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 2: Westport Lake vs Snowdonia
About: Situated in Longport near Tunstall, Westport Lake is the perfect place for families, walkers and nature lovers. The visitor centre is maintained by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, with the surrounding grounds and the lake itself looked after by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. It is ideal for a calm and relaxing stroll, with a level footpath extending one mile around the lake and a heath walk around the conservation area.
What to do: There is a regular programme of family activities and, if you’re interested in venturing into the world of wildlife, the lake is an important overwintering site for many water birds and unusual species, with the northern area of the site home to kingfishers and dragonflies.
Westport Lake is a beautiful hidden gem within the very heart of the Six Towns. As a nature reserve maintained by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, it is easy for a beginner to get to grips with engaging in wildlife and nature here, and the site is accessible by bus if you don’t have a car. It is excellent for anyone who just wants a quick escape from nature whilst living in a bustling city, so I would highly recommend a visit to Staffs students who need just this!
Snowdonia National Park
About: Dominating the landscape of North Wales, the Snowdonia National Park is home to an impressive mountain range, picturesque villages, steep river gorges, stunning waterfalls and a coastline of fine sandy beaches. Snowdon itself is the highest mountain in Wales, and only 2 hours from Manchester. The rich and varied landscape of wooded valleys, peatlands and moorlands, as well as historic castles, make this national park one of the best places to visit in Wales.
What to do: Snowdonia is home to two of the finest castles in Wales: Conwy and Harlech. Both are imposing medieval fortresses and are well worth a visit if you want even more stunning views of this outstanding natural landscape. In terms of the mountains themselves, both Snowdon and Cader Idris are incredible, with the former accessible through the Snowdon Mountain Railway, and there are family attractions such as the National Slate Museum, Electric Mountain and Sygun Copper Mine just waiting to be discovered. Just a taste of some of the most distinctive geological sites in this region are Swallow Falls and the Fairy Glen in Betws-y-Coed.
Wales is a country close to my heart, and like many people, I have spent many a summer holiday here. Snowdonia and North Wales in general is just incredible, and if you feel like you want to go all guns blazing into engaging with nature like you never have before, anywhere in Snowdonia National Park is a great start.
Today, the local patch I chose is very close to the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, whereas the national park of Snowdonia is at the heart of Wales. While Westport Lake may be small and quaint and Snowdonia covers miles and miles of North Wales, both are excellent starts if you really want to celebrate the nature of our great island, and I hope at least one of them has inspired you to do just that!
Next: Park Hall Country Park vs The Lake District