Top 5 UK National Parks
The UK is blessed to have many areas of outstanding beauty and is home to 15 National Parks. You will be spoilt for choice as to which one to visit for your trip but here is a rundown of our top 5 UK National Parks which also offer camping.
Covering 368 square miles, Dartmoor is the largest and wildest area of the open country in the South of England. Located in Devon, a drive from London will take around 3.5 hours while a journey by train or bus will take around 5 hours. Dartmoor is one of the few places in the UK where you can wild camp out on the moor; so, take your bivvy, and your bare minimum kit and enjoy some of the biggest skies in the west. If you are wanting to ‘ rough it ‘ then it is best during British summer time, with June and July being peak season. If this style of camping is just a little too primitive for you, why not splash out on a luxury yurt. Adrenaline junkies will love the vast opportunities to run, hike, canoe and horse ride in the day time and can enjoy a pub crawl around Dartmoor’s award winning pubs. For a fine dining experience, to help wind down your break, eat out in the heart of the moor at The Two Bridges.
2. Lake District
If you are looking for a more peaceful break, the wonderful Lake District in the North of England is the perfect place to relax. A drive from London, via M6 motorway, will take around 5-6 hours but Virgin trains run a train direct to The Lakes from Paddington that takes just 3 hours. Whilst a trip to this National Park may be more enjoyable in British summer time, the Lakes offers stunning scenery all year around. Stay at a luxury lodge in Greenhowe’s, Ambleside, in winter and enjoy cosy nights in a log cabin or feel the freshness of the spring air with a stay on one of the many wild campsites Keswick has to offer. Lake Windermere is particularly scenic, with tranquil views and some of the best walking routes. Home to the Cumberland Sausage, Kendal Mint Cake and Grasmere Gingerbread, The Lakes is food lovers’ heaven, with high quality restaurants open for lunch and dinner.
3. New Forest
Just a 1.5 hour drive from London, The New Forest is great for short breaks. The popularity of the New Forest, both for its natural and historical features and as a place for tourism and enjoying the outdoors, makes the forest an ideal destination for families. The Forest is also host to Art in the Park, an annual competition for artists and photographers who take inspiration from the incredible wildlife that is on offer. Along with some of the best cycling routes in the UK, The New Forest has something for everyone all year round. Greenhall campsite is a lovely spot for a traditional camping break, with good facilities and a quiet location, where you can do a spot of fishing and BBQ it for dinner. All campsites have direct access to the forest as well as good routes to shopping, restaurants and pubs. The school holiday season is packed full of activities, including The Gruffalo forest trail and ‘ Wild about Ponies ‘ days.
4. Pembrokeshire Coast
Wales’ famous coastline is home to another treasured National Park named The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The landscape in this area is widely diverse and is simply stunning. The area covers 612 square kilometers from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth is the south but also includes the Preseli Hills and the Daugleddau Estuary. The whole area boasts excellent walking and cycling routes. The Celtic Camping and Bunkhouse spot is an ideal summer destination, where you can enjoy superb sea views and have family fun on one of Pembrokeshire’s sandy beaches. The bunkhouses are a great alternative for those who do not like their holidays as free range as field camping but are still working with a small budget. Like many of the National Parks, Pembrokeshire is full of wildlife, with a particular beauty to be found around the volcanic headlands. The area is rich in castles, museums and galleries as well as quaint towns to wander around throughout the day. For evening entertainment head to Tenby where there are regular folks and blues festivals as well as regular jazz nights in its many bars and cafes.
5. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs
A trip to Loch Lomond is a long train ride (or an even longer 7 hour drive) from London but is definitely worth the effort. Covering 720 square miles of the finest mountains, lochs and glens in Scotland, Loch Lomond offers a true break away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Summer camping at Lomond Woods Holiday Park is ideal for families, with caravans and lodges available for those who don’t want to pitch a tent. A log cabin in Rowardennan offers a little winter romance, with the harsh snows of Scotland providing stunning scenery that will melt even the coldest hearts. If you do make a trip during winter, why not try your hand at skiing or snowboarding in the day and settle down for a wee dram in a traditional Scottish inn for the rest of the evening. Summer time is ideal for a visit to Argyll Forest at the western edge of the National Park is Argyll Forest Park. Britain’s first forest park is typified by its ancient trees, tranquil lochs and wide range of wildlife. Also within the park is Ben Arthur, affectionately known as ‘the Cobbler’ and one of Scotland’s most popular climbs. Whatever time of the year you go, there is great food to be had, including a heavenly cream tea at the Brig O’Turk tea room in Callander. Food lovers should head to the Loch Lomond Food Festival in September, where you can taste and buy some of the best Haggis in the land.
The other National Parks, where you can have just as much fun as our highlighted spots, are Exmoor, Broads, Peak District, Snowdonia, South Downs, North York Moors, Northumberland, Cairngorms, Brecon Beacons and Yorkshire Dales.