National parks: discover Britain’s best landscapes

Rural, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ruth on 6th September 2021

National Parks guides

Inspiring landscapes, rare wildlife and significant landmarks – the UK’s national parks have been drawing in visitors for the last 70 years to enjoy peace and tranquillity amidst awe-inspiring scenery.

Every park has its own unique charm, so we’ve collated guides on all 15 national parks in the UK, helping you to plan your holiday exploring these incredible landscapes.

Read on if you’re searching for national parks near you or browse the FAQs to learn more about the wonderful UK national parks.


Scotland's national parks

Scotland

Find out more about Scotland’s two captivating national parks, where you can wander lochs, spot rare wildlife and learn more about the unique Scottish culture.

Scotland's national parks

The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park

The UK’s largest national park, the Cairngorms offers a truly Scottish break where you can ski down a mountain, fish for salmon or sip local whisky. 

Cairngorms guide

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Explore Scotland’s first national park, encompassing the fabled Loch Lomond and the undulating emerald landscapes of the Trossachs.

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs


The North

Northumberland National Park

Northumberland National Park

Seek out peace and quiet close to the England/Scotland border, where you can wander under star-speckled skies and walk in the footsteps of Romans.

Northumberland National Park guide

Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park

Skim mirrored lakes at the foot of ancient mountains in this national park which has stirred the souls of artists and poets for centuries. 

Lake District guide

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales National Park

Chase tumbling waterfalls, explore mysterious caves hidden deep underground and roam the velvet hills of this national park in God’s Own Country.

Yorkshire Dales guide

North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors National Park

Where heather-speckled moorland meets the wild North Sea, the North York Moors offer a holiday of freedom and adventure.  

North York Moors guide


Wales National Parks

Wales

Boasting three enchanting national parks, Wales entices nature lovers to explore its many unspoilt landscapes – find out which national park best suits you with our guide.

Wales national parks

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park

Scale Wales’ highest mountain peak, tackle white water rapids and zoom through a cave on a zip line – Snowdonia is mecca for adrenaline junkies.

Snowdonia guide

Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons National Park

Discover magical waterfalls or climb patchwork hills as high as the heavens at this national park steeped in myth and legend.

Brecon Beacons guide

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 

The only coastal national park, Pembrokeshire offers meandering coastal trails high above salt-sprayed cliffs with myriad charming villages en route.

Pembrokeshire Coast guide


East and South

New Forest National Park

The New Forest National Park

Roam this wildlife haven alongside wild ponies and through ancient woodland, discovering tales of times gone by as you go.

New Forest guide

South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park

Sweeping snow-white cliffs roll towards the sea, speckled with thriving cities and historic towns – see something new every day.

South Downs guide

Norfolk Broads National Park

The Norfolk Broads National Park

Spend lazy days on the languid waterways of this tranquil national park, where time almost ceases to exist under the giant azure sky.

Norfolk Broads guide


Heart of England and the South West

Peak District National Park

The Peak District National Park

The UK’s oldest national park, The Peak District offers secluded moorland, trench-like valleys and secret caves all waiting to be discovered.

Peak District guide

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park

A stark and scale-defying landscape towering above the glistening Atlantic, Exmoor balances history and heritage on the Devon and Somerset border.

Exmoor guide

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park

Explore Dartmoor’s rugged and untamed moorland, the setting of some beguiling legends and the inspiration for many more mysterious stories. 

Dartmoor guide


National Park FAQs

National park FAQs

A national park is an area of land with beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and an important history that has been designated for protection so the entire nation can enjoy its unique characteristics.

National parks funded by central government and the law decrees that the land must protect natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, while also offering the opportunity for it to be enjoyed by the public.  

There are 13 national parks in England and Wales, and two more in Scotland, making 15 national parks in the UK.

In England, they collectively cover 10% of the land, while in Wales the three national parks cover almost 20% of the nation.

England’s largest park is the Lake District, while the smallest is the Norfolk Broads, and the South Downs National Park has the largest number of people living there.

National parks receive over 100 million visitors every year. They are attracted to the beautiful scenery, fun activities whether it’s climbing the peaks of Snowdonia, boating on the Broads or bird spotting in the New Forest.

The South Downs National Park receives the most visitors every year, with 2019 stats showing 2.91 million visitors explored the national park that year.

The national parks are home to many special and endangered animals and breeds. Many of the parks are home to their very own types of animal – such as the Dartmoor and Exmoor Ponies. They are also some of the last refuges for native ecosystems; the New Forest is home to all of the UK’s native reptile species, magnificent ospreys and curious red squirrels can be seen in Northumberland while dolphins and whales can be seen at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

National parks include hundreds of special conservation areas in recognition of their unique role in providing a home to many of the UK’s endangered species including butterflies, water voles and birds of prey.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.