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The best national parks in the UK


 
Welcoming millions of visitors each year and protecting more than 8,600 square miles of mountains, moorlands, lakes, forests, and historic sites, the national parks of the United Kingdom offer visitors the chance to discover spectacular landscapes while also connecting with local culture and history. Of the 15 different national parks open to the public —  10 in England, two in Scotland and three in Wales — these seven national parks are among the best the United Kingdom has to offer.

 

The best national parks in the UK to explore

Whether you're looking for scenic hikes, encounters with wildlife, or medieval castles, these seven national parks deliver. Acting as gateways to the varied landscapes and cultures of this island nation, no visit to the United Kingdom is complete without including at least some of these protected regions on your itinerary.

 

Lake District National Park

Encompassing 921 square miles in the North of England's county of Cumbria, Lake District National Park holds the honor of being England's biggest national park. As the birthplace of British mountaineering, the rolling green hills, gentle mountains, ancient forests, and shimmering lakes make this one of the United Kingdom's best destinations for walking and hiking tours

The Lake District is also home to Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England. Hikers have 48 different official hiking routes, ranging from leisurely to challenging, to choose from, as well as the opportunity to delve into the region's fascinating literary history in historic market towns like Keswick. Experience hikes including Haystacks, Cat Bells, and an ascent of Scafell Pike as part of our Walk the Lake District Tour.

Northumberland National Park

Northumberland National Park covers 410 square miles of some of the most pristine landscapes in England. The northernmost national park in England, its relatively remote location close to the Scottish border helps make it the least populated of all UK national parks. The lack of population results in less pollution, benefitting landscapes, rivers, and night skies. 

Northumberland National Park's sweeping landscapes offer wonderful hiking opportunities and are also known for water sports and stargazing, as well as England's most significant archaeological feature, Hadrian's Wall, a 73-mile-long stone-built Roman fortification dating from the 2nd century. Hike alongside one of its best-preserved stretches as part of our Walk Northumberland Tour.

Snowdonia National Park

One of the three national parks in Wales, along with Brecon Beacons National Park and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Snowdonia National Park — known as Eryri in Welsh — is the biggest national park in Wales at 823 square miles. With nine different mountain ranges encompassing lush glacier-carved valleys, misty peaks, and pristine lakes, the park's awe-inspiring landscapes and hundreds of miles of trails are a siren call to hikers and mountain bikers. Ascend the highest peak in Wales, Mount Snowdon, as part of our Snowdonia Short Walking Break tour, which also introduces you to Welsh culture and history in villages and local communities like Llanberis.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

The spectacular South West Wales coastline of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park draws travelers from around the world to undertake one of the best long-distance walks in the UK, the 186-mile-long Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Part of the larger Wales Coast Path, its meandering route takes walkers through breathtaking natural coastal beauty, from towering cliffs and secluded coves, to tidal estuaries and tranquil beaches. Discover some of the best parts of the route as day hikes on our Pembrokeshire Coast Walking Tour which also includes the opportunity to go sea kayaking.

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands is the most northerly and largest of the UK’s national parks and home to five of the highest peaks in the UK, including Ben Macdui, Scotland’s second-highest mountain after Ben Nevis. Covering 1,748 square miles of wild mountain ranges, forests, lochs, mighty rivers, and wetlands that are home to free-roaming wildlife, the park also encompasses small communities in numerous towns and villages. The park’s breathtaking landscapes make it popular for outdoor activities such as mountain biking, watersports, stargazing, and Walking in the Highlands.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The vast expanses of Yorkshire Dales National Park in northern England beckon to travelers with verdant moorland, lush river valleys, rolling hills, meandering waterways, and charming villages. Visitors can hike through meadows criss-crossed with dry stone walls to scenic waterfalls, admire the engineering marvel that is the Ribblehead Viaduct, and enjoy the fruits of this largely agricultural region at microbreweries, culinary festivals, farmers markets, and traditional producers like the Wensleydale Creamery artisan cheesemakers.

Peak District National Park

The Peak District in the North of England is the UK’s original national park. Designated a protected area in 1951, thise 550-square-mile expanse of mountains, valleys, and lakes welcomes everyone with its many all-access trails, and designated hiking and cycling routes, as well as dramatic destinations such as Derwent Reservoir with a dam and visitor center surrounded by magnificent countryside. The Peak District is also one of the few national parks in the UK where you can venture underground, to explore the subterranean chambers of the Castleton Caverns.

 

Discover the United Kingdom's best national parks on a walking tour

Experience outdoor adventure and uncover local culture on unforgettable trips walking and hiking in the national parks of England, Scotland and Wales.

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