Scots say national parks are their favourite places to visit

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With National Parks Week around the corner (July 24 to 30), a new poll has revealed that Scottish people rate national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty as their top places to visit and that it’s the mood-boosting potential of a place that makes it special to them.

Only this week, it was announced that the Lake District National Park has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, mainly for its beauty and its role in inspiring artists and writers.

And, with the increasing presence of mental health issues on the news agenda – from the cost to the nation to the devastating impact on individuals – it is significant that nearly a third of Scots (31 per cent) said that what makes a place irreplaceable to them is that it improves their mood.

This was the most important factor, above its beauty (20 per cent) and spending time with their family there (19 per cent).

The survey was carried out by specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical, to uncover the places that people feel they would be lost without. Ecclesiastical insures much of the nation’s irreplaceable heritage as the UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, but also protects schools, charities, museums and churches and provides support to help them carry out their vital work.

In the poll, 29 per cent of people in Scotland said that national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are their favourite places to visit, with heritage sites and historic buildings in second spot (11 per cent) and art galleries and museums in third (10 per cent).

Parks and outside public spaces (12 per cent) were also second only to schools (23 per cent) in the list of places that Scots said their community would be lost without, with their local shop in third (11 per cent).

Angus Roy, director of Education and Heritage at Ecclesiastical, said: “This research provides a fascinating insight into the places that Scottish people feel they would be lost without. There’s a clear message that beautiful places and spaces – whether natural treasures or historic buildings – are irreplaceable. We are privileged to play a part in protecting them.

“It comes as no surprise to us that the places that people feel passionate about are so much more than bricks and mortar. They are places that lift their mood, where they have made memories, where they spend time with the people they care about and that resonate with the echoes of the past.

“And in the case of our parks, they provide the perfect pick-me-up – a place to take a pause in a fast-moving world. As a nation, we should not underestimate the economic, social and mental wellbeing benefits these open spaces provide and do everything we can to protect and cherish them.”