Secret coves, historic hillforts, ancient forests and tranquil lochs are all waiting to be discovered in the UK's stunning National Parks.
You don’t need to join an event to explore the UK’s National Parks, here are our top tips for discovering National Parks for free throughout the spring and summer:
Being immersed in truly ancient woodland is a very special experience - seeing the slow-growing plants that can only exist here and listening to the chatter of birds that have made it their home. At Freeholders’ Wood near Aysgarth Falls there is different light and sound to experience every day. You may even be lucky enough to spot roe deer darting away into the shadows. Dormice were reintroduced after nearly a century’s absence and are thriving here. These tiny creatures only come out at night so you are unlikely to see them - but maybe you will hear them snoring if you are very quiet!
Close your eyes. See if you can tell the different tree species by the sounds you hear – our ranger swears by it. Do the leaves rustle differently? Can you hear more insects under one tree than others? And when you emerge from the wooded stillness, the rush of Aysgarth’s three stepped waterfalls will blow you away. All in one magnificent setting.
Cwm Idwal is one of Snowdonia’s most dramatic landscapes and internationally renowned as a fantastic example of a glacial valley. The cwm is internationally recognised for its rock formations and rare and fragile flora and has been studied by various well-known scientists and geologists, including Charles Darwin himself! Cwm Idwal is Wales’ oldest National Nature Reserve, designated in 1954.
Local legend abounds here, it is said that no bird flies over the lake and that a wailing voice can be heard when there is a storm in the Cwm. The path around Cwm Idwal is a moderate 3 mile (4.8km) walk.
One of the most spectacular features in the North York Moors, the Hole of Horcum is a huge natural amphitheatre 400 feet deep and half a mile across. Geologists reckon it was created by a process called spring-sapping, where water has undermined the slopes, eating the rocks away grain by grain. Locals know better, telling the tale of Wade the Giant, who – in a blazing row with his equally giant wife Bell – scooped up a handful of earth to throw at her, thus gouging out the Hole of Horcum. (He missed, and the earth fell to the ground to form the nearby outcropping, Blakey Topping.) It all makes for a spectacular walk from Saltergate – a 5-mile circuit starts from the car park.. Tread carefully – you don’t want to wake the giant.
We’ll be revealing more National Park discoveries soon at nationalparks.gov.uk
For adventures for children check out our Mission: Explore National Parks adventure book – with 49 missions to keep them entertained all summer.
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