Royal Mail issues a set of 10 stamps on January 14 celebrating National Parks, marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of such areas in the UK.

The first to be designated was the Peak District, in April 1951, followed by three others later in the same year. There are now 15 National Parks in total.

Unlike those in many other countries, which are owned by the government and have no permanent human settlements, British national parks comprise land which remains largely in private ownership, and may include substantial towns and industries.

However there are restrictions affecting building, commercial activity and land use, to preserve the natural beauty of the landscape, its wildlife and heritage.

Designed by Studio Mean, from photographs, the stamps were printed in litho by International Security Printers and come in two se-tenant strips of five.

 

1st class Dartmoor National Park

Designated in 1951, Dartmoor in Devon is the largest and wildest area of open country in the south of England. Its landscape consists of moorland capped with peat bogs and exposed granite hilltops, known as tors. It has the biggest expanse of granite in the UK, and the largest concentration of Bronze Age remains.

1st class New Forest National Park

Designated in 2005, the New Forest in Hampshire comprises not only forest butheathland, marshland and coastline, including the largest remaining lowland heath in Europe. Designated as a royal hunting ground by William the Conqueror almost 1,000 years ago, it also has unenclosed pastureland (where residents have historic rights to let their animals roam) and timber plantations once harvested for building Royal Navy ships.

1st class Lake District National Park

Designated in 1951, the Lake District in Cumbria has not only the largest and deepest lakes in England (Windermere and Wast Water respectively), but also the highest peaks (the tallest of which is Scafell Pike). The landscape also features upland heath, forest, wetlands, screes, estuary and coastal dunes, and has been celebrated by poets and authors such as William Wordsworth, Arthur Ransome and Beatrix Potter.

1st class Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Designated in 2002, this park straddles the fault line dividing the highlands and lowlands of Scotland, north of Glasgow. It includes Loch Lomond (the largest lake in Great Britain), the wooded glens of the the Trossachs, the shoreline of sea lochs such as Loch Goil, and no fewer than 21 Munros (peaks higher than 3,000ft), the tallest of which is Ben More. The wildlife includes golden eagle, capercaillie, red squirrel, black grouse, osprey and even wallaby!

1st class Snowdonia National Park

Designated in 1951, Snowdonia includes the highest mountain in Wales, Mount Snowdon, many of the country’s largest natural lakes, and part of the Irish Sea coast. The rocky landscape of the national park also incorporates the Harlech Dome, whose volcanic geology has been a source of minerals such as gold, silver, zinc, copper and manganese.

1st class North York Moors National Park

Designated in 1952, the North York Moors is an upland plateau, intersected by deep dales, comprising a mixture of woodland and pastureland, along with one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the UK, whose purple and brown colours are clearly visible on satellite images. Extending eastward to the cliffs of the North Sea coast, its varied geology includes the evidence of ancient oceans and great river deltas, with fossils ranging from ammonites to dinosaur footprints.

1st class South Downs National Park

Designated in 2010, the South Downs is the newest of the national parks, comprising a range of hills which extend through Hampshire and Sussex. The underlying geology is mainly chalk, and the hills culminate in the white sea cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head to the east. This park has a far higher population than any other.

1st class Peak District National Park

Designated in 1951, the Peak District is an upland area at the southern end of the Pennines, mostly within Derbyshire. Geologically it is divided into the gritstone Dark Peak, with its bleak moorland landscapes, and the limestone White Peak, with its dales and gorges. The boundaries of the park were drawn to exclude most urban and industrial centres, in a region known for the mines, quarries and textile mills which flourished during the industrial revolution.

1st class Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Designated in 1952, Pembrokeshire Coast is the only national park recognised primarily for its shoreline. It covers almost all the coast of Pembrokeshire, including offshore islands, and comprises rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries and the moorland of the Preseli Hills. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is 186 miles long, and involves 35,000ft of ascent and descent.

1st class Broads National Park

Designated in 1989, the Broads comprise a network of six rivers, 63 broads (shallow lakes), marshes and fens in Norfolk and Suffolk, adding up to 125 miles of navigable waterways. Park status protects not only the landscape but also navigation. The broads themselves are not natural but man-made, the result of medieval peat excavations which subsequently became flooded due to rising sea levels.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack has information about all 15 national parks, and a first day cover and stamp cards are available as usual.

 

PRICES

Set of 10 stamps   £8.50

Presentation pack   £9.40

First day cover   £10.85

Stamp cards   £4.50

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

As recreation venues and tourist attractions, the National Parks are among the glories of the British countryside

QUALITY OF DESIGN   4/5

The photography is stunning, with each image giving a flavour of the park’s distinctive character

WOW FACTOR   3/5

Landscape photography doesn’t always work well at stamp size, but this set should encourage users to take a closer look