Top 15 UKL National Parks

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The UK is blessed with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, which is why there are no fewer than 15 national parks spanning its borders. These protected areas across England, Scotland and Wales are made up of mountain ranges, pristine lakes, rolling farmland and wild stretches of coastline – often all in the same national park. But they’re not entirely untouched. And it’s this that makes them so wonderfully unique. 

Unlike America’s national parks, Britain’s are home to real, living communities. Busy market towns, small fishing villages and remote hamlets, full of people whose stories are as much a part of these parks as the land itself. 


Britain’s largest protected wetland.

Good for: Rare wildlife and meandering waterways.

Don’t miss: Kayaking or boating on the River Bure. Get there: Close to the historic city of Norwich, 2 hours from London by train. 


Sultry moorland and windswept walks.

Good for: Ancient stone circles, medieval villages and rock formations (tors).

Don’t miss: wild camping. This is the only park in England that allows it. Get there: Less than 30 min drive from Exeter or Plymouth. 


Wild moors, valleys and coastal cliffs.

Good for: Red deer, Exmoor ponies and England’s tallest tree.

Don’t miss: Stargazing in Europe’s first Dark Skye Reserve. Get there: 1 hour drive from Exeter, 30 min drive from Taunton.  


Home to England’s highest peak.

Good for: Dramatic scenery, rural communities, walking and watersports.

Don’t miss: Locally-sourced food at the Forest Side restaurant. Get there: 1 hour 30 min drive from Manchester. Stay there: Westmorland Inn, Windermere Fr £41; Cuckoo Brow Inn, Ambleside Fr £45


1,000-year old ancient woodland.

Good for: Cycle trails and spa days.

Don’t miss: The Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park to see Europe’s largest gathering of… well, otters and owls. Get there: 30 min drive from Southampton.

Stay here: Crown Manor House Hotel, Lyndhurst. Fr £48


Stargazing on the Scottish borders.

Good for: Tranquil landscapes, castle ruins and mountain goats.

Don’t miss: Hiking port of the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail. Get there: 1 hour drive from Newcastle. 


Shaggy moorlands and seaside towns.

Good for: Close-knit communities, sea cliffs, smugglers’ caves and epic rail journeys.

Don’t miss: The steam train from Pickering to Whitby, used in the Harry Potter films.

Get there: 45 min drive from York or 1 hour drive from Leeds. 


Britain’s first national park.

Good for: Climbers head to the Dark Peak, walkers to the White Peak.

Get there: Take the famous Hope Valley rail line between Manchester and Sheffield.

Stay here: The Old Post Office, Birche Value. Fr £41


Home of the Seven Sisters white cliffs.

Good for: Market towns and historic estates. Don’t miss: Walking or cycling the 100 mile South Downs Way National Trail.

Get there: 1 hour drive or train from London.

Stay here: The Three Horseshoes. Fr £40


Limestone pavements and rolling hills.

Good for: Country walks through traditional farms, stone-built villages and heathered hills.

Don’t miss: Hiking the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent.

Get there: Yorkshire Dales Day Trip from York. Fr £42


720 miles of peaks, lochs and glens.

Good for: Hill walking, climbing and canoeing. Don’t miss: Paddleboarding on Loch Lomond, and hiking the West Highland Way.

Get there: 1 hour drive from Glasgow.


Britain’s largest national park.

Good for: Castles, whisky and wintersports. Don’t miss: Hiking and skiing in Britain’s highest mountain range.

Get there: 1 hour drive from Aberdeen, or take the sleeper train from London.


UK’s only fully coastal national park.

Good for: Prehistoric tombs, sea caves and secluded beaches. Also Britain’s smallest city, St. David’s. Don’t miss: Walking 185 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

Get there: 2 hour drive or train from Cardiff.


A Welsh language heartland.

Good for: Adrenalin adventures, surf beaches and picturesque stone villages. Don’t miss: Whitewater rafting on the River Tryweryn, mountain breaks at Surf Snowdonia, and underground trampolines at Bounce Below.

Get there: 2 hour drive from Liverpool.

Stay here: Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon. Fr £42


Brooding mountains and arty towns.

Good for: Mountain biking, market towns, foodies and festivals. Don’t miss: The famous Hay-on-Wye literary festival.

Get there: 1 hour drive from Cardiff.

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