Photo: Malgosia Janicka/Shutterstock

A Quick Guide to National Parks in the UK

United Kingdom Insider Guides
by Katie Scott Aiton Aug 15, 2017

For its size (on par with Oregon), the United Kingdom is one strikingly diverse nation. From mountains to beaches to rolling plains, its landscapes come in many varieties, one never more than a day’s journey from another. Britain’s 15 National Parks are tasked with showcasing this diversity, as well as protecting it. Here are some of the best National Parks in the UK.

Brecon Beacons — Wales

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Features an 8-day trek that takes in a historic church, Iron Age castle, and nature reserve, in addition to the high, angular terrain that dominates this region of Wales.

  • What to visit: Tretower Court & Castle
  • What to do: Paragliding
  • What to see: Pen-y-Fan
  • What to taste: Penderyn Distillery

Peak District — England

Photo: EddieCloud/Shutterstock

Set square in the heart of England, Peak offers a range of climbing opportunities on its gritstone outcroppings — a type of rock found practically nowhere else on Earth.

  • What to visit: Chatsworth House
  • What to do: Airsports
  • What to see: Mermaids Pool
  • What to taste: The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop

Cairngorms — Scotland

Photo: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock

The system’s most extreme park by all counts (biggest, tallest, farthest north) draws mountain bikers looking to take on Scotland’s most epic trails.

  • What to visit: Balmoral Castle
  • What to do: Ride the Cairngorm Plateau Railway
  • What to see: Braemar Landscape
  • What to taste: The Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre

Pembrokeshire Coast — Wales

Photo: Billy Stock/Shutterstock

Sea kayak is the vessel of choice for exploring this Welsh park and its 250 miles of rocky coast dotted with cliffs, sea caves, and marine wildlife.

  • What to visit: Pembroke Castle
  • What to do: Diving, kayaking
  • What to see: The Green Bridge of Wales
  • What to taste: Pembrokeshire Farmers Markets

Snowdonia — Wales

Photo: Malgosia Janicka/Shutterstock

This national park is located in the beautiful mountainous region of North Wales and spans 823 square miles.

  • What to visit: Harlech Castle
  • What to do: Llechwedd Slate Caverns Zip Line
  • What to see: Bala Lake
  • What to taste: Purple Mosse Brewery

Dartmoor — England

Photo: Vaughan Sam/Shutterstock

This National Park is an area of moorland in southern Devon. It covers over 368 square miles and is known for archaeological digs of Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone circles, and medieval villages.

  • What to visit: Bovey Castle
  • What to do: Tree Surfing
  • What to see: High Willhays
  • What to taste: The Treby Arms

Northumberland — England

Photo: Michael Conrad/Shutterstock

The northernmost National Park in England. It covers an area of more than 400 square miles between the Scottish Borders and Hadrian’s Wall.

  • What to visit: Cragside House and Gardens
  • What to do: Explore the Farne Islands
  • What to see: Hadrian’s Wall
  • What to taste: The Feathers Inn

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs — Scotland

Loch Lomond

Photo: Dougie Milne Photography/Shutterstock

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is the fourth largest National Park in the British Isles. It includes 21 Munroes, 19 Corbetts, two forest peaks and 57 designated nature conservation sites.

  • What to visit: Balloch Castle and Country Park
  • What to do: Hike the Arrochar Alps
  • What to see: Bracklinn Falls Bridge and Callander Crags
  • What to taste: The Village Rest

Yorkshire Dales — England

Aerial view of Ribblehead viaduct, located in North Yorkshire, the longest and the third tallest structure on the Settle-Carlisle line. Tourist attractions in Yorkshire Dales National Park, England., train journeys

Photo: MNStudio/Shutterstock

Famous for its stunning scenery and distinctive hills, the Yorkshire Dales attract over eight million visitors every year.

  • What to visit: Bolton Castle
  • What to do: Wander the Forbidden Corner Labyrinth
  • What to see: How Stean Gorge
  • What to taste: The Wensleydale Creamery

The Lake District — England

Lake District of England

Photo: Patrick Wang/Shutterstock

The Lake District is famous in the UK for, you guessed it, its lakes. Located in the North West England the region is very popular for hiking and climbing.

  • What to visit: Muncaster Castle
  • What to do: Ride the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (known locally as La’al Ratty)
  • What to see: Esk Ghyll
  • What to taste: The Lakes Distillery

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