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Cast your cares to the wind and take to the moors and hills in a British national park.
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Rent a country cottage in a national park - in Britain


rent a country cottage in a national parkThere are a number of national parks in mainland Britain. These parks are separate from areas of outstanding natural beauty although there are obvious similarities. There are 15 national parks in Britain and 46 areas of outstanding natural beauty in the UK. The National parks have been named ‘Britain’s breathing spaces’ and are areas of protected countryside. Areas of outstanding natural beauty are by and large areas of countryside which have been given special recognition on account of the richness of the views and or their countryside.

The National parks are protected due to their beautiful heritage, nature and countryside. Although called parks, the national parks mostly cover vast areas and almost entire counties in some cases. So the term park is used loosely to describe the beauty of the area. The first national parks of the Peak District, the Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor were established in 1951 and the most recent national park was the South Downs, which was declared a national park in 2010. Different people own the land within the national parks, including individuals and the National trust, but all work together in conservation efforts to preserve the beauty and nature of the parks.

The 15 national parks for some of the best rural holidays are:

Scotland:


Cairngorms holiday cottages
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs

Lochangar for cottage holidays in a national park

Wales:


Brecon Beacons pet-friendly holidays
Pembrokeshire coast
Snowdonia

Brecon Beacons cottage holidays

England:


Norfolk Broads, holiday cottages near a wonderful maze of waterways in eastern England

Cotswolds
Dartmoor
Exmoor
Lake District - find out more about places to stay and outstanding views in the Lake District
New Forest - wonderful small national park on the south coast. See more about holiday cottages in the New Forest.
Northumberland
North York Moors
Peak District
South Downs
Yorkshire Dales - much loved, constantly changing scenery throughout the seasons.

About the national parks

Each of Britain’s 15 national parks have something unique and memorable to offer. Ask people who have visited one or more of the national parks and you will soon find that different people have their own favourites. For some the wildness of the Scottish landscape captivates them whereas for others, the valleys of Wales have that something special. Others still, simply adore the beauty of the English national parks.

To give you an idea of what each has to offer read the summaries of each of the parks below.

National parks in England


England is a country known for a diversity of different countryside and interesting areas from the quintessentially English countryside of the South of England to the dramatic beauty of the Lake District and Northumberland in the North of England.

Broads, also known as the Norfolk Broads
Some simply refer to the Norfolk Broads, as the Broads, but to avoid confusion we will clearly refer to them here as the Norfolk Broads. The Norfolk broads are known for their beautiful waterways and windmills. It is much said that to get the most out of a visit to the broads it is best to travel by boat. Indeed this is probably the best way to fully appreciate the beauty of the broads and the stunning natural beauty. There are a number of yacht clubs within the Norfolk broads and it is possible to book to take one of the many boat trips in the area or to charter a boat if you are used to sailing.

Dartmoor National Park is located in South Devon in the South West of England and is an area of countryside covering more than 368 square miles. Dartmoor is mostly made up of Moorland interspersed by granite tors which mark the landscape. There are some interesting stone circles to be found at Dartmoor, giving this place a mystical feel.

Exmoor, as with Dartmoor, is located in the South West of England. Exmoor covers parts of West Somerset and also North Devon. Similar to Dartmoor, Exmoor as the name suggests, is mostly Moorland. Exmoor though also includes 34 miles of coast including interesting cliffs and rocks.

The Lake District is a national park in northern England. The Lake District is located in Cumbria, and the scenery in the Lake District for the most part has more in common with that of Scotland than England. The Lake District is known of course for the numerous lakes in the area but also for a dramatically hill landscape. There are a number of fells in the Lake District. Alongside these hills, there are also a number of pretty towns such as Windermere and Keswick are to be found in the Lake District. Due to the large number of lakes within the Lake District there are plentiful opportunities here for those who enjoy messing around on the river and also for those who enjoy activities such as walking or cycling.

The New Forest is situated in the South of England in Hampshire. The New Forest is mainly inland but also includes some coastal areas. The New Forest is a destination of choice for many folks from London and the home counties as it can be reached from London and the surrounding areas in around 2 hours by car. The New Forest is known for pretty forest, woodlands, heathland and of course wild ponies which freely roam around the area.

Northumberland’s national park is to be found in Northumberland, in northern England. The park covers 405 square miles of Western Northumberland and includes Hadrian wall’s heritage site and also the Cheviot Hills. Northumberland’s national park has a fascinating history and beautiful hilly countryside just waiting to be explored.

The Peak District in Derbyshire, as per the name, is a hilly area with various peaks and falls. There are a number of picturesque valleys in the Peak District and the area is known for pretty villages such as Bakewell and Castleton. Activities on offer in the Peak District include rambling, cycling, horse riding and also rock climbing and caving. There are a number of interesting caves that you can visit in the Peak District.

The South Downs are in Sussex on the South Coast of England. The South Downs include beautiful green countryside with valleys and rivers, along with chalk cliffs. The interesting historical city of Winchester is within the South Downs as is the town of Lewes. For walking and cycling, there is the South Downs way.

The North York Moors are in the county of North Yorkshire and cover a large area of Moorland. Towns within the North York Moors include Castleton, Pickering, Whitby and Swainby.

The Yorkshire Dales, as the name indicates, are to be found in Yorkshire in Northern England. The Yorkshire Dales are known for dales, hills and a craggy landscape. The Yorkshire dales are particularly popular with walkers. Also within the Yorkshire dales are Moorland, rivers and even waterfalls.

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National parks in Scotland:

Scotland is a country known for wild natural beauty, lochs and glens. The national parks of Scotland are no exception to the rule.

The Cairngorms, are a national park but also a mountain range in Scotland. The Cairngorms include mountains, glens, rivers and lochs. Located in the North East of Scotland, the Cairngorms cover part of the Eastern Highlands and extend in to the Grampian region. The Cairngorms are known for stunning natural beauty and peace and quiet. Being in a relatively remote part of Scotland, if you are after stunning Scottish landscape then you should be amazed by the Scottish Cairngorms. The parameter of the Cairngorms national park incorporates towns such as Aviemore in the Highlands, Blair Atholl in the Perthshire Highlands and Braemar and Ballater in Aberdeenshire. If you adore wildlife watching look out for capercaillie, wild cats, eagles and stags. Depending on snowfall, skiing is usually possible near Aviemore in the Cairngorms in winter time.

Loch Lomond in Scotland is not too far from the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Glasgow is around 40 minutes drive from Loch Lomond whereas Edinburgh is around 1 and a half hours drive. Although reasonably accessible from these two major Scottish cities, Loch Lomond feels a world away. In Loch Lomond you reach beautiful idyllic lochside countryside interspersed by pretty villages. The national park at Loch Lomond incorporates both Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, a wooded glen surrounding Loch Lomond. If you like natural lakeside beauty you should enjoy spending time at Loch Lomond. Boat trips, cycling and walking are just some of the activities on offer here.

National parks in Wales:

Wales is a country known for unspoilt valleys and hilly scenery. Wales is also known for its stunning coastline.

Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons are located in the South of Wales and include a mountain range with stunning valleys and rivers. Many visit the Brecon Beacons for excellent walking and rambling opportunities. Others still visit for mountain climbing and even white water rafting, canoeing or kayaking in season. Covering an area of over 520 square miles, there is plenty to see and explore in the Brecon Beacons. There are a number of attractions within the Brecon Beacons including the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, the National Coal Museum, Carreg Cennen Castle and Caerphilly Castle. Many go simply though for the stunning nature and to experience the great opportunities for outdoor activities in this part of Wales. If you like to be a little less energetic you may be interested to hear of the vintage steam train at Brecon Mountain railway which offers the opportunity for taking it easy sightseeing.

Pembrokeshire coast National Park


The Pembrokeshire coast is on the South West coast of Wales and has a reputation for having some of the best beaches in Britain. Many of the beaches along the Pembrokeshire coast have won blue flag awards. The area is also known for amazing wildlife, in particular, the beautiful colourful Puffins that can be seen on Skomer island nature reserve.

Snowdonia National Park


This Welsh national park covers more than 838 square miles which include Mount Snowdon, Wales’s highest mountain. Many keen walkers, ramblers and mountaineers visit Snowdonia to climb to the peak of Snowdon. For those who are less fit or prefer the easy option take note, there is a Snowdon Mountain railway which will take you all the way up to the top. The area is known for the hilly landscape with plentiful sheep grazing. Also within Snowdonia is Harlech Castle, Caernarfon Castle and Portmeirion. If you enjoy spending time amongst natural beauty you should enjoy a trip to Snowdonia.

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