Though England isn’t a big nation in comparison with the United States or Canada, you could be shocked to be taught that there are 10 nationwide parks inside its borders (out of 15 in the entire of the UK). On this information, you’ll be taught all it is advisable learn about visiting the nationwide parks in England.
These English nationwide parks cowl a variety of landscapes and habitats from moorland and heath, to coastal areas, lakes, rivers, and forests. Every gives a special alternative to find quaint English villages that haven’t modified a lot in centuries, fascinating wildlife, and loads of enjoyable actions.
I’ve visited many of the well-known parks in England (8 of the ten to be actual) and I’ve been to many of those a number of instances through the years – I believe I should have visited Dartmoor over 20 instances! These improbable wilderness parks are good for climbing, biking, tenting, and a complete host of different outside actions.
Nationwide Parks in England
Beneath, you’ll discover data on the entire nationwide parks in England from what to anticipate, how one can go to, and issues to do contained in the parks themselves. That is based mostly by myself private expertise in addition to up-to-date analysis and opinions from different vacationers (as of 2023).
1. Peak District Nationwide Park
The Peak District National Park covers an space of 555 square miles (1,438 sq. kilometers) in Central England. It kinds a part of the Pennine Hills, affectionately often known as the spine of England. The panorama consists of limestone dales and dramatic moorland, rolling hills, and forest.
Contained in the park, you’ll discover over 200 miles of climbing trails and an enormous community of underground caves. The Peak District is dwelling to the best pure cave within the nation, Titan Cave, which was solely found by potholes simply over 20 years in the past. The best level within the park is Kinder Scout which stands at 2,087 ft (636 meters).
There’s a variety of actions on provide contained in the park from path strolling, biking, and horse using to tenting, mountain climbing, and caving. Watersports can be found on the numerous lakes contained in the park, and thrill-seekers can actually have a go at paragliding.
Hardcore hikers can try one of many many long-distance trails such because the Pennine Means, the Peak District Boundary Stroll, and the Peak Means. There are additionally loads of shorter routes to select from which can be good for day hikes and simple strolls all through the park.
Location: The Peak District is situated in Central England about midway between Sheffield and Manchester. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Renting a automobile is one of the best ways to see the Peak District as public transport is considerably restricted inside England’s nationwide parks. Taking a tour, like this one from Manchester, is one other nice approach to see the highlights. Click here for more info.
Issues To Do: Strolling, climbing, and caving.
The place to Keep: There are a couple of lodging choices contained in the nationwide park. The Barrell Inn gives deluxe rooms in a beautiful rural setting near the village of Eyam. Click here to find out more.
2. North York Moors Nationwide Park
The North York Moors National Park in northern England is without doubt one of the most stunning components of the nation. The park covers an space of 554 square miles (1,436 sq. kilometers) that features brooding moorland, valleys, hills, farmland, and historic stone villages.
I’ve household that dwell in close by York so have spent a variety of time up on the moors and it actually is without doubt one of the most picturesque locations in England. It’s the proper place for climbing at any time of yr, and fall is particularly good because the leaves on the timber flip pink and gold.
In addition to the heather moorland, the park additionally covers an extended stretch of shoreline from Staithes within the north to the gorgeous fishing city of Scarborough additional south. The city of Whitby makes an important base for exploring the park.
The park is a haven for birdlife and consists of a few of Britain’s chook of prey species equivalent to raptors, buzzards, kites, and sparrowhawks amongst others. Actions on provide within the park embrace strolling, fell-running, and biking. Occasions are held within the park all year long from nature walks and workshops to farmers’ markets and extra.
Location: The North York Moors are situated within the north of England stretching inland from the coast. Click here for directions.
Getting There: As with the opposite parks in England, this one is in a rural space so renting a automobile is one of the best ways to discover. There are additionally excursions from York that take within the cities and villages of the nationwide park. Click here for more info.
Issues To Do: Exploring fairly villages, climbing, and strolling alongside the shoreline.
The place to Keep: There are many locations to remain in and across the park. Whitby makes an excellent base for exploring and the Number 7 Guest House gives snug rooms with sea views. Click here to find out more.
3. Yorkshire Dales Nationwide Park
Yorkshire is fortunate sufficient to haven’t one, however two nationwide parks, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park is simply as spectacular because the Moors. The park covers an space of 841 square miles (2,179 sq. kilometers) of rolling hills and valleys punctuated by fairly villages of stone homes and outdated market cities.
There are many locations of curiosity throughout the park from the gorgeous Aysgarth Falls, a cascading collection of falls on the River Ure, to the three peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough which may be climbed individually or as a part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
One of many highlights of the park is the Settle to Carlisle Railway which winds its method by way of a collection of tunnels and throughout picturesque viaducts just like the one at Ribblehead. Should you don’t have your individual transport there are many glorious day journeys and excursions to the Dales that you may take as a substitute. Click here for more info.
Location: The Yorkshire Dales Nationwide Park is situated within the North of England; North Yorkshire, Westmorland, and Lancashire. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Renting a automobile is one of the best ways to see the Dales, as is utilizing the scenic Settle to Carlisle Railway. Taking a tour is one other nice approach to see the highlights of the Dales. Click here to find out more.
Issues To Do: See the Aysgarth Falls, journey the steam railway, and discover cities and villages.
The place to Keep: Skipton is a captivating market city on the sting of the nationwide park and is a superb base for exploring. The Pinfold is a visitor home set inside a beautiful seventeenth Century stone constructing within the coronary heart of Skipton. Click here to book.
Dartmoor is my favourite of the nationwide parks in England. It’s one of many wildest components of the nation and has an austere magnificence unmatched by the opposite parks (not less than for my part). I’ve been visiting Dartmoor since childhood; climbing throughout its stunning hills and valleys.
Discover villages manufactured from native stone such because the beautiful Belstone close to Oakhampton. Should you’re fortunate, you would possibly spot among the wild Dartmoor ponies which generally come into the villages to graze. There’s loads to do on Dartmoor from climbing and tenting to orienteering, horse using, and different outside actions.
It’s maybe no shock that such a wild, and generally inhospitable place is the house of a big jail, and the Dartmoor Prison Museum is effectively price trying out. Different factors of curiosity embrace the gorgeous eleventh Century Buckfast Abbey which continues to be dwelling to an order of Benedictine monks.
Though Dartmoor is without doubt one of the greatest nationwide parks in England by way of surroundings, it’s a really wild place, and it’s straightforward to get into bother with out cautious planning. Be ready when heading off climbing and guarantee you could have heat climate gear (even in summer season the climate can flip rapidly), a map, and a compass, and ensure to let somebody know the place you’re going and if you anticipate to return.
Location: Dartmoor is within the west of England not removed from the town of Exeter. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Renting a automobile is one of the best ways to discover Dartmoor. The closest city to the Moors is Oakhampton. This incredible 5-day tour of Devon and Cornwall features a journey to Dartmoor. Click here for more info.
Issues To Do: Mountaineering, exploring villages, horse using.
The place to Keep: Belstone makes a superb base for exploring the moors and there’s a good looking river valley and waterfall only a brief stroll from the village. You may keep within the native pub, The Tors, which I’ve performed many instances. Click here to find out more.
Exmoor National Park is like Dartmoor’s happier little brother. The place Dartmoor may be brooding and forlorn (although stunningly stunning), Exmoor is vibrant and nice with rippling rivers, open pastures, and beautiful coastal walks. The park covers an space of simply 268 square miles (693 sq. kilometers), making it one of many smallest nationwide parks within the nation.
Though small, Exmoor is a pleasant place for climbing, biking, visiting historic market cities, and visiting the rugged north Devon shoreline. I’ve holidayed on Exmoor many instances through the years and it’s positively among the best parks in England for surroundings and issues to do.
A few of the locations of curiosity on Exmoor embrace Dunster Castle and Watermill, which date again to Anglo-Saxon instances and now function a stately dwelling, and the beautiful Valley of Rocks on the South West Coast Path. There’s heaps to do within the park equivalent to climbing, swimming, and browsing.
Location: Exmoor is situated in North Devon in England’s beautiful Westcountry. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Renting a automobile is one of the best ways to see Exmoor.
Issues To Do: Coastal walks, horse using, swimming.
The place to Keep: Ilfracombe on the north Devon coast makes an important base for exploring the nationwide park. The Devonian is a captivating lodge with a personal backyard simply 100 meters from the seashore. Click here to learn more.
6. New Forest Nationwide Park
The New Forest National Park in southern England covers an space of 219 square miles (566 sq. kilometers) of historic forest, heathland, farmland, and shoreline. Similar to Dartmoor, the New Forest is legendary for its native breed of moorland pony that decision the nationwide park dwelling.
Different species discovered throughout the park embrace wild deer, uncommon butterflies, and wading birds. The park covers an space of shoreline with stunning sandy seashores good for swimming and sunbathing in summer season. I’ve visited the New Forest a couple of instances and it’s an important place for a day hike and picnic.
There’s heaps to see and do throughout the nationwide park from visiting the National Motor Museum to using the steam prepare at Exbury Gardens, climbing alongside the numerous trails, and exploring the southern shoreline.
Location: The New Forest is 82 miles (132 km) southwest of London. Click here for directions.
Getting There: As with the opposite nationwide parks, renting a automobile is one of the best ways to get right here. You may also take a prepare from London to Southampton and discover on foot and by native public transport. Trains depart London Waterloo hourly and the journey takes simply 80 minutes.
Issues To Do: Go to Exbury Gardens and the steam railway, see the motor museum, and hike alongside the south coast.
The place to Keep: Southampton is the closest metropolis to the New Forest and makes an important base for exploring the park. The Regent Guest House gives fashionable, snug rooms with en-suites. Click here to book.
7. Northumberland Nationwide Park
The Northumberland Nationwide Park covers an space of 405 square miles (1,049 sq. kilometers) in northern England near the Scottish Borders. It’s the northmost nationwide park in England, and likewise the least populated. That is the very best nationwide park for climbing in England because of its wild and rugged panorama.
The park is dwelling to the enduring Hadrian’s Wall, a defensive wall constructed by the Romans below Emperor Hadrian in 122AD to maintain the Picts (an historic tribe from Scotland) out of Britania. This is without doubt one of the prime sights within the area and a must-visit for historical past followers like myself.
Different locations of curiosity embrace gorgeous Coquetdale the place the Coquet River meanders by way of moorland, and The Cheviots, a variety of hills straddling the border of England and Scotland creating one of the scenic locations within the park. The Sill is an exhibition heart, museum, and cafe that makes an excellent start line for exploring the park.
Location: Northumberland Nationwide Park is within the far north of England on the border with Scotland. Click here for directions.
Getting There: This can be a very wild and sparsely populated space, so once more, renting a automobile is greatest.
Issues To Do: Stroll alongside Hadrian’s Wall, go to the Sill exhibition heart, and hike the Cheviots.
The place to Keep: Rothbury on the sting of the park makes an important base. The Haven is a captivating visitor home with quick access to the nationwide park. Click here to learn more.
8. The South Downs Nationwide Park
The rolling hills of the South Downs National Park cowl an space of 628 square miles (1,627 sq. kilometers) throughout Hampshire, West Sussex, and East Sussex. It’s the closest nationwide park to London and may be reached from the town in below an hour. I’ve spent a variety of time climbing and exploring castles on this park.
The world is ideal for strolling as there are many straightforward trails and the panoramic views right down to the south coast are actually magnificent. The charming city of Lewes is situated throughout the park and is effectively price a go to for its picturesque excessive road and plentiful pubs and boutique outlets.
Probably the most spectacular components of the park is the Seven Sisters Country Park which is dwelling to steep white, half cliffs towering above the south coast. You may stroll alongside the clifftop (don’t go too close to the sting!) or alongside the underside and spend time on the beautiful Sussex seashores.
Location: The South Downs cowl a big space of southern England from Eastbourne to Winchester. Click here for directions.
Getting There: In contrast to most of the extra rural nationwide parks, it’s comparatively straightforward to get to the South Downs with public transport. There are hourly trains from London to Lewes, Eastbourne, Brighton, and lots of different locations throughout the park, from the place you possibly can discover on foot.
Issues To Do: Go to Lewes, see the Seven Sisters, and take within the panoramic views of the south coast.
The place to Keep: The beautiful city of Lewes makes an important base for exploring the South Downs. Meadow View is a two-bedroom studio flat with a terrace and views of the Downs. Click here to find out more.
9. The Norfolk Broads Nationwide Park
The Norfolk Broads Nationwide Park is essentially the most distinctive of all of the parks in England. It covers an space of simply 117 square miles (303 sq. kilometers) making it the smallest of England’s nationwide parks. It’s additionally the one nationwide park that’s artifical, because the broads (a collection of interconnecting waterways) are a byproduct of peat digging from the twelfth to the 14th Century.
The Norfolk Broads are made up of seven rivers and 63 particular person broads and it’s one of the common locations within the nation for boating (Lord Nelson allegedly learned to sail here). It’s additionally Britain’s largest protected wetland and habitat for an enormous variety of birds and different wildlife species.
I’ve been out boating on the Broads many instances and it’s nice enjoyable. You may hire a ship for the day, or take out a bigger vessel with a sleeping space and set off on a multi-day journey throughout these nice East-Anglian waterways. Costs begin from round £600 for seven nights on a ship that sleeps two individuals. Click here to learn more.
Location: The Norfolk Broads are situated within the East Anglian county of Norfolk, only a couple miles from the town of Norwich. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The Broads are simply reachable from Norwich, which is a 3-hour prepare journey from London.
Issues To Do: Go boating, see the East Anglian sunsets, and discover Norwich.
The place to Keep: As Norwich is simply 4 miles from the Norfolk Broads this makes an important base. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to expertise the Broads is to take a boat out and sleep on the water.
10. Lake District Nationwide Park
The Lake District National Park is 912 square miles (2,362 sq. kilometers) making it the most important nationwide park in England. It’s additionally one of the stunning with gorgeous Lake Windermere at its heart. There’s heaps to do from boating on the lake to lakeside walks, and a few glorious climbing within the close by mountains.
The park is dwelling to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike at 3,208 ft (978 meters), which is a well-liked route for hikers because it gives magnificent views of the nationwide park. It takes round two hours to achieve the summit and one other two to get again down once more.
The park can be dwelling to some beautiful English villages and market cities with stone cottages, rustic pubs, and boutique outlets promoting native produce and handicrafts. Keswick and Kendall are two of the preferred locations and provide quick access to the lake and surrounding hikes.
Location: The Lake District is within the north of England and adjoins the Yorkshire Dales Nationwide Park. Click here for directions.
Getting There: As with many of the northern nationwide parks, and due to its rural location, renting a automobile is one of the best ways to see the Lake District.
Issues To Do: Go boating on Lake Windemere, climb Scafell Pike, and discover the cities and villages of the park.
The place to Keep: There are many lodging choices round Lake Windemere. Meadowcroft Country Guest House gives snug rooms with mountain views simply two miles from the lake. Click here to find out more.
Getting Round England
By far one of the best ways to get round when visiting the English nationwide parks is to have your individual automobile. Because the parks are rurally situated, public transport is sort of non-existent in some locations. Hire a automobile if you get to England and it will will let you discover these unbelievable locations at your individual tempo.
A few of the nationwide parks are simpler to go to with Public transport such because the Norfolk Broads, the South Downs, and the New Forest. For the Broads, you possibly can take a prepare from London to Norwich which takes round three hours. For the South Downs, take the prepare to Eastbourne or Lewes (below one hour from London), and for the New Forest go to Southampton.
Fast Itineraries for Visiting the Prime Parks in England
Listed here are a couple of easy itineraries to comply with when visiting the nationwide parks:
3 Days in England
With simply three days in England, it’s greatest to choose only one nationwide park and focus on exploring that space. You may, in concept, go to a number of parks on this time, however it’s going to imply you’ll spend most of your time touring and have little or no time to take pleasure in the fantastic thing about these nationwide treasures at leisure.
Select a nationwide park based mostly on the place you’ll be flying into or staying. The closest nationwide parks to London are the South Downs and New Forest, the closest to Bristol is Exmoor, the closest to Manchester is the Peak District and the closest to Leeds are the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
One Week in England
With every week to spend visiting the nationwide parks in England, select one or two parks to spend time exploring. Dartmoor and Exmoor can each be explored inside every week because it’s solely an hour’s drive alongside the A38 between the 2. This provides you with time to expertise the fantastic thing about Dartmoor earlier than heading to the gorgeous north coast of Devon.
Should you’d relatively spend your time within the north of England, you possibly can mix the North York Moor and Yorkshire Dales, or the Dales and the Lake District (this is without doubt one of the most scenic within the nation and is dwelling to the gorgeous Lake Windermere). You may select a base between parks and go to as day journeys, or spend time in a single earlier than shifting on to the following.
10+ Days in England
With 10 days to discover, you possibly can expertise three to 4 of England’s nationwide parks, however you’ll want your individual transport to take action. If beginning in London, you can also make your approach to Dartmoor through the New Forest. You may then go to Exmoor earlier than heading north and stopping on the Peak District.
Alternatively, you can begin within the north and go to Northumberland earlier than shifting south to the Lake District and each of Yorkshire’s nationwide parks. You would additionally base your self someplace like Leeds which might provide the alternative to discover the Peak District, each Yorkshire parks, and the Lake District.
Nationwide Parks in England: FAQs
Listed here are some solutions to generally requested questions on visiting the parks and reserves in England:
There are 10 nationwide parks in England and 15 in the entire of the UK together with Scotland and Wales. The parks are unfold throughout the nation and embrace inland and coastal parks, mountains, lakes, and rivers.
The very best nationwide park in England will largely rely on what you’re searching for. Personally, I believe Dartmoor is the very best nationwide park in England for its austere magnificence and wildness. The South Downs, Lake District, and Peak District are three of the most visited national parks in England so are additionally thought of the very best by many.
All of the nationwide parks in England are free to enter (although parking fees could apply). Lots of the parks even have glorious customer facilities with a wealth of data on how one can go to that are additionally free to enter.
The Lake District is the most important nationwide park in England because it covers an space of 912 square miles (2,362 sq. kilometers). By comparability, the Norfolk Broads Nationwide Park is the smallest with an space of simply 117 square miles (303 sq. kilometers).
The entire nationwide parks in England are stunningly stunning and every has its personal distinctive promoting factors, so it might be unattainable to decide on only one park. Nevertheless, on a private stage, I’d say Dartmoor is essentially the most stunning, adopted intently by Northumberland.
Wild tenting within the nationwide parks will not be allowed (you’ll have to go to Scotland for this), nevertheless most of the parks have designated campsites and services the place you possibly can camp. Go to the web site of the actual park for extra particulars.
Now you understand about the very best nationwide parks in England, which one would you want to go to first? From the wild and windswept Dartmoor and Northumberland to the picturesque New Forest and Exmoor, Yorkshire’s two nationwide parks, and extra, there’s no excuse to not go to certainly one of these beautiful locations.
I really like exploring these stunning, and nonetheless comparatively untouched components of the nation as there’s a lot alternative for outside journey. From climbing and biking to swimming, caving, and rock/mountaineering, there’s one thing to maintain everybody entertained.