National Parks
and similar designations in the UK

NationNational Parkal Parks in the UK are areas which were mostly set aside in the 1950s and 1960s by the state because of their outstanding value in terms of natural beauty, ecological, archaeological, geological and other features, and recreational value. There are fifteen such parks in the UK, plus the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, which has equivalent status but which the Government has not designated as a formal National Park. National Parks in Scotland (and Northern Ireland, although none yet exist in the province) are administered under slightly different legislation to England and Wales, but for most purposes they can be considered equivalent.

Where are they?
There is a good map of these areas, and much information about national parks in the UK on the National Parks website.

Who owns the National Parks?
National Parks are not publicly owned land but, like AONBsPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet , are a designation which confers special protection upon land within it because of its landscape quality. This means that resources are available to promote and manage tourism within the area, special funds may be available to land owners, and that certain restrictions apply on many types of development. people live and work in national parks, there are towns and industrial areas. In the UK, National Parks are not wildernesses. This makes them different from national parks in most of the rest of the world.

Despite this, many National Parks do have large areas which are accessible to the public, and National Parks sometimes negotiate such access agreements with landowners. The National TrustPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet , a private charity, owns about 12% of the Peak District National Park, the oldest National Park, and more than 25% of the Lake District, as well as many other large areas of other Parks. Although the National Trust is independent of the National Parks, most of the land it owns is open for public access.

How are they run?
National Parks are run by special bodies called National Park Authorities. There is a list of these below, with contact details. These are similar to local councils and have many of the powers that councils have in other areas, particularly the power to control development. Funding is complex but essentially the National Park Authorities are funded by central government.

There are National Park Committees in each park who employ people such as rangers and wardens. In England and Wales they are responsible for conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park and improving opportunities for public understanding and enjoyment of the Park. If there is a conflict between these two purposes, greater weight is given to conservation than recreation. National Park

Much of the work of National Park Authorities is by necessity concerned with dealing with tourist pressure. Many areas of the National Parks are under immense pressure from visitors. There is an ongoing debate about the damage caused by the amount of human and vehicular traffic that such areas generate. Apparently, by the number of times we get asked this one, this is a very popular essay topic. So here's a link to some resources to help you find the answer: Impacts Of Tourism On The EnvironmentPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet .

National Parks in Scotland
National Parks in Scotland are slightly different from those in England and Wales. The first was designated in 2002.

The National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 sets out the four aims of National Parks in Scotland. These are:

To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage;
To promote the sustainable use of the natural resources of the area;
To promote understanding and enjoyment (including enjoyment in the form of recreation) of the special qualities of the area by the public; and
To promote sustainable social and economic development of the communities of the area.

The role of the National Park Authority is to ensure that these aims are pursued collectively, and in ways which protect the natural and cultural heritage of the area in the long-term. All of the aims have equal status, however, if it appears that there is a conflict between the conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage and other National Park aims, then the Park Authority must give greater weight to this aim.

New National Parks
Although for many years no new parks were made, since 1997 there were political moves towards designating new national parks in the UK and some have now been created. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was the first of these, and was designated in July 2002, followed by the Cairngorms National Park in 2003. New Forest National Park was designated in 2005, and the South Downs National Park was the most recent area to be deignated in 2010.

In October 2002 it was announced that the Mournes could become Northern Ireland's first national park. We confidently predicted at the time that this will take some time to become reality - and 22 years later it still hasn't happened; so don't hold your breath.


Links for further information

Council for National Parks
Association of National Park Authorities
Wikipedia: National Parks of England and Wales
There is some good information from Natural England about National Parks

Contact information and relevant links for UK National Parks and equivalent bodies

Official websites are linked from the titles of the Park; other sites below the contact details may be described as 'unofficial' - this simply mean that they are not created by the relevant National Park Authority- it is no reflection on their quality and in fact, they are sometimes a bit better than the official ones. That's why we include them.


Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park Authority
14 The Square
Grantown on Spey
PH26 3HG
Tel: 01479 873535
Fax: 01479 873527


Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park

Haytor Road
Bovey Tracey
Newton Abbot
TQ13 9QJ
Tel: 01626 832093
Fax: 01626 834684


Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
National Park Headquarters
The Old Station
Balloch Road
G83 8SS
Tel: 01389 722600
Fax: 01389 722633

Northumberland National Park
Northumberland National Park
South Park
NE46 1BS
Tel: 01434 605555


Peak District National Park
Aldern House
Baslow Road
DE45 1AE
Tel: 01629 816200
Fax: 01629 816310


Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
County Offices
SA61 1QZ
Tel: 01437 764591
Fax: 01437 769045


Yorkshire Dales National Park
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Yorebridge House
North Yorkshire
Tel 01969 650456

The Yorkshire Dales
Travel Dales
Dales Bus


The South Downs
The South Downs National Park.

Hatton House
Bepton Road
West Sussex
GU29 9LU

Tel: 0300 303 1053

Brecon Beacons National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park
Plas y Ffynnon,
Cambrian Way
Tel: 01874 624437

Brecon Beacons National Park
Possibly an alternative official page. It's not clear.

Another Brecon Beacons National Park Unofficial Page



Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor House
TA22 9HL
Tel: 01398 323665


The Lake District National Park Authority
The Lake District National Park
Murley Moss
Oxenholme Rd
Tel: 01539 724555

Lake District walks: there are many site concerning this subject - and usually, things to buy to help you do so - but this one is amongst the best.

Lake District desktops: free images of the Lake District, and many links.


New Forest National Park
New Forest National Park
New Forest National Park Authority
The Queen's House
4 High Street
SO43 7BD
Tel: 023 8028 4144

The New Forest Verderers
The New Forest: a history illustrated with photographs
The New Forest Association


North York Moors National Park
North York Moors National Park
The Old Vicarage
YO62 5BP
Tel: 01439 770657

North York Moors: area information, walking guides and accommodation


Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park
National Park Office
LL48 6LS
Tel: 01766 770274

Snowdonia Society
The Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park


Organisations which are not National Parks (yet)

These bodies are not National Parks but in some cases may become one in due course. They are all similar to National Parks in some ways, some more so than others.

The Broads Authority
The Broads Authority
Broads Authority
Dragonfly House
2 Gilders Way
Tel 01603 610734


The Broads Society


Chichester Harbour Conservancy
Chichester Harbour Conservancy
The Harbour Office
Itchenor, Chichester
West Sussex
PO20 7AW
Tel : (01243) 512301
Fax : (01243) 513026

Not a National Park at all nor likely to become one, but probably fits in best on this list.

Mournes, Northern Ireland
Mourne Heritage Trust, 19 Causeway Road, Newcastle, BT33 0DL

Not a National Park but proposed.