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Protecting the most cherished landscapes of Great Britain Back to News
Monday 02nd August | Posted by On Foot Staff
Britain’s protected landscapes celebrate a milestone birthday this year with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the first National Parks. The Peak District’s designation as a National Park was confirmed in April 1951, followed quickly by the Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor before the end of the year, and there are now fifteen parks across England, Wales and Scotland.
It had been a long road (or should that be ‘path’?) for those campaigning for the creation of the parks. Since the 1880s activists had sought greater public access to large areas of open countryside under private ownership, and hundreds of walkers brought the issue into the limelight with a mass trespass onto the moorlands of Kinder Scout in the Peak District in 1932. It still took another 17 years for an Act of Parliament to be passed, and then it was ‘full steam ahead’ for the new Parks.
Unlike National Parks in some other countries, those in Britain encompass land that is largely privately owned and which remains a living, working landscape. The Park authorities work with farmers and local communities to protect and improve the natural environment, while enabling public access for the enjoyment of all, and looking to the future with projects to mitigate the effects of climate change – a large remit with a lot of careful balancing to be done!
Enjoying Britain’s National Parks on foot
As you would no doubt expect us to say, the perfect way to explore Britain’s National Parks is on foot! You’ll enjoy the best that the natural world has to offer, while supporting local businesses and having a low environmental impact on the countryside. Four of our self-guided holidays will take you on a voyage of discovery through these special places.
The Yorkshire Dales landscape is a patchwork of green valleys, dry stone walls and expansive hilltops, which you’ll explore on your way from the little cathedral city of Ripon westwards to finally conquer flat-topped Ingleborough.
In the southwest of England are the wild moorlands of Dartmoor and Exmoor, where sturdy wild ponies roam amongst the meagre ruins of long-lost ancient settlements. You’ll cross the first of these on our Devon walk from Exeter to the pretty seaside town of Dartmouth, or maybe try Coastal Exmoor which combines stunning coast paths with the steep-sided, wooded valleys of Exmoor and lots of literary connections along the way.
Finally, our first walk in north Wales is a short break in the southern reaches of the Snowdonia National Park. Based in the town of Dolgellau, you have a choice of mountain peaks or lower level walks in the gorgeous landscapes around the Mawddach Estuary.