General guidelines to know about before you visit a national park

National parks in the UK are protected areas of natural beauty and significance. While specific rules and regulations can vary between parks, there are some general restrictions and guidelines that typically apply to national parks in the UK:

  1. Conservation: The primary purpose of national parks is to conserve and protect the natural and cultural heritage of the area. Visitors are expected to respect the environment and wildlife, taking care not to disturb or damage them.
  2. Access: National parks are open to the public, and most provide a network of footpaths, bridleways, and other rights of way for visitors to explore. However, certain areas may be restricted to protect sensitive habitats or wildlife during breeding seasons.
  3. Camping: Wild camping is generally discouraged in most UK national parks. Campers are encouraged to use designated campsites and follow the “leave no trace” principles. In some parks, camping may require a permit.
  4. Fires and Barbecues: Open fires are usually prohibited in national parks. Many parks have designated areas for barbecues, and portable stoves may be used for cooking.
  5. Dogs: Dogs are often allowed in national parks, but they must be kept under control and on a lead in certain areas to protect wildlife and livestock. Some parks may have restrictions on dogs in specific areas.
  6. Litter: Visitors are expected to dispose of their litter responsibly by using provided bins or taking it with them. Littering is subject to fines.
  7. Cycling and Horse Riding: While many national parks offer cycling and horse riding opportunities, certain paths may be designated for these activities, and they should be followed accordingly.
  8. Wildlife: Feeding wildlife is generally discouraged as it can disrupt natural behaviors and diets. Bird watching and wildlife photography are encouraged but should be done with respect for the animals and their habitats.
  9. Leave No Trace: Visitors are encouraged to follow the Leave No Trace principles, which include leaving natural and cultural features as you found them, disposing of waste properly, and minimizing your impact on the environment.
  10. Visitor Centers and Information: National parks often have visitor centers where you can obtain maps, information, and guidance on park rules and safety.

It’s important to check the specific rules and regulations for the national park you plan to visit, as they can vary from one park to another. These rules are in place to ensure that the natural beauty and biodiversity of these areas are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Find more to read about our national parks