It’s National Parks Week! It’s also the summer holidays. Did someone say free day out?
Now the summer holidays are in full swing it’s definitely worth thinking about using your nearest National Park. They can provide a great way to spend time with the family whilst exploring in the outdoors for free!
There are 15 national parks in the UK and we have three of those on our doorstep in Wales. For those in South Wales there is the Brecon Beacons National Park. Its rural mountain landscape spans from Abergaveny in Monmouthshire to Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire.
Those in West Wales have easy access to the beautiful coastal scenery of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which spans 86 miles from Saundersfoot to Cippyn in Ceredigion. Finally you have Snowdonia National Park best known for boasting the highest mountain in Wales. Snowdonia is accessible from both mid and coastal North Wales, as it spans from Conwy in the North to Machynlleth in mid Wales. The long and short of it is that wherever you live in Wales you are only a stones throw away from a National Park.
National Parks, protect the most beautiful landscapes in the country, whether it be sleepy seaside towns or the rugged Welsh mountains. Although the National Parks were set up with conservation in mind, they are also a great resource for families to explore.
So with three National Parks to choose from in Wales, the question is – where to start?
The National Parks website is a good place to start. They have a list of all the national parks in the UK and also highlight upcoming events in and around those parks. Check out their quick guide for an overview of what every park offers.
Not sure what to do once you know where you want to go? Try one of National Parks’ Top 15 Lists of recommendations. From the best places to go for hidden picnics to the Top 15 Quirky Adventures, there’s plenty here to give you ideas. It’s definitely worth a look and may help you pinpoint what you want to do when you get there.
For families with younger children
The National Parks have set up Mission: Explore National Parks. There is an Explorers Journal available for £5 from the website. It lists 49 missions for your child to complete in and around the National Parks. Definitely worth a look if you are stumped for ideas for the kids this summer.
If £5 is a little steep why not set up your own Mission for the kids? All it takes is a booklet and a list of missions which could be anything from find five types of trees to the challenge of walking a mile.
Are you new to walking and hiking?
There are lots of other free activities in the parks such as going for a picnic or a hike in one of these beauty spots which can be done on the cheap. Why not try out one of many footpaths in one of the parks? Check out our article on getting out and about by foot including how to get started if this isn’t something you haven’t tried before.
Explore our history
Looking for something a bit different from an adventure in the outdoors? Then why not explore one of the many historical sites throughout these National Parks. From impressive medieval castles to hidden Roman forts, there’s lots to choose from. Although entry to some of these can be pricey for a family, its always worth checking out the Open Door events. Find a list for the National Park of your choice on the Cadw website.
How to get there for free
Getting to these beauty spots can be a worry. They are often out of the way of larger towns and cities. However there are some great options for you including reasonable bus services and trains. If you don’t have access to a car this summer check out the free weekend travel being offered by the TrawsCymru network. As part of a pilot that is running until May 2018 there is free weekend travel on specific routes throughout Wales. A quick glance at this indicates that all of the National Parks are covered by these routes in some ways.
I hope this has given you a taster of what the National Parks have to offer, enjoy your summer exploring!
If you feel you need to talk to someone about any problems your family is having then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.