75 Years Of Britain’s National Parks

STORY BY Patrick 4th April 2024

With this year marking the 75th anniversary since the ‘National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949’ was passed, 2024 is the perfect time to get outside and discover the length and breadth of Britain’s  countryside.

Activity holiday specialist Walkers’ Britain chooses below five of the best walks:


National Parks UK says: “Its rolling green hills, globally important chalk grassland, ancient woodland, dark night skies, wildlife-rich heathland and windswept cliffs represents people and nature at their best.”

One hundred miles of downland walking separate the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and Winchester, the former Saxon Capital of Wessex and England. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in crowded southern UK, this ancient route follows the chalk ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.

The South Downs Way with Walkers’ Britain (10 days) departs up to October, from £1,180 per person


National Parks UK says: “Together, nature and people created a special landscape of immense beauty and character – one of the most picturesque places in the country.”

A circular walk that threads its way around the valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale and over the mountains and moorlands between these two emerald dales. The 50-mile route has been designed to take in some of the beloved countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot, was so fond of.

James Herriot Way with Walkers’ Britain (6 days) departs up to October, from £590 per person


National Parks UK says: “Discover spectacular landscapes, pretty villages, a warm welcome and a rich cultural heritage. Explore the fells, splash about on the lakes, take a wild adventure or simply enjoy the peace.”

Celebrated by the poetry of Wordsworth and the stories of Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, the Lake District is the first National Park in the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. In between quaint market towns, the trail leads past the peaceful depths of Coniston Water and Derwentwater lakes, as well as the superb Tarn Hows, set in picturesque wooded hills.

The Cumbria Way: Crossing the Lake District with Walkers’ Britain (10 days) departs up to October, from £995 per person


National Parks UK says: “The least populated of all of the UK’s 15 National Parks, the diverse landscape of Northumberland attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the heritage, history and culture of this ancient, unspoilt place.”

(Pic credit: Alan Hunt)

Reflecting the life of the 7th century monk, the St Cuthbert’s Way takes you to the northernmost National Park in England – and Europe’s largest area of protected night sky – set between the Scottish borders in the north to just south of Hadrian’s Wall. Starting in the border hills of Scotland, you will walk into England’s unspoilt countryside on your way to the iconic Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

St Cuthbert’s Way with Walkers’ Britain (8 days) departs up toSeptember, from £840 per person; longer, 10-day itinerary also available


National Parks UK says: “A place where the lowlands and highlands meet, with varied scenery of rolling lowland landscapes, tranquil lochs and rugged mountains in the north.”

John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, on the southeast coast of Scotland, and as a child developed a deep love of the natural world around his home. The John Muir Way is a path that symbolically links Dunbar with Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the seaside town of Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast-to-coast route.

John Muir Way with Walkers’ Britain (12 days) departs up to October, from £1,325 per person

Alternatively, you can take in the beauty of the North York Moors National Parks on walks such as the iconic Coast to Coast, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary, or The Pennine Way and The Cleveland Way, the first and second official UK National Trails respectively, which were launched in the 1960s.

Pictured top: The views over Loch Lomond from Conic Hill, Scottish Highlands. Photographer: Gary Ellis

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