Home to a dramatic blend of rustic cities and imposing mountains, Scotland is arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the British Isles. But unlike England and Wales, who have ten and three national parks respectively, Scotland contains only two, with just 7.2% of the country’s land area designated to protected parkland.
Despite this, and in honour of Love Parks Week, we wanted to delve deeper into Scotland’s national parks. Afterall, the Cairngorms is the UK’s largest protected land mass, the Loch Lomond & Trossachs being the fourth largest- pretty impressive, considering there’s just two of them. The beauty of Scotland’s national parks is that they hold much of the country’s most valued pockets of wilderness, and regardless of proportions, are sure to give any English or Welsh national park a run for its money.
Cairngorms National Park
Covering a land area of 4,528 sq kilometres, the Cairngorms is by far the largest national park in the UK, dwarfing the Lake District by over two thousand square kilometres. It’s also home to Ben Macdui, Britain’s second highest mountain. A bit of a record breaker then; but what else does the Cairngorms have to shout about? Well, the park also features some of Britain’s biggest and oldest forests, including a large swathe of Caledonian Forest which once covered much of the UK. There’s water aplenty here too, making the park a mecca for watersport enthusiasts, with kayaking and white-water rafting being the two most popular waterborne pursuits.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
With 21 Munros (Scottish mountains with a height over 3,000 ft), 19 Corbetts (Scottish mountains with a height between 2,500-3,000 feet), 57 designated special conservation sites and two forest parks, it’s no surprise that the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is very popular with walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts. One hiking trail not to miss is the West Highland Way, a 96 mile route which runs from Fort William in the Highlands to Mingavie on the outskirts of Glasgow. The trail traverses much of the park’s most serene landscapes, making it a great way for ramblers to see the beauty of this stunning corner of Scotland.
The future of Scotland’s national parks
In 2005, the Scottish government announced that they plan to designate Scotland’s first marine national park, a move which would showcase and protect the beauty of the Scottish coast for generations to come. When formed, the marine national park will be the second of its kind in the UK, the other being the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in South Wales. In total, there are five potential locations which the Scottish Government are considering, including Solway Firth, Argyll Islands, the Skye Coast and North Uist. Personally, we can’t wait to visit when the park is finally unveiled!
Rent a holiday home in Scotland with Sykes Cottages
Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re mighty fond of our neighbours north of the border, and offer a great selection of self-catering accommodation to choose from in this rugged and inspiring country. Whether you’re looking for a Scottish log cabin in the Cairngorms or a contemporary apartment in Edinburgh, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on our Scottish accommodation page.