Winter in the Cairngorms / Photo: Murky1

Recently, the Guardian asked travel industry leaders and outdoors enthusiasts to lay out what makes each of the 14 special. Here are some highlights:

Climbing Peak District / Photo: sharpneil

Brecon Beacons: 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.

Peak District: 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.

Cairngorms: 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.

Pembrokeshire Coast: 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.

Have you visited these or other UK parks? Share your experience in the comments.

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For more national park goodness from around the world, check out these Matador posts:

Back to Nature: 13 Of The World’s Richest National Parks

Seven Best National Parks for Visiting Old Growth Forests

Guide to Kenya’s National Parks