The third and concluding part of our tour of the magnificent national parks of Great Britain starts in Northumberland. In part two we ended our exploration in the Cairngorms of Scotland with its wild and exciting landscape, now we survey the beautiful rolling hills of the Northumberland National Park.
The national park covers almost one quarter of the county of Northumberland, from the Cheviot Hills to just south of Hadrian’s Wall. Northumberland National Park epitomizes rural England at its very best, with rolling hills, and brooding dark skies covering small and gentle mountains. This park also includes the amazing Northumberland Dark Sky Park which was nominated as the best place in Britain to view the heavenly sky. Many visitors travel to Northumberland too see the world-famous Hadrian’s Wall, a Roman fortress that was built to keep the wild Picts and Scots out from Roman occupied Britain.
Snowdonia is one of the most beautiful regions of Wales and was Britain’s third national park, being designated with the award in 1951. The broody Mount Snowdon dominates the whole of Snowdonia with its picturesque villages, and steep river valleys with cascading waterfalls. As well as the mountainous terrain, there is also a very varied landscape which includes peatlands, moorlands and enchanting wooded valleys. Snowdonia also includes a great coastline with sandy beaches and variety of water-based sporting activities. It should be noted that in this part of Wales, over half of the population speak their native tongue.
The South Downs is typical Middle England, where things are just as they should be. Nothing too big and nothing too small, everything’s just right. Rolling gentle hills define this landscape, interspersed with ancient woodlands, forests and small lowland clumps of heathland. The villages dotted around are picture perfect, the type you see on chocolate boxes or Christmas cards. Most of life revolves around the village pub, where the locals will debate the issues of the day as their forefathers have done for centuries. There is a feeling that time moves slowly in the South Downs, nothing is ever rushed, and people like to ponder over their nest decision. For visitors who wish to relax, the South Downs is definitely for them.
Take a long stroll or cycle ride and see giant chalk drawings on the hillside, or wonder at the local woodlands full of wildflowers and colorful butterflies. Enjoy bustling markets in quaint villages and roam around historic estates where the gentry of England have had their family seat for generations. Must see places are the cathedral city of Winchester and the market town of Lewes; whilst you are there, you can travel the South Downs Way which stretches all the way from Winchester to Beachy Head.
The South Downs of England ends our expansive tour of the national parks of Great Britain, they are so diverse in their landscapes that it is hardly conceivable that they all exist on such a relatively small island. From the rugged mountains of the north, to the gentle rolling hills of the south and everything in between, Great Britain’s national parks are truly great indeed.