Great Britain's National Parks

Itโ€™s 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that began the family of National Parks in Great Britain, and our GeoDataViz team have created a stunning poster to showcase the varied landscapes of our 15 beautiful National Parks.

Covering a combined area of 23,138 km2 (thatโ€™s around 10% of Great Britain and an area slightly larger than Wales) the National Parks offer us a stunning variety of landscapes to explore. With two parks in Scotland, three in Wales and ten in England, theyโ€™re accessible to many of us, no matter where we live.

Creating a poster of Britainโ€™s National Parks

Joe Harrison in our GeoDataViz team created the beautiful artwork, building on his experience of creating the Great Britainโ€™s islands poster last year. The poster was produced using a variety of software, including PostGIS, ArcMap, Blender, QGIS and Adobe Photoshop. We used a range of our data to showcase the National Parks, including OS Terrain 5, OS Open Zoomstack and OS MasterMap Topography Layer.

Joeโ€™s process for creating the National Park images was inspired by Daniel Huffman at SomethingAboutMaps. It contains a step-by-step guide on how to create shaded relief in Blender. The steps were:

  • Clip the OS Terrain 5 raster to OS Open Zoomstack national park polygons using PostGIS. This helps us show the heights of the parks.

  • Process the OS Terrain 5 raster using ArcMap.

  • Generate hillshades from the processed Terrain 5 raster using Blender, to create the 3D surface of the parks.

  • Create terrain style with OS Terrain 5 and surface water from OS MasterMap Topography Layer using QGIS.

  • Compile the terrain styles and hillshades with Adobe Photoshop.

Once each National Park was finished, it was a matter of lining each one up for the poster. The parks are ordered by the year they were created, from the Peak District in 1951 down to the South Downs in 2010.

Facts and figures

From mountains to moorland to coast, there is something for everyone in our National Parks. Unsurprisingly, the Pembrokeshire Coast boasts the longest coastline at 418 km, while just six of the parks have no coastline at all (Brecon Beacons, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Northumberland, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales).

Largest parks:

  1. Cairngorms (4528 km2)

  2. Lake District (2362 km2)

  3. Yorkshire Dales (2179 km2)

Most densely populated parks:

  1. South Downs

  2. New Forest

  3. Pembrokeshire Coast

Highest points:

  1. Cairngorms, Ben Macdui, 1309 m

  2. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Ben More, 1174 m

  3. Snowdonia, Snowdon, 1085 m

Most paths for walkers:

  1. Lake District, 7189 km

  2. Cairngorms, 7028 km

  3. South Downs, 6468 km

More information on Britainโ€™s National Parks poster

See the individual National Parks in our Flickr album.

Get ideas to explore our National Parks on our GetOutside blog.

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