We’re flying the flag for National Parks Week which takes place from Sunday 22 to Sunday 29 July. Aimed at encouraging families to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors with seaside safaris, forest walks and parkland adventure, the festival celebrates all 15 National Parks in the UK and provides us with the perfect excuse to delve a little deeper into the delights of six of the nation’s parks.
South Downs National Park
The newest National Park is South Downs with encompasses hundreds of square kilometres of woodland, busy market towns, rolling chalk uplands and river valleys. Visitors can find something different happening just about every day over summer; butterfly safaris, summer evening tours, meet the winemaker, working animals show and scavenger hunts plus an international music festival and first steps in beekeeping. There’s hundreds of miles of great dog walking trails to follow, lowland pastures to discover and of course, the famous chalky cliffs of the Sussex Heritage Coast.
Peak District National Park
The oldest National Park is the Peak District which crosses the counties of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. Attracting around 10 million visitors a year, the Peak District National Park has 65 miles of off-road cycling and walking trails and 34 miles of disused railways. Despite its name, the Peak District doesn’t have any mountains and it’s thought to have got the name from an Anglo-Saxon tribe who settled in the area. Taller than the London Eye, the park does have the tallest cave in Britain, Titan Shaft in Castleton.
The market town of Bakewell dates back to medieval times and as well as being famous for Bakewell puddings, it makes a great base for exploring the Peak District National Park and the stately Chatsworth House.
The Lake District National Park
Celebrating its first anniversary as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lake District has much to offer visitors, from the stunning lakes to the fells and pretty villages. At five miles long, Coniston Lake is famous for where Donald Campbell set the world water speed record in a craft called Bluebird and for being the setting of the Arthur Ransome book Swallows and Amazons.
Windermere is England’s largest lake and there is plenty to do on and off the lake with cruise boat trips, pier side picnics and traffic free cycle routes while Ullswater is a popular starting point with walkers and climbers in the Lake District.
There’s so much to see and do in the Lake District National Park, a few nights away in this beautiful region is a definite must and there’s plenty of hotels, ranging from 5-star to budget as well as independent boutique hotels, guest houses and B&Bs.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Plan for a trip to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales and walk the 299 kilometre coast path, taking in rugged cliff tops, sheltered coves and wide sandy beaches. With a descent and ascent of 35,000 feet, it’s not a journey for the faint hearted as it’s said to be the equivalent of climbing Everest!
The Norfolk Broads National Park
You don’t have to hire a boat to appreciate the beauty of the Norfolk Broads. With wonderful walks and cycle routes, discovering the rivers and shallow lakes, marshland and reed beds, flora and fauna is a gentle adventure back in time. There’s a great selection of places to stay in Norfolk; the hardest decision is whether to go coastal and enjoy the expansive Norfolk beaches or opt for a countryside location.
Cairngorms National Park
A treasure chest for wildlife, walking, climbing and cycling, Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands is the UK’s largest park and along with a choice of nature reserves, the park has 12 golf courses, a sleddog centre and a permanent bridge based bungee jump! There are castles to see and culture to discover in highland museums, boating and sailing on the lochs, skiing and snowboarding at Aviemore in the winter and dedicated park rangers and visitor centres to help visitors get the most from eir stay in the Cairngorms National Park.
And when in the Highlands it’s rude not to partake in the local produce! Enjoy local venison, beef and lamb with a pint of locally brewed ale before finishing with a wee dram of whisky! Find your Highland stay here.