The 12 Best UK National Parks For Your Country Escape
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The 12 Best UK National Parks For Your Country Escape

Are you looking for the perfect getaway but hesitant about travelling abroad during the upcoming UK bank holiday? Perhaps you're strapped for cash, are too impatient for the post-brexit customs queue or would rather avoid the stress of bringing your little ones on a plane. Whatever your reason for choosing a UK country escape over a European beach holiday, in this blog we'll show you exactly why you've made the right decision. There's a treasure trove of natural beauty waiting to be explored right here in the UK so join us as we delve into the best UK national parks for your ultimate UK country escape.

When are the UK Bank Holidays for 2024?

Before planning your getaway, it's essential to know the UK bank holiday dates in 2024. Mark your calendars for the following dates:
  • New Year's Day: Monday, January 1st
  • Good Friday: Friday, March 29th
  • Easter Monday: Monday, April 1st
  • Early May Bank Holiday: Monday, May 6th
  • Spring Bank Holiday: Monday, May 27th
  • Summer Bank Holiday: Monday, August 26th
  • Christmas Day: Wednesday, December 25th
  • Boxing Day: Thursday, December 26th

How Many National Parks are in the UK?

redeem your hotel gift certificate on a trip to snowdonia The UK boasts an impressive 15 national parks spanning England, Scotland and Wales (sadly Northern Ireland doesn't have any national parks, but its countryside is certainly worth exploring.

What is the Biggest UK National Park?

The biggest UK national park goes to the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Encompassing an impressive 4,528 square kilometres (1,748 square miles) of breathtaking landscapes, the Cairngorms National Park is a vast wilderness of mountains, forests, rivers, and lochs. Despite its size, the Cairngorms National Park is not only home to some of the UK's highest peaks, including Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm, but also boasts an incredible diversity of habitats, wildlife, and outdoor recreational opportunities.

The Benefits of Exploring Britain than Going Abroad

visit the uk countryside during a uk country escape The UK is actually one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Not only do we boast a rich culture, fascinating history and bustling cities, but we also offer diverse landscapes ranging from the rugged heather hills of Scotland to the golden beaches of Cornwall. But there are actually many other benefits of choosing a UK country escape over a trip abroad this bank holiday:;
  • It's a smooth travel experience: Say goodbye to the stress of international travel and jet lag. With shorter travel times and no need for passports, exploring the UK is convenient and hassle-free.
  • It supports local communities: By choosing to explore the UK, you're directly contributing to local economies and supporting small businesses, from cosy bed and breakfasts to quaint village shops.
  • It supports the environment: Opting for a UK staycation helps reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on air travel emissions, contributing to a more sustainable form of tourism.

What to Pack for Your UK Country Escape

If you're planning a UK country escape, you won't want to miss these essentials that will help you get closer to nature and make the most of the great outdoors:
  • Sturdy walking boots for exploring the great outdoors
  • Waterproof clothing to stay dry in our unpredictable British weather
  • Binoculars for spotting wildlife in the UK national parks
  • Picnic essentials for al fresco dining
  • OS maps or a reliable GPS device for navigating hiking trails
Now that we've covered all the practical information, let's dive in to the best UK national parks to base your country escape around this bank holiday.

The 12 Best UK National Parks for Your Country Escape

1. The Broads National Park (England)

visit the norfolk broads during your uk staycation The Broads is renowned for its network of picturesque waterways, making it an ideal UK country escape for boating enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat by the water. How to Get There: To get to The Broads National Park, you can drive via major roads such as the A47 or A12, or take a train to Norwich, Great Yarmouth, or Lowestoft. Best Areas to Stay: Wroxham, Horning, or Beccles offer charming accommodations nestled along the tranquil waterways of The Broads where you can enjoy picturesque views of boats gliding on the rivers, access to boat hires for exploring the water network, quaint riverside pubs serving local fare, and opportunities for birdwatching and leisurely walks along the riverside paths.

2. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Wales) Pembrokeshire Coast National Park during a uk bank holiday

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park offers the perfect base for a coastal UK country escape, combining stunning scenery, outdoor adventure, and rich cultural heritage in one unforgettable destination. Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, relax on sandy beaches, explore charming towns and villages, visit historic castles like Pembroke Castle, and enjoy water sports such as surfing and kayaking. How to Get There: Drive via the M4 or take a train to stations such as Haverfordwest or Pembroke. Best Areas to Stay: Tenby, St. Davids, or Newport offer convenient bases for exploring the coast.

3. Dartmoor National Park (England)

Delve into the wild and rugged landscapes of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, where granite tors, ancient stone circles, and vast moorlands await exploration, offering opportunities for hiking, horse riding, and discovering rich archaeological heritage. Hike across Dartmoor's open moorland, visit ancient stone circles and tors, explore historic sites like Dartmoor Prison Museum, go wild swimming in secluded rivers, and spot Dartmoor ponies roaming free. How to Get There: Accessible by road from Exeter or Plymouth. The closest train stations include Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth. Best Areas to Stay: Princetown, Tavistock, or Chagford provide easy access to the park's rugged terrain.

4. Exmoor National Park (England) horses in Exmoor National Park during a UK country escape

Experience the dramatic coastline and rolling hills of Exmoor National Park, spanning Somerset and Devon, where visitors can explore coastal cliffs, heather-clad moors, and picturesque villages, and enjoy activities such as hiking, wildlife watching, and stargazing. Whilst in the area, you can also visit historic sites like Dunster Castle, and enjoy stargazing in the designated Dark Sky Reserve. How to Get There: Drive via the M5 or take a train to stations such as Taunton or Barnstaple. Best Areas to Stay: Minehead, Porlock, or Lynton offer picturesque accommodations close to the park.

5. North York Moors National Park (England)

Traverse the vast moorlands and coastal cliffs of North York Moors National Park in Yorkshire, where visitors can enjoy scenic walks, explore historic abbeys like Rievaulx Abbey, ride the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and spot wildlife including red grouse and roe deer. How to Get There: Accessible by road from York or Scarborough. The nearest train stations include Whitby, Pickering, and Malton. Best Areas to Stay: Whitby, Helmsley, or Pickering provide easy access to the park's expansive moorland.

6. Peak District National Park (England)

visit Stanage Edge on your UK staycation during the march bank holiday During the March bank holiday, explore the diverse landscapes of Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, with its limestone dales, gritstone edges, and scenic reservoirs, offering opportunities for hiking, cycling, rock climbing, and exploring charming market towns. Hike to the summit of Mam Tor, explore underground caverns at Castleton, cycle along the Monsal Trail, visit historic houses like Chatsworth House, and enjoy panoramic views from Stanage Edge. How to Get There: Drive via the M1 or take a train to stations such as Sheffield, Derby, or Buxton. Best Areas to Stay: Bakewell, Castleton, or Edale offer picturesque accommodations amidst the park's limestone dales.

7. Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales)

Experience the rugged beauty of Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, with its towering peaks, cascading waterfalls, and vast moorlands, offering opportunities for hiking, horse riding, and stargazing in a designated Dark Sky Reserve. Hike to the summit of Pen y Fan, explore waterfalls in Waterfall Country, stargaze in the designated Dark Sky Reserve, go horse riding or canoeing along the River Wye. How to Get There: Drive via the M4 or take a train to stations such as Abergavenny or Merthyr Tydfil. Best Areas to Stay: Brecon, Crickhowell, or Abergavenny provide convenient bases for exploring the park's mountain ranges.

8. Yorkshire Dales National Park (England) Yorkshire Dales National Park during a bank holiday in the uk

On your country escape in the UK, discover the timeless beauty of Yorkshire Dales National Park, with its limestone valleys, picturesque villages, and scenic walking trails such as the Yorkshire Three Peaks, offering opportunities for outdoor adventures and exploring traditional Dales culture. How to Get There: Accessible by road from Leeds or Kendal. The nearest train stations include Skipton, Settle, and Dent. Best Areas to Stay: Grassington, Hawes, or Settle offer charming accommodations close to the park's limestone landscapes. Best Activities: Walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks, explore picturesque villages like Malham, visit traditional market towns like Skipton, and enjoy scenic drives through valleys and moors.

9. Snowdonia National Park (Wales)

Venture into the majestic mountains and glacial valleys of Snowdonia National Park in Wales, home to Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, offering opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and exploring historic castles and scenic lakes. Must-do activities include hiking the Glyderau range, riding the Snowdon Mountain Railway, visiting historic sites like Caernarfon Castle, and enjoying outdoor adventures at Zip World. How to Get There: Drive via the A55 or take a train to stations such as Bangor or Betws-y-Coed. Best Areas to Stay: Betws-y-Coed, Llanberis, or Beddgelert provide easy access to the park's rugged mountains.

10. Lake District National Park (England)

Experience the awe-inspiring landscapes of Lake District National Park in Cumbria, with its shimmering lakes, rugged mountains, and picturesque villages, offering opportunities for boating, hiking, and visiting historic sites such as Beatrix Potter's former home. How to Get There: Drive via the M6 or take a train to stations such as Windermere or Penrith. Best Areas to Stay: Keswick, Ambleside, or Windermere offer picturesque accommodations amidst the park's lakes and mountains.

11. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (Scotland)

go to the loch lomond national park this uk bank holiday Explore the scenic lochs and rugged mountains of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park in Scotland, with its picturesque villages, historic sites, and outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and wildlife watching. How to Get There: To get to the Trossachs National Park, you can drive via the A82, take a train to stations such as Balloch or Crianlarich or fly to Prestwick or Glasgow airport. Best Areas to Stay: Balloch, Callander, or Aberfoyle are all quaint villages close to the Loch that make for great bases for exploring the scenic lochs and rugged mountains of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs. Book accommodation in cosy B&Bs or country lodges with views of sparkling lochs and dense forests, explore picturesque villages with quaint shops and cafes, cruise on Loch Lomond, hike along scenic trails such as the West Highland Way, and enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching.

12. Cairngorms National Park (Scotland) a woman hiking in the Cairngorms National Park

If you're seeking a quintessential Scottish escape, look no further than the Cairngorms National Park. This vast wilderness of mountains, forests, and lochs offers an unparalleled backdrop for a country retreat. While hiking in the Cairngorms, spot wildlife including red deer and golden eagles, ski in the winter at Cairngorm Mountain, visit historic sites like Balmoral Castle, and enjoy outdoor adventures such as mountain biking and pony trekking. How to Get There: Drive via the A9 or take a train to stations such as Aviemore or Pitlochry. Best Areas to Stay: Aviemore, Braemar, or Grantown-on-Spey offer picturesque accommodations amidst the park's mountains and forests.

Where will you go this UK Bank Holiday?

Whether you're drawn to the rugged mountains of Snowdonia, the picturesque coastline of Pembrokeshire, or the tranquil waterways of The Broads, there's something for everyone to enjoy right here at home. Plus, by choosing a UK country escape, you're supporting local communities, reducing your carbon footprint, and enjoying a smooth travel experience without the need for passports or long customs queues. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and embark on an adventure to one of the UK's stunning national parks this bank holiday.

Gift a UK Country Escape with Hotel Vouchers

Is there someone in your life who's a huge fan of the great outdoors? That's always dreamed of exploring Britain? Why not give them one of our hotel gift vouchers? They can be personalised with your own photo and message, sent anywhere in the world and are available in multiple currencies! But most importantly, they unlock thousands of incredible hotels in the UK and abroad meaning that your loved one can explore the best national parks in multiple countries.