There’s even more to celebrate during Discover National Parks fortnight this year (6-21 April), as 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the UK’s National Parks. Find inspiration in the great outdoors, with these holiday ideas from our friends at Travel PR.
Lake District Steam Extravaganza for rail connoisseurs – from £1,150 pp with Ffestiniog Travel
England’s largest national park, the Lake District is also home to its highest mountain (Scafell Pike) and deepest lake (Wastwater) and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017. It’s the setting for this seven-night tour during which steam railway enthusiasts can enjoy visits to miniature railways, traction engines and standard gauge locomotives, as well as a cruise of Lake Windermere on the National Trust Steam Gondola, and the Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum Steam Gala. Departing 26 July, Lake District Steam Extravaganza costs from £1,150 pp (two sharing), including B&B, three lunches, one evening meal, excursions & tour leader. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512 400 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
Spot the world’s fastest animal in the Yorkshire Dales – from £110 pp with Pride of Britain Hotels
The Yorkshire Dales National Park covers 841 square miles, offering spectacular waterfalls, ancient woodland and some of the UK’s finest limestone scenery. A new viewpoint will open at Malham Cove this spring (5 Apr – 5 Aug), allowing visitors to catch a glimpse of the peregrine falcon, the world’s fastest animal. Stay at five-star Yorebridge House and enjoy spectacular views of the Dales from the 3-AA Rosette restaurant, located in the elegant Orangery, and luxurious bedrooms, some of which feature private outdoor hot tubs. An overnight stay is priced from £220 per room total/ £110 pp (two sharing), including full English breakfast. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).
Conservation of majestic woodland animals in Scotland – from £410 pp with McKinlay Kidd
The UK’s biggest national park – Cairngorms – is trialling the ‘Raptor Tracker’, a new satellite tag for tracking birds of prey, to better understand the behaviour of golden eagles and prevent wildlife crime. Spot these creatures and more on a wildlife-themed day trip with your own experienced private guide then, when the sun goes down, visit a baited hide with a maximum of 12 others, where pine marten, badger, red deer and other wild animals are frequently spotted. This trip costs from £410 pp (two sharing), including three nights’ B&B, a ‘highlights of Cairngorms wildlife’ day trip with private guide and a wildlife hide evening experience. Call AITO* member McKinlay Kidd on 0141 260 9260 (www.mckinlaykidd.com).
Yurt fun for all the family in the Black Mountains – South Wales from £110 pp with holidaycottages.co.uk
The Brecon Beacons National Park is an enchanting place to visit: a rugged area of South Wales dominated by misty mountains and deep wooded valleys, scattered with attractive market towns and villages. Black Mountains Yurt (sleeps six) offers spacious, open-plan accommodation with a wood-burner, which can be used as an additional cooking source. The sleeping area is great fun for families with a double bed, another raised double bed, a hammock and a sofa bed. The property also comprises a separate shepherd’s hut, and mountain bike hire can be arranged for delivery to the door. A week’s stay costs from £110 pp (£657 total) with holidaycottages.co.uk (01237 459888; www.holidaycottages.co.uk).
West Country walking for people and pooches – Exmoor from £126 pp with Canine Cottages
Exmoor National Park offers some of the most varied territory for walkers, and their canine companions, in Britain. Covering 267 square miles of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland, it’s home to wild red deer, rare butterflies and bats, amongst many other creatures. In the picturesque harbour village of Combe Martin (which has a beautiful family-friendly beach), on the north-west edge of the park, Girt Farm (sleeps ten) has vaulted ceilings, a games room, and one of its king-size bedrooms has a free-standing roll-top bath and a balcony. A week’s stay costs from £126 pp (£1,256 total) with Canine Cottages (01237 459821; www.caninecottages.co.uk). One dog is welcome (£20 supplement).
Luxury stay in the heart of Dartmoor National Park – Devon from £110 pp at Bovey Castle
Home to 450 miles of walking paths, Dartmoor National Park’s deep river valleys and wild open moorlands (the largest in southern England) are perfect for hiking, cycling, canoeing and horse-riding. Base yourself at Bovey Castle, a five-AA Red Star hotel set in 275 acres with a new deer park, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and a relaxing Elan spa. The flagship restaurant, the Great Western, holds 3 AA Rosettes and is overseen by talented Head Chef Mark Budd, who uses produce from Dartmoor’s local larder on his seasonal menus. Stay overnight from £219 per room/ £110 pp (two sharing), including breakfast and use of the Elan Spa. Call Bovey Castle on 01647 445 007 (www.boveycastle.com).
*AITO is The Specialist Travel Association: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.