It’s National Parks Week! This week is all about celebrating the UK’s 15 national parks and all they have to offer. Throughout the week, each park will host free family events to encourage people to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the British countryside. As someone who loves nature and the great outdoors, I am determined to show you just how the county of Staffordshire matches up to these treasured national parks. That is why I have devised Local vs National, a series of blogs that will shine the spotlight on one local green space, either in Stoke-on-Trent or surrounding Staffordshire, alongside one national park, in the hope that I can encourage at least one more young person to pause the box set autoplaying on Netflix and discover some of the true wonders within our county and country alike.
Day 3: Park Hall Country Park vs The Lake District
Park Hall Country Park
About: Unlike the last two local green spaces, Park Hall Country Park has actually been declared a National Nature Reserve, and has been for the last 15 years. It is one of the most important natural sites in Stoke-on-Trent due to its sandstone canyons among other aspects of its geology, making it a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It boasts guided trails that provide the option to take an easier or more challenging route, all surrounded by sandstone and pebble beds, as well as four pools that attract a great range of birds and insects. This green space is absolutely thriving with wildlife – and it’s right on our doorstep!
What to do: This place is perfect to just take some time out of your busy schedule and experience the sight of a natural phenomenon in Stoke-on-Trent. The site offers refreshments, a gift shop and a picnic site, so if you’re stuck for somewhere to go at the weekend either with family, friends or maybe just on your own, Park Hall Country Park would be an excellent way to engage with nature not far from our city’s centre.
As someone who loves history as well as nature, I think this country park is just fantastic. Not only do you get a lovely walk encountering a huge variety of wildlife, but there is also a heritage to this place as it was once a quarry. I don’t know about you, but when I go for a nature walk and find a plaque detailing the history of the very land I am standing on, it’s just the cherry on the proverbial cake.
The Lake District
About: The inspiring landscape that makes up the Lake District, with its high fells, deep glacial lakes and rural communities, has attracted creatives and visitors alike for centuries. Most notably, summer holidays to the Lake District were in part the inspiration for the works of Beatrix Potter, to such an extent that she decided to retire to a small cottage within this glorious national park. As of very recently, this site has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and there’s no guessing as to why. England’s highest mountain, Scafell, can be found here, as well as the namesake 16 lakes and smaller tarns. Only 2 hours from Manchester, entering this site is like taking a step into another world, prehistoric and magical at the same time.
What to do: Unsurprisingly, a lot of the activities on offer within the Lake District involve water, centered around the use of these incredible natural lakes. Boat trips, sailing, canoeing and swimming are all regular tourist attractions, with the most popular lake to visit being Windermere.
But, if water’s not your thing, never fear – the charming rural towns that surround the lakes, particularly Bowness-on-Windermere, offers a variety of attractions such as the World of Beatrix Potter, or further afield, Hill Top, the cottage where Beatrix Potter retired to and that she gifted to the National Trust upon her death. The Lakeland Motor Museum, Muncaster Castle and Lowther Castle are also worthwhile days out surrounded by this stunning landscape.
As a child, I was absolutely obsessed with Beatrix Potter and as such, I dreamed of visiting the Lake District. A couple of years ago I was finally able to do so and I was not disappointed. This whole region of England is just beautiful, and there is nothing like the serenity and tranquility of being on a boat on Lake Windermere with your trusty canine companion just soaking in these stunning rolling hills and glacial lakes.
I picked these two sites today because they both provide purely stunning views. Whilst part of Park Hall Country Park is man-made quarry and the Lake District is natural glacial lakes, both are now completely natural and are an established home for wildlife. If you want a breathtaking experience, visit one of these parks this National Parks Week 2017!
Next: Biddulph Grange vs The Cairngorms