Last updated on : May 5, 2020

(Last Updated On: May 5, 2020)

For many tourists visiting the UK, checking Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace off the list is as good as it gets. But most don’t know that one of the best things you can do is visit the national parks in the UK.

For those willing to venture outside of London’s city walls, there is a treasure trove of beautiful natural landscapes, history and culture.

With 2019 marking 70 years since the inauguration of the first national parks in the United Kingdom, it’s worth taking a look at what some of the UK’s 15 national parks have to offer today.

Let’s start with the oldest of them all: Peak District.

Peak District National Park

As just mentioned, this national park was the first area of the UK to receive such a designation, receiving the honor in 1949. 

This region of superb natural beauty includes many places to go hiking and take in some of the best vistas this island has to offer.

Whether you want to re-enact Keira Knightley’s famous scene from Pride and Prejudice on Stanage Edge, or you want to join fellow Instagrammers at Winnat’s Pass, there’s a spot for you enjoy spectacular views of some of England’s finest sweeping countryside.

If that’s not your thing you can still visit the old-fashioned market town of Bakewell to try its world-renowned Bakewell pudding, or take an underground speedboat tour of the Speedwell Cavern to see the marvelous tunnels and rock formations.

To find out more information head to the Peak District National Park website.

Lake District National Park

District Lake - Best National Parks UK
Beautiful sunset at District Lake in UK

This national park has recently been elevated above National Park status, joining many other famous sites across the world in being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Used as a place for inspiration by some of history’s famous famous writers, artists and poets, the hills and valleys of this inspiring landscape attract 15.8 million visitors every year!

To get the most out of this national park you are going to need to lace up the hiking boots and take on one of its 150+ peaks. Your likely lengthy walk to the top will not disappoint you, with majestic views of neighboring hills and the sea your reward for making it to the summit.

However, no trip would be complete without visiting one of the 16 lakes that gives this region its name. Hire a boat, take a steamboat cruise or even go for a swim in majestic lakes that look they’ve taken straight out of the set of fantasy movies such as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter

Head here for more information about this national park.

New Forest National Park

The New Forest - Best National Parks UK
The New Forest

As the name suggests, this national park is famous for its expanse of woodland stretching as far as the eye can see.

Its name is slightly misleading since many trees contained within the New Forest are the most ancient in the country. The forest contains, 400-year-old Beech trees, 800-year-old Oak trees, and some Yew Trees that are more than 1,000 years old!  

The trees form a wonderful backdrop within which you can simply go and get lost in nature, with a well-maintained trail system covering dozens of square miles. Since the area is so vast many people opt for cycling around the forest since hiking would take too long.

Unusually for a British national park, this forest is also close to the coast which means you can finish your day of cycling (or horse riding) around the forest by lazing on the beach.

Its location on the Southern Coast means that temperatures regularly exceed 25 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) during the summer months, making beach going much more enjoyable than in cooler parts of the UK. 

For a full list of activities of attractions, visit the New Forest website

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park - Best National Parks UK
Autumn landscape in Dartmoor National Park

This national park is almost as famous for its wild inhabitants as it is for its natural beauty.

Not too far from the New Forest, this park has gained worldwide notoriety thanks to its herds of wild horses. Left to roam the national park moors, Dartmoor Ponies are synonymous with the rugged landscape they call home.

Similar to the parks listed above, Dartmoor offers excellent cycle and hiking routes, and it’s highly advised that you take in the quiet and quaint little country villages of the region, which are full of medieval buildings and architecture.

Finally, no trip to Dartmoor would be complete without taking in a spot of English “afternoon tea”, complete with scones covered in jam and Devon clotted cream.

For more information about this national park, head to the Dartmoor page here.  

Explore them all at your own pace.

Of course, we’ve only featured 4 out of a possible 15 parks here, so why not research the remaining destinations at your own leisure? They have equally spectacular scenery and activities.

The remaining national parks are as follows:

Brecon Beacons

Broads

Caingorms

Exmoor

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Northumberland

North York Moors

Pembrokeshire Coast

Snowdonia

South Downs

Yorkshire Dales

Step beyond London to see the real majesty of the UK.

So many travelers miss out on the most beautiful natural landscapes the United Kingdom has to offer. Don’t make the same mistake by including at least one of these national parks as a planned stop during your trip.

Not only will you be the envy of your friends by posting sumptuous snaps of the Great British countryside, but you’ll open yourself up to the true British culture that simply can’t be discovered in a metropolitan and cosmopolitan hub such as London.

Have you visited any of the best national parks in the UK?

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Author Profile

Joe Gratton
Joe is a full-time digital nomad who is based in Manchester, UK. He has lived or worked in countries such as the United States, Italy, Greece, France and many more destinations since quitting his job in 2017. You can keep up with his journey on the Advantaged Life blog.

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