Tips for planning your visit

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We want you and your students to get the most out of a trip to a UK National Park. If you plan a safe, achievable trip with clear objectives your trip will be fun, stimulating and worthwhile.

Always follow the advice and guidance of your local education authority or governing body. The tips on these pages give basic sound practice for trips in the outdoors.

  • Group safety should be the top priority in planning your trip and in each activity. Have clear objectives for the trip and for each activity. Tell the other teaching and support staff what your objectives are. Tell your students enough about the objectives so they know what they are meant to accomplish by the end of the trip.
  • In your planning, act to conserve the environment and minimise your impact
  • Think about local people and visitors and your effect on them

1. Get in touch for help and advice

guided walk with schoolgroup in woodland

Even if you're just planning a day visit to run yourself, we can give you up-to-date advice on where to go, weather and road conditions, safety and access advice, and the most suitable activities to do. Or you can book our teams to deliver teaching sessions for you.

Contact details for our education teams

Residential study centres in National Parks

2. Pre-visit the site

Consulting a map on a tor in Dartmoor

If possible visit the site before your field trip.
Assess the facilities like toilets and car parks.
Check the terrain is suitable for your activity and your group.
Note any potential hazards.

3. Think about transport

Travel to a National Park by Public Transport

Could you use public transport for your trip to be really sustainable? If not, we recommend minibuses, large coaches are not very manoeuvrable on rural roads and might not be able to reach all the locations you want to get to - or turn around once there!

Remember that your group will each have a backpack with them, as well as any teaching equipment you are taking, so make sure your vehicle has enough room.

GOV.UK - advice on who can drive minibuses

4. Take the right kit

walking boots hanging up

Take the right clothing, the right food and the right equipment to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

Check our recommended kit list

Know how to use a map and compass

5. Health and Safety

Kids walking across stepping stones on Coniston Water

Our education teams have health and safety procedures and risk assessments. If you book with us make sure you are aware of these procedures.

If you are planning a visit on your own, we can send you risk assessments and helpful information to make your visit safer.

Department for Education - health and safety advice

RoSPA - group safety at water margins

Welsh Assembly Government - Safety guide for learning outside the classroom

6. Insurance

Children in hard hats climbing a steep hillside

Check with your local education authority and / or governing body that you have the necessary insurance cover needed for your trip, including transportation, activities and any residential stays.

If you book an activity with us, we can give you details of our insurance cover.

7. Know where you can go

Signposts for open access land, a footpath and a bridleway

Most land in the UK National Parks is privately owned. Check that access and your activity are allowed.

We can help with checking access and advice on the most suitable places, so get in touch

Read our quick guide to rights of way and path signs

8. Give yourself time

Group of backpackers looking at a map in Dartmoor

It can take longer than you think for a group to walk a route. Sloping or boggy ground, rain, wind, hot sun, and fatigue can slow you down.

Make sure you allow plenty of time to return to your vehicle or accommodation before it gets dark.

9. Don't count on the weather

Walker on a rocky tor at sunset

Check the weather forecast in the days before your visit, but don't rely on it being right! The weather changes rapidly, especially in upland areas, and is different at low levels and on higher ground.

National park visitor centres give local weather forecasts, and our education teams can help you prepare bad weather alternative activities.

Met Office mountain forecasts have special forecasts for seven mountainous UK National Parks

10. Working by water

School children sitting on riverbank in wellies

Rivers that rise quickly after rain, currents, slippery surfaces and underwater hazards all create new risks when working near water.

RoSPA - group safety at water margins