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Friday, 18 May 2012

Olympic Torch Route shines a light

THE Olympic torch is set to shine a light on the 15 members of the UK National Parks family as it makes its way through some of the most stunning countryside in Britain in May. The Olympic Torch’s journey, which kicks off this week at Land’s End on May 19 and finishes at the Olympic stadium in London on July 27, will pass through or near all of our UK National Parks ‘winning landscapes’ – showcasing some of our natural national treasures along the way.

The Olympic torchbearers’ route will include a journey to the peak of Snowdon, in Snowdonia National Park, a trip across the beautiful North York Moors National Park by steam train and an open-top bus ride in the Lake District National Park. Kathryn Cook, of the UK Association of National Park Authorities, said: “The National Parks are looking forward to playing their part in celebrating this special year and hope that visitors who are here for the London 2012 Games will be able to take the time to come and enjoy our winning landscapes where they will receive a warm welcome.”

Although the torch-bearers will have to speed through each of the Parks – all members of our UK National Parks family – we think they’re worth a longer visit. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting one to watch the Olympic flame pass by, here are 
15 ideas to help you make the most of your National Park day… (click on any of the National Parks for more details)

May 21Dartmoor National Park
Take a trip to… an ancient stone circle – bronze age circle, stones, menhirs and burial chambers, for the inner archaeologist in you ...

May 22 Exmoor National Park

Celebrate International Day of Biodiversity by Exploring Exmoor’s Restored Mires ...

Mess about in a boat… along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, which is celebrating its 200 anniversary this year (boat hire & trips in Brecon)

Step back in time… at an Iron Age fort, Castell Henllys in Pembrokeshire. There are regular fun interactive tours for kids – wode face-painting optional!

Get out and about… on an accessible walk (tramper hire/mobility hire optional) along the beautiful Mawddach Trail near Dolgellau.

Become an ‘island detective’…take the boat to Inchcailloch on Loch Lomond to uncover the story the people who once lived on this beautiful island (NB not just for kids!)

June 11Cairngorms National Park
Go nature-spotting in the Highlands… on a moderate low-level walk around Grantown-on-Spey (various waymarked trails) – look out for red squirrels and capercaillie on walk no. 5 of our top 15 UK National Parks walks.

Think horrible histories…and rotten Romans, visiting Hadrian’s Wall, one of the UK’s most important Roman monuments. Need we say more?

Follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook… with a walk along part of the Cleveland Way that takes in his old school at Great Ayton (walk no. 9 of our top 15 UK National Park walks).

Ride the rails…on the Settle-Carlisle railway which passes over the spectacular 24-arch Ribblehead Viaduct. A trip to thrill kids big and small.

Be inspired by romantic poetry…of William Wordsworth, visiting the Jerwood Centre in Grassmere which houses collection of his books and memorabilia.

Get stately…with a visit to Chatsworth House, one of the best-loved stately homes in Britain – don’t forget its gardens, designed by Capability Brown.

July 4The Broads
Go boating…in the Broads, discovering Barton Broad either by accessible solar-powered boat or on foot along a boardwalk. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

July 14New Forest National Park
Go down to the woods…for an easy walk, and a sensory trail among exotic trees on the Blackwater Arboretum Trail in the New Forest (no. 2 of our top 15 UK National Park walks).

Think long and hard…about the Long Man of Wilmington, the mysterious 235ft long chalk figure on the slopes of Windover Hill. No one really knows why it’s there or how old it is - it’s a mystifying and mystic place!

Material kindly supplied by 

Clare O’Connor, UK Association of National Park Authorities

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