Sometimes known as ‘Britain’s breathing spaces’, the UK’s National Parks offer the chance to explore some of the more scenic parts of the country. From admiring the incredible views and discovering the historical and cultural background to taking part in fun activities and sampling the local fare, a visit to a UK national park promises to be something everyone can enjoy.
Read on to learn about our five favourite parks and what makes them special!
The Lake District is the largest national park in England, and its 2,292 square kilometres take up around 1% of the land in Great Britain. A historically and culturally significant part of the country, many famous figures of Britain have wandered the area – with renowned writers such as William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, and Beatrix Potter all taking influence from the beautiful backdrop.
The park itself is home to a number of unique points. Its vast expanse contains England’s highest mountain in Scafell Pike, its deepest lake in Wastwater, and its wettest inhabited place in Seathwaite. Exploring the area also lets you see ancient stone circles and Roman roads, while you can also try foods distinctive to the District, such as Cumberland sausage and rum butter – if you come at the right time, you might even catch one of the many local festivals, such as the Cumberland County Show.
The newest national park in the country, South Downs attracts around 39 million visitors a year for its scenic views, diverse wildlife, and hidden community treasures. A visit to South Downs offers you the chance to see iconic landscapes such as the chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head or the ancient yew trees of Kingley Vale, and you can see these and much more of the park’s beauty by walking the 100 mile-long South Downs Way.
When you aren’t exploring the magical terrain you can discover the secrets of years gone by, including artefacts all the way from the Bronze Age to World War II and old buildings that are still being used today. There’s plenty of fun to be had in the open space with cycling trails, picnic spots, and a number of local markets giving you a real taste of the South Down, while you may also want to keep an eye out for the Chilli Fiesta this summer!
Jurys Inn Brighton is a short 20 minute drive from the South Downs National Park, making it the perfect base for exploring the local area.
Dartmoor National Park promises visitors plenty of fun, adventure, and discovery with its lively landscapes and varied inhabitants. The park’s beauty is legendary, often popping up in famous literature such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and J. K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. Dartmoor also functions as a rich tapestry of England’s heritage, with the biggest concentration of ruins dating back to the Bronze Age anywhere in England, as well as a number of burial cairns, castles, and the longest standing stone row in the world in Upper Erme.
There’s also plenty to do on your visit, as Dartmoor offers the opportunity for letterboxing, a form of treasure hunt first started in 1854, or visiting one of the park’s farmers markets for the best local produce such as meats, cheeses, and breads. The Ministry of Defence makes use of Dartmoor as a training ground with a live fire range, so be sure to check on the Dartmoor Firing Programme before you visit!
You can find Dartmoor National Park under a half hour drive from our hotel in Exeter.
The biggest national park in Wales, Snowdonia is known for its stunning peaks and valleys as well as its range of historical attractions. The park’s namesake and most famous feature, Snowdon, is the highest peak in England and Wales and rumoured to be the site of King Arthur’s battle with the king killing giant Rhita Gawr.
Ancient burial cairns and forts offer an insight into more of Wales’ history, and if you’re visiting, be sure to hop on one of the narrow-gauge trains for an unbeatable view of the park. The Bala Lake Steam Railway takes you on a 9 mile ride along the shore where, according to legend, you might spot a certain local monster called Teggie!
The Cairngorms National Park is the biggest in the UK, covering around 4,528 square kilometres. The park is a hub of nature in Britain, containing almost a quarter of endangered and threatened animals and plants in the country, an ancient Caledonian pine forest and a species of pinewood only found in Scotland and Norway.
Not only a place for flora and fauna, the Cairngorms also holds the remains of thousands of years of human civilisation, with forts and castles from as early as the 10th century and prehistoric burial grounds almost 6,000 years old. On your visit you can cycle across stunning scenic routes, play the best round of golf you can imagine, and even have a go at the UK’s first permanent bridge based bungee jump!
Jurys Inn Inverness is just a half hour drive from the Cairngorms, offering an ideal place to explore more of Scotland’s beautiful Lochs, Firths, and coastline.
Jurys Inn offer city centre locations across the UK and Ireland, offering perfect starting points to discover a range of national parks, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nature reserves, and more.
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