The UK may not have the highest peaks nor the most palatable weather, but it certainly has plenty of natural beauty waiting to be discovered for trail walkers and hikers alike. From quintessentially British rolling hills to quaint villages and open countryside, to otherwordly and unique landscapes.
To placate all tastes, we’re covering a wide variety of hiking trails in this article. So, whether you’re looking to hop between B and B’s, inns and pubs, or you’re looking for a challenge in remote regions, there’s a little something to suit everyone’s cup of tea.
1. The Quiraing
Located at the northernmost summit of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, the Quirang is quite unlike anything you’ve seen. The Quiraing is the result of a massive landslip that occurred millennia ago that created high cliffs, folded hills, stone spired and plateaus, helped along by ancient glaciers and lava flows. As such, the four-mile hike through it is essential for photographers and hikers alike, thanks to its breathtakingly surreal and unique landscape.
2. The South Downs Way
The South Downs Way is a long-distance footpath (about 160 km or 100 miles) that runs along the chalk hills known as the south downs. Extending from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex, this designated national trail attracts thousands of visitors each year.
The route, which runs through the South Downs National Park, takes around eight days to complete and features rolling hills, pretty countryside and wildlife, and the iconic cliffs themselves. Just be sure to keep a reasonable distance away from the cliffs, as landslides are not uncommon.
3. Yorkshire Three Peaks Challange
If you’re looking for a formidable challenge but don’t have a huge amount of time, the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge may be for you. The trail consists of a 24-mile loop with more than 1,500m of climbing that sees you go up and over Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. Despite the epic nature of the task, it can be all done in a single day. You can even get yourself a badge to mark your accomplishment if you register first.
4. The West Highland Way
The West Highland way runs from Milngavie, north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and runs through the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and all the beauty it has to offer. It takes about a week to complete the whole thing, although it can be done in sections, or you can pick and choose your favourite bits.
5. South West Coast Path
As England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath, you’d need to book a whole lot of time off if you planned to complete the South West Coast Path in one go. Running from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, with hidden coves, secluded beaches, fishing villages, and rugged cliffs all along the way, it is essential for those who wish to see English beauty at its best.
6. The Ridgeway
Known as Britain’s oldest road, the ancient trackway that is the Ridgeway has been used by travellers and traders since prehistoric times. Today it remains a scenic walk, offering views of the Wessex Downs and the Chiltern Hills while also passing near Avebury’s Neolithic stone circles.
7. Pennine Way
Looking to get lost (figuratively, not literally, we hope) somewhere remote? Or want a challenge? Then the Pennine Way might be more to your tastes. Offering a combined ascent higher than Everest, the Pennine Way may not be the longest, but it is “one of Britain’s best known and toughest” trails.
8. Coast To Coast Walk
This 192-mile walking route will take you from St Bees Head on the Irish Sea in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea in North Yorkshire. Along the way, you’ll head through no less than three national parks – the lakes, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Mores – taking in all the incredible geology on offer.
9. Hadrian’s Wall Path
Spanning some 70 miles and often running alongside one of Britain’s most ancient monuments, Hadrian’s Wall, Hadrian’s Wall Path is undeniably one of the best hiking trails the UK has to offer. Not only is there the wall, but it offers magnificent views of the Lake District and Pennines, as well as plenty of open countryside and other ancient ruins. Moreover, the whole thing can be done in a couple of days, making it perfect for a weekend getaway.
The wall itself was built sometime between AD122 and 128 by the Romans during the reign of emperor Hadrian. It was designed to mark the boundary between Roman Britannia and the ‘barbarian’ pits to the north. However, despite misconceptions, the wall has never designated the Anglo-Scottish border and sits entirely within England.
10. Scafell Pike
What most people like about the grassy slopes of this Lake District walk is that there are many different ways to reach it. Said to be the tallest mountain in England it is well worth the climb just for the accomplishment of doing it, let alone the stunning view at the top.
Have you been on any of these walks? Is there one you would like to recommend? Do let us know in the comments below.