Words by Katie Brook
Summer is almost here and with that comes balmy, brighter days, perfect for long hikes. The UK is full of beautiful trails, from fields to forests, coastal paths to mountains - and we’re on a hunt to find the best ones.
There’s nothing better than immersing ourselves in nature, and studies show that spending more time outdoors can decrease stress, clear the mind, and increase our serotonin levels - now that’s the kind of mood boost we’re after!
Ready to go? Here’s our 10 most beautiful places to go hiking in the UK.
THE LAKE DISTRICT
There are few places more beautiful in the UK than the Lake District. Shimmering blue lakes and idyllic villages nestle beneath intimidating crags. It’s breathtaking on any day but when intense sunlight streams through the clouds, casting dramatic shadows on the mountains, it really is hard to beat.
For a picturesque hike in the northern Lakes, look for routes that bypass Ullswater and take in the mountain tracks either side. To the west, there are some brilliant trails out of the countryside town of Ambleside, which take in the infamous Windermere Lake in all its glory. If it’s elevation you’re after, you can’t go wrong exploring Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak at 978m.
THE PEAK DISTRICT
The Peak District has become a go-to for people living in London, as it’s an easy - and not too long - train ride out of the big city when you’re seeking fresh air and more technical trails. From the woods of Grindleford, to Burbage Village and Stanage Edge, the Peaks offer a wonderful mix of terrain.
One of the most popular routes is in Edale, with Edale Skyline being a firm favourite. This 32km route has 1,399m of ascent and a variety of different trails to navigate; single track, open fields, steps, rocks and fantastic ridge lines to scramble along - it’s pretty technical but if you're up for the challenge it’s a beautiful route. Just make sure you take lots of snacks!
WEST HIGHLAND WAY
Scotland is a hiking paradise, full of lochs, mountains, and waterfalls. So whether you want something technical and tough or more of an easy ramble, there’s something for everyone. Plus, if you like a bit of wild swimming, there are plenty of spots to take a dip.
The West Highland Way is 154km long, running from Milngavie to Fort William. Our favourite route goes via Glen Coe village, nestled within the mountains it’s a lovely place to stop for a bite to eat mid-hike.
THE JURASSIC COAST
You’ve probably heard of Durdle Door, which is an iconic feature of the Jurassic Coast. People flock in their hundreds when it’s sunny, so you better get there early if you want a parking spot. Otherwise, why not head a little further along the coastline, with 154km of rolling hills, there are plenty of trails to explore. And the views are always stunning.
If (mostly) flat trails and leafy green forests is more your style, then head to the New Forest, in the Hampshire countryside. It’s pretty huge, spanning 150 square miles! The best routes take in all the forest has to offer, including passing fields of pigs, grazing ponies, and deer if you’re lucky.
The easiest place to start hiking is from Lyndhurst, as it’s right in the centre. From this point, you can take many different routes, winding through villages, down to the seafront or along the Beaulieu River.
Steeped in history, we don’t just love the Cotswolds for its green fields but also the quaint little villages, with tea shops and antique dealers. The Cotswolds Way is 164km long, starting in the town of Chippenham and finishing in the city of Bath - where better than to relax in a spa after a long hike? Whichever route you decide to take, make sure you loop through one of the villages along the way.
YORKSHIRE DALES, NATIONAL PARK
Another glorious landscape promising dramatic hills, moors and valleys, the Yorkshire Dales has 2,628km of footpaths to explore. It may be land-bound, but what it lacks in sea views it makes up for in deep valleys, limestone crags and beautiful villages.
If you’re after something a little more challenging, the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks Challenge is a 40km loop, starting in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, taking in the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
NORTH DOWNS WAY
If you’re from the south of the UK, it’s likely you’ve walked along the North Downs Way at some point, as it covers 208km, from Farnham to Dover. Weaving among the undulated Surrey Hills, known as an ‘Area of Natural Beauty’, the route follows ancient trackways along the chalk ridges and wooded downland.
There is plenty of local transport on the route, making it easy to do stages of the iconic path. Why not try Guildford to Dorking, (23km/293m ascent), finishing up at Denbies Wine Estate?
SUFFOLK COASTAL PATH
Suffolk is known for being one of the more flat coastal paths but we don’t need to be chasing the vert every single day. Rich in coastal and countryside walks, weave through vibrant heathlands, enjoy spotting wildlife and take a dip in the sea at the end - if you don’t mind the cold water! Routes are well marked out, especially the more common ones like the Stour & Orwell Walk and theSuffolk Coastal Path route.
Pembrokeshire, in the south west of Wales, offers real variety, whether you want coast paths or sand dunes and gorse-clad headlands. There are plenty of sign posted routes in the area, taking you rambling over marches and stiles.
One of our favourite places to visit is Rhossili, a small village on the southwestern tip of the Gower Peninsula. Home to the famous Worm’s Head, you can hike the 8km out and back route from the visitor’s centre to the very point - just make sure you’re back before the tide comes in.
Now is the perfect time to plan your summer adventures. We hope our guide has given you some inspiring ideas of locations for your next meander through nature. The British trails have breathtaking views and picturesque paths for those seeking to explore. The question now is, where will you start?