You may have exhausted all the local walks in your area since being in lockdown. Now restrictions are slowly easing, it’s possible to venture a little further to get your walking fix.* We’ve put together a list of the best walks in the UK, combining England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland into a guide of the best British walks. Setting off on a hiking trip is a great way to explore the UK, so why not combine it with a spot of camping for a perfect staycation?
*Restrictions are easing at different rates in all four nations. Please make sure you are aware of different rules and regulations before you set off. Furthermore, some walks, parks and attractions may still be closed due to COVID-19, so we recommend planning ahead.
The best walks in England
Whether you’re a proud Northerner, Southerner or Midlander, there are superb walks all over England. From the Cotswolds to The New Forest, Peak District to the Yorkshire Moors, there are lots to choose from. We’ve picked out just three that we believe are some of the best walks in England.
Coast to Coast
The famous coast to coast is arguably one of the best walks in England. The trek will take you over fells, moorland, and fields with vast mining history. Starting at St Bees in Cumbria and finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire, the full route is a huge 293km and takes around two-three weeks to complete. However, there are various shorter routes and itineraries available online if you are locked into a certain time period.
Top tip: Plan, plan, plan! This is a very popular route and can be extremely busy in summer. All accommodation should be booked in advance or you may find yourself stuck. The full route is also recommended for experienced hikers only.
Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove & Bat’s Head
One of England’s natural wonders, Durdle Door is a sight to behold and one of the most iconic landscapes on the Jurassic Coast. This particular walk is almost 10km and can take up to three hours, depending on photo and picnic stops. Starting and finishing by Lulworth Cove, this loop is full of arguably the best coastal views you’ll see in England. Countryfile has the full route to follow.
Located in the South-East of England, within the South Downs National Park, is the striking Friston Forest. With walking, cycling and even horse-riding trails available, it makes for a great day out for the whole family. Take a picnic or a barbeque and get set for a relaxing day amongst nature. Friston Forest is also close to coastal towns Eastbourne and Brighton, and we recommend ending your day here with fish and chips on the beach.
Top tip: If you fancy a BBQ, you will need to book a slot ahead - disposable and portable BBQs are not allowed.
The best walks in Scotland
Scotland is known for its friendly locals, the Loch Ness Monster and, without a doubt, the outstanding scenery found in the Highlands. Whilst there are stunning walks within cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh - such as the famous Arthur’s Seat - hiking in the Highlands offers a whole new level when it comes to scenery. Below we have three of the best walks in Scotland, from treks through the Highlands to short coastal walks.
Stac Pollaidh is a mountain in the Northwest Highlands. Like most mountains in Scotland, the views gained from hiking up Stac Pollaidh are remarkable. However, this mountain is extra special as panoramic views can be found with relative ease - aside from the steep climb to the ridge. Erosion has led to a path being installed, making the mountain even easier to navigate.
Stac Pollaidh is one of the most visited peaks in the Northwest Highlands, and it’s easy to see why. A short, half-day climb results in incredible views that are a must see if you’re visiting this beautiful area of Scotland.
Top tip: Weather can be unpredictable and can make the path difficult to follow. Always check the weather in advance and take suitable clothing for all seasons.
The Old Mill & Achmeluich Beach
This impressive coastal walk loops from Achmeluich Beach through coastal hills, fast-flowing streams and ruined grain mills. There is also opportunity to spot diverse wildlife, like seals, basking sharks, osprey, and otters. The loop is around 6km and should take approximately two hours; however, we certainly recommend stopping at Achmeluich Beach for a while. Take a dip, enjoy a game of bat and ball, or simply sit and take in your surroundings – you will be impressed.
The full route is found on Walkhighlands.
The West Highland Way
West Highland Way is a classic and arguably one of the best hikes in the UK. The route takes in vast scenery through its 154km, starting at Mingavie near Glasgow and heading all the way up to Fort William.
West Highland Way takes on average six to seven days to complete, but can be split into shorter routes if you’re limited on time.
Top tip: Like the English Coast to Coast, West Highland Way is a popular route and accommodation should be booked in advance. Wild camping is permitted, but only advised to experienced wild campers.
The best walks in Wales
A country with stunning landscapes, bustling cities and beautiful beaches, Wales is not to be missed. We’ve collected three of the best walks in Wales – from canals, beaches and cliffs to the famous Snowdonia National Park that should be ticked off everyone’s bucket lists.
Llangollen Canal Walk
Pass castles, country parks, aqueducts, wonderful views, and plenty of locks on this 80km canal walk starting in Llangollen, North Wales. The Llangollen Canal Walk also has areas that can be cycled; however, the whole route doesn’t accommodate this. The route passes Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain and a World Heritage Site.
There are a couple of pubs and cafes at various points of the walk, and, like many other walks listed here, it can be broken into smaller routes (like Julia Bradbury’s example) to make a nice day trip or dog walk.
Rhossili Down, Hillend & Beach Walk
Combining three focal points, this challenging route takes you through ancient landscapes, iconic beaches and the highest point on the Gower Peninsula. Set in Swansea, this 8km walk should take around two and a half hours, depending on if you’re up for a dip in Rhossili Bay.
This National Trust route passes cafes, rich vegetation and the remains of a Second World War radar station, so it really does cater for everyone.
The Snowdon Horseshoe
We couldn’t discuss the best walks in Wales without mentioning Snowdonia! The Snowdon Horseshow is a popular route in the area, so make sure to set off early and avoid the crowds. Officially the highest peak in Wales, it has six different routes to the summit, all varying in length and difficulty.
Top tip: Anyone with a fear of heights should avoid The Snowdon Horseshoe. It should only be attempted in good weather conditions, unless you have sufficient experience of walking in all elements.
The best walks in Northern Ireland
Whilst Northern Ireland might be smaller than its other British counterparts, it certainly makes up for it with its scenery. Home to various landmarks like The Giant’s Causeway and the Titanic museum, Northern Ireland has plenty of remarkable walks and hikes to choose from. We’ve chosen three of our favourites.
Perfect for those not wanting to venture too far from the city, Cave Hill offers great views of Belfast and beyond. It can be seen from pretty much everywhere in Belfast and, as well as looking impressive, has social, cultural and political ties too.
Located on the outskirts of the capital, the 7.2km loop starts and finishes at Belfast Castle and passes numerous caves. Cave Hill is an ideal walk if you want to combine it with shopping or grabbing a bite to eat in the city and shouldn’t take longer than a few hours.
Co. Fermanagh is known for its beautiful countryside and thousands of walks. Cuilcagh Mountain is no exception and could be the best walk in Northern Ireland. The walk up the mountain has been turned into a boardwalk, so whilst it’s an easy terrain to navigate, the ascent is steep and can be tough. The views, however, are more than rewarding – there’s a reason it’s nicknamed “The Stairway to Heaven”.
The length from the carpark to the top is a 14.8km round trip, and we advise getting there early to beat the crowds.
More of an attraction than a walk, the rope bridge between the mainland and Carrick Island is not to be missed. Suspended almost 100ft over the sea, the bridge was added by fisherman nearly 300 years ago. You can see fantastic coastal scenery and spot rare wildlife in this exhilarating experience. Only 2.25km long, it’s over in just an hour!
Top tip: Due to popularity, there is now a ticket system to book a timeslot to cross the bridge. Please book before to avoid disappointment. The attraction’s opening times may also be irregular due to COVID-19.
That’s it – nine of the best walks in the UK. What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore! If you love the great outdoors, you’d fit right in at the Army Cadets. If you join as a cadet or adult volunteer, you’re bound to try something new. From navigation, sport and expeditions, we offer countless opportunities to learn new skills. Contact your nearest detachment to find out more.