England and Wales’ national parks date from a law passed 70 years ago. Our writer, who has walked all 13, picks fun breaks and youth hostels in each

Legal protection of England and Wales’ national parks began with a law passed by the post-war Labour government that also created the NHS. The 1932 mass trespass at Kinder Scout in the Peak District helped bring about the 1949 National Parks Act, and two years later the upland area was designated Britain’s first national park. It embraces five counties, receives 13.25 million visitors a year and is a walker’s Shangri-La. The massive moors and gritstone crags of the northern Dark Peak are impressive, but it’s the White Peak’s limestone dales and wooded gorges that are most appealing for weekending families in spring.

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