on your face or Autumn colour to take your breath away, the joy of visiting a National Park means that not only will you experience the best of the British countryside whatever the season, but you’re staying in an area where locals and visitors alike contribute to making these places so special.
What National Parks can I visit?
So where to start? Well there’s pretty much a national park for every one – and every region. There are 15 National Parks scattered across England, Scotland and Wales, from the magnificent splendour of the Cairngorms National Park, the largest of the UK National Parks, taking in Northumberland, the Lake District, Snowdonia and breath-taking Pembrokeshire in Wales and down to the New Forest, the South Downs and Dartmoor National Parks in the South of England.
One thing that’s really a key attraction of all the National Parks is the fact that there really is something for everyone. Whichever one you visit. Take the Cairngorms for example – magnificent mountains, a natural playground, offering water sports, snow sports, incredible walking and cycling routes. Home to the first permanent bridge-based bungee jump in the UK and the only sled dog centre (that’s sledging with dogs – no hurtling down a hill on your mum’s best tea tray, this is the real deal!).
You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s just for adrenaline junkies, but with 25% of the UK’s endangered species found here and plenty of low-level walks and no less than 12 golf courses, there’s plenty to satisfy nature lovers and those looking for more sedate activity. If you’re travelling in a group, and not all of you are into the same things, this offers you the best of both worlds, and you can all meet up at the end of the day to discuss the day’s events!
UK National Parks – A day trip isn’t long enough – Can I stay there?
When you’re spending so much time out and about, taking in the scenery, blasting away the cobwebs on the water or up a mountain, the one thing that can make the time you spend away even more special is the place you go back to and relax in. The National Parks offer a huge range of accommodation within them, or just near to them, from budget campsites to boutique hotels, or you could combine the freedom of self-catering with the luxury of a hotel (and somewhere to dry your boots!) staying in a luxury lodge. You’ll have freedom to come and go as you please.
Take Arthurs Cabin, for example, which is situated on Felmoor Park in Northumberland. Set in the county of Northumberland, you can explore Hadrian’s wall, the Scottish borders and more whilst staying in close proximity to Northumberland’s National Park, which encompasses over 1000 square metres of land, and some of the country’s most beautiful scenery too. The accommodation itself is the perfect place to use as a base whilst exploring, and provides a luxurious, comfortable place to relax after a busy day exploring.
The diverse countryside of the UK is one of its great pleasures, so if you fancy something wilder than the soft rolling Downs, you could try Dartmoor or Exmoor – a more rugged countryside awaits you here, ripe for adventure. Places like the Dartmoor View Lodges, situated ten miles from the north west corner of Dartmoor prove that you don’t need to stay inside a National Park to experience everything it has to offer either. The views from these lodges are spectacular, and you can look out on Dartmoor countryside from the comfort and warmth of your cosy cabin. The cabins are equipped with all modern conveniences, so you’ll be able to enjoy a little bit of relaxation and comfort before you plan the next day’s events.
A location within easy reach of one of these awesome spaces is a great option, giving you the best of both worlds. Dartmoor is packed full of opportunities for outdoor fun – and alongside the walking and cycling, there are a whole host of activities from geocaching to kayaking available. You can also go film location spotting – many of the moving scenes from Spielberg’s film of the acclaimed ’War Horse’ were filmed here. And when you need a day off, head to Exeter for the cathedral, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and, if you want it, a very modern shopping experience. Holidays and short breaks in this area give you the best of both worlds, and you can make the break as exciting or relaxing as you’d like.
The National Parks themselves are incredibly well set up for visitors – with well-designed websites to help you plan your visits before you arrive in the area, and visitor centres to welcome you while you are there. Choose a great place to stay, make sure you pack your walking boots and your sense of adventure, and a holiday in one of our wonderful Uk National Parks really will be something very special.