England's most rugged, remote and protected landscapes...
ure, England’s National Parks are about protecting the environment but they’re also great places to have fun. That said, it’s pretty hard work climbing the Lake District’s Scafell Pike, but get to the top and you’ll quickly forget all that huffing and puffing when you see the view. It could be straight out of a painting – and chances are it probably is. Over the years, the dramatic scenery of the Lake District National Park has inspired the likes of Johns Constable and Ruskin, as well as poets like Samuel Coleridge and Wordsworth.
For English countryside that’s more afternoon amble than hardcore hike, however, head for the rolling hills of the South Downs Way . This ancient 160-kilometre route follows the chalk escarpment, and is a Mecca for mountain bikers. Be sure not to pedal too fast, though, or you’ll miss out on the clusters of wild flowers like pansies and scarlet pimpernels, that line the way.
If you prefer your ‘riding’ to come with stirrups and a mane, then you might want to look at the wild and haunting plains of Dartmoor instead. Saddle up and gallop out onto the open moor, where a few clumps of heather and the odd bit of bog are the only things that are going to slow you down.
In the New Forest , meanwhile, horses aren’t just for riding – they’re responsible for helping to maintain the landscape. By constantly nibbling on the shrubland, the 3,000 resident ponies stop the vegetation from getting out of control, and save the park’s wardens hours of pruning. So if you spot a New Forest Pony munching away, just remember how hard she’s working – while you enjoy your outdoor holiday.
Sign up to our eNewsletter for the latest travel news, top events and great ideas for holidays and breaks in England.