On a trip to England’s National Parks, travellers don’t just visit the parks, they experience them! For the first time nine National Parks in England (there are 15 across the whole of the UK) have come together to create The English National Park Experience Collection. From learning to sail on the watery wonderland of the Broads National Park to being inspired by the South Downs locations that fired up Jane Austen’s imagination, the collection covers over 30 varied experiences designed to whip up adrenaline, stir creativity and awaken the senses.
Funded by VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund, the experiences are already popular among international tour operators and some are now available and directly bookable by independent travellers. Connect with the people at the heart of the National Parks in England. Get caught up in their stories, follow in their footsteps and be inspired by their passion for timeless rural life and the great outdoors. When it comes to National Parks, adventure starts here!
Broads National Park
Broads – aka the waterland National Park – boasts over 200km of winding waterways and is home to some of the UK’s rarest wildlife. Visitors to Britain can choose from a range of experiences including:
The Wind in Your Sails
Take to the water for a half day taster sail with Norfolk Broads Yacht Charter UK. Under the expert guidance of a local skipper, visitors can feel the wind in their sails as they take the tiller and help crew their sailing boat around some of the magical waterways in the Broads National Park. Experience the beauty of the winding rivers and marshes, catch glimpses of local wildlife and enjoy a delicious Norfolk Cream Tea aboard.
To find out more about The Wind in Your Sails and to book, visit the experience website.
Sail on a Traditional Wherry
Jump aboard an Edwardian wherry yacht, one of only three surviving vessels, each over 100 years old, and experience sailing on the winding waterways of the Broads National Park the traditional way. Relax and enjoy the tranquillity, changing scenery and rare wildlife and add a touch of luxe with an optional locally-sourced picnic hamper. Visitors can sail as a small group or round up friends and family and charter the whole vessel.
To find out more about Sail on a Traditional Wherry and to book, visit the experience website.
Romantic Yacht Adventure
Discover the stunning inland waters of the Norfolk Broads aboard a traditional yacht on this three-day romantic sailing adventure. Learn to sail or sit back, relax and let the yacht’s private skipper do the work while pointing out wildlife and navigating to idyllic spots. The luxurious experience includes delicious locally-sourced breakfast and lunch hampers to share, while evening meals can be enjoyed in cosy waterside pubs.
To find out more about Romantic Yacht Adventure and to book, visit the experience website.
Rails, Trails and Sails
Join a passionate guide who bubbles with knowledge on everything, from the history and heritage of the Broads National Park to where to find the most magnificent views. Start in Norwich with a Monks, Mayhem and Murder tour then hop aboard Norfolk’s first ever railway line and whizz by train to Reedham. The afternoon will deliver scenic eye-candy aplenty across the rivers and countryside, as well as a glimpse into life on the Broads’ historic trading wherries. This Rail, Trails and Sails tour hits many areas of interest and on Sundays comes with the option to take the train to Berney Arms, one of the UK’s most isolated railway stations.
To find out more about Rails, Trails and Sails and to book, visit the experience website.
Learn to Sail – Two Day Experience
Follow in the footsteps of Lord Nelson, who learnt to sail on the Norfolk Broads, in this hands-on, two-day adventure with Norfolk Broads Yacht Charter UK. Visitors will sail along the scenic waterways of the Broads National Park, hone their basic sailing skills then retire to the comfort of a local B&B (home-cooked breakfast included). Completion of the experience results in a certificate from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).
To find out more about Learn to Sail and to book, visit the experience websites.
Capture the Broads
Perfect for budding photographers, discover the photogenic beauty of the Broads National Park with its picture-perfect landscape complete with tranquil waters, crumbling abbeys, and big coastal skies. In the company of a professional local photographer, visitors will pick up photography tips and have the chance to try out different subjects, compositions and techniques. But this is no ordinary photography experience. This Capture the Broads tour also serves up a true taste of Norfolk culture with local info aplenty and a delicious food and drink stop off. (Camera equipment not included)
To find out more about Capture the Broads and to book, visit the experience website.
Broads by Kayak or Paddleboard
Soak up the views, spot wildlife and hear tales of history and heritage while gliding along the waterways on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard with Norfolk Outdoor Adventures. This exhilarating yet serene activity will take guests on a journey through the usually hard-to-reach areas of the Broads National Park where they can admire some of the best nature has to offer. They’ll also discover Heigham Sound and Hickling Broad, one of the jewels in the crown of the National Park, and arrive back on dry land refreshed, invigorated and won over by the beauty!
To find out more about Broads by Kayak or Paddleboard and to book, visit the experience website.
After all that adventure, visitors will want somewhere cosy to rest their heads. Discover accommodation options here.
Dartmoor National Park
Mystery, folklore and incredible history awaits at Dartmoor National Park in the far flung south-west of England. Best known for its wild open moorlands and iconic granite tors, the park has inspired writers, poets and artists for centuries. Discover more about the experiences on offer below.
Wild Ponies, Wild Land
Join Dartmoor’s Daughter, a specialist nature guide, for a ramble through stunning landscapes along part of the historic Haytor Granite Tramway. Lookout for the semi-wild herd of ponies who call Dartmoor National Park home and be inspired by stories of bygone quarrymen, tram-pulling ponies and myths and legends. Round off the experience at Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) where visitors will enjoy a hands-on experience with Dartmoor heritage ponies. They’ll also have the chance to find out about the lives and work of the farmers who keep the ponies on the ‘Commons’ of Dartmoor, in this ultimate experience for pony lovers!
To find out more about Wild Ponies, Wild Land and to book, visit the experience website.
Walk Through Dartmoor’s Myths and Legends
Get ready to be transported back to a time of pixies, ghosts and witchcraft on this spine-tingling experience that celebrates the history and legends of wild Dartmoor. As guests tread the rugged landscape their passionate tour guide will recount eerie tales and historic myths and even share some experiences of their own. Dramatic to the end, this walk leaves no stone unturned - even the pub where guests stop for lunch comes with its very own spooky tale; look out for the resident ghost and see the fire that has been burning for nearly 200 years.
To find out more about Walk Through Dartmoor’s Myths and Legends and to book, visit the experience website.
Gems of Dartmoor
Get ready to discover the lesser-known gems of Dartmoor National Park. This unique experience combines a lesson in photography with some of the most stunning landscapes in Britain. Under the wing of a local photographer practice capturing stunning images and learn insider tips on where to go for the most vivid colours and atmospheric sunlight. Finish with dramatic photographs and a new-found love for the off-the-beaten-track wildness of Dartmoor National Park.
To find out more about Gems of Dartmoor and to book, visit the experience website.
Hound of the Baskervilles
Step into the pages of The Hound of the Baskervilles by visiting the real-life locations that feature in the famous detective story set in Dartmoor National Park. Experience the landscapes that inspired writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, discover the fact behind the fiction and hear stories of the people who came alive in the characters. In the company of a local literary expert visitors will explore Dartmoor’s wild and open dramatic spaces as well as three churches, each with novel stories to tell. A page-turning adventure for Baskerville fans, Doylians and Sherlockians as well as anyone with a love for literature.
To find out more about Hound of the Baskervilles and to book, visit the experience website.
Cycle the Granite Way
Mix adrenaline with fantastic views by hiring a bike and cycling the Granite Way which runs along an old Victorian railway in Dartmoor National Park. Stretching for six miles between Okehampton and Lydford, it’s gloriously easy to navigate and is entirely off-road, so perfect for families and cycling newbies. As the name suggests, the dramatic granite landscape takes centre stage on this trail, but there are also iconic bridges, castles and sites of geological interest to swoon over, not to mention picnic stops aplenty.
To find out more about Cycle the Granite Way and to hire a bike, visit the experience website.
Ancient Stones and Ancestors
Step back in time on this guided walk across Dartmoor National Park and experience the history and mystery of ancient Britain and its people. Awaken the senses and imagine what it might have been like to live thousands of years ago on a walk with an expert local guide between majestic granite tors and Bronze Age relics. Visit ruined settlements and ancient stone rows, circles and standing stones, all whilst following in the footsteps of the people of yore and foraging and feasting on local seasonal foods.
To find out more about Ancient Stones and Ancestors and to book, visit the experience website.
See Dartmoor National Park’s accommodation for more information on hotel options.
Exmoor National Park
There’s lots to love about Exmoor National Park. From wild heather moorland to shady coastal woodlands and 55 kilometres of jaw-dropping coastline, the park is big on beauty and even bigger on character. Hike to Tarr Steps, an ancient stone clapper bridge and the National Park’s most famous landmark, visit medieval villages, spot majestic wildlife and feast on oysters from the sea, venison from the moors and red ruby Devon beef from the farmland. Find out more about the experiences on offer below.
Take a trip back to the time of corsets and carriages on this guided Victorian Exmoor walking tour that starts out in the history-rich village of Lynmouth. Marvel at the architecture and hop aboard the unique water-powered cliff railway. Since its grand opening in 1890 it has been sweeping in a downward circle to take in the twin village of Lynton, achieving the title of the highest and steepest totally water-powered railway in the world. Back on firm land enjoy a spectacular cliff-top walk to soak up the impressive views of the Welsh coast, spot wildlife and be inspired by the locations that feature in RD Blackmore’s romantic novel, Lorna Doone. Complete the experience by sitting back and relaxing in a Victorian heritage carriage behind a steam engine on a 3.5km round trip through some of the loveliest countryside in North Devon, then in true Victorian splendour enjoy a locally sourced cream tea at Woody Bay Station.
To find out more about the Victorian Exmoor experience and to book, visit the experience website.
Follow in the footsteps of literary greats and experience Exmoor National Park and its ancient traditions. Choose between two fabulous walking trails through the very landscape that inspired the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth, as well as authors such as R.D.Blackmore, who wrote Lorna Doone. Classic tales and poetry are woven through the routes, with knowledgeable guides pointing out notable scenes or the inspiration behind the epic poem, Kubla Khan. Each walk finishes with a delicious Devonshire Cream Tea or a jug of local cider or ale at a traditional English pub.
To find out more about the Literary Footsteps experience and to book, visit the experience website.
Moods of Exmoor
Celebrate the beauty and vibrant moods of Exmoor National Park through the lens of a camera on this full day photography experience. Learn composition tricks and tips for capturing atmosphere and light whilst going off the beaten track and discovering the hidden gems of the region lying within Exmoor’s combes, moorland and coastal fringes.
To find out more about Moods of Exmoor and to book, visit the experience website.
Exmoor Wildlife Safari
Hold on tight on this full-throttle, 4x4 Exmoor Wildlife Safari. With an expert local guide behind the wheel, visitors will enjoy a journey through stunning landscapes in search of native Exmoor ponies, red deer, rare birds, flora, fauna and so much more. Stop off at historic sites, explore the birthplace of local legends and be blown away by the rugged Exmoor National Park coastline and the stories that bring the history and heritage of this fascinating area to life.
To find out more about Exmoor Wildlife Safari and to book, visit the experience website
Discover accommodation options for Exmoor National Park.
Lake District National Park
Everything comes in epic proportions at Lake District National Park. Take Scafell Pike for example, England’s highest mountain. And Wastwater isn’t just any lake, it’s the deepest in England. Is it any wonder the Lake District has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has inspired creatives for centuries? Discover more about the experiences on offer below.
Lake District Bushcraft
A back to nature experience awaits on the shores of Lake Windermere on the private Graythwaite Estate in the Lake District National Park. In an action-packed 1.5 hours visitors will learn the skills they need to survive a night in the Lake District such as fire lighting, shelter building, sourcing water, basic camp fire cooking and, of course, toasting marshmallows!
To find out more about Lake District Bushcraft and to book, visit the experience website.
For places to stay in the Lake District National Park, head this way.
Northumberland National Park
Sitting within the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park – the largest area of protected night sky in Europe – this National Park will leave visitors star struck! See the Milky Way and even the Andromeda Galaxy which is a mere 2.5 million light years away. And things are just as special at ground level. This is where England’s cleanest rivers and purest air come together and where Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site snakes from one beautiful coast to another. Read on to discover more about the experience on offer.
Visitors can set their imaginations alight with an arty guided walk in the Breamish Valley in Northumberland National Park. They’ll hear insider info courtesy of a local guide while a wildlife artist gets their creative juices flowing, helping them to capture on paper the beautiful landscape dotted with prehistoric hillforts, grazing sheep and gently sloping hillsides. A truly unique way to get up close and personal with Northumberland National Park and create something to be treasured. Includes a delicious picnic lunch with ingredients from local Northumberland producers.
To find out more about Arty Footsteps and to book, visit the experience website.
Foraging and Wild Cooking in Northumberland
Discover edible treats hiding in hedgerows, wild culinary delights and natural medicinal wonders that have been used for generations on this guided wild food foraging walk through the beautiful Northumberland National Park countryside. Learn how to find, identify and prepare edible flora, fauna and fungi and finish up feasting on the wild ingredients. A head full of discovery and a belly full of deliciousness awaits on this eye-opening tasty adventure in Northumberland National Park.
To find out more about Foraging and Wild Cooking and to book, visit the experience website.
Live Like a Roman
Be transported back to a time when the Northumberland National Park was untamed, when fierce warriors and soldiers roamed the wild countryside and when Hadrian’s Wall was a place where two cultures collided. In this historical Live Like a Roman adventure visitors will walk along the wall that once marked the northern boundary of The Roman Empire and discover what life was like on this frontier 2,000 years ago. March in the footsteps of the soldiers, pitch a Roman tent and tuck into a delicious Roman-themed lunch.
To find out more about the Live Like a Roman experience and to book, visit the experience website.
National Parks Birds of Prey Experience
Get up close and hands-on with the iconic birds of prey that are native to Northumberland National Park. Spend three hours handling, feeding and flying birds, including the barn owl, tawny owl, kestrel, buzzard, goshawk and peregrine falcon. Find out why the art of falconry is listed as a world living human heritage and sample the real taste of Northumberland; the Ham and Peas Pudding Stottie - all against the backdrop of the beautiful Cheviot Hills and Pennine Way.
To find out more about National Parks Birds of Prey Experience and to book, visit the experience website.
Peak District National Park
Right in the heart of England, the Peak District is the original National Park; where wildly unique and contrasting landscapes sit side-by-side and the most resplendent historic houses and stately homes in the country can be found, including Chatworth House of Downton Abbey fame. Visitors can discover more on a diverse range of experiences including:
Climbing in the Peak District National Park
The history of the Peak District National Park is etched in the unique gritstone crags that line the valley edges. This world-famous rock, besides being an integral part of the area’s industrial heritage, has been the go-to vertical playground for generations of climbers and scramblers. Follow in their footsteps by climbing and scrambling over mountain terrain or experience an adrenaline-filled abseil under the expert guidance of a local instructor.
To find out more about the climbing options and to book, visit the experience website.
Tissington Tea-Party Retro Bike Tour
Combine classic cycling with English Aristocrat tea drinking on this Tissington Tea-Party Retro Bike Tour! Join Sir Richard Fitzherbert for a tea-party in the 3,000-volume library of his historic family home, Tissington Hall in Derbyshire, and enjoy a personal behind the scenes tour of this 17th-century Jacobean mansion. Cycle to the hall and back from the beautiful village of Thorpe in Dove Dale on the finest British classic steel bicycles. Relish the ride on quiet country lanes and traffic-free trails through the spectacular scenery of the Peak District National Park.
To find out more about Tissington Tea-Party Retro Bike Tour and to book, visit the experience website.
Walk the Peaks’ Aviation History
Experience three contrasting walks in one exciting day with this aviation history and stunning hikes tour. The first leg takes visitors to Bleaklow, the Peak District National Park’s second highest mountain and the location of some of its wildest countryside. Discover the special moorland ecology and the crash site of a USAF Boeing B-29 Superfortress before a ‘Dambusters’ themed lunch and a peek at an extensive collection of Dambusters memorabilia. Visit the stunning location of Derwent Dam, the famous WW2 training site for the RAF’s 617 Dambusters squadron. Complete the day with some sweeping hill top views and a chance to reflect on the part played by the Peak District landscape in aviation history.
To find out more about Walk the Peaks’ Aviation History and to book, visit the experience website.
Plague Village and the Peaks
Discover the fascinating history of the Plague Village of Eyam set amidst the beautiful hills and dales of the Peak District National Park. Roll back to 1665 when the village took the brave step of cutting itself off from the outside world during an outbreak of the plague in order to prevent the further spreading of the disease. Visitors can explore the unique story by delving inside the historic parish church and visiting locations such as Mompesson's Well, the Riley Graves and the Boundary Stone. Stop for lunch at either a traditional Peak District pub or at a unique farmhouse kitchen that serves up home-made Afro-Caribbean food, then continue the tour in the picturesque village of Hathersage, where Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre. The tour finishes with the option of a short walk at one of Derbyshire’s most iconic viewpoints in the ‘Dark Peak’ region of this beautiful park.
To find out more about Plague Village and the Peaks and to book, visit the experience website.
The Blue John Stone Experience
Journey underground to discover Blue John Stone, a rare, semi-precious mineral found at only one location in the world – in the caves of Castleton, Derbyshire in the Peak District National Park. Work with Treak Cliff Cavern family and staff to get hands-on with this unique stone. Discover its history before producing three items to take away; an item of silver jewellery, a window hanger/decoration, and a polished slice or chunk (which can be found by searching in the mines).
To find out more about The Blue John Stone Experience and to book, visit the experience website.
White Peak Trails by E-Bike
Jump on an electric bike and let a National Park Ranger be the guide on an easy traffic-free cycle along former railways, passing through the beautiful limestone landscape of the White Peak region. Soak up local history, discover the oldest working winding engine in the world (part of the UNESCO Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site) and pedal to an ancient hilltop burial site with fabulous vistas.
To find out more about White Peak Trails by E-Bike and to book, visit the experience website.
South Downs National Park
Welcome to the ‘gateway to England’; a stunning landscape of rolling hills, ancient woodland and picture-perfect villages where the secrets of thousands of years of history can be found in everything from Bronze Age burial mounds to Iron Age hill forts and historic stately homes. Be inspired by the same landscapes that captivated literary heroes such as Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, discover extraordinarily rich wildlife and explore imposing Norman castles on the experiences below.
Jane Austen – The Dancing Years
Step into Jane Austen’s world by getting up close and personal with the north Hampshire places that she loved and was inspired by. Visit her birthplace and the church where her father was rector, as a passionate guide brings to life the 18th-century world that surrounded her. Trace the history of the people in the villages and churches mentioned in her letters, see the country houses where she danced and visit the Jane Austen House Museum at Chawton where she spent her last years. There will also be a stop for lunch in a traditional South Downs National Park country inn and an in-depth look into the social and cultural history of the 1700s in which Austen wrote.
To find out more about Jane Austen – The Dancing Years and to book, visit the experience website.
Sparkling South Downs – Grape and Grain
A delicious day exploring the delectable food and drink produced in the stunning South Downs National Park awaits on this Sparkling South Downs Tour hosted by a local drinks expert. Wander among the vines and whet the palate at the UK’s oldest commercial vineyard, enjoy a beer tasting and two-course lunch at a traditional village gastropub then finish the day with a distillery tour and tasting of craft gins paired with locally-made artisan chocolates. The day will be peppered with stories of the South Downs’ rich history and play out to the backdrop of the region’s beautiful scenery.
To find out more about Sparkling South Downs – Grape and Grain and to book, visit the experience website.
Sparkling South Downs – Hampshire Tours
Enjoy an intimate chauffeured tour of the sparkling wine vineyards and wineries of the South Downs National Park region. Visit at least three award-winning wineries, meet the winemakers to learn about the process of making English Sparkling Wine and see the work that goes into growing the perfect grapes. An experience with sparkle!
To find out more about Sparkling South Downs – Hampshire Tours and to book, visit the experience website for full details.
Sparkling South Downs – Fizz on Foot
Visitors with a passion for walking and wine need look no further than the Fizz on Foot tours of the South Downs National Park. Starting out in the medieval village of Alfriston and taking in the beautiful South Downs countryside, they’ll visit a local award-winning vineyard for a tour and wine makers lunch. In the company of the winemakers they’ll also take part in tutored tastings of the sparkling wine and enjoy spectacular views of the traditional English landscape.
To find out more about Sparkling South Downs – Fizz on Foot and to book, visit the experience website.
Hills, Heath, Hops and Hampers
For a varied day filled with rolling hills, heath-covered moors, locally produced ales and delicious food, the Hills, Heath, Hops and Hampers tour is hard to beat. With an experienced local guide leading the way, walk in the steps of ancestors by exploring Black Down, the highest point and a hidden heathland treasure within the South Downs National Park. Discover the fascinating history and geology of the area and enjoy stunning views of patchwork fields, rolling hills and ancient woodland. Savour a delicious luxury picnic full of scrumptious local produce at one of the best viewpoints, then complete the experience with a visit to an award-winning independent microbrewery for a fun guided tour and ale tasting session.
To find out more about Hills, Heath, Hops and Hampers and to book, visit the experience website.
Find visitor accommodation in South Downs National Park.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Famous for its unmistakable patchwork of drystone walls, Yorkshire Dales National Park has a long history of livestock farming. Wander across the expansive heather moorland, experience the fun of an agricultural show and ride on the world-famous Settle-Carlisle railway, passing over huge stone viaducts, through long tunnels and past remote wayside station buildings. Guests can also enjoy the following experiences.
The Wensleydale Farmer’s Experience
For a true Wensleydale experience try out life as a farmer on the Swinithwaite Estate, home to the Thornton-Berry family since 1925. Start the morning with a hearty English breakfast of fresh local produce in an award-winning café, then spend the day taking a close look at traditional drystone walls, feeding the animals, herding sheep and learning about how sheep are farmed. A fun and engaging hands-on experience in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
To find out more about The Wensleydale Farmer’s Experience and to book, visit the experience website.
For places to stay in Yorkshire Dales National Park, click here.
North York Moors National Park
It’s not just walkers and adventure seekers that are attracted to the North York Moors National Park. The seas around the crinkly coast are a playground for white-beaked dolphins and minke whales, not to mention seal colonies which loll beneath the coastal cliffs. And dinosaur footprints and fossils left by older natural residents’ hint at a life that thrived 160-million years ago. Climb the high hills, explore the wooded dales and delve into the history preserved in abbey ruins, gothic churches, medieval chapels and ancient stone crosses.
The Captain Cook Experience
Celebrate the life of Captain Cook 250 years after his first Voyage of Discovery in this North York Moors National Park Captain Cook Experience. Visit the village of Marton where James Cook was born, Great Ayton where he grew up, the fishing village of Staithes where he first encountered local seafaring and smuggling traditions, and end with time to wander the pleasant seaside town of Whitby, where he trained in the merchant navy.
To find out more about The Captain Cook Experience and to book, visit the experience website.
Discover places to stay in North York Moors National Park.
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