After spending such a long time locked away and with warmer days on the horizon, Discover National Parks Fortnight (4th - 18th April) comes at the perfect time. Our National Parks typically support over 100 million visitors per year in the UK, offer hundreds of conservation programmes, and support local economies.
There are fifteen National Parks in the UK, supported by the National Parks Authorities. The National Parks were founded after the second world war, in the same reforms that saw the invention of the NHS and council housing. All the National Parks in the UK are free of charge to enter and have walks that offer accessibility to everyone.
We're highlighting just a few of these magical parks this week for you to enjoy when we can go out exploring.
The Brecon Beacons are in Wales and consist of a mountain range within the National Park. The highest peak is Pen y Fan sitting at 2,907ft.
There are many things to see, do and explore in the Brecon Beacons through the 520 square miles of towns, villages and nature. One of the things we love most in the Brecon Beacons is cycling, and six traffic-free cycle routes differ from flat to hilly. There are also different lengths from five to eleven miles, so if whether you want something easy or a little bit of a challenge, the Brecon Beacons has it all.
The Brecon Beacons are made for thriving - that's why the elite SAS team go there to learn about surviving in the wilderness. The Beacons are the perfect spot to go foraging in, and you can ask any of the knowledgeable guides about what is in season and what's safe.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are the most spectacular place to visit, and with so much to explore, there's something for everyone. Come and explore Britain's largest protected wetland!
Known for its waterways filled with historical sites and wildlife, the best way to explore the Broads is by water. You can hire a boat for a weekend or a day. Multiple companies offer boat hire; you can find a list of them here. If you want a slower pace, the calm waters of the Broads are ideal for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding; learn more about water activities here.
Our favourite thing about the Broads is the wildlife - from hawks, otters, and otters, there is so much to see. The adder, Britain's only venomous snake, makes it home in the heathland and dunes nears Horsey. The broads are the perfect place to understand the balance of humanity versus nature. The Broads are human-made but give so much precious wildlife and plantlife (sea lavender fields, anyone?) to prosper.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
An hours drive from Glasgow lies one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, a place where rolling lowland, snow-capped mountains, and moonlit lochs combine to create the perfect spot to explore.
There's so much wildlife to see, from soaring golden eagles, black grouse, osprey, red squirrels and otters.
If you want to explore this National Park, try the Loch Ard Sculpture Trail - sixteen miles of forest paths, ideal for cycling or walking where you can walk the peaceful loch, surrounding by Spruce, Birch and Rowan. Visit The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre to find the ideal trail for your access needs.
The New Forest is one of the most recognisable National Parks in the UK, known for its tranquil cycle paths and wild ponies. If you want another reason to seek inspiration in the New Forest, take a leaf out of the great gods of literature and film?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes's author is buried in All Saints' Church in Minstead within the New Forest. Before he passed away, Doyle purchased a home in Minstead to relax. He also wrote his book, The White Company, in the New Forest.
Alice in Wonderland - The real Alice (Alice Pleasance Liddell), who inspired the famous book by Lewis Carroll, lived in the New Forest during her later life and is buried in Lyndhurst.
Solo: A Star Wars Story - The prequel to the Star Wars saga that detailed Hans Solo's life, filmed the opening sequence at Fawley Power Station in the New Forest.
The Famous Five - Filmed between 1978 - 1979, The Famous Five, based on Enid Blyton's books, was filmed at Exbury Gardens and Burley.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Robin's accent may have been American, but the setting was all England. Over 50% of the film's exterior shots were filmed in the New Forest.
The South Downs are the UK's newest National Park, becoming an official part of the collection on the 1st of April 2010.
Known as one of the best stargazing spots in the UK, the South Downs was awarded Dark Sky Reserve status in 2016 to ensure that light pollution in the area is controlled. You can find the best stargazing spots in the South Downs here, as well as a beginner's guide to stargazing here.
If you prefer to explore in the daytime, investigate the incredible food and drink creators that make their home in the South Downs. Investigate any of the vineyards, breweries and distilleries, placed in the South Downs. English wines are experiencing a renaissance with many vintages coming from the South Downs; grapes growing in the area are similar to those found in the Champagne region of France.
How to Care For Our National Parks
Follow the Countryside Code wherever you go - close gates, don't drop ANY kinds of litter and make sure that your dogs are on leads, especially when around the wildlife that can safely thrive in our parks. You can find out more about the Countryside Code and how to respectfully enjoy the National Parks (spoiler, no BBQs - EVER!) here.