The UK‘s national parks were created in the social upheaval after World War II; they were meant as a point of escape for citizens, where anyone could go to breathe fresh air and find space and solace. The number of parks has since risen across Great Britain – variously protecting majestic mountains, shimmering lakes, thick forests and misty moors. What’s surprising is how close these beautiful landscapes can be to big cities. The suburbs of Sheffield and Manchester run to the edges of the Peak District, London commuter trains roll through the South Downs, and within an hour of leaving Glasgow, you can be at Loch Lomond in the Highlands

And in 2020, it was announced that the UK is committing to creating more national parks as part of the government’s 25-year Environment Plan. Be aware that while in some countries (such as Australia and the USA), national parks mean areas of untouched wilderness, in the UK they are largely lived-in, working landscapes, where visiting responsibly is as important for local farmers as for wildlife. For more, download and read the Countryside Code or see the official National Parks website. Here, we rank them all – counting down from 15-1. 

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