New Forest National Park
The New Forest can be reached in a 90-minute drive from London, making it a great choice for a day trip. Covering over 200 miles of woodland in Hampshire and Wiltshire, the area is famous for its history and wildlife. Ponies, deer and other woodland animals are frequently spotted, and the park – which is a protected landscape – is home to several rare bird species. The area, which is largely flat, is a great option for leisurely bike rides and other outdoor activities, and there are over 40 walking routes to choose from. For an easy option, follow the Buckland Rings Trail, which takes around three to four hours to complete, to see the beautiful Roydon Woods Nature Reserve and the famous Buckland Rings – a historical site that dates back to the Iron Age.
South Downs National Park
The South Downs were declared a national park in 2010, but the area is steeped in history. Some of the earliest settlements in the UK date back to the area, where there are several ancient Roman sites. As one of the largest national parks on this list, South Downs covers 990 square miles, so it’s best to thoroughly plan a trip to the area before visiting. One of the most beautiful parts of the park are the monolithic cliffs at Seven Sisters where visitors can walk along the coastline to appreciate the beautiful views. The main walking route, which is a great option for dog walkers, starts at Seaford in East Sussex, and passes through Beachy Head and Eastbourne. It’s a fairly challenging route – taking four hours to complete, with some steep climbing – so it’s best to tackle it on a weekend. Devil’s Dyke, a huge ‘dry’ valley is also a must-see, as is the majestic Kingley Vale forest.
Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons National Park covers 520sq. m. of south and mid-Wales. It’s one of the best national parks in the UK for outdoor activities, such as water sports, horse riding, rock climbing and caving. With mountains and moorland, there are hundreds of walking routes to choose from, but if you’re up for a challenge, the Route of the Romans is a great option. The 27-mile walk takes around two days to complete and is best tackled over the course of a weekend to appreciate the Roman cobbles and beautiful views of Pen y Fan. The Brecon Beacons is also renowned for its night skies – an International Dark Sky Reserve – while parts of the landscape are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re looking for a remote adventure, this national park has it all.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.