Britain has 15 stunning national parks affectionately known as the country's breathing spaces. From high peaks with amazing vistas, down to picturesque valleys and peaceful lakes, there's something for everyone.
Make sure that a visit to one of Britain's national parks is included when planning to travel to or in the UK. Here are four great parks to get you started!
New Forest National Park
Smack dab in the middle of the South Coast of England you'll find 355 square miles of the New Forest National Park. It was first proclaimed as a 'Royal Forest' in 1079 by William the Conqueror and was mostly used by the noblemen for hunting deer. These days the park is open to all and has many areas of heathland and open grasslands.
The open nature of the park is a big part of its charm and you'll be sure to see some of the famous New Forest Ponies wandering around freely. They help to maintain the park as they munch their way along, but often wander into the local villages and gardens in search of alternative snacks!
If you feel like staying a while to relax and explore the park there's a great range of accommodation from luxury spa resorts to basic camping sites. For something a little different you can even hire a VW Campervan to stay in, or try "glamping" in a yurt.
Regardless of age or energy you'll find plenty to do in the New Forrest area with museums, theme parks and endless outdoor activities on offer all year round. Don't miss the fantastic Beaulieu National Motor Museum, which is perfect if (when) the weather acts up.
Peak District National Park
Sandwiched in between several of Britain's major northern cities are the green and rolling hills of the Peak District National Park. This makes getting there on public transport easy via regular trains from Manchester Piccadilly Station into the heart of the park.
Many visitors love to take advantage of the 1,867 miles of walking trails that criss-cross the area. These provide some spectacular views from the high limestone hills or gentle strolling walks in the stunning Derwent Valley.
Make sure to combine a visit with a stop off in one of the many quaint towns and villages within the park itself. Anyone visiting the town of Bakewell should try one of the famous Bakewell puddings, don't call it a tart or you'll upset the locals!
Perhaps the most famous of Britain's varied national parks, the Lake District is hugely popular with visitors all year round with over 15 million people a year coming to soak up its beauty.
The park is engrained in the national culture of Britain through the works of the 'Lake Poets', William Wordsworth being the most famous of the bunch. His poem 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' is inspired by his walks in the Lake District and is one of the most famous in England.
There's plenty to inspire you too with endless walking trails and stunning views all around. You could even take a cruise on one of the stunning lakes, the most popular being Windermere.
Don't miss a visit to the home of Beatrix Potter, a pretty 17th-century cottage called Hill Top. For the children, her characters come to life at the World of Beatrix Potter exhibition at Bowness. Or they might enjoy a ride on the seven-mile long Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway with its tiny steam trains which power along the beautiful Eskdale Valley.
Brecon Beacons National Park
Pressing up against the border with England in the south of Wales is the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons park. The total park is just over 800 square miles of hilly terrain which is promoted as a place to explore and get active - not a fenced off reserve.
It's very much a living and breathing landscape which has been farmed, mined and maintained for thousands of years. The wide open space today is perfect for outdoor activities from photography and astronomy to hiking, cycling, horse riding and more.
Getting to the park via public transport is easy with a regular bus service from the Welsh capital of Cardiff to the south right into the park. Alternatively, you can take a train to the picturesque town Abergavenny which sits on the southeastern corner of the park.
There are also lots of great options for accommodation in and around the park with a plethora of B&Bs, guesthouses and luxury hotels available. If you'd like to go independent there are plenty of options for camping, caravan hire, self-catering and even canal boating.
More details on getting to the Brecon Beacons National park, where to stay and what to do can be found on the park's official website.
Have you ever been to any of these National Parks? Tell us in the comments!
Topics From This Article to Explore