There are few free activities that are more rewarding than walking unspoilt lengths of beautiful countryside. Walking and hiking in the UK has always a popular activity because of its scenic countryside; you’ll be surprised at just how varied these landscapes are up and down the country.
We’ve not ranked them in any particular order since they each offer something completely different to the last, but, check out our favourite 10 walking destinations for an idea of what treats Britain really has to offer:
1. Snowdonia, Wales
A prized National Park in the North of Wales, Snowdonia is home to Snowdon, the highest peak in the whole of England and Wales. It’s no secret that the Snowdon range is one of the UK’s favourite hiking destinations since it receives around 6 million visitors each year, with half of these opting to stay for a short break; if you haven’t checked out this breath-taking region before with its mountain giants and timeless forested valleys, you really must come and see for yourself why we’ve given it a place in our top ten!
2. Dover, South England
The White Cliffs of Dover are one of the most iconic British landmarks and they offer a really different walking experience compared to your usual woodland or hiking expedition. The dramatic cliff top views, sea breezes and busy English Channel below makes for an exciting journey along the cliff tops with popular walks taking just a few hours to neighbouring towns of Folkestone and Deal. Dover is perfect for beginner walkers as the treks aren’t challenging and can be strolled at your leisure, making this the perfect place for a family expedition or a stunning couples retreat.
3. Lake District, North England
The Lake District is another one of those locations that don’t require you to be a walking enthusiast to fully enjoy so take your time wandering the beautiful lake-side greens, through tree-covered valleys. That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t any challenging hikes available however; the area has many high peaks, some of which require some basic rock climbing skills to conquer! The Lake District is not England’s most famous walking region for nothing! There is a great standard of accommodation here because of this and you’ll find the perfect place for you in no time.
4. Highlands, Scotland
The Scottish highlands need little introduction in our top ten; it’s a hiker’s paradise offering some of the most testing ascents in the UK as well as some of the most rewarding views in the world. Home to Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain, Scotland is a Mecca for British climbers and adventurists but also offers some real tranquillity for those who want to take the region in leisure. The actual highlands themselves cover the majority of North Scotland and so give you a diverse range of options to your outdoors break: for a fantastic balance of exciting activities and the best hiking in Scotland, look for somewhere to stay near Fort William an energetic town near the base of Ben Nevis.
5. Tintagel, South West England
Tintagel is another magical coastal walk that is perfect for novice walkers who enjoy taking in some scenic views along their journey at their own leisure. Take a stroll around the village that is thought to be the birth place of King Arthur and visit the ruins of his old, cliff-top castle! Try the popular 9 mile Tintagel to Boscastle route; the best thing about this coastal walk is that there is so much to see along the way across varied terrain. It’ll take you anywhere between a few hours to a full day depending upon your pace and the length of your picnic break!
6. Peak District
Approximately 10 million people visit this area every year because it offers some of the most beautiful and inspiring landscapes in the whole of the British Isles. The Peak District, accumulating a large 550 square miles in the middle of Northern England, is famous as an upland walking region and the types of walks you can embark on here are diverse; there are everything from themed walks to lakeside rambles, and even the occasional walking festival takes place around the park. If you’re planning on making a holiday of it, take time out in a self-catering cottage during one of the frequent walking events and enjoy all of the other sporting activities the area has to offer with your companions.
7. Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales are a peaceful region in the North of England where you really get a sense of ‘Proper English countryside’. Comprised of over 20 dales collectively, the landscapes here are strewn with old oak trees and grazing sheep. Take a walk along the limestone pavements, wide areas of land covered in white stepping-stone like rocks or gaze out across the hilly moorland ahead. You can tour the area at your own leisure and plan your walks around your experience; beginners may want to spend gentle afternoons visiting natural attractions such as the waterfalls in Aysgarth, Wendleydale, or the more experienced ramblers can tour the whole region from north to west to south and see the landscape get progressively more inhabited!
8. New Forest
The New Forest is one of England’s newest national parks and offers some fantastic nature trails through 150 sq miles of flat wetlands, woodland and riverside greens. The joy in exploring the New Forest is being able to ramble in any direction without coming across boundaries as almost all of the area is unenclosed. If you’re planning a long walking holiday, the area is a perfect one for a self-catering break; it sits along the south coast of England where which is famous also for having stretches of beach up to 9 miles long. The New Forest truly makes for a casual walkers paradise with its sheer versatility in landscapes and abundance in wildlife.
With more than 3000 miles of public footpaths in the region, The Cotswolds is an award winning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with fantastic walks for enthusiastic ramblers! The area offers some long distance trails like the renowned Cotswold Way, that’ll take you over 100 miles through the rolling countryside and is perfect for the experienced walker. Along your hikes you can expect to see grand castles, elegant gardens, historic ruins and beautiful limestone buildings as well as many strong hints of Roman influence across the counties.
10. Antrim County, North Ireland
Antrim in Northern Ireland is home to some stunning coastal walks that are more exciting than challenging! Not only is the county a place of striking natural beauty, especially along the coastline, but it is also home to one of the most unique natural formations in the UK; the Giants Causeway is a strip of coast with thousands of bizarre columns of basalt rock shaped like hexagons, slotted together perfectly. Now a world heritage site, walking along these coasts is very inspiring and to add to the nationally recognised landscapes, be sure to extend your hike through The Nine Glens. These varied, hilly landscapes are recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and give you the opportunity to ramble through some of Ireland’s prettiest scenery ‘till your heart’s content.
Warm, water-proof Clothing – You never know when the weather is going to play havoc and the last thing you want to be is wet and cold, miles from the next pub!
Proper Footwear – Sounds like an obvious one but you’d be amazed at how many novice walkers don their everyday foot ware for a 10 mile hike – You’ll have blisters for the rest of your holiday so invest in some proper walking boots!
OS Map – there’s an Ordinance Survey map for every region in the UK that’ll save you from getting lost on your first time visit and perhaps even stop your partner from getting you all lost!
Cash – it’s always best to take cash with you, where ever you go on holiday. Pack a few notes in your backpack and guarantee yourself a lunch when the next pub doesn’t have a card machine.
Body Fuel – All rambling enthusiasts will know to pack plenty of water and a few little snacks for the long journey ahead; Don’t leave the house with nothing if you plan on eating at a pub or cafe, if they’re closed you’ll be walking home on an empty belly!
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