The United Kingdom has 15 national parks, including two parks in Scotland, three parks in Wales, and the remaining 10 in England.
If you’re touring national parks, you’ll want to hit up these UK wonders, but can you bring your drone with you?
You can often fly a drone in a UK national park, depending on the park’s policy. Some national parks throughout the UK have protected lands or nature reserves that prohibit drone usage.
This article will take you through all 15 of the UK’s national parks and review the drone usage policy for each one.
You certainly won’t want to miss it!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
1. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
In Balloch, Scotland, the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is a 720-square-mile park established in 2002.
The park consists of the freshwater loch called Loch Lomond, the Trossachs’ glens and hills, and mountainous regions.
According to the National Parks of Europe, you can use a drone in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. However, you must follow Scotland’s Drone Code.
Under the Drone Code, you cannot operate a drone near airfield and airport flight paths. You must stay 150 meters from built-up areas and crowds and 50 meters from structures and people.
You’re prohibited from operating your drone over 120 meters or 393 feet from the ground. You must also maintain a visual line of sight on your drone at all times.
2. Snowdonia National Park
Wales’s Snowdonia National Park is rife with glacial lands and mountains, so it only makes sense to name it after the Snowdonia region.
The park encompasses Mount Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales, and has more than 100 lakes and countless trails.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, which establishes drone laws in the UK, and the official Snowdonia government, you can operate a drone in Snowdonia National Park.
However, you must have an Operator ID or Flyer ID.
Since helicopters and aircraft operate low around the park for search and rescue missions, limit your flight around this aircraft.
You also cannot disturb domestic and wild animals and livestock.
If you operate your drone commercially, you must have permission from the Snowdonia National Park Authority.
Further, you must stay conscious of others.
As the Snowdonia government website says:
“Care should be taken when using drones on mountains due to the high number of hikers. On Yr Wyddfa, all paths to the summit (which are also all Public Rights of Way) are geographically very narrow linear corridors used by a high number of hikers. The summit can be very busy, especially during the summer. More than one drone flying around in close proximity to each other could cause a public safety concern.”
You cannot use your drone on National Trust lands within Snowdonia National Park, including:
- Ogwen Valley
You must also follow these drone usage rules:
- Know the provisions of the Data Protection Act and heed them when photographing and/or filming
- Have the proper license to operate a drone
- Do not fly nearer than 30 meters of a person besides when launching and landing
- Do not fly nearer than 50 meters of any structure or vessel
- Do not flyer nearer than 150 meters of any organized outdoor event or gathering
3. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
The second UK national park in Wales is Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This western Wales park earned its national park status in 1952.
It features a mix of moorlands, woodlands, inland hills, estuaries, beaches, and cliffsides.
You can operate a drone in parts of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, but not in Castell Henllys Iron Age Village and Carew Castle and Tidal Mill.
You’re also prohibited from using your drone on National Trust properties.
The same Drone Code rules as above apply. The park also has its own rules. For instance, you must obtain landowner permission when flying commercially.
Do not harass animals and livestock with your drone, respect people’s privacy when photographing and filming with your drone, and don’t exceed heights of 120 meters or 400 feet from the ground.
4. Brecon Beacons National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park offers activities like stargazing, mountain biking, cycling, and camping.
We couldn’t find a concrete policy on drone use at Brecon Beacons National Park. Based on what other drone enthusiasts have reported, it appears you can use your UAV here.
However, we always caution you to contact the park before visiting with your drone in tow, just in case.
5. Northumberland National Park
In northern England, Northumberland National Park is about 410 square miles. The park is split into several areas, including Cheviot Hills in the north and moorlands that lead to Kelder Forest in the south.
According to Northumberland National Park’s website, you can fly a drone commercially or recreationally.
However, you “must be in safe accordance with the Civil Aviation Authority regulations, not intrusive and respect the privacy of individuals and the wildlife in the National Park.”
If you fly over private land, you must have landowner permission. You also must have a drone license with the CAA, legally own the drone, register the drone, and be older than 18.
Northumberland National Park requires pilots to fly no closer than 150 meters of any car park on the grounds.
6. Lake District National Park
Lake District National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the biggest national park in England, featuring villages and stunning landscapes and lakes.
You can use your drone in this national park according to the Lake District National Park website.
The park has several rules in addition to the CAA’s drone laws for you to follow.
You must obey Country Code rules when operating a drone. You cannot disturb sheep or local farmers, nor other park visitors and their privacy. You also cannot disturb nesting birds and other local wildlife.
Avoid using your drone on National Trust property, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and nature reserves throughout Lake District National Park.
7. North York Moors National Park
In Yorkshire, England, North York Moors National Park contains some of the largest heather moorland areas in the entire UK! The park is 554 square miles total and hass 23,380 residents.
You can fly a drone in North York Moors National Park according to the park’s website.
If filming commercially on park premises, you must request permission from the UK’s National Park Authority.
Drone pilots don’t often get approval, but it has happened.
To increase your chances, you must have insurance and CAA registration (and proof of both) and work for a recognized production company.
Make sure you send in your request three weeks before you plan to film.
For all other drone use at North York Moors National Park, you cannot fly higher than 400 feet, nor can you operate your drone in a restricted zone or areas the National Park Authority owns.
They include National Park Centres and car parks.
You must have landowner permission if you use your drone on private property.
8. Yorkshire Dales National Park
Northern England’s Yorkshire Dales National Park contains villages, hills, valleys, and moors. The Bolton Abbey Estate is on the grounds of this park too, including its monastery from the 12th century.
You can fly a drone at Yorkshire Dales National Park within reason.
You’re prohibited from operating around Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Malham Cove, as the land is a protected peregrine falcon habitat.
You also must avoid flying around Malham Tarn, which the National Trust owns much of.
You can enjoy recreational drone flights at the park, but you must register your drone first and follow Drone Code rules.
Since almost the entirety of Yorkshire Dales National Park is privately owned, you will need permission from landowners before launching.
The park permits commercial flights, but you again need landowner permission.
9. Peak District National Park
Central England’s Peak District National Park is the home of the White Peak, the Lahtkill Dale, the Dark Peak, and Dovedale.
The park is much beloved for its limestone valleys, plateaus, moorland, and gritstone ridges.
The park allows drone usage but consider that public and private landowners own Peak District National Park. As such, you will need landowner permission to operate here.
Further, you cannot disturb wildlife, fly in Special Protection Areas or Sites of Special Scientific Interest, or invade privacy with a listening device or camera.
10. Broads National Park
Broads National Park has a little something for everyone, with over 120 miles of waterways, rare plants and animals, cycling, walking, and ancient castles.
Also known as the Broads, this English park between Suffolk and Norfolk counties is a tranquil, beloved place.
Better yet, you can operate a drone at the Broads. You have to follow the CCTV Code of Conduct, the Data Protection Act provisions, and the CAA’s drone laws.
A lot of the park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the park also includes How Hill National Nature Reserve and other nature reserves.
You must refrain from operating your drone in these areas.
Don’t use your drone in busy areas. If someone visiting the Broads asks you to stop using your drone around them, you should please do so.
Commercial pilots are welcome to Broads National Park but must have approval from the Broads Authority first.
You must call or email the Broads Authority and provide information like operational details, a full risk assessment, your contact information, your drone insurance information, and your CAA permission number.
11. Exmoor National Park
England’s Exmoor National Park is an upland region with hamlets and villages that many people call home.
Its geology includes mudstone and sandstone formations from the Devonian age, such as:
- Morte Slates Formation
- Ilfracombe Slates Formation
- Hangman Sandstone Formation
- Lynton Formation
The Exmoor National Park Authority owns up to seven percent of the national park land.
You must request their permission to use your drone, explaining why you want to operate a drone in the park before you launch.
You’ll then receive a license to fly.
12. South Downs National Park
A diverse land area with coastal views, river valleys, woodlands, open spaces, and pastures, South Downs National Park is a divine destination for hiking, trail running, air sports, horseback riding, and cycling.
The park’s website doesn’t mention anything about drone usage, but it appears that drones are permitted at South Downs National Park.
13. New Forest National Park
New Forest National Park is named after the southern England region of New Forest.
The ponies that run here make it worth seeing alone, but the park also features rich heathland and forest pathways for cycling or walking.
The park’s policy per its website is to permit drone pilots.
You can fly on private land recreationally and commercially, but even then, you must follow CAA guidelines and have permission from the property owner.
If you venture onto Forestry England-owned land or Crown Land, you must have permission first. You can send an email to email@example.com.
Don’t fly your drone on National Trust-owned public land unless you have permission.
14. Dartmoor National Park
The stretching moorland that comprises Dartmoor National Park in southwest England includes rock formations known as tors, wetlands, rivers, and forests.
Ponies also roam across the land, which features trails interlaid with farmhouses from the medieval ages, Bronze Age-era stone circles, and Neolithic tombs.
Dartmoor National Park does not permit drone usage on the park grounds.
15. Cairngorms National Park
We saved the largest for last, as Cairngorms National Park is the biggest in the UK.
The park is full of nature reserves, bike trails, castles, family attractions, scenic spots, and walking trails. It’s no wonder that creatures like red squirrels and raptor birds call it home.
The Cairngorms National Park website doesn’t mention drones outright.
Before assuming you can fly, we recommend contacting park authorities and requesting permission to launch.
All courses offered by Pilot Institute are taught by remote pilots, flight instructors, FAA commercial pilots, and other certified professionals.
There you have it, the drone usage rules for every national park in the UK.
Since so many of these beautiful, protected places allow you to use a drone, you should always be respectful and fly safe!
1. National Parks of Europe (link)
2. Snowdonia (link)
3. Northumberland National Park (link)
4. Lake District National Park (link)
5. North York Moors National Park (link)
6. New Forest National Park Authority (link)