10 must-do activities in England's National Parks

Packed with scenic spots and exciting activities, each of England's ten National Parks has something unique to offer. From stargazing in Northumberland to the Peak District's medieval county houses, here's our list of 10 unmissable things to do.

Please note: There are varying restrictions in place across England to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Please be sure to check our Know before you go page as well as individual attractions’ websites before travelling.

1

Take in the sights of the Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Arten Gill Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Rolling hills, limestone cliffs and historic landmarks can be found across the scenic Yorkshire Dales, making it the perfect location for a heritage railway trip. Now running between Settle and Carlisle, Rail Charter Services offers comfortable, socially distanced carriages with guaranteed window seats for all. Enjoy panoramic views from atop the Arten Gill Viaduct, pass the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent and venture through the Upper Eden Valley on this memorable railway route.

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2

Ramble along the South Downs Way

South Downs National Park

A couple walking along the South Downs Way.

Climb rolling hills and bustling markets full of character, or stalk through the woods and see what wildlife you can discover. Not sure where to start? There are plenty of signs to help you from getting lost along the 100 mile-long South Downs Way which stretches from Winchester in Hampshire. Keep an eye out for the acorn logo.

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3

Sail away in the Broads

The Broads National Park

Boats moored outside Horsey-Mill in the Broads National Park.

Spread across both Norfolk and Suffolk and famous for its picturesque waterways, The Broads National Park is one of the best places in England for a boating holiday. Choose from a river cruiser, vintage barge or a sailing boat and moor up at a country pub or two for delicious local food. 

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4

Explore the North York Moors in style

North York Moors National Park

A traditional steam train in the North York Moors National Park.

Spanning both coast and countryside, stick with civilisation and build sandcastles and explore quaint local market towns, or go off grid and follow the heather-clad moors for wide-open views. Better still, hop aboard a steam train with the North York Moors Railway and soak it up from the comfort of a vintage carriage.

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5

Hike or bike through Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park

A couple crossing the Tarr Steps in Exmoor National Park.

Exmoor is a warren of trails and paths that are ideal for anyone who wants a bike ride to remember. The Tour of Britain was held in Exmoor, and you can follow the same 56-mile trail that they did then. Or tackle the South West Path on foot, and wander along a section of the South West Coast Path on a 12.5-mile walk from Minehead to Porlock Weir. 

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6

Gaze into the galaxy in Northumberland

Northumberland National Park

A clear shot of the night sky in the Northumberland National Park.

Photo Credit: Martin Kitching

Visit the least populated National Park in the UK and you'll find utter tranquility and some of the darkest skies in Europe. Get tips from a team of experts at Battlesteads Observatory or head to the Dark Skies Discovery Site at Cawfields and see what constellations you can spot above the Park's peaks. It's even possible to spot the Milky Way! 

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7

Find some furry friends in the New Forest

New Forest National Park

A group of ponies grazing in the New Forest National Park.

New Forest National Park is the place to go if you want to spot a vast variety of wildlife. See critters ranging from butterflies to warthogs at the New Forest Wildlife Park, or head out on your own to track down ponies, deers, donkeys and pigs who graze freely through the countryside. 

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8

Conquer the Lake District by steamboat

Lake District National Park

Boats moored at a dock in Ullswater in the Lake District National Park.

Perfect for kayaking, conoeing, and rafting, The Lake District has vast meres flanked by dramatic mountain views, so you won't want to return to dry land in a hurry. Take a cruise on one of the handsome steam-powered liners designed so you can take in the views, or even take a dip in a lake yourself. 

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9

Try a Victorian pastime on Dartmoor

Dartmoor National Park

A couple climbing up boulders in Dartmoor National Park.

Dartmoor National Park was the inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles, and you too can be a victorian sleuth with a game of Letterboxing. Begun in 1854, Letterboxing is a twee outdoor hobby that combines treasure hunting and orienteering as you find your way to various stashes hidden around the moors.

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10

Visit the fairytale sites of the Peak District

Peak District National Park

The view from Higger Tor in the Peak District National Park.

Indulge in the history of the Peak District, and all the gorgeous examples of nature it has. Camp in fields alongside ancient forests, go fell running across sprawling hills and visit one of many stately homes, including the fairytale Haddon Hall, dating back to the 12th century.

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28 Oct 2020(last updated)

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  • 1

    Yorkshire Dales National Park

  • 2

    South Downs National Park

  • 3

    The Broads National Park

  • 4

    North York Moors National Park

  • 5

    Exmoor National Park

  • 6

    Northumberland National Park

  • 7

    New Forest National Park

  • 8

    Lake District National Park

  • 9

    Dartmoor National Park

  • 10

    Peak District National Park

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