There’s nowhere better to get out and enjoy the best of Britain’s Areas of Natural Beauty (AONB’s) than the UK national parks. Whether it’s a full day of family fun, or just an escape to nature, take a look at our list of Britain’s 10 best National Parks you simply have to visit on your next staycation.
Whatever you and your family love to get up to, there’s always something fun for everyone to to see and do at a National Park. There’s plenty of them across the country to chose from and we’ve listed 10 of Britain’s best National Parks below to give you more staycation inspiration.
1. For the wonders of Wales- Brecon Beacons
Spanning several areas of Wales from Carmarthenshire to Merthyr Tydfil, Brecon Beacons is as vast as it is awe-inspiring. With UNESCO World Heritage Site and Dark Sky Reserve status, it’s safe to say there’s lots to see and do here. There’s plenty to do for the active person with walking routes, fishing, horse riding, cycle routes and gliding experiences to allow you to make the most of your stay at the park. There’s also an opportunity to explore the Park’s subterranean world as the Brecon Beacons area has some of the longest and most varied cave systems that can be found anywhere in Britain. The Dan Yr Ogof caves are popular among visitors with its 40 feet high waterfalls and fascinating rock formations. Follow your expert guides as they help you navigate the complex underground world and tell you about its centuries-worth of exciting history. Stay at one of our Brecon Beacons hotels, the perfect base for discovery.
Stay near Brecon Beacons
2. For unspoilt countryside- Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is one of the UK’s most iconic National Parks and encompasses thousands of miles of moors, valleys, hills and villages, giving it that beautiful charm. While the hillsides are perfect for family picnics, there are also lots of natural attractions to marvel at, including Malham Cove, Aysgarth Falls as well as many historic castles and abbeys. But it’s not just the daytime when this Park shines, the Yorkshire Dales is also a designated Dark Sky Reserve meaning that it’s perfect for a night of stargazing. The Park even holds a Dark Skies Festival every year to celebrate the stunning skies above. Book your Yorkshire Dales hotel now for a stargazing staycation.
Stay near Yorkshire Dales
3. For the rambler- Exmoor
Exmoor National Park is well known for its 1000’s of kilometres of walking trails. Whether you’re a relaxed rambler or a fully fledged wanderer, Exmoor’s dozens of paths have something to suit all abilities with a unique view hiding behind every corner. Equally as well known and loved is the wildlife. Lots of wonderful wildlife also call Exmoor their home with Red Deer and Exmoor Ponies being the most sought after sighting, but their beauty matches their elusiveness in equal measure. To have a chance of a sighting, you can explore on foot, or if you want to take the weight off , book a wildlife safari and be guided round the Park by a resident expert in an off road adventure. Our Exmoor hotels nearby are a great base for exploring.
Stay near Exmoor
4. For the literature lovers- Lake District
The Lake District was the much loved home of children’s author, Beatrix Potter. Her love for the luscious green landscapes and the rugged hills sparked inspiration for the adorable Peter Rabbit characters and his mischievous antics. She lived at her Hill Top country house until her death in 1943 when she left her 4,000 acres of land; which included 14 farms to the National Trust where it still thrives today. You can still visit her old house today and discover her full life story and get a closer look at the stories and characters she created. The Park itself is stunning in the summer months and a cruise on one of the lakes is a must. Our Lake District hotels provide a perfect base for a day trip.
Stay near the Lake District
5. For the heritage- Dartmoor
From ancient ruins, to elaborate castles, a heritage steam train, and more museums than you can shake a walking boot at there’s plenty here for the history lover. While there’s plenty to see just by parking up and taking the nearest trail, the visitor attractions around the National Park also make it the perfect family escape in the countryside. Take a ride on the heritage steam train or visit one of the many museums like the Museum of Dartmoor Life for a glance into Devon’s unique story. To get an up close view of Dartmoor from yesteryear, check out Castle Drogo high above the Teign Gorge, or head to Dartmoor’s star attraction- Buckfast Abbey which has centuries of history to uncover.
Stay near Dartmoor
6. For the thrill- Snowdonia
If it’s thrills you’re looking for, then look no further than Snowdonia National Park. It’s the largest National Park in Wales and also boasts the tallest mountain in Wales- Mount Snowdon. Over 350,000 people climb the mountain every year, whilst many more come for the vast open landscapes and the views that stretch as far out as Ireland (on a clear day!). The park is also home to a huge network of interesting walking trails, over 100 lakes and other rugged peaks such as Tryfan and Cader Idris. Our Snowdonia hotels are all within 20 miles of the Park, making them the perfect choice for setting your muddy boots down after a long day’s exploring.
Stay near Snowdonia
7. For views- Peak District
The Peak District was the UK’s first National Park and is now Europe’s most popular. If there’s one area to find that quintessential, British countryside view, it’s got to be in the Peak District, with its rolling hills, valleys, gorges, lakes and moorland. Peppered with beautiful little towns, this is the National Park to go to if you want to see age-old views as well as learn about the history that has played out around them. Visit Buxton to see the spring, and the source of much of the UK’s bottled water, or visit Bakewell to sample their famous Bakewell tarts. Stay in our Ashbourne hotel to be just a mile from the edge of the National Park.
Stay near the Peak District
8. For activities- Cairngorms
The Cairngorms are Britain’s highest mountain range. As well as being home to some impressive wildlife and wonderfully rugged scenery, it is also heaven-on-earth for outdoor-activity enthusiasts. This is prime mountain biking territory, as well as being excellent for white-water rafting, canoeing, canyoning, and sailing. If you’re into horse riding, there are some great treks, but if you’d rather be on your feet, the hiking territory is unparalleled. Our Inverness Fairways hotel is a short drive from the edge of The Cairngorms National Park, so it makes a great base for an action-packed holiday.
Stay near Cairngorms
9. For coastline- Pembrokeshire Coast
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has some of the most beautiful seaside scenery in the whole of the UK. Instead of heading to the busier beaches of south west England, why not head to westerly Wales for sun, sea and sand? There are endless things to do and see, from cliff-top walks to ruined castles or even island-hopping. Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy whale, dolphin and porpoise spotting. Book a room in our Pembroke Dock hotel to be in the middle of the National Park area.
Stay near Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
10. For wildlife- New Forest National Park
The New Forest National Park is famous for its wild ponies, and even the shortest of trips through the area is likely to put you face to face with some native animals. Children love the fern-filled woods, and all the interesting creatures that live in them. You can follow free-roaming pigs and cows on your walks, as well as visit the New Forest Reptile Centre which hosts special family-oriented “Wild Wednesdays”, featuring tonnes of fun activities for everyone. Stay in our Stoney Cross Lyndhurst hotel to begin many New Forest walks right from the doorstep.