National Park sights in Europe
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Hesse's first national park, established in 2004, encompasses one of the largest extant red beech forests in Central Europe, the Kellerwald, and the Edersee, a serpentine artificial reservoir 55km northeast of Marburg and about the same distance southwest of Kassel. Some 400 springs feed creeks that, as one brochure puts it, are 'a true paradise for the fire salamander'. Larger land animals include red deer; overhead you may see eagles and honey buzzards and, at night, various species of bat.
The Cairngorms National Park encompasses the highest landmass in Britain – a broad mountain plateau, riven only by the deep valleys of the Lairig Ghru and Loch Avon, with an average altitude of over 1000m and including five of the six highest summits in the UK.
This wild mountain landscape of granite and heather has a sub-Arctic climate and supports rare alpine tundra vegetation and high-altitude bird species, such as snow buntings, ptarmigans and dotterels.
The harsh mountain environment gives way lower down to scenic glens softened by beautiful open forests of native Scots pine, home to rare animals and birds such as pine martens, wildcats, red squirrels, ospreys,…
Immediately southeast of Letterfrack, Connemara National Park spans 2000 dramatic hectares of bog, mountain and heath. The visitor centre is in a beautiful setting off a parking area 300m south of the Letterfrack crossroads.
The park encloses a number of the Twelve Bens, including Bencullagh, Benbrack and Benbaun. The heart of the park is Gleann Mór (Big Glen), through which the River Polladirk flows. There's fine walking up the glen and over the surrounding mountains. There are also short, self-guided walks and, if the Bens look too daunting, you can hike up Diamond Hill nearby.
The visitor centre offers an introduction to the park's flora, fauna and geology, and visitors…