3 Nationals Parks near London for the perfect weekend getaway.
There are 15 national parks in the UK with 3 of them relatively close to London. The 3 national parks below are the easiest to visit from London by train or car. Remember to pack your walking boots!
South Downs National Park
South Downs National Park is the closest National Park to London and can be easily reached by train or car. It became a national park in 2010 making it the UK’s newest national park. In 2016 the National Park was granted International Dark Sky Reserve status, making it one of the best places in the country to view the night sky. Today, South Downs is one of only 16 such Reserves in the world.
There is plenty to see and do in South Downs National Park. You could try and spot all 12 species of the UK’s reptile and amphibian species. This is the only place in the whole country that has all of them. If you enjoy walking, you could walk along the South Downs Way, the only National Trail to lie within a National Park. Or if you want to be more active during your visit you could try kayaking in South Downs National Park.
Getting to South Downs National Park from London:
The train is the easiest, quickest way to get to the South Downs National Park. With regular trains departing from London Waterloo and London Victoria, it takes 60 – 90 minutes to get into the National Park.
Situated in a busy part of the United Kingdom, driving through parts of the South Downs can become congested, especially at busy times. It’s for this reason we encourage visitors to use public transport where possible.
The South Downs National Park has seen an increasing number of electric vehicle charging points installed in car parks and other locations.
Use Go Ultra Low’s interactive map to find charging points throughout the National Park.
Even though it is called the New Forest, the forest is actually over 1,000 years old. However, the New Forest only became a national park in 2005. The forest is a fantastic place to observe wildlife. You could spend all day watching the deer, birds or the famous New Forest Pony.
In fact, I would say that the New Forest Pony is one of the main reasons why this National Park is so popular. There are thousands of ponies roaming around the forest and it is quite easy to spot them. The ponies play an important part in the forest. With their grazing, they keep the grassy areas close-cropped. Who needs lawnmowers! Visitors are asked not to feed the ponies. There is plenty of lush grass for ponies to eat in the spring and summer and in the winter months, they are well-adapted to eating prickly fare such as gorse, brambles and holly.
We love walking through forests, being around so many trees calms the body and mind. The New Forest is huge so wander off and discover your own tranquil green space.
Getting to the New Forest from London:
Let the train take the strain and enjoy unforgettable views as you travel to the National Park. Brockenhurst station is in the heart of the New Forest and is just 90 minutes from London Waterloo.
It takes roughly 1hr 30 mins to drive to the New Forest from London.
The first two national parks on our list had mostly land-based activities. Our third and final national park is the opposite. With over 200 kilometres of connected waterways, the Norfolk Broads are a water-sport lovers dream.
The Broads was originally dug out in medieval times to provide peat for fuel. In the 14th century, these peat diggings flooded, creating the beautiful waterways we see today. The Norfolk Broads became a National Park in 1988.
You can cycle, walk and partake in wildlife spotting along the Norfolk Broads but it is the waterways that make this national park so unique. Why not take a boat trip, kayak, stand-up paddleboard or learn to sail during your visit?
Getting to the Norfolk Broads from London:
Getting to the Broads is easier than ever now. You can reach the national park from London in just two hours by rail from London Liverpool Street.
If you are travelling by car it roughly takes 2hr 30mins from London.
The UK is relatively small with good transport. There is no reason why you can’t be based in a city and still get your nature fix. These 3 National Parks are perfect for a weekend away from London. If you get up early enough you could even visit them in a day and be back in your own bed by late evening.