Family Days Out: Best Places to Hike in the UK
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Family Days Out: Best Places to Hike in the UK + Map, Tips & Family Holidays

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When we arrived a year ago in England, we couldn’t have imagined that we will be surrounded by all this stunning nature. No to mention how green and kids-friendly London is for family days out. Despite hearing that it is overcrowded and noisy, it is also a place from which you can easily reach any national park in the UK and enjoy the best places to hike in the UK.

Whether you are exploring the best hiking in England and Scotland with remarkably massive highlands, or rugged coastline and mountainous national parks in Wales, there is clearly a big mix to choose from.

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From the UK’s largest national park like the Cairngorms in Scotland to the oldest national park like the Peak District, there is a whole range of magnificent natural beauties along the way that are also suitable for family walking adventure. Luckily, hiking in the UK is a very famous type of holiday, so all these hiking places can be easily reached by car, train, or bus.

Finally, what I love the most about the UK is that wherever you go, it is always well-planned for days out with toddlers, babies, and kids. Apart from the best hikes in UK, wild camping, stunning views, misty moors, remarkably untouched landscapes, every UK National Park has something very special for your children.

Below we share the top thirteen National Parks in the UK personally explored by global travelers and locals who also provide great advice for accommodation for family days out, including campsites and outdoor family activities for different kids age groups.

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13 Best Places to Hike in the UK

We prepared the map of the best National Parks in the United Kingdom for you to easily choose the ones you like and enjoy incredibly fantastic and wild family days out.

Top National Parks in England

1. New Forest National Park

Recommended by Vicky from Travels on Uneven Pavements

The stunning New Forest is a national park located on the South Coast of England, just over an hour away from London by train, or a couple of hours by car in the county of Hampshire.

The New Forest became a national park in 2005 and is made up of 566 sqm of river valleys, unspoiled woodland, and natural beauty. Keep an eye out for wild deer, ponies, and cattle that roam free over the heathland and forests.

There is so much to explore in the New Forest, from simply exploring the miles and miles of beautiful woodland or family walking through one of the quaint villages, to enjoying one of the many tourist attractions.

One of the biggest family-friendly attractions is Paultons Park, filled with more than 70 rides and plenty of other things to keep the kids entertained. The National Motor Museum in the town of Beaulieu is another popular place to visit. The quaint, original towns of Brockenhurst, Burley, and Lyndhurst are all worth exploring, whether its to pop in a teashop, enjoy a locally brewed drink, or find hidden treasures in the antique shops.

For those that want to explore more of the great outdoors, cycling is a great way to cover a lot of ground, and with so many paths through the forest, the hardest decision is working out which way to go next. A great thing about the New Forest is it is located on the coast, meaning not only has it got lush forests, but also stunning sea views and coastal walks which makes your hiking holidays in the UK unforgettable.

If you have got time to explore the South East of England, you should consider the Dorset region offering 100 miles of coastlines in England with its sandy Jurassic Coast beaches and miraculous landscapes.

Accommodation near New Forest

Thatched Cottage Hotel is a fantastic option to stay in the heart of New Forest. Its activities include golfing, cycling, and hiking with the bike hire on spot. Also, it is only a 20-minutes ride to one of the greatest beaches in South East England.

Tours available: If you live in the South of England, there is an amazing option to get a full-day tour from Bournemouth and experience Stonehenge, relax in Salisbury, and explore the wildlife of New Forest.

2. Peak District National Park

Recommended by Jenny from Peak District Kids

The Peak District, nestled between the big cities of Manchester, Sheffield, and Derby, is the oldest National Park in the UK. It’s a place I visited frequently as a child and is now the place I call home.

As a family, we love to spend our days off hiking through the green rolling hills and over dry stone walls to a cozy old pub serving real ale in front of a roaring fire. Our favorites family walks are the Nine Ladies Circle through Stanton Moor Peak and the stepping stones of Dovedale, or perhaps head to the stunning views of Mam Tor. Alternatively, hire some bikes and ride the Monsal Trail or Tissington Trail; these are disused railway tracks that have been converted into traffic-free gravel cycle paths and are relatively flat, perfect for family days out in Peak District.

The National Park is dotted with farmyards to visit (Blaze Farm, Matlock Meadows) and deep limestone caverns to explore (Speedwell Cavern, Poole’s Cavern). A ride on the cable car up to The Heights of Abraham to visit the caves and play in the adventure playground is a must. As is a visit to Crich Tramway Museum to ride the heritage trams. The theme parks of the Gullivers Kingdom and Alton Towers lie just outside the national park boundary too!

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Accommodation near Peak District

Visitors should allow at least a week to absorb the charm of the Peak District and rent an old farmhouse cottage or stay in a B&B. If you’re visiting in the summer months though, there are lots of family-friendly campsite options; Lathkill Dale Campsite in Monyash is popular with families and is just a short walk away from The Bulls Head, which has a large playground behind the garden.  

3. Dartmoor National Park

Recommended by Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes

Located on the western side of Devon, Dartmoor is one of the most famous National Parks in the West of England. It’s around a 5-hour drive from London – head down the M4 and M5 or along the A303 depending on where you’re leaving from.

Dartmoor is so named for its stunning, if stark, moorlands, and for the River Dart which (among others) runs through it. It is specifically characterized by large stone tors – hills with granite rocky outcrops in various formations at the top. It also has picture-postcard villages and towns inside and around its borders, ancient clapper bridges, archaeological sites from a range of eras including the bronze age and ruins from disused tin mines. The famous Dartmoor ponies cap off a long list of attractions there.

It’s a fabulous place for hiking (there are walks for all abilities and ages), eating (from pasties that aren’t just Cornish! to famous cream teas), drinking (there are a number of local IPAs to try) and exploring. There are several National Trust properties to visit on Dartmoor as well as castles, abbeys, churches, farms, and many other attractions. Dartmoor isn’t just great for hiking – there are cycle trails, water sports, and opportunities for climbing and horse riding too.

There really is something for everyone and I thoroughly recommend a visit, especially on your way to Cornwall. This is the place where we started our journey camping through the entire Cornwall with our one-year-old baby.

Accommodation near Dartmoor National Park

Lobhill Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast is a fantastic place to stay for a couple of nights to explore this national park. It is also easy to reach Tintagel Castle from here.

4. Exmoor National Park

Recommended by Suzanne from Meandering Wild

Exmoor National Park is located in the South West of England and borders Devon and Somerset.  It was designated as a National Park in 1954 and is located south of Minehead between Taunton and Tiverton. You can easily reach Exmoor National Park from the M5 motorway exploring later the beauty of Cornwall.

It has a wide range of landscapes with the highest point in the south of England outside of Dartmoor at Dunkery Beacon. The moorland reaches the coast in spectacular 400m cliffs with Great Hangman being the highest sheer sea cliff in England and Wales at 244m.  

Exmoor has beautiful walks from the coast up onto the high moorland and the range of wildlife including red deer and the native Exmoor ponies that roam free.  There are streams for families to play in and the ancient Tarr Steps clapper bridge is perfect for playing in the summer months.

The coast is great for rock pooling and sea kayaking although access down the steep cliffs has to be planned.  Minehead and Taunton are the main towns near the National Park and both have plenty of attractions for families.

Accommodation near Exmoor National Park

There are a number of small campsites on Exmoor, tucked away with our favorite being Exmoor Camping near Exford, right in the heart of the national park.  This has wide open spaces and beautiful facilities and is family-friendly. Alternatively, Steps Farmhouse B&B is the best option.

5. Avebury Stones

Recommended by Nicola from See Nic Wander

Although Avebury Stones is not a national park as the ones mentioned in this post, yet it is considered to be one of the best places to hike in the UK for families. It may be a secret for many tourists, but Avebury Stones is a great free alternative to the famous Stonehenge. It is located near Bath which is an absolute must-to-visit place when you plan day trips from London.

The Avebury Stones are an impressive UNESCO World Heritage site located in Wiltshire, UK. This National Trust prehistoric site dates back to the same time period as Stonehenge and offers an incredible opportunity to experience the natural beauty and ancient history, all at once. The key difference between the stone circles at Avebury and the Stonehenge megaliths is that on the Avebury National Trust property, you can walk around the stones up close. The stone circles and monuments are located in pastures with walking trails all around the site. Because the space open to tourists is so large, we never felt crowded as we walked among these incredible pieces of ancient history. 

After walking the trails and spending time among the Avebury Stones, we were even able to stop at the Red Lion Pub, whose claim to fame is being “The only Pub in the world surrounded by an ancient stone circle.” Because of its remote location, the best way to get to the Avebury Stones is by renting a car. If that’s not an option, you can also take a bus to Avebury from Swindon or Marlborough. 

Accommodation near Avebury Stones

The Old Forge is an excellent nearby choice if you plan on staying for the night. However, if you wish to get an exclusively authentic experience, there is no better place than Avebury Lodge.

6. Lake District National Park

Recommended by Vicky from Day Out in England

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of England. It’s no surprise it’s inspired so many literary heroes to create their best-known work. 

The views and lakes are worth the journey, so matter where you’re coming from. You can easily spend a few days or a week up here, or you can do a day trip to the Lake District from Liverpool or Manchester. 

There are so many things to do in the Lake District. Whether you like beautiful gardens, camping, hiking, cycling, or even rock climbing, you’ll find it here. There are many great places to eat, and you can try the gin at the Lakes Distillery too. 

Two of the most popular places to visit in the Lake District include Grasmere and Hawkshead. Both quaint villages with some great photo spots. You can check out the souvenir shops here and pick up a treat. 

Despite there being loads of things to do in the Lake District, the most popular thing of all is to simply just relax and take in the views. It really is one of the most majestic places to visit in England. 

Accommodation near Lake District

Stay at Bank House Farm that also lies near the coastline with gorgeous beaches, or right in the heart of the Lake District at the Yewdale Inn.

7. Yorkshire Dales National Park

Recommended by Jo from Lost Wanders

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the best places to visit in the UK. Undulating hills, picturesque stone walls, and some great hiking trails. Whether it’s a summer camping trip or a Christmas getaway to the country, there’s something for everyone in this scenic corner of England’s North West.

The park was created in 1954 and contains over 8000 Kms of the dry stone wall. As if that wasn’t enough excitement to warrant a visit, it is also home to an 87km long cave system (The Three Counties System). In fact, there are over 2500 caves in the Yorkshire Dales, making it one of the top caving destinations in the UK. Hikers come to conquer peaks like Ingleborough while shoppers visit the spa towns of Skipton and Settle.

There are countless waterfalls, caves, and dales to explore. As well as some of the best pubs in England. Some of the places not to miss in the Yorkshire Dales include Ribblehead Viaduct, Bolton Abbey and the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail.

Accommodation near Yorkshire Dales

Stay in a local cottage or camp in the beautiful Dales. It’s the perfect family adventure in the great British outdoors.

8. North York Moors National Park

Recommended by Sinead from Best in York Guide

The North York Moors National Park lies between the historic city of York and the rugged North Yorkshire coastline and encompasses moorland, 26 miles of coastline, historic and natural sights. Visitors can travel across the Moors by train or by public bus but the best method to fully explore the park is by car.

The National Park is a scenic, windswept landscape offering a range of attractions to visitors of all ages and interests. Keen hikers should head to The Hole of Horcum, a natural amphitheater half a mile wide and 400 ft deep. 

Families will enjoy a trip on a steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from the market town of Pickering to the pretty village of Goathland. Travelers can purchase a hop on hop off tickets for the railway to make the most of their day out in the Moors. Charming Goathland is the location for the television series ‘Heartbeat’ and its tiny rail station doubles as Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter movies.

Another great location to visit in the National Park is the Dalby Forest. The Dalby Forest is a maze of hiking and mountain bike trails for all abilities and has one of the best outdoor playgrounds in Yorkshire. It is also a great value for money day out as visitors only have to pay for parking.

Accommodation near North York Moors

There is a range of amazing family-friendly places, including Brickfields Farm that is an absolutely great value for money.

9. Northumberland National Park

Recommended by Sarah from Let’s Grow Cook

As England’s most northern National Park, Northumberland National Park runs between the Scottish border in the north and Hadrian’s Wall in the south.  It is one of the least visited and least populated parks in England.

You’ll find 1100 kilometers of paths to walk here, sections of the Pennine Way and the coast to coast 135 kilometer Hadrian’s Wall walk too.  At night, Northumberland National Park is a Dark Skies site – so come and see the stars without light pollution. 

During the day, the Northumberland is a fantastic spot for water sports – Kielder Water National Reserve is great for sailing, water skiing, and canoeing. 

Perhaps because the park is so sparsely populated Northumberland National Park is a great place to see wildlife – this is one of the few places in England that is still home to the English native red squirrel. This National Park is a vast, glorious area of wildness – and you can see it without crowds, so head north and explore this immensely beautiful part of the world.

Accommodation near Northumberland

The best way to see the Park is to stay in a holiday cottage within the park – and there are many that can be booked.

Top National Parks in Wales

10. Snowdonia National Park

Recommended by Paulina from BeeLoved City

If you are looking for beautiful landscapes, Snowdonia National Park will be your paradise! Wales is home to three National Parks. Snowdonia is from far the most popular.

Located in North Wales, Snowdonia offers loads of outdoor activities. If you love hiking, you should head to Mount Snowdon. There are several paths that will take you up to the summit. No matter what, expect to spend the full day walking. It’s a bit challenging but well worth it.

If you are traveling with children and don’t want to walk that much, you can jump on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. It will bring you up to the top where you can enjoy the beautiful views of the mountains. This train runs every day of the year, no matter what the weather conditions are.

Snowdonia is also home to many other adventure activities for adults and kids. Go ape, cave exploration, ziplines… you have it all! If you are a thrill-seeker, you should give a go to Velocity Zip World. It’s the fastest zipline in the world!

The best way to get to Snowdonia is by car. Wales is a rural place and having a car will give you more flexibility. If you do want to take public transport, you can take a train to Betws Y-Coed. From there, you will find shuttles and tours.

Accommodation near Snowdonia

Snowdonia has a lot of quiet, relaxing places to offer. The Courthouse in Betws Y Coed is highly recommended for a stay. There are many cute campsites and pubs nearby too!

11. Brecon Beacons National Park

Recommended by Catherine from Passports and Adventures

One of the most incredible national parks in the United Kingdom is the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. This mountainous region spans from Abergavenny in the East to Llandeilo in the West, and from Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypool in the South to Hay-on-Wye in the North. This region also contains the highest mountain in South Wales, Pen-y-Fan.

To reach the Beacons (as they are locally known) you can travel approximately one hour and fifteen minutes north of Cardiff along the A470. This will bring you into the heart of the Beacons.

As a tourist (and even as a local) one of the must-do things in the Brecon Beacons is to walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan. This hike can be done with kids who are fit and used to hikes and will take most people between 2 and 3 hours. However, if you are doing it with children, allow more time for stops along the way and be prepared with drinks, snacks, layers, and waterproofs.

If you are visiting the Beacons with very young children, then a ride on the Brecon Mountain Railway is a must. This steam train runs through the Beacons from Pant, not too far from Merthyr Tydfil, to Torpantau and enjoys some stunning views along the way, provided it is a clear day.

The main towns of Brecon, Abergavenny, Llandeilo, and Hay-on-Wye are all lovely towns to visit and have plenty of family-friendly cafes and restaurants. There is a small castle at Abergavenny, and near Llandeilo is Carreg Cennen castle, worth visiting as the views from it are amazing.

If you are visiting South Wales, even if you are short on time, a visit to or drive through the Brecon Beacons National Park is a must.

Accommodation near Brecon Beacons

There are a few places to camp within the Beacons including Cantref Camping, Priory Mill Farm Camping, and Camp Cynrig Glamping Village. However, if you prefer family holidays, there is a wide range to choose from. Apple Tree Cottage is a great option for a couple of days with the possibility of grilling your own barbecue on site.

Top National Parks in Scotland

12. Cairngorms National Park

Recommended by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages

Cairngorms National Park is hands-down the most incredible national park in the UK, as it’s actually Britain’s largest! It’s located in Scotland’s northeast region and can be easily reached from Edinburgh by car. The park is also home to a lot of very unique and endangered animals in the UK. You have to visit it because it’s actually completely free to drive through. There are some sights along the way that you would have to pay to visit though. 

Balmoral Castle is an absolute must-visit in this park, which is one of Queen Elizabeth II’s official residences in Scotland. You do have to pay a fee to enter the castle grounds and you can’t visit while the Queen is there in the summer, but it’s worth the visit. There are also seven other castles in the park to visit, including Braemar Castle, Corgarff Castle, and Blair Castle, among others!

Another great spot to visit is Blair Castle Caravan Park, which is a well-known glamping destination in Scotland. There’s also a lot of family-friendly activities in the park, such as geocaching, Landmark Forest Adventure Park, and Strathspey Railway.

History fans will love the number of museums in the park. Some of the most popular ones include the Braemar Highland Games Center and the Highland Folk Museum.

Accommodation near the Cairngorms

Choose anything from a country house, B&B, cozy family house, or luxurious hotel. Options are endless here!

13. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Recommended by Inna from Planet Dreaming

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is just a short drive northwest of Glasgow. This park is divided into four sections: Breadalbane, Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, and Cowal.

This area is mainly known for its lakes and the Munro mountains (the so-called Scottish mountains with a height of more than 914 m). That’s where you can enjoy views from Ben Lomond, Ben Louis, Beinn Challium, Ben More and two peaks called Ben Vorlich.

The National Park has more than 22 lakes of various sizes. Described by author Walter Scott as “Queen of the Scottish Lakes”, Loch Lomond is in the center of this fourth-largest national park in the UK. The length of Loch Lomond is more than 38 kilometers. However, feel free to visit other smaller lakes such as Loch Katrine, Loch Lubnaig, and Loch Venachar when in the area.

Due to the unusual and diverse landscape, there are many options for outdoor activities and things to do with kids in Loch Lomond: from hiking, water sports, horse riding, and mountain climbing for adventurous visitors; to fishing, golf, and cruises for those who want to spend a weekend in a more relaxed environment. The park is a real find for nature lovers too.

Various events are held in the park throughout the year including artisan fairs on the bank of Loch Lomond, walks around the hills and mountains, Scottish music festivals. Therefore, if you are not a fan of adventurous activities, you can join some of these family-friendly events. 

Accommodation near Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Since the Park is massively huge, there is a lot of amazing places to stay at different budget, feel free to choose from these options. Depending on your preferences, pick a spacious B&B, stay in gorgeous Inn with stunning lake views, or explore a fantastic family cottage country house with breakfast included.

So, have you chosen your favourite UK hike yet? We certainly hope so!

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