Britain is bursting with countless walks, from gentle trails for days out in the countryside, to serious (sometimes hilly) treks for hardcore ramblers. It may not have the lofty peaks of the Alps or the epic thousands-of-miles treks of the United States, but the best walks in the UK are certainly capable of holding their own.
Well signposted paths and thoughtfully planned routes mean that anyone with a hardy pair of boots can immerse themselves in the British landscape at it best – from estuary-riddled strolls to the tempestuous Cornish cliffs.
While travel restrictions abroad meant we explored more of the UK last year, we often forget a walk is one of the best ways to enjoy the landscape, the culture and the people here – rather than speeding past in a car.
So, pull on a pair of waterproof socks, pack a sandwich and a flask of tea, and scroll through our pick of the best walks in the UK.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, stiff after months inside, our selection of the best walks in the UK will leave you feeling inspired to get out and about after lockdown and experience the best of Blighty on two feet.
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Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail, Tyneside to Cumbria – Best walks in UK
Built to guard the wild northern frontier of the Roman Empire in AD122, Hadrian’s Wall links northern England’s rugged coast and stretches a respectable 84 miles from Tyneside to Cumbria in the west. After it became a public trail in 2003, it was named Britain’s “finest long-distance trial” by Countryfile.
Such reward isn’t without effort: the full walk takes six days but walkers will encounter wild moors, open greenery and a myriad of historically relevant landmarks, such as Housesteads, a preserved Roman fort.
Where to stay: On the banks of the River Tyne, on Newcastle’s vibrant Quayside, the four-star Malmaison offers guests access to the bustling atmosphere of the city as well as the unrivalled peace of the walking trails.
Cotswold Way, Gloucestershire – Best walks in UK
The Cotswolds are probably the UK’s worst-kept secret, but the Cotswold Way walk in the south of the region are lesser-known and underrated by staycationers after the honey-hued villages and scenery depicted on postcards.
Walkers can begin heading south on the Cotswold Way, joining just outside Stroud and following the Severn Estuary and rising up to the Welsh borders.
You can still get your classic fix of Cotswold charm by making a pitstop at the village of Uley, where biscuit-coloured cottages sit in the shadow of an Iron Age hill fort.
The walk ends in the market town of Dursley, where a direct train will take you back to Stroud.
Where to stay: Surrounded by endless greenery, the Amberley Inn just outside of Stroud offers guests stunning views across the famed Cotswold countryside and a menu specialising in freshly caught fish and other local produce to help you replenish your stocks after a day of walking.
South West Coast Path, Cornwall – Best walks in UK
Covering Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, the South West Coast Park is one of the best walks in the UK. For the part in Cornwall, as you set out by ferry across the Camel Estuary, the South West Coast Path demands two days of intensive walking – but to the persistent, the spoils of the blustery Cornish coast at its most ethereal.
The walk draws to a close at Tintagel Castle: associated with King Arthur, with its medieval walls still standing strong above the Atlantic.
Where to stay: The light, bright and airy Padstow Harbour Hotel, mimics the coastline outside and offers guests a quintessential Cornish experience, with a chic twist – as well as views across the town and the Camel Estuary.
Pennine Way, Derbyshire – Best walks in UK
Kinder Scout, a national nature reserve in the Dark Peak of the Derbyshire Peak District, boasts a plethora of rewarding walks, though none more so than Pennine Way. From the village of Edale, head west, climbing the giant stone steps of Jacobs Ladder, the lakes and woodland of the park framing the downward vistas.
Pause for a breather at Kinder Downfall waterfall, where a fork in the road offers brave (and time-rich) walkers the opportunity to follow the path all the way to the Scottish border. Be warned though, the walk takes about 30 days, whereas the other path takes you across the moorland – chased by tranquil brooks – back to Edale and a well-deserved cup of tea.
Where to stay: Offering cottages and rooms alike, The Old Nag’s Head is set in Edale, at the start of the Pennine Way, and is housed inside an enchanting, and atmospheric, 16th-century property.
Aber Falls, Gwynedd – Best walks in UK
This four-mile ramble through charming woodland offers ample opportunities for paddling, all within the breathtaking Coedydd Aber Nature Reserve.
Though all four seasons boast their own rambler’s rewards, winter is arguably the best time to visit as the waterfalls are at their fullest (falling 120 feet) and the rapids are more mesmerising than ever.
You won’t be the only one traversing the rugged reserve either – look up to spot birds of prey soaring and keep an eye out for wild ponies as you follow the North Wales Path.
Where to stay: With a 9.9 rating out of 10 from previous guests on Booking.com, the Min y Don Guest House in Llanfairfechan offers charming service, sea views and a garden and terrace area for relaxing post-walk.
Lizard Peninsula Coast, Cornwall – Best walks in UK
The Lizard Peninsula is a scenic stretch – peppered with quaint fishing villages and charming inlets on Cornwall’s southernmost point. It links the picturesque town of Porthleven to the sleepy village of Helford.
A sanctuary for wildlife enthusiasts, the walk is lined with flora and fauna, especially during spring and midsummer when rarer species prosper.
Where to stay: Popular with the locals, The Harbour Inn offers guests spacious rooms, a cosy bar and a well-regarded restaurant (serving locally caught fish), all backed by sea views and overlooking Portleven Harbour itself.
St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire – Best walks in UK
This four-mile walk is not for the fainthearted but promises those who brave it dramatic views and freshwater lochs. Set out from the National Trust car park, which sits above the Berwickshire fishing village of St Abbs, and follow the ascending road above Mire Loch before joining the coastal path.
This is a walk to take a few stops as you take in the surroundings, from the Victorian lighthouse to the crashing waves below.
Where to stay: Located in St Abbs, Rock Cottage boasts a prime shoreside location for two people to enjoy an intimate hideaway after a bracing sea walk. They also welcome dogs by prior arrangement.
Coniston Round, Lake District
The Lake District is perhaps England’s most loved natural destination, renowned for its fells, glistening lakes and quaint market towns. And the beautiful Coniston Round lives up to the hype, winding its way through some of the most dramatic scenery the park has to offer.
The walk begins in Coniston itself, a village nestled on the side of a lake, and from here it takes you on a circular route past the Coniston Fells and up to the Old Man of Coniston, one of the Lake District’s most popular peaks.
Where to stay: Beside Coniston Water, the gardens of The Coniston Inn meet the shores of the lake and offer guests a front row seat to the Lake District’s beauty. The restaurant boats mountain views and the lounge bar offers local ales, light snacks and afternoon tea.
South Foreland Lighthouse Walk, Kent – Best walks in UK
Perfect for those after dramatic views and fresh, coastal air in Kent, without days to spare or who would class themselves as less experienced walkers, this shorter walk packs in as many scenic vistas as possible en-route.
The walk along the southeast coast of takes ramblers across the White Cliffs of Dover, winding around the clifftop path, and ends at the South Foreland Lighthouse – which has stood proudly looking out to sea since 1843 – and can often be climbed for a breathtaking view.
Where to stay: Strathmore Bed & Breakfast sits in St. Margaret’s Bay, just a short drive away from the Dover Ferry Port and the cliffs themselves. Some rooms boast patios while others include a conservatory seating area.
Haughmond Hill, Shropshire – Best walks in UK
Blanketed by woodland, Haughmond Hill is a small, shallow hill in Shropshire, with a summit looking out over the patchwork of Shrewsbury and the hills beyond.
Though the walk itself is not the toughest, the final 100 metres to the top are not surfaced and can cause mobility issues in wetter conditions. However, those who decide against this last climb, won’t be disappointed by the views before the summit.
Where to stay: Nestled in Shrewsbury, the interior-savvy Haughmond features a garden, terrace, bar and restaurants – as well as ample space for relaxation after a long day. Packed lunches can also be prepared upon request for trips and days out.
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