Whether hiking through smooth glacial carved valleys or relaxing riverside with a picnic, you’ll see how water has shaped the surrounding iconic landscape over thousands of years. The National Parks are a source of high quality drinking water for millions of people and havens for wildlife. They’re also packed with places to learn new skills or to simply be near the water to unwind and feel calmer.
If you want to chill out or make a splash, the lovely lakes, wonderful waterways, picturesque waterfalls and stunning coastlines offer something magical for everyone to enjoy. Hoist the ropes and set sail. Paddle out for a new perspective. Stroll by the canal. Learn to surf. Picnic by a lake.
Surrounded by a patchwork of green hills, fields, meadows and hedgerows, Llangorse Lake is a beautiful spot to get out on the water. Launch your own craft from the boat hire centre or sailing club on Llangorse Common on the northwest shore. Hire a dinghy, windsurfer, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, pedalo or rowing boat and get afloat.
Home to more than a quarter of Britain's rarest animals and plants the Broads is a paradise for boaters. Its 125 miles of lock free waterways make it perfect for first time skippers and seasoned navigators. Take the helm and learn to sail, hire a boat or hop on board an electric boat trip. Eight paddle trail maps give kayakers plenty of choice too, from an hours paddle out to a full day excursion.
The Yorkshire Coast is particularly good for beach breaks - the best type of wave to learn to surf on. It’s becoming a surf mecca. Good beach breaks for beginners are found in Saltburn, either side of the pier and best at high tide, and at Sandsend. West Cliff beach in Whitby is an ideal place to learn or progress your skills in surfing or SUP.
With its high, rolling hills and stunning river is the perfect picnic spot to explore the the haugh land (pronounced ‘hoff’) alongside the River Breamish. This area has a significant concentration of prehistoric hillforts built by ancient Britons 2,300 years ago. You can download a trail to help you explore as you walk up to the hillforts and imagine what life was like.
Canolfan Tryweryn - The National Whitewater Centre is situated on the bank of the river Tryweryn near Bala. Adrenaline seekers will love white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing. The Centre caters for visitors of all experience levels with activities for the whole family. Afon Tryweryn is a dam released river from Llyn Celyn reservoir. This means water is often flowing when other British rivers are dry creating a unique year round whitewater venue.
As well as offering an array of watersports, Semerwater Lake high above Bainbridge in Wensleydale also inspires artists and photographers. Painted by JM Turner on one of his tours, the annual spectacular display of thousands of flowering yellow water-lilies in July is captivating. The water-lilies used to be known as 'brandy bottles' because of their shape and smell.
Get afloat with the National Park Experiences. Hoist the sails and take the helm as you learn to sail a classic boat in the Norfolk Broads. Pick up a paddle and enjoy different countryside views as you explore the waterways of the South Downs. Explore Hickling Broad – the largest of all the Norfolk Broads by kayak on a guided wildlife spotting adventure.
National Park Experiences is a curated collection that brings the stories of our National Parks to life. Each experience offers an authentic insight into the landscape and special qualities of a National Park.