Top 5 UK national parks

Written by alex burgess | 13/05/2017
Top 5 UK national parks
UK National Parks are popular with visitors all year round. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

The UK has 15 National Parks in England, Scotland and Wales offering an impressive range of outdoor activities. The top five destinations offer everything from skiing in Scotland and walking in Wales to hundreds of hiking and camping destinations across England; even the typical UK weather can’t put a damper on things if you’re a fan of the great British countryside.

The Lake District

Top 5 UK national parks
Enjoy the tranquility of the Lake District at low season. (Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

The Lake District becomes a sea of windproof jackets, backpacks and walking boots from April to September as ramblers, campers and outdoorsy folk descend on Kendal, Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere for some serious outdoor activities. Venture away from the popular tourist spots or visit during low season to see the Lake District at its best. Maps and guides are available at even the smallest of village shops; always stick to the designated route and be aware that the weather on the Lakeland hills and mountains changes very quickly, so check the forecast before you set off on an expedition.

The Cairngorms National Park

Top 5 UK national parks
Aviemore is a year-round resort but is most famous for its ski slopes. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

The Cairngorms in Scotland is Britain’s largest National Park and a safe haven to a quarter of the UK’s endangered wildlife species. Summer is popular with walkers, back-packers and campers and the resort of Aviemore is the home of highland skiing and snowboarding. The area enjoys a long winter sports season from December to April, but there is often still decent snow coverage through to May on higher ground. Scottish summers aren’t the hottest or most reliable in the UK, but the British weather doesn’t deter over a million tourists who visit the Cairngorms every year.

Snowdonia National Park

Top 5 UK national parks
The peaks and valleys of Snowdonia are popular with hikers. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Mount Snowdon in Wales is one of Britain’s favourite destinations for keen walkers and hikers. The trek to the summit of the highest Welsh peak in Snowdonia National Park isn’t for the faint-hearted; for those who simply want to admire the stunning view from the top, the Snowdon Mountain Railway is an easy alternative, or a handy mode of transport if you don’t fancy walking back down the mountain after a hard day’s hike.

The Peak District National Park

Top 5 UK national parks
The Peak District has rock climbing for all abilities. (Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Peak District is a dream destination for rock climbers; the northern side of the park is gritstone, and the south limestone. Gritstone is only found in this specific spot in northern England and Stanage Edge on the moorland area near Sheffield is a favourite outcrop among the advanced rock climbing community. The southern dales are frequented by tourists and those seeking a more relaxing outdoor pursuits. The walks and hikes here are less challenging and more family friendly, and the limestone rock faces are also more suited to the less experienced climber.

Dartmoor National Park

Top 5 UK national parks
Dartmoor ponies are a familiar sight on the moors. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Dartmoor National Park in the south west of England is a perfect place to wind down, kick back, relax and enjoy the scenery. However if you prefer to get out and about to appreciate your surroundings, Dartmoor ticks all the right boxes for walking, cycling and horse riding fans. Director Steven Spielberg chose the area as a prime location for his movie War Horse because he was so impressed by the Dartmoor countryside.

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