Appalachian Trail Hiking Map

NATIONAL PARKS

Following the kerfuffle in Derbyshire over the Kinder Trespass, the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act created a handful of national parks designed to give hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, an opportunity to explore some of the best areas the UK has to offer. These national parks are not owned by the state, but by private individuals, businesses and charitable organisations, such as the National Trust. So, when in a national park, a bluffer still needs to know his byways from his permissive paths.

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The act saw the creation of national park authorities, whose responsibility it is to protect the natural beauty of the landscape while also promoting the area as an outdoor playground (although any bluffers looking for a quick snog behind the bike sheds may have to use a stone wall instead).

You should be aware that not everyone is happy about the role of national park authorities, because they are also the local planning authority. Locals seeking planning permission for their satellite dish, so they can obtain terrestrial TV signals via traditional transmitters that the mountains often deny them, are understandably upset when their application is rejected on the grounds that they damage the scenic quality of the landscape, yet permission is granted to the local power company to erect 300 wind turbines. (Note that the great majority of hikers don’t like wind turbines, and so neither must you.) There are currently 15 national parks in England, Wales and Scotland:

BRECON BEACONS

Avoid Sennybridge, an MOD training camp, where any temporarily misplaced hikers can find themselves being shot for having poor navigational skills.

NORFOLK BROADS

Preferred by hikers with a canoe, instead of walking boots, on each foot.

CAIRNGORMS

A big place, it has Britain’s highest and biggest mountain range, and is home to the UK’s highest funicular railway.

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