There are 15 National Parks in Britain. These range from the vast expanse of the wild Cairngorms in northern Scotland, to the classic English countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, complete with green rolling hills, dry stone walls and pretty villages, to the rugged coastal beauty of the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales.
In Britain, National Parks are areas of protected countryside that provide some of the most stunning scenery and best opportunities for outdoors activities. Unlike some other countries, the areas covered by National Parks in Britain contain many working communities and you will find picturesque villages and towns scattered through all of the National Parks.
There is no fee to enter any National Park in Britain or a barrier to cross; you will simply see a sign on the side of the road that lets you know that you are entering a protected landscape. More information can be found on the National Park Service website (below).
Enjoy the countryside
Walking or hiking in the countryside is a hugely popular activity in Britain, both within and outside the National Parks. Much of rural Britain is criss-crossed by public rights of way, which take you across mountains, farms and open country. This network of paths that interlink across the country means there is a huge variety of walking on offer but also means that some navigation can be required to make sure you stay on track. Before heading out on a walk you should ask local advice, take instructions with you and, where necessary, a good map.
At Great British Escapes, country walking is one of our favourite activities. If you book your holiday with us, we will suggest some of our favourite walks near the areas you are visiting and you will be able to get further advice and suggestions at each place you stay.
Tourist Information Centres
Cities, towns and some villages have Tourist Information Centres. These are usually run by the local tourist body and are invaluable in providing information about attractions, transport, walking and cycling in the local area and much more.
Many of Britain’s stately homes, castles and ancient sites are owned or managed by charities established to preserve and protect British heritage.
The major organisations are the National Trust (for England and Wales), the National Trust for Scotland, English Heritage, Historic Scotland and CADW (for Wales). All manage a wide selection of historic attractions and details of their properties, as well as activities and events, can be found on their websites, details of which can be found below.
For overseas visitors to Britain, passes can be obtained that allow unlimited access to the properties of one or more of these organisations for part or all of the duration of your stay. Great British Escapes will advise you as to whether any of these passes might be a good option for you.
Brown tourist signs
Brown road signs containing white writing and images are used throughout Britain to direct motorists to nearby tourist sights or places of interest. The things that will be displayed on brown tourist signs include ‘attractions’, such as historic properties, gardens, museums and theme parks, and ‘facilities’, such as hotels and pubs.
Each place listed will have a symbol next to it to indicate what sort of destination it is. The images are generally self-explanatory.
When you see a brown tourist sign you will know that it is indicating a place that may be of interest to someone visiting the area, so don’t be scared to explore!