Man on mountain bike in Dartmoor National Park

Exploring our National Parks

Dartmoor, The New Forest and the Peak District what do they all have in common? They’re all National Parks and are all on the doorstep of Host locations. And with lockdown restrictions easing and summer just around the corner what better excuse to get out and explore our National Parks?

What is a National Park?

In the UK a National Park is a designated area of natural beauty, relatively undeveloped and protected against over development and conserved for future generations. The UK is home to fifteen national parks stretching from the Cairngorms in Scotland to Dartmoor in the South West of England. Over 110 million people visit the 15 sites each year. – Well, in normal times!

Dartmoor pony on the national park moorland

Dartmoor National Park.

2021 marks the 70th anniversary of Dartmoor being classified as a National Park. Described as wild, open moorlands, deep river valleys and rare wildlife. Dartmoor is unique:

Ideally, you’ll need a car to explore Dartmoor as it’s around a 30-minute drive from our Exeter or Plymouth locations. But it’s well worth the effort with some amazing views and places to experience. There are three visitor centres in Haytor, Princetown and Postbridge which mark a great place to start your exploration of the National Park.

A few things to do in Dartmoor:

  • Take a wander around Haytor Quarry. – From the Haytor Visitor centre you can take in a 4.5-mile loop trail which takes in; Granite outcrops, a medieval village, and the remains of several queries.
  • Go to Prison! – While it’s still a working prison there is also a museum which gives you an idea of life inside Dartmoor Prison over the last 200 years.
  • The Ponies. – There’s no more iconic sight on Dartmoor than the Dartmoor Ponies; there’s evidence of them existing on the moorland for over 3,500 years! How to spot a genuine Dartmoor pony? Traditional Dartmoor ponies are single coloured, with long flowing manes and tails.

Find out more about Dartmoor National Park on the official website.

Landscape image from within the New Forest

The New Forest National Park.

Just across Southampton water, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of The New Forest National Park. Stretching for 220 square miles; one of the newest UK national parks and is full of free-roaming ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs and sheep. And if you live with Host at Southampton Crossings the New Forest National Park is easily accessible throughout the summer (18th July until 21st August) with three open-top bus tours.

A few things to do in the New Forest:

  • Visit Brockenhurst. Right in the middle of the national park you’ll find the picturesque village of Brockenhurst, there’s a beautiful 5-mile walk you can do from here:


  • Catch the bus to Lepe Beach – A shingle and sandy beach that forms part of a country park within the National Park with an amazing view across to the Isle of Wight and coastal walks.
  • New Forest Water Park. This one’s a bit of a trek without a car but even without one it’s just a 1hr 40min train and bus journey but that effort will be well rewarded…

Download the official guide to the New Forest National Park here.

The Peak District in YorkshirePeak District National Park.

30 minutes outside of Sheffield, you’ll find yourself smack bang in the middle of the UK’s first-ever National Park; the Peak District. Home to some of the most jaw-dropping and immersive countryside the UK has to offer.

Jump onboard the Hope Valley railway line from Sheffield to Manchester, deep into the Peak District National Park passing through some spectacular scenery to explore the area. The railway line gives amazing access to the Hope Valley and the wider National Park; with stations at Bamford, Hope and Edale.

In the summer months, all three village stops allow you to catch the two hope valley explorer bus routes which let you explore the Hope Valley via public transport. The bus routes take you to the Derwent Dam, Castleton for the Peak Cavern (all known as The Devil’s Arse!) and to take in the view from the Great Ridge.

The Peak District is perfect to indulge in wild swimming, walks, cycling, visiting the quaint villages and country pubs. And of course, the breathtaking scenery that the area is famed for. And if you happen to have your car with you at uni, (Central Quay offers onsite car parking), it’s a perfect road trip destination for you and your flatmates.

For something a little closer to Sheffield city centre, catch the X5 bus from Sheffield Interchange and check out the Rother Valley Country Park. The country park has a whole host of water-based activities including; sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding for you to try out. Or for a gentler visit; why not go fishing or just explore the wildlife in the nature reserve?

Summer Lovin!

Even if you’re not studying with Host at one of these locations; why not take a staycation this summer at one of our locations? Find out all about our Summer Accommodation options here.

Getting serious about the environment we live in.

To become more ‘environmentally friendly’, Host is launching the #HostEnvironmentalPledge campaign to encourage responsible behaviour and drive sustainability across our sites throughout the UK and Ireland.

It’s a simple campaign! For every percent we reduce our overall utilities (electric, water and gas) consumption by we donate to one of our nominated charities.

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