National Parks of Scotland

Just like national parks of England and Wales, national parks of Scotland are areas of outstanding natural beauty where commercial activities and human settlement is strictly restricted despite the fact that most of the land within the national parks is privately owned. Although it was a Scot, John Muir who played the key role in establishment of the Yosemite National Park in the United States which was one of the first national parks in the world, Scotland did not have a national park until the early 2000s. With the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000, two national parks were created – the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park; and the Cairngorms National Park. In 2005, creation of a coastal and maritime national park was announced but so far, Scotland has only the two mentioned national parks.

UK National Park Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was formally established in 2002 when it was officially opened by Princess Anne. It covers an area of 1,865 square kilometres which makes it fourth largest national park in the United Kingdom. Its 22 lochs, 19 Corbetts, 2 forest parks and about 50 rivers of outstanding beauty make it ideal destination for outdoor recreation as well as an ideal place to get some peace and simply enjoy the nature. Over 15,000 people live within the National Park which is divided into four areas – Lock Lomond, Breadalbane, Argyll Forest Park and The Trossachs. The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park lies in the Central Belt of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands.

The Cairngorms National Park was officially opened in 2003. With an area of 4,528 square kilometres, the Cairngorms National Park in the largest national park of the United Kingdom. It lies in the eastern mountain range of the Scottish Highlands – Cairngorms and the surrounding mountainous area in the regions of Moray, Highland, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perth and Kinross. As many as five of six highest mountains of Scotland are within the national park’s boundaries but the Park is probably best known for the so-called montane zone, spectacular arctic formations including the remains of Ice Age glaciers. The National Park is also home to more than 17,000 people who mostly live in smaller towns and villages. In addition to nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts, the Cairngorms National Park also attracts visitors who are interested in history who can visit a number of castles and townships where they can learn more about the region’s history and the Clan way of life.

As much as the planned coastal and marine national park is concerned, the Scottish government is considering five possible locations - Argyll Islands and Coast; North Skye Coast and Wester Ross: Solway Firth; Ardnamurchan, Small Isles and South Skye Coast; and North Ulst, Sound of Harris, Harris and South Lewis. However, the isle of Harris has been rejected as national park in 2011.