The UK National Parks on a map: Which should you visit?


Designated as a National Park in 1951, Dartmoor has been on the map from the beginning. Here in the south of Devon, you can discover wild open moorlands, iconic granite tors, ancient monuments and rich local history. The New Forest National Park has a huge diversity of rare plants and animals– one of the reasons why it was made a National Park in 2005. I have such fond memories camping here in the New Forest as a kid and I recently returned and the magic is very much still alive. It’s a place of seriously outstanding natural beauty. As you drive through the countryside here in the New Forest you’ll find the grazing of ponies, cattle and pigs that roam freely. There’s a real sense of freedom here and not only for the animals. The New Forest is a wonderful excuse to explore on foot, horseback, or by bike to soak it all up.
The South Downs National Park really does have it all. Sized at 1,600km squared, this National Park in the southern region of the UK was actually only given its official National Park title in 2011. This is possibly a reason that’s it’s seemingly a lesser talked about and visited destination than the likes of the Lake District and Snowdonia. If you’re from London, heading to the South Downs is much closer in distance and for a 3-day getaway. It’ll leave you that much more time for exploring. YAY. South Downs National Park as a destination is rich in culture, adventure, countryside, villages and (a personal favourite) gorgeous country pubs. It’s West Sussex neighbours host gorgeous stretches of coastline, cliffs (white cliffs of Seven Sisters) so you can combine them all into a super versatile weekend… just like we did.
Exmoor is loosely defined as an area of hilly open moorland in west Somerset and north Devon in South West England. Another stunning area to visit on your trip to the UK. It is named after the River Exe, the source of which is situated in the centre of the area, two miles north-west of Simonsbath. Norfolk’s The Broads National Park is heaven for river-farers, it’s a beautiful network of mostly navigable rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It’s been referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ has more waterway mileage than Venice itself! Whether you hire a boat for the day, go fishing, meander through the gorgeous local towns or enjoy a pint of ale in the local pub. It’s a truly unique stop on your UK adventure!
The Peak District National Park became the first National Park in the United Kingdom in 1951 and is located within close proximity to the cities of Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby and Sheffield. So one of the more northern National Parks in the UK.The Peak District is around a 4-hour drive from London but be careful, rush hour can nearly double this as you leave the city! The Yorkshire Dales National Park is in northern England. It encompasses thousands of square miles of moors, valleys, hills and villages and is home to a ridiculous amount of natural beauty.
As suggested by the name, North York Moors National Park is located in North Yorkshire and was another early appointed NP in 1952. The unspoilt 26 miles of coastline here has footprints and fossils from the Jurassic Age in the cliffs and rocks at the water’s edge. There are hidden bays, coastal walks and beautiful little fishing villages to explore. Aside from the coastline, this National Park is home to some stunning forests (23% of the National Park is covered by trees).
Another of my favourite corners of the UK to explore and spend the weekend. Mainly because of the mountains and the lakes that come in abundance here. The Lake District National Park is home to England’s highest mountain and is a stunning National Park in the North West region of England. To drive to the Lake District, it’s about five hours from London and the South East, 1.5 hours from Manchester and two hours from York. This place is an adventurers haven and is perfect for anyone looking to dive into the heart of nature. The towns, the people, the views and the food all contribute to a weekend/trip that will refuel your soul.
Northumberland National Park is the northern-most national park in England. It covers an area of more than 1,050 square kilometres between the Scottish border in the north to just south of Hadrian’s Wall, and it is one of the least populated and least visited of the National Parks. If you’re heading up to Scotland on your UK adventure, it would be silly to not stop off here on your way and tick off another UK National Park…