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Beyond the Lake District: five of the UK’s less-visited national parks | Parks and green spaces

Beyond the Lake District: five of the UK’s less-visited national parks | Parks and green spaces

Ask most people to name a British national park and they’ll probably plump for the Lake District or the Peak District. But there are 15 parks in the UK, most of which receive far fewer visitors than those famous names. Here, we explore some of the best.

Bannau Brycheiniog (formerly Brecon Beacons)

Bannau Brycheiniog (the peaks of Brychan’s kingdom) national park is the highest ground in Britain south of Snowdonia and forms the centrepiece of the 519-square-mile region formerly known as the Brecon Beacons.

The Bannau, as they are known locally, have been a vital lung and escape for generations of miners and their families in the former coalmining valleys of south Wales since the last century, and the vast majority of the park’s 4.4 million annual visitors still come from there.

The Bannau’s Waterfall Country in the limestone belt on the southern edge of the park is one of its lesser-known attractions. The series of eight waterfalls near the hamlet of Ystradfellte are the finest, including the beautifully named Sgwd yr Eira (“spout of snow”), which forms a dancing curtain behind which you can walk without getting wet.

Llyn y Fan Fach is a mysterious, hidden lake cradled by the huge sweeping precipices of Bannau Sir Gaer (749 metres), one of the highest points of the Black Mountain (Mynydd Du), in the wild west of the park.

The legend of the Lady of the Lake concerns a young farmer’s son from the nearby village of Myddfai who, as he rested by the rocky lake shore, was amazed to see a beautiful young girl emerge from the lake. He immediately fell in love with this vision of loveliness and vowed to marry the fairy princess. However, she warned the lad that if he struck her without cause three times, or touched her with cold iron after they were married, she would return to the lake. Inevitably, that’s what happened.

Perched romantically atop a great limestone crag nearly 90 metres above the River Cennen near Llandeilo, the dramatic, broken-toothed silhouette of Castell Carreg Cennen dominates the skyline for miles. The earliest castle was probably the work of a Welsh prince, but the imposing ruins you see today were built by a later marcher lord named John Giffard as a demonstration of his wealth and influence.

Visitors can get an idea of the way in which a medieval castle gradually developed into a…

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