Strapping on a pair of walking boots and tackling a hill or long and winding trail is one of the best ways to escape the stresses of modern life and, even better, it’s free.
From historical coastal paths to breathtaking summits and shorter hikes that offer spectacular scenery, Cashlady explores some of the best walking routes across the UK.
UK walking trails and paths
The UK has miles and miles of well-maintained trails that suit all ages and abilities and take in some of the country’s most spectacular natural scenery.
Known as National Trails in England and Wales and Scotland’s Great Trails north of the border, these are long distance walking, cycling and horse riding routes that you can enjoy as a complete walk covering several days, or in smaller sections of one day or less.
Hadrian’s Wall Path
- 88 miles
- Northern England
- Trail and circular walks
Voted number three in Rough Guide’s list of 20 World Class Walks, Hadrian’s Wall Path follows the World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall, taking in Roman settlements and forts along the way.
A walk that’s steeped in history, there’s also plenty of pubs, bustling market towns and excellent views to take in as you tread the long path from coast to coast.
If you’re ready for an adventure, the full walk takes around eight days to complete but you can do as much or as little as you please as there are lots of circular walks on the trail that all levels of fitness can enjoy.
Stretching across northern England, from Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway, the trail passes through rolling fields, rugged moorland and even the bright lights of Newcastle and Carlisle.
Read more here: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/hadrians-wall-path
The Pennine Way
- 268 miles
- Northern England to the Scottish Borders
- Full or part trail
The Pennine way was the very first National Trail, opened in 1965, and is hailed by many an intrepid walker as a truly once in a lifetime experience.
Stretching from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, the walk is 268 miles and crosses from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall to the Cheviots.
Spend as little or as long as you like walking this trail. If you want a challenge and plan to complete the full walk then it will take around 16 to 19 days.
Read more here: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/pennine-way/information
West Highland Way
- 96 miles
- West of Scotland
- Full or part trail
The West Highland Way was Scotland’s first long distance route and it remains popular with walkers who come from near and far to enjoy the scenery that takes in evocative sights such as Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor and Glencoe.
Stretching from Milngavie in Glasgow to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis in the Highlands, the route offers an excellent way to discover Scotland by foot.
If you chose to walk the full way, then it will take around one week to ten days but you can also finish up at earlier points if you prefer.
Read more here: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/west-highland-way.shtml
Wales Coast Path
Opened in 2012, the Wales Coastal Path covers an amazing 870 miles of uninterrupted coastline.
From stunning clifftop walks and secluded beaches through to Cardiff Bay there’s a whole range of walks to suit all tastes and abilities, from quick and easy walks as well as longer challenging hikes.
Climbing to the top of a hill, mountain (hills above 2000 feet) or one of Scotland’s 282 Munro’s (hills above 3000 feet) provides unrivalled views and an overwhelming sense of achievement, plus it’s completely free.
Here in the UK, we’re spoiled with some of the best hikes in the world and so below we look at some of the more manageable ones, which are a great place to start.
- 1,050 feet
- North York Moors
A distinctive hill in the North York Moors, Roseberry Topping is small but offers mighty views from the top.
At 1,050 feet (320m) it is less than a third of the size of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, and offers a steep hike that can be completed in around 90 minutes.
Alan Hinkes, the first Briton to climb the world’s 8,000-metre mountains, reportedly claims that it’s his favourite hill of them all so it’s certainly worth the ascent.
- 1400 feet
- Loch Lomond
A steep and small hill overlooking Loch Lomond, expect great views of the loch with Ben Lomond the Arrochar Alps beyond.
Sitting between the boundary fault between the lowlands and the highlands of Scotland you can feel like you’re on top of the word in as little as 90 minutes up and down.
Beware as it can get very busy on weekends and sunny days.
Read more here: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lochlomond/conic-hill.shtml
Pen y Fan
- 2907 feet
- Brecon Beacons
This is the highest hill in southern Britain and so you should take extra care when planning this hike and ensure that you carry the correct equipment.
A wide track which is easy to follow makes it a good option for beginners.
- 2870 feet
- Lake District
The Fairfield Horseshoe is a classic long mountain round in the heart of the Lake District that offers stunning views but also shouldn’t be underestimated.
Starting and finishing in Ambleside, it’s a very popular walk and can get very busy.
Read more here: https://www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_42.html
- 3533 feet
One of the ‘easier’ Munros so long as you tackle it on a pleasant day, Schiehallion is a big mountain that benefits from a good path, which makes the 4-6-hour climb less difficult than some.
An excellent starter Munro, it boasts panoramic views over Glencoe and a fascinating history that you can read more about here.
With spring around the corner, it’s the perfect time to plan some free and fun activities that allow you to get outdoors and make the most of what the UK has to offer.
Walking and hiking is a great way to keep fit and feel fantastic but it’s essential that you first familiarise yourself with how to practice these activities safely and responsibly.
Spend some time researching the correct hiking gear and equipment and always tell someone where you are planning to walk.
The British Mountaineering Council offers useful advice here.