The United Kingdon’s Lake District National Park is 885 square miles with a width west to east of 33 miles, and from north to south 40 miles. It’s small, compact and scenic as heck. Add in easy access with good road and rail links and it’s also very popular, and very busy.
For the backpacker it offers superb walks and an ideal training ground for English backpackers to get prepared for longer walks in the Scottish Highlands and beyond.
But the backpacker seeks often to be more alone, to immerse in the landscapes and escape the crowds. Well, even the busy National Parks can have out of the way parts that offer great backpacking and seclusion.
In the Lakes the area North Of Skiddaw (one of the few 300ft Peaks in the Park) is one such place. In the spring of 2013, the author visited it for an overnight hike for the first trip of the year. Late snow clad the summits and ice axe and crampons were still needed (crampons and trail shoes work but don’t push your luck or think it’s recommended). Few venture to this area on a weekend let alone mid week, and with planning, a wild walk in a pathless wild area is easily found here. This is in a National Park with 14 million visitors a year, and that’s despite having the highest rainfall in England.
Other United Kingdom National Parks are the same. Once off the beaten tracks you can soon lose the crowds and enjoy the space to yourself. Wild camp overnight and it’s likely to be all yours for the night to enjoy. While day hikers retreat to the valleys and a warm bed – but miss the dance of light and shadow over the mountains as the sun sets. Their loss – your gain.
My last trip of 2013 led me to the Peak District National Park – which is the 2nd busiest National Park in the world, with 22 million visitors per annum and 16 million people living within an hour’s drive of it. Yet my friend Andy and myself found a remote spot to wild camp and escape the day-to-day stress of life and immersed ourselves in the Great Outdoors.
We crossed rivers, scrambled up rocky outcrops and enjoyed those spots the day-tripper will ignore due to needing to get back to the car and home.
So don’t count out National Parks on busy weekends when planning walks. Just go to the less accessible areas and away from the most visited summits and enjoy the park still.