Celebrate 70th anniversary of National Parks with Big Picnic in Exmoor

18 June 2019

A special ‘Big Picnic’ for all those who love National Parks is being held in Exmoor National Park on Wednesday 17th July to celebrate 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that gave rise to the UK’s 15 National Parks.

The Act was a truly landmark moment born out of a decades-long campaign that famously led to the mass trespass of the Peak District’s Kinder Scout in 1932, amid years of protests and political lobbying by various pressure groups. The breakthrough came when a Government review committee, headed by Sir Arthur Hobhouse, capitalised on post-war optimism to table a new National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, which became law in 1949.

The National Parks Commision by LJ Watson

The National Parks Commision. Photo credit: LJ Watson

The National Parks Big Picnic is a chance to celebrate the legacy of these early pioneers and their determination to make enjoyment of the country’s most iconic landscapes the right of every citizen. It will take place in Simonsbath’s beautiful riverside meadows, at the heart of Exmoor National Park’s former Royal Forest.

Special guests will include Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Minister for National Parks), Niall Hobhouse (grandson of Arthur Hobhouse), representatives from the UK National Park family, along with some very special VIPs to be announced.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park, said: “We’re proud to be part of a family of 15 National Parks tasked with conserving some of the country’s most extraordinary landscapes. Grab your picnic and chairs or a blanket and join us in celebrating all these special places mean to the nation. Tickets are free but limited, so be sure to claim yours soon.”

There will be a complimentary cream tea for all ticketholders and the unveiling of a special show-stopper cake in honour of all the UK’s National Parks. Come and see the working Sawmill and take a tour of nearby Ashcombe Gardens where a 200-year-old lost garden is being restored. The event will also include live music, displays, guided-walks, native breeds, traditional crafts, Exmoor ponies and assorted countryside activities. Bring your own picnic or pre-order one from the website to collect on the day. Local produce and refreshments will be available to buy, including hog roast, BBQ, local ales, gin and cider, teas and coffees and Styles ice cream.

Limited free tickets are available on a first-come-first-serve basis at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/bigpicnic

The event is hosted by Exmoor National Park Authority with kind sponsorship from Tarmac and further support from The Exmoor Society, Somerset County Council, Devon County Council, Exmoor Hill Farming Network and the family of UK National Parks. Campaign for National Parks, the charity which led the fight for the National Parks over 70 years ago, will be delighted to attend. 

Stuart Wykes, director of Land and National Resources at Tarmac, said: "Tarmac is proud to be sponsoring the National Parks Big Picnic in celebration of their 70th anniversary. We have a long history working within the national parks so it's great to be involved in such special event."