Outdoor Pursuits and Government Protected Areas in the UK – Part 1

People who enjoy outdoor pursuits have been indebted to various governments around the world who have created vast areas of land that are protected from the population form building on. These regions have, for a variety of different reasons, been designated as protected areas and they have provided those who enjoys the great outdoors huge play grounds in which to explore.

The different protected land in the UK

The United Kingdom has attempted to protect large swathes of countryside since the end of the Second World War. In 1949 the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act as was passed in parliament and this created the first ten National Parks that were established through England and Wales.

Today there are thirteen parks all funded from central Government. They all have their own separate managing authority with 40 million pounds each year being allocated to run the parks. The parks receive over 110 million visitors each year and the vast majority of these people partake in some form of outdoor activity on their visits.

When the parks were created they had two sole purposes. Firstly they were put in place to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, heritage and culture of the area. Secondly to promote opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy the parks special qualities.

Since the parks have been in operation since the start of the 1950s, other areas of land have also come under the influence of government control, yet outside the boundaries of the National Parks. The first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to be established was the Gower Peninsular in Wales in 1956.

The Isle of Purbeck, an AONB and Heritage Coast

Since this date vast areas of land across the UK have become designated AONB, and this is a major bonus for those people who enjoy outdoor activities. Although these areas do enjoy the funding of the National Parks and so cannot provide as many facilities, they have still created huge areas of wilderness that millions of people are able to enjoy each year.

Another major protected area of the United Kingdom is the coastline. Currently one third of all of the coastline in England and Wales is designated as heritage coast. These area fall under the protection of local councils who work with both Natural England and Natural Resource Wales to provide opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of the coastline while still conserving their natural beauty.

In the South West of England many of these different protected areas have been joined together by the creation of the South West Coast Path. This footpath is a National Trail and runs for 630 miles from Minehead on the North Somerset coast to Poole Harbor on the South Dorset coast.

The route takes walkers and ramblers around the south west peninsular of the country through the counties of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, and Dorset. As the path meanders its way around the country it passes through National Parks, Heritage Coastline, AONB’s and World Heritage Sites acting as cement joining these different areas together.

The only places that the activities of those who enjoy outdoor pursuits need to be modified, are those areas of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) that are encountered on route. The SSSIs have been created to protect those areas with real biological or geological significance so don’t need walkers, joggers or cyclists trampling down sensitive areas.

Generally the government in the UK has created vast areas of protected wilderness that people can enjoy. It is protected and is now more accessible than ever with basic facilities provided to make the visits even more enjoyable.