Discovering national parks

April 2nd 2019

National Parks Week, the annual festival celebrating everything unique and special about the UK’s National Parks, is changing in 2019 to Discovering National Parks Fortnight! 

For two weeks, Saturday 6th April to Sunday 21st April, coinciding with many of the Easter school holidays, our 15 UK National Parks are being championed as the amazing places for adventure that they are. Secret coves, historic hillforts, ancient forests and tranquil lochs are all waiting to be discovered in the UK’s stunning National Parks.

How many have you visited?

You can find lots of information about these special places to visit on The National Parks website. There you can also find out what events are going on during the two-week celebrations to help plan your visit.

Are you up to the challenge?

National parks are great places to take a stroll in, but figures from Public Health England (PHE) show an alarmingly high amount of people aged between 40 and 60 are dangerously inactive. A 10 minute brisk walk each day, that makes you breathe faster and gets your heart rate up, can reduce the risk of early death by 15%. But PHE estimates that 4 out of 10 people in this age group do not even manage a brisk 10-minute walk each month!

Just 10 minutes every day can start to make a positive difference to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety and problems such as back pain.

Simple changes to our lifestyles – walking to the shops instead of driving, or taking a walk during a lunch break – can quickly help people to reach 10 minutes of brisk walking every day. It’ll also help towards the PHE recommended amount of 150 minutes of activity each week. If you would like nothing better than taking in the beauty of a national park while you walk, make sure your body is ready and you are prepared.

Here are our 6 top tips for getting ready for a big walk:

  1. Good footwear is the best foundation for a good walk. You need light and supportive walking boots and proper walking socks. If your boots are new, break them in before you start serious walking.
  2. If you’re getting back into walking, give yourself plenty of time and take things slowly to start off with. Start with short distances and build up to longer distances getting a little faster as you go.
  3. Before your walk, make sure your muscles and joints are ready for action. Build up your strength gradually before walking any distance, and always start a walk with a thorough warm up session – that way you are less likely to injure yourself.
  4. Make sure you know where you are going for your walk, take a map, a mobile, let someone know where you are going and how long for, and make sure you are dressed appropriately. If you are climbing hills or crossing rivers, a pair of flip-flops, shorts and a T-shirt might not be the best option. If you need extra support, take a purpose-designed walking stick with you.
  5. Be sure to take on plenty of fluids when you are walking. A mixture of water and energy/electrolyte type drinks are recommended for longer walks. If you know you’re going to be out for a while, make sure you have something to eat as you go too – to maintain energy levels.
  6. If you’re injured – Stop – do not try to push yourself. Apply standard first aid treatment for small injuries. For more serious injuries, call the emergency services. To assist with your recovery, seek treatment from a registered physiotherapist and follow their advice – it is easy to undo their good work by returning to training too soon.