In the UK alone, there are 15 national parks and that’s before we even mention the smaller pockets of green space all over the country that attract visitors every single year. What’s more, from leisurely dog walks and family picnics to romantic dates and solo exploration, there’s a park to suit every activity. Plus, many are becoming destinations in their own right.
St James’ Park
Situated just a few minutes from Buckingham Palace and some of the most popular London attractions, St James’ Park consists of 23 hectares of land, a lake and two islands that are home to birds and wildlife. The park itself is favoured by families, runners, couples and even individuals hoping to catch some rays on their lunch break. As well as being in the middle of London, one of our favourite things about this park is the scenic bridge which gives you views of the palace and makes for a great picture opportunity.
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is actually made up of two different parks and sits just below Edinburgh Castle. In the winter, you’ll find Winter Wonderland here so if you’re visiting during December, be sure to check it out. At other times of the year, the park is a great place for picnics or even a slow wander as you take in the city’s impressive architecture. There’s also plenty of food shops close by so we say grab some goods and set up a picnic if the weather’s on your side. If you want to venture even further afield, the Scottish Highlands and its highest peaks aren’t too far away either.
Cockington Country Park
Nestled amongst an ancient estate and boasting a gorgeous stately home, this Devon park is a great place to wander around with the family – and even your well-behaved dog on a lead. As well as picture-perfect parkland, Cockington Country Park has a rose garden, pond and arboretum to explore and the estate also has galleries and makers’ studios with events popping up throughout the year. You certainly won’t want to forget your camera or your purse as there’s lots of homemade gifts and crafts to buy!
Packed with stories from Robin Hood’s life, Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Forest always has something going on. From walking tours to hide and seek adventures for kids, its historic association is magical for all ages. What’s more, it’s been wooded ever since the Last Glacial Period and is now home to a number of birds, nature and wildlife. Sherwood Forest is completely free to get into and there’s even parking nearby so that you can make a real day out of it. There’s also an exhilarating zip line if you want to experience the forest from the tree tops.
We know we’ve already mentioned a London park but we’ve got to put this one on our list too! Hampstead Heath gives you the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city but with inspiring views of the London skyline. When the weather’s good, it does get rather busy so we say pack a day’s worth of food, take some games and don’t forget your picnic blanket. Head there nice and early, and find the perfect spot to sit back and relax in for the entire day. Pure bliss.
Making up part of the North York Moors National Park in the UK (also known as the Misty Moors), Sutton Bank has inspired poets, authors and artists over the years. In fact, the view from the hill has even been named the finest in England – let alone Yorkshire. Once you get there, there’s a shop and lots of cycle routes to choose from. The area is also a Dark Sky Discovery Site meaning the galaxy is often visible at night time for the naked eye! While the beauty of this place is clear during the day, why not mix things up and head there after dark for an evening to remember?
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Wales is home to some incredible parks – including two other national parks, Snowdonia National Park (home to Mount Snowdon) and the Brecon Beacons. Put simply, from South Wales to North Wales, your senses are in for a treat. This coastal national park however is a true beauty – packed with amazing views, unusual wildlife and the opportunity to enjoy boat trips and watersports. Much of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is suitable for dogs too and there’s a route for all ages and fitness abilities.
The Broads National Park
Norfolk Broads has been compared to Venice in the past – thanks to its endless waterways, coastline and beautiful scenery. Now, it just needs some delicious pizza parlours! In total, there’s over 125 miles of water which flows through villages, hamlets and dense countryside. It probably won’t surprise you that the Norfolk Broads is also home to a number of rare animals, and disused railway lines make for a great family adventure. For a proper day out, why not hire a boat for the day and keep your eyes peeled for somewhere quiet to stop for lunch.
South Downs National Park
Where: Hampshire and Sussex
South Downs might be Britain’s newest national park but it doesn’t mean it’s got any less adventure! Ideally located to London, and stretching across Hampshire and Sussex, it’s also one of the most popular and takes just one hour to get there from the capital. Once you are there, you’ll find rolling hills, dense woodland, white cliffs and a number of hiking and biking trails. Of course, there’s plenty of pubs for pit stops too and a few market towns like Arundel that are ideal for exploring.
Lake District National Park
Where: Lake District
Us Brits have a favourite when it comes to the Lakes or the Peak District – and usually it depends what part of the country you hail from. For this list though, we’re going with the Lakes as it has everything you could need as well as Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain, and Windermere, the largest lake in England. You only have to look at pictures to see exactly why it’s inspired so many creatives over the years. What’s more, if food and drink is more your sport, you won’t be disappointed with the range of nearby pubs – some of which are older than 200 years!
Don’t forget if you’re looking for anywhere to stay near the above parks, we have plenty of hot tub breaks to suit all occasions. From last minute to luxury, dog-friendly and even quirky, our large selection of properties has something for every type of traveller and their budget.
Most popular parks in the UK
- Hyde Park, London – one of the largest and most famous parks in the city, featuring the Serpentine lake, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, and various monuments and statues.
- St James’s Park, London – located in the heart of London, this park is home to many waterfowl and offers stunning views of Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.
- Richmond Park, London – the largest royal park in London, known for its stunning scenery and wildlife, including deer.
- The Regent’s Park, London – a beautiful park with plenty of attractions, such as the London Zoo, Queen Mary’s Gardens, and the Open Air Theatre.
- Greenwich Park, London – offers panoramic views of the city skyline and is home to the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, and the Queen’s House.
- The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire – located in the heart of England, this national park offers breathtaking views, hiking trails, and outdoor activities.
- Snowdonia National Park, Wales – home to the highest mountain in Wales, this park offers stunning scenery, walking trails, and water sports.
- Lake District National Park, Cumbria – renowned for its picturesque lakes and fells, this park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and kayaking.
- New Forest National Park, Hampshire – The New Forest is a beautiful park that features a diverse range of landscapes, including heathland, forests, and grasslands.
- Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland – located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this park is renowned for its stunning scenery and offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and water sports.