ENGLAND’S NATIONAL PARKS
By Glynn Burrows, Norfolk Tours UK
There are fifteen National Parks protected for their natural beauty and available for the enjoyment of all. The management of these parks, to maintain their beauty, flora, fauna, geology and dramatic landscapes, is an extremely difficult balancing act. Allowing public access while keeping these places wild and natural, is a very delicate operation, with the ever present risk of losing the very thing that the people are there to see and experience.
The formation of the National Parks was a direct result of the need for countryside recreation. So much of the population of England was, in the 1920’s, still living in cramped and overcrowded towns and cities. Access to open countryside was for the rich and the people who lived in the country, and most of the town and city folk had to make do with town parks and similar open spaces for their recreation. By the 1930’s, day trips by train to the seaside were often the only time some people were actually able to breathe clean, fresh air!
After many years of protest and even the imprisonment of five men during a mass trespass in 1932, the 1950’s saw the first National Parks set up, starting with the Peak District and including the Lake District, Dartmoor, and the North Yorkshire Moors. Others were added over the ensuing years and the last one to be added, in 2009, was the South Downs.
The family of parks includes one which is on my doorstep. The area concerned has a name which causes a little confusion, as well as a smile amongst many of my American visitors as it is called “The Norfolk Broads”. Asking my visitors if they would like to see The Norfolk Broads often raises a few eyebrows! This area is a network of waterways which were formed by the flooding of medieval peat diggings and is a real haven for birds and wildlife, thanks to the protection which comes with being a park. This is a great area for birding, sailing, photography, painting and writing, as well as walking and many other pass-times which involve peace and quiet and the enjoyment of the natural world. Together with all these wonders of the natural world, we also have stunning ruins, amazing Churches and lovely little villages too. Enjoying a pint in the garden of a pub while listening to the water lapping on the side of the river-bank is one of the best ways to spend a summer’s evening.
One of my other favourite National Parks is the Lake District as it was where I spent an activity holiday when I was teenager. Canoeing on the lake, orienteering, water-skiing, grass skiing, archery and generally being a teenager, all stick in my head as very happy memories. I was back in the area only last year, with a couple who wanted to visit the town of Bowness on the way back from Scotland and I really enjoyed showing them around this beautiful area. The main places to visit on Lake Windermere are Bowness and Ambleside, as Bowness is the place to pick up a boat for a trip out on the water and Ambleside is the place to enjoy some of the famous views, especially of the Bridge House, which was supposedly built on a bridge to avoid paying land tax.
The main reason for visiting this area is not for visiting towns though, it is to see the amazing natural beauty of this area and that is around every corner. Lakes and mountains, rivers and waterfalls, rocky outcrops and hillside grazing grounds. If you enjoy walking, you can walk for miles, if not, driving around the tiny lanes and tracks it is surprising what can be discovered. Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Thomas De Quincy and John Ruskin were all hugely influenced by the outstanding beauty of this area and Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter is open to visitors. I can’t promise that Peter Rabbit will be there, or Jemima Puddle-Duck but I can promise that you will fall in love with the area, just as I have.
Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England. For help or advice about tracing your family history, or if you are thinking about taking a vacation to England visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk