In the UK we have some of the most diverse countryside in Western Europe. And, since the 1950s some of the most important areas of natural beauty have been protected for the benefit of the public. These areas, known as National Parks, have restrictions placed on development and special efforts are made to conserve the wildlife and natural beauty of the area.
Where are the National Parks?
There are currently 13 National Parks in England and Wales and 2 in Scotland. There are no National Parks in Northern Ireland. On the mainland, National Parks stretch from the Cairngorms in the Highlands of Scotland to Dartmoor in Devon. Some of the most famous areas of scenic beauty in the UK such as Loch Lomond, the Lake District and Snowdonia have National Park status.
Development in National Parks
There are extremely strict planning rules surrounding development in National Parks in the UK. And, these rules are designed to protect the natural beauty of the area. One criticism of National Parks is that the restriction on new development has driven up prices of houses and businesses. Meaning, that local residents are being priced out of the area.
National Parks are by definition in areas of outstanding natural beauty and draw tourists from all over the world to experience what they have to offer. Within the parks, there are many walking routes and trails, enabling the public to get away from the crowds and experience the countryside. Many of the routes are gentle strolls, requiring no special equipment such as climbing shoes. For those who do want to dust off their climbing shoes, areas like the Lakes and the Cairngorms offer some of the best climbing and mountaineering in the UK. Novices to the climbing and outdoor scene can join one of the many mountaineering clubs around the country. Which run organized trips to the parks, provide coaching and instruction on techniques. And, will give advice about the best place to buy your crampons, waterproofs and climbing shoes.
Taking it Easy
For those of a less adventurous nature, the National Parks are full of pretty little villages with interesting shops, museums and tearooms. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a day browsing the antiques shops in the New Forest, followed by a full cream tea at a pretty, traditional tea shop. The National Parks attract thousands of visitors each year to experience typical village life. And, during the peak season and bank holidays the roads can get very crowded.
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Events and Days Out
The National Parks are working hard to cater to all markets. And, regular events running through the year to attract people who may not be interest in hiking or tearooms. Visitors have the chance to spend time with one of the park rangers, learning about the wildlife. Or, how to read a map, learn about the history of the park area, or spend their money at a Farmers’ Market. Which offers a great chance to pick up quality local produce such as meats, cheeses, cakes and honey.