Exploring the TikTok takeover of UK National Parks


Apr 23, 2024

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Exploring the TikTok takeover of UK National Parks

  • Why Is TikTok virality and social media in general, potentially detrimental to national parks?
  • Our index shows which British parks are the most (and least) at risk of a social media takeover
  • What’s next for British National parks and their relationship with social media trends?


Every demographic is allowed to enjoy the outdoors, however, the growing number of TikTokers flooding national parks raises concerns among the public and park authorities for several reasons. And while on the one hand TikTok and other platforms can help increase appreciation for the country’s natural gems and even encourage people to explore the outdoors, the spike in park visits driven by viral videos and the TikTok trend bandwagon has raised several concerns around environmental degradation, overcrowding, a strain on public resources, not to mention safety risks.

In particular, some locations which were once considered “hidden gems” are now experiencing a sudden spike in interest driven by virality, and for local authorities, accommodating the demand is not a walk in the park! The US have already started sounding the alarm as, for instance, Horseshoe Bend in Arizona and Zion National Park have become significantly more crowded, with park employees having to implement new rules and regulations which include, parking spaces, charges and visitor management strategies, this of course following a sudden surge driven by viral videos.

The situation in the UK isn’t much different. National parks, councils, and locals have already expressed concerns. One notable example is the impact on areas in and around the so-called "Blue Lagoon" near Buxton in the Peak District. The site became extremely popular on social media due to its bright blue waters, which look stunning in photos and on video, but its unique colour is actually due to harmful chemicals. Despite warnings about the water's toxicity and other dangers, the location attracted large numbers of visitors, clearly drawn by the instagrammable nature of these poisonous blue waters.

Health hazards aside, local authorities have also seen issues with littering, the preservation of natural habitats and ecosystems and even antisocial behaviour, which put strain on allocated resources and are having a big impact on the environment.

Which major British national parks should be on the look-out for the TikTok invasion and which has the highest risk for potential impact on its area? To find out, we collected data on the current number of TikTok posts divided by the parks’ area to assign a potential impact score, as well as search volume to see the overall interest and year-on-year trend. 

The index below shows which of Britain’s major national parks is the most, and least at risk of becoming the next hotspot for TikTokers and other clout-chasing users.



Topping every category of our index, is the Lake District which is clearly the most popular location amongst TikTokers with over 100K posts and counting. It also showcases the highest density (posts / sq.meters), which may be a helpful indicator of how much social media-related activity one is expected to find when visiting the park. With the ‘discovery’ of its hidden gems such as the highly cinematic “secret waterfall grotto” getting millions of views, the upwards trend is clear, and with that it’s unlikely that this gem will stay hidden for much longer.

@followmeaway This is what Taylor Swift meant in the song ‘The Lakes!’ Would you go here?! #lakedistrict #thelakes #thelakestaylorswift #folkloretaylorswift #bucketlisttravel #travelbucketlist #thingstodo #englandtravel #londonhotspots ♬ original sound - Followmeaway


Following close behind is The Peak district with similar stats as the Lake district, however, at 66.7K posts overall, it’s still half of those of the Lake district! But the real surprise seems to be the New Forest Park which lands in top spots both in terms of number of posts overall and of search volume, but most importantly, it has seen by far the highest year-on-year growth in online searches and has one of the highest TikTok density scores of 43 posts per square meter. This southern English territory is one of the most interesting when it comes to its ancient history and roots, and now it is set to become the next hotspot for TikTokers hoping to be featured with one of the thousand adorable ponies that roam free around the park. A real dark horse.

@ruthonthehoof New Forest ponies grazing peacefully amongst the trees 🌳🐴 The New Forest pony originates from the New Forest in England. They are one of the “mountain and moorland” breeds which means they are hardy and able to live out in the open. The New Forest pony had a mixture of breeds in the foundation stock - which included other British pony breeds. The result is a hardy but lighter built pony that can pick it’s way delicately through the forest and over the heathland. Local commoners can graze their ponies out on the Forest. Pure New Forest stallions are released for two months of the year. Offspring can be registered with the breed society if they come from registered parents. All the stallions are registered, and therefore foals born from registered mares are eligible for registration! New Forest ponies often have reflective collars that are put on by their owners to help drivers see them on the road. Please drive carefully through places like the New Forest where livestock roams free! ©Ruth Chamberlain known as Ruth on the Hoof. Any use of these images (including art references) and text must have prior permission from the author/creator🐴🐴 __________________________________ #newforestpony #newforest #horse #pony #horseoftheday #horsesoftiktok #nature #paard #newforestnationalpark #bbccountryfile #pferd #wildponies #cheval #visitengland #newforestponies #caballos #wildhorses #equinephotography #exclusivewildlife #pferdefotografie #horse #pony #ukwildponies #bbcearth #wildhorsepc #woodland #horsetok #ponytok #ponyliebe ♬ Loyal Humming - Nasheeds


Online popularity is a great indicator of the parks’ beauty as well as the areas’ commercial and touristic potential, and while some areas could really use a break, some stunning UK parks are struggling to get noticed online. The Broads are the UK’s largest, public wetlands and are situated between Suffolk and Norfolk, the data shows an exiguous search volume, and a sloping interest year-on-year (nearly a 50% decrease), which appears to be consistent with the park’s poor performance on TikTok. Perhaps it’s too hard to film, cut and post while operating a boat?

While exact numbers and new statistics emerge surrounding the impact of social media (especially TikTok) on trending sites, the overarching concerns about the environmental impact, resource strain and public safety keep increasing. While it would be unfair to completely blame this phenomenon on TikTok and social media in general, It remains crucial for both influencers and their audiences to practice responsible tourism by adhering to park guidelines, respecting other people, locals and the environment to ensure these natural treasures can be enjoyed by all and that are preserved for future generations.

Methodology and Sources:

The top Largest national parks in Great Britain (as of March 2023), were sourced by Statista Research Department, data published in March 2024. We examined and combined the most popular tags related to each park on TikTok. Data from search volume was sourced via SemRush keyword analytics which considers the average number of monthly searches for an analysed keyword over the last 12 months. Finally, the Year-on-year increase percentage was calculated by comparing searches for each national park in 2022 and 2023 (data collected via Google Trends)

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