UK National Parks

National Parks protect the landscape character of large areas of land and provide opportunities for outdoor recreational activities. There are 15 National Parks to be found in the United Kingdom - ten in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland. The infographic compares the 15 parks across a selection of four different topics: the size of each park; the combined length of all walking routes in a park; the highest point in each park; and the density of people living in a park. The centre of the infographic displays the maximum and minimum figures in each range. The design of the infographic uses simple bar charts, but in a layout that presents the information in a dynamic way. That dynamism is accentuated by the use of colour, which also enables each park to be easily identified across the four bar charts.

Click on the infographic to enlarge it.

UK National Parks infographic

A Brief History of UK National Parks

Early in the 20th Century, as industrialisation and urban areas expanded, there was a growing desire for public access to the open countryside to enjoy the outdoor environment. Pressure for the creation of ‘National Parks’ to meet this need grew in the 1930s, culminating in the 1949 Act of Parliament to establish parks that protect the beauty of the landscape and provide recreational opportunities for people.

In 1951, the Peak District became the first National Park to be designated in the UK, and a further nine parks were designated that same decade. The Broads was designated in 1988, and four more parks designated in the first decade of the 21st Century. The most recent National Park is the South Downs, designated in 2010.

The ten English parks cover just under 10% of the total land area of England. The three parks in Wales cover 20% of the that country, with the two Scottish parks covering just over 7% of Scotland.

Park size

The smallest National Park is The Broads in eastern England, measuring in at 303 square kilometres (sq km). Despite its small size in relation to other National Parks, The Broads is the largest single area of protected wetland in Britain. At the opposite end of the range, the Cairngorms in north east Scotland is the largest park, covering 4528 sq km.

Highest point

The Cairngorms in Scotland has four of the five highest mountains in the UK and also has the highest point in any of the parks: Ben Macdui, 1309 metres in height above sea level. The Broads sits at the opposite end of the range, its highest point being Strumpshaw Hill at 38 metres.

Length of walking routes

The park with the longest network of waymarked routes is the South Downs in southern England, with a total of 3300 kilometres of paths. The New Forest, also in southern England, sits at the opposite end of the range with a total of 235 kilometres of waymarked routes. Of course, there will be many walking paths in each park that are not part of a waymarked route.

Population density

The Northumberland National Park is the least populated, with around 2000 people living within its boundary (just 2 people per sq km). The Cairngorms, the next lowest in terms of population, has double this number (4 people per sq km). The most densely populated park, at 72 people per sq km, is also the newest, the South Downs.


While the infographic uses simple bar charts to display the data, the layout and colours present the information in an eye-catching way that makes the whole graphic more interesting. The central graphic element provides the visual connection between the four bar charts on the outer edges, with the highest and lowest entries in each case highlighting the range of each dataset.

Each park is given its own colour to enable it to be identified in the four charts. In addition, the colour tones indicate whether the park is located in England, Wales or Scotland: the English parks are all coloured in tones of red; the Welsh parks in tones of green; and the Scottish ones in tones of blue.


This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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