The best areas for walking in the UK

Penned on the 25th March 2024

The best areas for walking in the UK

Is there any better feeling than lacing up your walking boots, packing a picnic in your backpack and setting off for a day of hiking in the great outdoors? We’re fortunate to have an amazing variety of routes and natural landscapes to choose from in the UK, with trails traversing ancient woodlands, majestic mountains, lush green countryside and wide open coastlines, with wonderful wildlife to discover along the way. And whether you’re after an hour-long family-friendly jaunt or an epic full-day stomp, there are plenty of well-waymarked paths on offer of different lengths and difficulties.

If you’re ready to start planning your adventures on foot, start here with our round-up of the best areas for hiking across England, Wales, and Scotland. We’ve included our favourite easy, moderate and challenging routes in each region too (all walkable in a day), so there’s something for ramblers of all ages and abilities. 

Lake District National Park

A view of a footpath next to a lake in the Lake District 

The Lake District National Park in Cumbria is a haven for outdoor adventurers – and its stunning lakes, picturesque valleys and mountainous peaks make for an impressive backdrop on days out walking. One of its most iconic and well-trodden hikes is to the summit of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at over 978 metres tall. Whilst it draws thousands of walkers every year, Scafell Pike is a strenuous climb that’s not to be taken lightly! If you’re after something a little more leisurely, there are plenty of beautiful walks to be had along one of the park’s many lakeside shores.

Our favourite walks in the Lake District

  • Easy: Enjoy a gentle 4.2 mile loop with breathtaking scenery around the lake at Buttermere
  • Moderate: Explore picturesque countryside and fascinating history on this 5-mile hike at Castle Crag in Borrowdale
  • Challenging: Reach the summit of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, on this 8-mile route with a 1070-metre ascent

Where to stay: Sleep amongst the trees at Tawny Owl Treehouse or in a peaceful woodland cabin, The Wren’s Nest, both near Penrith in Cumbria. 


South West Coast Path

Sunset over the south west coastal path 

Spanning an incredible 630 miles, the South West Coast Path is one of England’s most famous long-distance walking trails. The path follows the edge of the southwest peninsula from Minehead in Somerset all the way around to Poole Harbour in Dorset, taking in magnificent coastal scenery along the way, with mile-upon-mile of towering rugged cliffs, hidden coves, golden beaches and quaint villages. Be sure to pack your binoculars because you might spot marine life including seals, porpoises, dolphins and even whales in the ocean below – as well as an incredible diversity of seabirds.  

Our favourite walks on the South West Coast Path

  • Easy: Marvel at the staggering rock formations on this 2.9-mile stretch of coast path at Kynance Cove in Cornwall
  • Moderate: Climb the towering cliffs and look for roaming goats on this 3.5-mile dramatic route at the Valley of the Rocks in Devon
  • Challenging: Get your heart racing on a steep 4.5-mile hike to the highest point on the South West Coast Path, the Golden Cap in Dorset

Where to stay: Tree Tops Cabin is a heavenly retreat in Cadgwith, just a short drive from Kynance Cove in Cornwall. If you’re walking at the Valley of the Rocks take a look at the lovely Copperas Shepherd’s Hut, perched on the North Devon coast. Or for a base for the Golden Cap hike, stay right beside the sea at The Chalet on the Beach in Lyme Regis.


Isle of Skye

The fairy pools in the rocks on the Isle of Skye 

The largest of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye is a world-famous destination for walkers and climbers – and for good reason. Its jagged mountains and striking rock formations are almost otherworldly in places, especially around the iconic Old Man of Storr. The surrounding seas, shimmering lochs and distant mountain ranges provide mesmerising wild scenery. Plus Isle of Skye holds more than 15% of the world’s Middle Jurassic dinosaur sites, making it an internationally important location for palaeontology and a fascinating place to hunt for fossils during your walks!

Our favourite walks on the Isle of Skye

  • Easy: Discover the magical Fairy Pools on the slopes of the Black Cuillin range in this 1.5-mile ramble 
  • Moderate: Climb the famous (and very popular) 2.3-mile steep path to the striking pinnacles of Old Man of Storr
  • Challenging: Journey along The Quiraing on this spectacular 4.2-mile route on the Trotternish Ridge


South Downs Way

The view of Golden Cap in Dorset from the beach 

Stretching 100 miles from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex, the South Downs Way is a gorgeous trail traversing a chalk ridge along the gentle rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. Its elevated position means you’ll get beautiful sweeping views across the surrounding white cliffs, English Channel, the Isle of Wight and more. There’s a wonderful variety of interesting culture to encounter along the way too, including historical hill forts, medieval castles and charming villages.

Our favourite walks on the South Downs Way

  • Easy: Take a short 3-mile circular walk in the heart of the National Park at Buriton
  • Moderate: Explore the dramatic white cliffs on this 7.9-mile trail along Seven Sisters and Friston Forest
  • Challenging: Discover Bronze Age burial sites and soak up the spectacular views on this 13.5-mile circular route around Lewes & Kingston

Where to stay: Matilda, a folklore-inspired cabin near Battle, or Cleo’s Hut, an idyllic hideaway near Horsham. 


Peak District National Park

A view of the River Dove in the Peak District 

In the North of England, The Peak District National Park is made up of 555 square miles of rolling hills, rocky ridges and dramatic limestone valleys, largely in Derbyshire but also spanning the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. It’s a wonderful destination for a good stomp in the fresh countryside air with a great diversity of trails for all hiker abilities, from gentle rambles along beautiful river valleys to energetic ascents to one of its many peaks. Wherever you choose to set off for your walk, keep an eye out for the area’s fascinating historical remnants and rare wildlife en route.

Our favourite walks in the Peak District National Park

Where to stay: Flora, a beautiful handcrafted shepherd’s hut near Leek.


Dartmoor National Park

A view of Yes Tor in Dartmoor, Devon 

In the heart of Devon, Dartmoor National Park’s wild open moorlands and deep valleys have been enchanting hikers, nature lovers and artists for centuries. When it comes to walking, there are some 450 miles of paths to choose from across this magnificent National Park, with rich history, striking granite outcrops and rare wildlife to discover as you go – wild ponies and ancient ruins are a frequent sight here. There are routes for all levels to choose from too, from magical woodland wanders to heart-pumping treks across windswept tors. 

Our favourite walks in Dartmoor

  • Easy: Admire ancient tangled dwarf oak trees at Wistman’s Wood in this 2.8-mile circular route
  • Moderate: Discover the famous tors and myth and legend on this 5.2-mile trail at Hound Tor
  • Challenging: Take a 6.1-mile hike to Dartmoor’s highest point at High Willhays and Yes Tor

Read our journal for more beautiful Dartmoor walks.

Where to stay: Room With a View, a quaint off-grid cabin in the heart of the Moor, with spectacular scenery. 


The Pennine Way

Hadrian's Wall at sunset 

Following Northern England’s hilly, rocky spine for 268 miles from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, The Pennine Way is arguably one of the most challenging National Trails in the UK, with a total combined ascent that surpasses the height of Mount Everest! You can hike here in smaller sections, of course, but even on many of its shorter walks the trail’s difficult terrain, remote location and changeable weather still requires proper preparation. If you’re up for the challenge though, you’ll be rewarded with solitude in nature and an unforgettable adventure. 

Our favourite walks in The Pennine Way

  • Easy: Enjoy this 2.5-mile trail at Langdon Beck in Teesdale and look for wildflowers as you go
  • Moderate: Take a 10-mile ramble along the famous Hadrian’s Wall path in Northumberland
  • Challenging: Navigate Cross Fell via the steep ascent of Eden Scarp in this 10.75-mile hike

Where to stay: Sammi’s Freight Train, a characterful upcycled railway carriage near Richmond.


Wales Coast Path

The cliffs of the Gower Peninsula in Wales 

Wales is the only country in the world with an unbroken waymarked trail around its entire coastline. The undulating Wales Coast Path traces the edge of the land for 870 miles so there are plenty of stunning day hikes to choose from. While it winds along picturesque rugged peninsulas, offers jaw-dropping views and passes through three national parks (Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia and Anglesey) and multiple Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it enjoys tranquillity and tends to be much less frequented than the South West Coast Path.

Our favourite walks on the Wales Coast Path

  • Easy: Get a taste of North Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula on this 1-mile walk at Porthor Head
  • Moderate: Soak up the rugged seascape and visit Wales’ smallest city at St David’s Head via a 3.75-mile circular route
  • Challenging: Explore Cardigan Bay on this stunning 10.5-mile stretch of coast path

Where to stay: From fascinating former WWII buildings to sleek eco cabins, take your pick from our selection of handpicked hideaways in Wales.


Glencoe (West Highland Way)

A view of the cobbled footpath over Ben Nevis in Scotland 

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to breathtaking hiking routes in Scotland – but one of the most famous and well-trodden is the West Highland Way, with 96 miles of waymarked trails from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William. This route passes through the heart of the Scottish Highlands and the legendary Glencoe, amongst awe-inspiring mountains, tranquil lochs wild moorland, roaming red deer and (if you’re lucky) golden eagles overhead. You’ll be wowed around every corner. 

Our favourite walks in Glencoe

  • Easy: Visit waterfalls and an ancient military road on a 3-mile trail to Inchree Falls
  • Moderate: Traverse the dramatic Lost Valley (Core Gabhail) on this short but intense 2.5-mile route.
  • Challenging: If you’re visiting in summer, hike 10.5 miles and ascend 1352m to summit Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, just outside of Glencoe. 


Snowdonia National Park (Eryri) 

 A foothpath in Snowdonia National Park with hills in the distance

One of the UK’s most popular destinations with outdoor enthusiasts, Snowdonia (Eryri) is the biggest National Park in Wales, with 823 square miles of magnificent mountains, lakes and valleys to explore. At its heart lies Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, which has been attracting hikers from far and wide since the first recorded ascent back in 1639. If you don’t fancy the scramble, there are plenty of easier trails to set off on a beautiful adventure by foot too, alongside cascading waterfalls, ancient woodlands and glassy lakes.

Our favourite walks in Snowdonia

  • Easy: Discover local legend on this gentle 1-mile riverside walk at Gelert
  • Moderate: Walk a magical 4-mile circuit through lush woodlands to Aber Falls
  • Challenging: Take on the peaks and crags of Snowdon on this strenuous 7.5-mile trek

Where to stay: Choose from Cwt Elsi or Cwt Mari, two gorgeous cabins in the foothills of the National Park. 


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