Charlotte Bronte famously described the Lake District as ‘a glorious region, of which I had only seen the similitude in dreams’. With National Parks Week running from 24 – 30 July 2018, there’s no better time to discover your own dreams in the north of England’s top five national parks:
The Peak District
The advent of national parks in England may have begun with the Peak District in 1951, but its history can be traced right back to the settlement of Anglo-Saxon tribes in the sixth century. Its ancient heritage survives in Bakewell’s medieval bridge, where you can enjoy an authentic Bakewell pudding, before taking the short trip to stunning Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and many times voted Britain’s favourite stately home.
The home of Wordsworth and Coleridge, the Lake District is the poetic heart of Britain. Culture buffs can walk in Wordsworth’s footsteps at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, while outdoor-types can cruise around Windermere, England’s longest lake, on a classic paddle steamer. Children will be enchanted at the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness, where Peter Rabbit and friends come to life, before grabbing a lakeside ice cream for the trip home.
Unique among national parks UK, the Yorkshire Dales are not solely in Yorkshire. Created in 1951, the park now extends into parts of Cumbria – and even into historic rival Lancashire. One of its main attractions is Malham Cove, a huge limestone amphitheatre, famous for featuring in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, where Harry and Hermione camp on the extraordinary limestone pavement. Young visitors will revel in recreating the scene for themselves! It is also home to part of the Pennine Way, Britain’s longest walking route.
North York Moors
These ancient moors are a natural history lesson, with Iron Age stone circles, Roman roads, Viking villages and Norman castles. Helmsley Castle, built around 1120, now hosts outdoor theatre, jousting knights and is perfect for a day out with the kids. Kilburn, meanwhile, is noted for its remarkable White Horse figure, cut into the Sutton Bank Hill. Covering 1.6 acres, it can be seen as far as 28 miles away in Leeds.
If you’re really looking for your dreams to match those of Charlotte Bronte, Northumberland is the perfect place to go. It is part of the International Dark Sky Park, meaning that you can see the Andromeda galaxy – some 2.5 million miles away – with the naked eye. Even better, it’s the best place in England to see the Northern Lights. Who needs Iceland?
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