River Dee, Aberdeenshire
The River Dee is a river in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It rises in the Cairngorms and flows through southern Aberdeenshire to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen; the area it passes through is known as Deeside, or Royal Deeside in the region between Braemar and Banchory because Queen Victoria came to love the place and built Balmoral Castle there. Deeside is a popular area for tourists, due to the combination of scenic beauty and historic and royal associations; the scenic beauty of Deeside is recognised by its inclusion in the Cairngorms National Park and the Deeside and Lochnagar National Scenic Area. The Dee is popular with anglers, is one of the most famous salmon fishing rivers in the world; the New Statistical Account of Scotland attributed the name Dee as having been used as early as the second century AD in the work of the Alexandrian geographer Claudius Ptolemy, as Δηοῦα, meaning'Goddess', indicating a divine status for the river in the beliefs of the ancient inhabitants of the area. There are several other rivers of the same name in Great Britain, these are believed to have similar derivations, as may the Dee's near neighbour to the north, the River Don.
The River Dee rises from a spring on the Braeriach plateau in the Cairngorm Mountains at a height of at about 1,220 m, the highest source of any major river in the British Isles. Emerging in a number of pools called the Wells of Dee the young Dee flows across the plateau to the cliff edge from where the Falls of Dee plunge into An Garbh Choire; the river is joined by a tributary coming from the Pools of Dee in the Lairig Ghru, flows south down the Lairig Ghru between Ben Macdui and Cairn Toul, tumbling over falls in the Chest of Dee on its way to White Bridge and the confluence with the Geldie Burn, at which point it turns east. At Linn of Dee the river passes east through a 300 metre natural rock gorge, a spot much favoured by Queen Victoria during her stays at Balmoral; the queen opened the bridge that spans the Dee at this point in 1857. Between Linn of Dee and Braemar the Lui Water and the Quoich Water join the growing River Dee; the River Clunie enters the Dee at Braemar. Through Deeside the river passes Braemar, Balmoral Castle, Dinnet and Banchory to reach the sea at Aberdeen.
Near Ballater two rivers are tributaries: the River Gairn flowing from the north and the River Muick, flowing out of Loch Muick, from the south. The river remains within the Cairngorms National Park. Water of Tanar flows through Glen Tanar before joining at Aboyne; the Falls of Feugh has its confluence with the Dee at Banchory and Coy Burn enters at Milton of Crathes. The tidal limit is just above Bridge of Dee, built about 1720, which carries the main A90 trunk road from Aberdeen to the south. Before reaching the North Sea, the river passes through Aberdeen Harbour, the principal marine centre for the energy industry in Europe, servicing the offshore oil and gas industry. An artificial channel was constructed in 1872 to straighten the river's flow into the sea. Footdee is an old fishing village at the east end of Aberdeen Harbour; the Dee is important for nature conservation and the area has many designated sites. The upper catchment down to Inverey is within the Mar Lodge Estate, owned by the National Trust for Scotland and has been classified as a National Nature Reserve since May 2017.
The Cairngorms National Park, established in 2003 covers the whole of the catchment of the Dee, including tributaries, down to as far as Dinnet. As well being included as part of the Cairngorms National Park the Deeside area, along with the mountains surrounding Lochnagar as far south as the head of Glen Doll, are together classified as the Deeside and Lochnagar National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland; the designated national scenic area covers 39,787 ha, extending from the Geldie down to Ballater. The entire length of the Dee is defined as a Special Area of Conservation due to its importance for salmon and Freshwater pearl mussels. Other SACs within the Deeside area include Glen Tanar, the Muir of Dinnet and the Morrone Birkwood; the southern side of Deeside is classified as a Special Protection Area, due to the area's importance for golden eagles. Much of the semi-natural Caledonian pine forest in Scotland is within the Dee catchment; the area contains nationally rare examples of pine woods, birch woods and heather moors with associated wildlife.
On the valley floor there are deciduous alder and mixed broadleaved woods, meadow grasslands. The Dee is a popular salmon river, intersected by sharp rapids. In 1995 it was estimated that salmon fishing on the river contributed between £5 and £6 million a year to the Grampian Region economy; the A93 road runs west along the north bank of the river from Aberdeen to Braemar before it turns south, leaving Deeside, to climb to the Glenshee Ski Centre at Cairnwell Pass and onwards to Perth. Just west of Ballater the A939 Lecht Road leaves the A93 to take a tortuous climb towards the Lecht Ski Centre on to Tomintoul and Nairn. Beyond Braemar a narrow road continues along the south side of the Dee as far as Linn of Dee, at which point it doubles back to terminate at Linn of Quioch on the north bank of the Dee. There are no paved roads into the Cairngorms beyond Linn of Dee, although two walking routes, the Lairig Ghru and the Lairig an Laoigh, continue via passes in the mountains to reach Speyside.
Until 1966 the Deeside Railway ran from Aberdeen to Ballater, operated by the Great North of Scotland Railway. The line opened from Aberdeen to Banchory in 1853, was extended to Aboyne in 1859, with a further extension to Ballater opening in 1866; the lin
Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk on trails, in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the word "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps; the word hiking is often used in the UK, along with rambling and fell walking. The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping, it is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits. In the United States, the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, hiking means walking outdoors on a trail, or off trail, for recreational purposes. A day hike refers to a hike. However, in the United Kingdom, the word walking is used, as well as rambling, while walking in mountainous areas is called hillwalking.
In Northern England, Including the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, fellwalking describes hill or mountain walks, as fell is the common word for both features there. Hiking is sometimes referred to as such; this refers to difficult walking through dense forest, undergrowth, or bushes, where forward progress requires pushing vegetation aside. In extreme cases of bushwhacking, where the vegetation is so dense that human passage is impeded, a machete is used to clear a pathway; the Australian term bushwalking refers to both on and off-trail hiking. Common terms for hiking used by New Zealanders are walking or bushwalking. Trekking is the preferred word used to describe multi-day hiking in the mountainous regions of India, Nepal, North America, South America and the highlands of East Africa. Hiking a long-distance trail from end-to-end is referred to as trekking and as thru-hiking in some places. In North America, multi-day hikes with camping, are referred to as backpacking; the idea of taking a walk in the countryside for pleasure developed in the 18th century, arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature associated with the Romantic movement.
In earlier times walking indicated poverty and was associated with vagrancy. Thomas West, an English priest, popularized the idea of walking for pleasure in his guide to the Lake District of 1778. In the introduction he wrote that he aimed to encourage the taste of visiting the lakes by furnishing the traveller with a Guide. To this end he included various'stations' or viewpoints around the lakes, from which tourists would be encouraged to enjoy the views in terms of their aesthetic qualities. Published in 1778 the book was a major success. Another famous early exponent of walking for pleasure, was the English poet William Wordsworth. In 1790 he embarked on an extended tour of France and Germany, a journey subsequently recorded in his long autobiographical poem The Prelude, his famous poem Tintern Abbey was inspired by a visit to the Wye Valley made during a walking tour of Wales in 1798 with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth. Wordsworth's friend Coleridge was another keen walker and in the autumn of 1799, he and Wordsworth undertook a three weeks tour of the Lake District.
John Keats, who belonged to the next generation of Romantic poets began, in June 1818, a walking tour of Scotland and the Lake District with his friend Charles Armitage Brown. More and more people undertook walking tours through the 19th century, of which the most famous is Robert Louis Stevenson's journey through the Cévennes in France with a donkey, recorded in his Travels with a Donkey. Stevenson published in 1876 his famous essay "Walking Tours"; the subgenre of travel writing produced many classics in the subsequent 20th century. An early American example of a book that describes an extended walking tour is naturalist John Muir's A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf, a posthumous published account of a long botanizing walk, undertaken in 1867. Due to industrialisation in England, people began to migrate to the cities where living standards were cramped and unsanitary, they would escape the confines of the city by rambling about in the countryside. However, the land in England around the urban areas of Manchester and Sheffield, was owned and trespass was illegal.
Rambling clubs soon sprang up in the north and began politically campaigning for the legal'right to roam'. One of the first such clubs, was'Sunday Tramps' founded by Leslie White in 1879; the first national grouping, the Federation of Rambling Clubs, was formed in London in 1905 and was patronized by the peerage. Access to Mountains bills, that would have legislated the public's'right to roam' across some private land, were periodically presented to Parliament from 1884 to 1932 without success. In 1932, the Rambler’s Right Movement organized a mass trespass on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire. Despite attempts on the part of the police to prevent the trespass from going ahead it was achieved due to massive publicity; however the Mountain Access Bill, passed in 1939 was opposed by many walkers' organizations, including The Ramblers, who felt that it did not
The Scottish Government is the executive government of the devolved Scottish Parliament. The government was established in 1999 as the Scottish Executive under the Scotland Act 1998, which created a devolved administration for Scotland in line with the result of the 1997 referendum on Scottish devolution; the government consists of cabinet secretaries, who attend cabinet meetings, ministers, who do not. It is led by the first minister, who selects the cabinet secretaries and ministers with approval of parliament; the Scottish Government holds executive over devolved and not explicitly reserved matters of the Scottish Parliament, which are powers not reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament by Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, the subsequent revisions of the devolution settlement by the Scotland Act 2012 and 2016. Devolved matters that were decided upon by the Scotland Act 1998 included; the government is led by the First Minister. The Scottish Parliament nominates one of its members to be appointed as First Minister by the Head of State.
He or she is assisted by various Cabinet Secretaries with individual portfolios, who are appointed by the First Minister with the approval of Parliament. Junior Ministers are appointed to assist Cabinet Secretaries in their work; the Scottish Law officers, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General, can be appointed without being a Member of the Scottish Parliament, they are subject to Parliament's approval and scrutiny. Law Officers are appointed by the head of state on the recommendation of the First Minister. Collectively, The First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries, Junior Ministers and the Law Officers are known as the "Scottish Ministers"; the Scottish Government uses a government structure that has a dual executive structure of a Cabinet that invokes collective decision-making, as well as non-cabinet members as Junior Ministers. The title Cabinet Secretary means a member of the Government who partakes in Cabinet, whereas Junior Ministers assist Cabinet Secretaries but are not part of the Scottish Cabinet.
The Cabinet Secretaries and Junior Ministers are: The Scottish Cabinet is the group of ministers who are collectively responsible for all Scottish Government policy. While parliament is in session, the cabinet meets weekly. Meetings are held on Tuesday afternoons in Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister; the cabinet consists of the cabinet secretaries, excluding the Scottish Law Officers. The Lord Advocate attends meetings of the cabinet only when requested by the first minister, he is not formally a member; the cabinet is supported by the Cabinet Secretariat, based at St Andrew's House. There are two sub-committees of Cabinet: Cabinet Sub-Committee on Legislation Membership: the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, the Lord Advocate. Scottish Government Resilience Room Cabinet Sub-Committee Membership: Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing,the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment and the Lord Advocate.
For several years prior to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games there had been a third sub-committee of Cabinet: Glasgow 2014 Legacy Plan Delivery Group Membership: Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Community Safety, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Minister for Enterprise and Tourism, Minister for Environment, Minister for Housing and Communities, Minister for Public Health and Sport, Minister for Schools and Skills, the Minister for Transport and Climate Change. Scottish Government includes a civil service that supports the Scottish ministers. According to 2012 reports, there are 16,000 civil servants working in core Scottish Government directorates and agencies; the civil service is a matter reserved to the British parliament at Westminster: Scottish Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but serve the devolved administration rather than British government. The permanent secretary is the most senior Scottish civil servant, leads the strategic board, supports the first minister and cabinet.
The current permanent secretary is Leslie Evans, who assumed the post in July 2015. The permanent secretary is a member of Her Majesty's Civil Service, therefore takes part in the permanent secretaries manageme
Freedom to roam
The freedom to roam, or "everyman's right", is the general public's right to access certain public or owned land and rivers for recreation and exercise. The right is sometimes called the right of public access to the wilderness or the "right to roam". In Scotland, the Nordic countries of Finland, Iceland and Sweden, the Baltic countries of Estonia and Lithuania and the Central European countries of Austria, Czech Republic and Switzerland, the freedom to roam takes the form of general public rights which are sometimes codified in law; the access is ancient in parts of Northern Europe and has been regarded as sufficiently basic that it was not formalised in law until modern times. However, the right does not include any substantial economic exploitation, such as hunting or logging, or disruptive activities, such as making fires and driving offroad vehicles. In England and Wales public access rights apply only to certain categories of uncultivated land. Ancient traces provide evidence of the freedom to roam in many European countries, suggesting such a freedom was once a common norm.
Today, the right to roam has survived in its purest form in Estonia, Iceland and Sweden. Here the right has been won through practice over hundreds of years and it is not known when it changed from mere'common practice' to become a recognised right. A possible explanation as to why the right has survived in these five countries is that feudalism and serfdom were not established there. Another factor is the survival of large areas of unenclosed forest. Elsewhere in Europe land was enclosed for private use and enjoyment, with commoners' rights eliminated. Today these rights underpin opportunities for outdoor recreation in several of the Nordic countries, providing the opportunity to hike across or camp on another's land, boating on someone else's waters, picking wildflowers and berries. However, with these rights come responsibilities. Access rights are most for travel on foot. Rights to fish, hunt or take any other product are constrained by other customs or laws. Building a fire is prohibited. Making noise is discouraged.
In some countries, putting up a tent in the forest for one night is allowed, but not the use of a caravan. Access does not extend to built up or developed land and does not include commercial exploitation of the land. For example, workers picking berries may be legal only with the landowner's permission. There are some significant differences in the rules of different countries. In Denmark, there is a more restricted freedom to roam on held land. All dunes and beaches and all publicly owned forests are open to roaming. Uncultivated, unfenced areas are open to daytime roaming irrespective of ownership status. Owned forest have access by roads and tracks only. In Finland, the freedom to roam and related rights are called "jokamiehenoikeus" in Finnish and "allemansrätten" in Swedish, similar to other Nordic countries. Everyone may walk, ride a horse or cycle in the countryside where this does not harm the natural environment or the landowner, except in gardens or in the immediate vicinity of people's homes.
Fields and plantations, which may be harmed, may not be crossed except in the winter. It is possible to establish outdoor recreation routes on private land, based on an agreement on the rights of use or by official proceedings in accordance with the Outdoor Recreation Act, for example. One may stay or set up camp temporarily in the countryside, a reasonable distance from homes, pick mineral samples, wild berries and flowers. One may fish with a rod and line, sail or use a motorboat on waterways, swim or bathe in both inland waters and the sea. One can walk and ice fish on frozen lakes and the sea. Income from selling picked mushrooms is tax-free. Picking cloudberry may be temporarily restricted to local residents in parts of Lapland. In the autonomous province of Åland the right to camp's inclusion in the right to roam was disputed, but since 2013 this is no longer the case. One may not disturb others or damage property, disturb breeding birds, or disturb reindeer or game animals. One may not cut down or damage living trees, or collect wood, moss or lichen on other people's property, nor may one light open fires without the landowner's permission.
It is acceptable, however, to use an alcohol burner, wood stove or similar device that has no hot parts touching the ground. One may not disturb the privacy of people's homes by camping too near to them or making too much noise, nor litter, drive motor vehicles off-road without the landowner's permission, or fish or hunt without the relevant permits. If horse riding causes more than a minor inconvenience or disturbance, an agreement for the long term use of the route must be made with the landowner. A horse may be taken to swim in a water body without the consent of the owner of the water area; the right is a positive right in the respect that only the government is allowed to restrict it as in the case of strict nature reserves. However, the exact definition remains uncodified and based on the principle of nulla poena sine lege. Everyone in
Loch Lomond is a freshwater Scottish loch which crosses the Highland Boundary Fault considered the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands. Traditionally forming part of the boundary between the counties of Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire, Loch Lomond is split between the council areas of Stirling and Bute and West Dunbartonshire, its southern shores are about 23 kilometres northwest of the centre of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. The Loch forms part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, established in 2002. Loch Lomond is 36.4 kilometres long and between 1 and 8 kilometres wide, with a surface area of 71 km2. It is the largest lake in Great Britain by surface area. In the British Isles as a whole there are several larger loughs in the Republic of Ireland; the loch has a maximum depth of about 153 metres in the deeper northern portion, although the southern part of the loch exceeds 30 metres in depth. The total volume of Loch Lomond is 2.6 km3, making it the second largest lake in Great Britain, after Loch Ness, by water volume.
The loch contains many islands, including Inchmurrin, the largest fresh-water island in the British Isles. Loch Lomond is a popular leisure destination and is featured in the song "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond"; the loch is surrounded by hills, including Ben Lomond on the eastern shore, 974 metres in height and the most southerly of the Scottish Munro peaks. A 2005 poll of Radio Times readers voted Loch Lomond as the sixth greatest natural wonder in Britain; the depression in which Loch Lomond lies was carved out by glaciers during the final stages of the last ice age, during a return to glacial conditions known as the Loch Lomond Readvance between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. The loch lies on the Highland Boundary Fault, the difference between the Highland and Lowland geology is reflected in the shape and character of the loch: in the north the glaciers dug a deep channel in the Highland schist, removing up to 600 m of bedrock to create a narrow, fjord-like finger lake. Further south the glaciers were able to spread across the softer Lowland sandstone, leading to a wider body of water, more than 30 m deep.
In the period following the Loch Lomond Readvance the sea level rose, for several periods Loch Lomond was connected to the sea, with shorelines identified at 13, 12 and 9 metres above sea level. The change in rock type can be seen at several points around the loch, as it runs across the islands of Inchmurrin, Creinch and Inchcailloch and over the ridge of Conic Hill. To the south lie green fields and cultivated land; the loch contains thirty or more other islands, depending on the water level. Several of them are large by the standards of British bodies of freshwater. Inchmurrin, for example, is the largest island in a body of freshwater in the British Isles. Many of the islands are the remains of harder rocks. English travel writer, H. V. Morton wrote: What a large part of Loch Lomond's beauty is due to its islands, those beautiful green tangled islands, that lie like jewels upon its surface. Writing some 150 years earlier than Morton, Samuel Johnson had however been less impressed by Loch Lomond's islands, writing: But as it is, the islets, which court the gazer at a distance, disgust him at his approach, when he finds, instead of soft lawns and shady thickets, nothing more than uncultivated ruggedness.
Powan are one of the commonest fish species in loch, which has more species of fish than any other loch in Scotland, including lamprey, brook trout, loach, common roach and flounder. The river lamprey of Loch Lomond display an unusual behavioural trait not seen elsewhere in Britain: unlike other populations, in which young hatch in rivers before migrating to the sea, the river lamprey here remain in freshwater all their lives, hatching in the Endrick Water and migrating into the loch as adults; the surrounding hills are home to species such as black grouse, golden eagles, pine martens, red deer and mountain hares. Many species of wading birds and water vole inhabit the loch shore. During the winter months large numbers of geese migrate to Loch Lomond, including over 1 % of the entire global population of Greenland white-fronted geese, up to 3,000 greylag geese; the Scottish dock, sometimes called the Loch Lomond dock, is in Britain unique to the shores of Loch Lomond, being found on around Balmaha on the western shore of the loch.
It was first discovered growing there in 1936. One of the loch's islands, Inchconnachan, is home to a colony of wallabies; as well as forming part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond holds multiple other conservation designations. 428 ha of land in the southeast, including five of the islands, is designated as national nature reserve: the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve. Seven islands and much of the shoreline form a Special Area of the Loch Lomond Woods; this designation overlaps with the national nature reserve, is protected due to the presence of Atlantic oak woodlands and a population of otters. Four islands and a section of the shoreline are designated as a Special Protection Area due to their importance for breeding capercaillie
National parks of England and Wales
The national parks of England and Wales are areas of undeveloped and scenic landscape that are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Despite their similar name, national parks in England and Wales are quite different from national parks in many other countries, which are owned and managed by the government as a protected community resource, which do not include permanent human communities. In England and Wales, designation as a national park may include substantial settlements and human land uses which are integral parts of the landscape, land within a national park remains in private ownership. There are thirteen national parks in England and Wales; each park is operated by its own national park authority, with two "statutory purposes": to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area, to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the park's special qualities by the public. When national parks carry out these purposes they have the duty to: seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the national parks.
An estimated 110 million people visit the national parks of Wales each year. Recreation and tourism bring visitors and funds into the parks, to sustain their conservation efforts and support the local population through jobs and businesses; these visitors bring problems, such as erosion and traffic congestion, conflicts over the use of the parks' resources. Access to cultivated land is restricted to bridleways, public footpaths, permissive paths, with most uncultivated areas in England and Wales having right of access for walking under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Archaeological evidence from prehistoric Britain shows that the areas now designated as national parks have been occupied by humans since the Stone Age, at least 5,000 years ago and in some cases much earlier. Before the 19th century wild, remote areas were seen as uncivilised and dangerous. In 1725 Daniel Defoe described the High Peak as "the most desolate and abandoned country in all England". However, by the early 19th century, romantic poets such as Byron and Wordsworth wrote about the inspirational beauty of the "untamed" countryside.
Wordsworth described the English Lake District as a "sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy" in 1810. This early vision, based in the Picturesque movement, took over a century, much controversy, to take legal form in the UK with the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949; the idea for a form of national parks was first proposed in the United States in the 1860s, where national parks were established to protect wilderness areas such as Yosemite. This model has been used in many other countries since, but not in the United Kingdom. After thousands of years of human integration into the landscape, Britain lacks any substantial areas of wilderness. Furthermore, those areas of natural beauty so cherished by the romantic poets were only maintained and managed in their existing state by human activity agriculture. By the early 1930s, increasing public interest in the countryside, coupled with the growing and newly mobile urban population, was generating increasing friction between those seeking access to the countryside and landowners.
Alongside of direct action trespasses, such as the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, several voluntary bodies took up the cause of public access in the political arena. In 1931, Christopher Addison chaired a government committee that proposed a'National Park Authority' to choose areas for designation as national parks. A system of national reserves and nature sanctuaries was proposed: " to safeguard areas of exceptional natural interest against disorderly development and spoliation; the voluntary Standing Committee on National Parks first met on 26 May 1936 to put the case to the government for national parks in the UK. After World War II, the Labour Party proposed the establishment of national parks as part of the post-war reconstruction of the UK. A report by John Dower, secretary of the Standing Committee on National Parks, to the Minister of Town and Country Planning in 1945 was followed in 1947 by a Government committee, this time chaired by Sir Arthur Hobhouse, which prepared legislation for national parks, proposed twelve national parks.
Sir Arthur had this to say on the criteria for designating suitable areas: The essential requirements of a National Park are that it should have great natural beauty, a high value for open-air recreation and substantial continuous extent. Further, the distribution of selected areas should as far as practicable be such that at least one of them is accessible from each of the main centres of population in England and Wales. Lastly there is merit in variety and with the wide diversity of landscape, available in England and Wales, it would be wrong to confine the selection of National Parks to the more rugged areas of mountain and moorland, to exclude other districts which, though of less outstanding grandeur and wildness, have their own distinctive beauty and a high recreational value; the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 was passed with all party support. The first ten national parks were designated as such in the 1950s under the Act in poor-quality agricultural upland. Much of the land was
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K