England is a country of National Parks. Despite the dense population between London and Manchester, the country has a surprisingly large area given over to nature. In fact, there are now so many National Parks, that only a tiny minority of keen individuals have visited them all.
This post specifically explores the National Parks in England. However, there are plenty in Scotland and Wales, too.
Dartmoor National Park
One of the most beautiful of England’s National Parks is the delightful Dartmoor National Park, and I I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Dartmoor in Devon many times. Dartmoor National Park was one of the first in the country and came into being in 1951, just six years after WWII. The area in the south of Devon features stunning open moorland, and granite tors which are practically unique in the British Isles. There are also ancient monuments, as you might expect, and a smattering of British history. Key places to visit include the Meldon Reservoir and the Brentor Church, which sits on top of an extinct volcano.
New Forest National Park
To the surprise of many, the New Forest only became a national park in 2005. The reason for the change was because it is one of the only places in the UK where you can find various plants and animals.
Many people have fond memories of camping in the New Forest during the summer. Being close to London, Brighton, Portsmouth and other cities in the south and southeast, it was often a popular tourist destination for families looking for inexpensive accommodation.
South Downs National Park
The South Downs National Park is another valuable addition to England’s portfolio of wild spaces. The destination is rich in culture and history but only received official national park status in 2011, making it one of the youngest in the country. Here, you’ll find the famous South Downs Way and plenty of charming country public houses serving just the sort of food you want to eat after a day’s hiking.
Lake District National Park
The Lake District National Park is arguably the king of all national parks. The destination in England’s far northwest is an adventurer’s paradise with the tallest mountains and the most spectacular hikes in the country. Aside from campsites, visitors can stay in Ambleside hotels and glamping pods, and house-share accommodation nearby.
Many people go to the Lake District to climb England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike. The best place to do this is from the car park at Wasdale Head.
Visitors should also go to the Grasmere gingerbread shop for a delicious treat, or the Fellpack restaurant for a classy, lake-side dinner.
North Yorkshire Moors National Park
If you fancy somewhere quieter than the Lake District, you might want to go hiking in the North York Moors. This national park has been around since 1952, but the world has all but forgotten about it. There’s the pretty village of Sandsend just a few miles north of Whitby, and Dalby Forest, which is England’s biggest trail centre with numerous mountain biking opportunities.
What’s nice about the North York Moors is the huge forests. According to land surveys, around 23 percent of its area is covered in trees, making it significantly more forested than the Lakes or Peaks.