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Your guide to the UK's best walking destinations

22 March 2021

If you love country walking and exploring new places, you'll love our comprehensive list of the best walking destinations in the UK.

walking routes UK

There's no shortage of excellent walking routes in the UK, with plenty of walks through beautiful rolling hills, beautiful woodlands and along our impressive coastline. We round up some of the best walking routes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Jump to:

Best walks in South East England
Beast walks in South West England
Best walks in the Midlands
Best walks in Northern England
Best walks in Scotland
Best walks in Wales
Best walks in Northern Ireland

Walks in South East England

Abingworth, West Sussex

Situated on the doorstep of the South Downs National Park Abingworth is the gateway to the rollercoaster cliff walks of the Seven Sisters, with the Devil's Dyke and Ditchling Beacon being sought after walking routes for visitors to the area.

Wye Crown, Kent

This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is best in spring, when wildflowers, bees and butterflies bring the downs to life. There are plenty of walking options, whatever your fitness levels, including a 4 mile circular walk from the village of Wye that incorporates the chalk crown hill figure etched into the landscape to mark the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.

Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

For the ambitious walker there's the hugely popular complete circuit of the island to set as a challenge, and for the more appreciative of the islands inland beauty there's the Tennyson Trail, which boasts a clear 360 degree view across the entire isle.

Heartwood Forest, Hertfordshire

At Heartwood Forest near Sandridge, St Albans, the creation of England’s largest new native forest – an 858 acre woodland with a total of 600,000 newly planted trees, is well underway. The site, in the heart of London’s Green Belt, already boasts four remnants (covering 45 acres) of precious ancient woodland, and is home to rare butterflies and English bluebells. Visitors can currently explore hundreds of acres of newly accessible land.

The Thames Path, London

This National Trail follows the the bank of the River Thames for 180 miles between its source in Gloucestershire all the way to the Thames Barrier. This can be completed in stages to suit your time and fitness level, and there's no certainly shortage of pubs and interesting sights along the way and it's a great way to see a different side of the country's capital city.

Fore Wood, East Sussex

A peaceful and relaxing woodland, with steep-sided ravines in the sandstone where rare ferns grow. In spring wood anemones and early purple orchids grow and a variety of woodland birds are found here. There are good trails around the wood, but beware that paths can become very muddy in wet weather.

Seven Sisters and Birling Gap, East Sussex

If you do like to be beside the seaside, then head to East Dean in Sussex where you can fuel up on hearty pub grub at the 15th century Tiger's Inn, before heading out along the South Downs Way to experience the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

This magnificent ribbon of coastline is one of the most photographed in Britain - look out for the picturesque Belle Tout Lighthouse before looping back towards the pub to warm the cockles of your heart before the roaring log fire.

North Coast Path, Norfolk

There's a variety of scenery from the cliffs of Hunstanton to the marshes of Thornham, and the North Coast Path is one of the best ways to discover this part of the British coast. With sandy beaches, spectacular cliffs and nature reserves, you can even see out to Skegness on a clear day.

Find out about the must-see sights of the Norfolk Broads

Walks in South West England

Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Explore the phenomenal Jurassic coast in Dorset with its spectacular geology, walk the cliff edge to the Fossil Forest and experience Durdle Door and Stair Hole – a future cove in the making   which also offers one of the most stunning locations for a sunset you will ever see.

Abbotsbury Castle, Dorset

Abbotsbury Castle is a rewarding walk through 5,000 years of history, travelling high above the coastline along the South Dorset Ridgeway, a Stone Age route peppered with archaeological remains. Below, St Peter's Abbey was a fifth century holy site. Subtropical gardens, a Swannery and a fourteenth century chapel add to the many charms of the picturesque village of Abbotsbury.

Shaftsbury and Gold Hill, Dorset

Take the four mile circular walk from Shaftesbury and enjoy the charming mix of thatched and stone buildings dotted about the town. You'll follow the stretch of winding country lanes towards the downs, looking out over Glastonbury Tor. Stroll down the famous cobbled Gold Hill – made famous from the 1973 Hovis advert.

Selworthy, Somerset

Selworthy village forms part of the National Trust Holnicote Estate near Minehead in Somerset. With a myriad of walking routes to choose from, including the South West Coast Path and Exmoor National Park, the Valley of Rocks and the beautiful Watersmeet are essential places to visit during your stay.

Bathampton, Somerset

When you think of Bath, likeliness is you'll think of a bustling Georgian city. However, just a couple of miles from the hubbub, you'll find the picturesque village of Bathampton with the stunning River Avon and the Kennet & Avon canal. Stroll along either and discover numerous pubs and picturesque spots to stop with a picnic.

Dartmoor, Devon

Walk the moorlands of Dartmoor and tackle the aptly named Wild Tor and Hound Tor with plenty of ancient monuments to marvel at along the way. There are also plenty of rugged sections of the South West Coast Path to choose from for those that prefer the fresh blast of sea air from the cliffs.

Killerton Estate, Devon

Ashclyst Forest was once an area of mixed land with some ancient woodland, fields and heathland. During the 19th century, Sir Thomas Acland planted many conifers to provide timber for the Killerton Estate.

The resulting 300-hectare woodland is now one of the largest in East Devon, providing a good mix of habitats, including deciduous and coniferous trees with glades and some heath. Within the forest there are several trails, all clearly marked and of varying lengths – a great facility in such a wildlife-rich woodland.

Branscombe Village, Devon

A very short walk of 1.9 miles from Branscombe Mouth to the picturesque thatched village of Branscombe, where the National Trust maintains several delightful properties. Visit the working forge and mill then enjoy a lovely rest at The Masons Arms public house. If you are feeling energetic after exploring the village, extend the route along the delightful valley behind, to the historic Hole House and Edge Barton.

St Ives, Cornwall

If you can wrench yourself away from the pasties, cream teas and ice cream long available from this gorgeous seaside town long enough there are some spectacular coastal walks within easy reach. Lizard, the tin mines of Land's End and St Michaels Mount are all hugely popular walking destinations.

Save hundreds of pounds on holidays and cruises - browse our available travel offers and find out more here.

Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

Bourton-on-the-Water is probably one of the most quintessentially English villages in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Walk along the crest of the hills and reward yourself in one of the many tempting tea shops frequently found amongst this rolling Cotswold countryside.

Rame Head Chapel, Cornwall

A high headland with a bird's-eye view of the coast for a long way in both directions, Rame Head has long been a lookout point.

Celtic warriors built a rampart across the neck of the headland to defend it from possible attack, and medieval monks kept a light burning here to warn sailors of the rocks after St German established their chapel in the Dark Ages.

Cardinham Woods, Cornwall

Cornwall isn't all about the coast – it is also home to Cardinham Woods, one of the country's finest forests, made up on an incredible 650 acres of scenic woodland, which makes for a fantastic autumn ramble.

Follow the Lady Vale Walk – a gentle two-mile trail that hugs the Cardinham Water River for its whole length, taking you through a steep forested valley, with oak, alder, rowan and willow trees. In autumn the woodland provides a brilliant display of red and gold leaves.

Porlock Woodland, Exmor

A delightful stroll around the western side of Porlock Bay, through the woodland cloaking the hills above Porlock Weir, along the clattering pebbles of Porlock Beach and back around the edge of marshy pastures.

The landscape of this walk has inspired many poets over the years. The famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in nearby Nether Stowey, and often walked around Porlock with his good friend William Wordsworth (also a local resident). This is a short loop around the headland, which is a great place for bird-spotting, especially in autumn, when hobbies, merlins, peregrines, hen and marsh harriers and short-eared owls have all been seen passing through.

Greyfield Wood, Somerset

Greyfield Wood is a roughly rectangular block of woodland on the edge of the village of High Littleton. It's immediately surrounded by semi-natural habitats, but on a wider scale is in a landscape of agriculture.

The centre of the wood is generally level punctuated by bumps and gullies, with steeper slopes around the edges particularly the southern boundary. Streams run along the east and west boundaries and a small stream passes through the northern section of the wood.

The flora on the steeper areas southern slope includes numerous ancient woodland species. Situated on sandstone and coal deposits the wood is unusual for the area being on acidic soils supporting plant communities that are unusual within the region. It was planted with mixed broadleaves and conifers from 1915-1965. Now there is strong natural regeneration of both native and non-native species within the wood.

St Michel's Brent Tor, Dartmoor

If your thing is spell-binding, panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see, get thee to Dartmoor where a ramble up the rocky slopes of Brent Tor awaits. Standing sentinel at the top is the quaint 13th century church St Michael de Rupe, and it is here that you will be rewarded with the wilds of Dartmoor, spread at your feet. Start and finish your tour of the Tor at The Elephant's Nest Inn in Mary Tavy, a quintessentially Devonshire pub.

Walks in the Midlands

Church Stretton, Shropshire

This small town, also known as Little Switzerland, lies within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Caer Caradoc, Long Mynd, Wenlock Edge and Stiperstones Ridge are all walks of note across this spectacular area of border country.

Malvern Hills, Worcestershire

The Malvern Hills offer stunning views of the surrounding valleys, hills and Iron Age hill fords and earthworks. Popular routes include Hollybush, Wyche to Wynds Point and the Worcestershire Beacon. 

Mam Tor, Peak District

This National Trust circular walk to the top of 517m hill Mam Tor, or 'Mother Hill', will reward you with stunning views of the Peak District and take about two hours to complete.

Dovedale, Peak District

Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the UK, Dovedale is a valley in the Derbyshire Dales with serene walks along the Monsale and Lathkill Dales, and the more challenging Curbar and Stanage Edges. Castleton Caves and the World Heritage Site of Cromford Mill are not to be missed.

Woodpecker Trail, Northamptonshire

Just seven miles from the centre of Northampton lies one of Britain’s most remarkable forests – Salcey Forest. This former medieval hunting forest is known for its 'druid' oaks (some of which are believed to be over 500 years old) and its beeches – the changing colours of the leaves in October are quite a sight. There are public footpaths that wind through the forest, but to really appreciate the forests' myriad of colours you have to get above ground level – there is a tree top walk that allows you to enjoy the view from 65ft up in the canopy (the walk can be busy at weekends so go midweek).

Sutton Park, Birmingham

An important site for wildlife and conservation, this landscape is a mosaic of open heathland, woodlands, wetlands, marshes and seven lakes each with their own rich variety of plants and wildlife, some rarely seen in the region.

Bow Wood, Derbyshire

Bow Wood is a good example of the is a semi-natural oak and birch woodland that once cloaked the area. Set on a sloping site, it faces south and west across the Derwent Valley. At the top of the wood is the Wickey Tor, which offers stunning views towards the north0east across the valley and into the Peak District National Park.

Bow Wood is well used by local people walking the Shining Cliffs complex of paths. Here you will discover large beech and sycamore trees towering above bracken and recent clearing work has prompted the appearance of some young oaks.

Londonthorpe Wood, Lincolnshire

The site lies on the edge of Grantham, close to the National Trust's Belton Park property. It's a mix of new planting carried out between 1993-95 and mature woodland. The new planting consists of mixed, mostly native, broadleaved species with ash and oak. The site contains many veteran trees – remnants of older parkland planting and the old hedgerows that transect the planting site.

Above the woodland creation site lies Alma Wood on top of the scarp slope, planted in the 1850s in memory of the Crimean War. Although planted, the wood is firmly established and contains the more common ancient woodland plants that have colonised from surrounding hedgerows, such as dogs mercury, cuckoo pint and enchanter's nightshade.

Due to decades of neglect and subsequent old age and storm damage the wood now holds an important and sustainable level of fallen and standing deadwood habitat which is important for invertebrates.

Walks in Northern England

Derwentwater, Lake District

Derwentwater is one of the largest lakes in the Lake District National Park and a true Cumbrian gem. From here you can admire the stunning views across these famous fells and venture around Buttermere and Borrowdale with popular walking routes to Cat Bells, Scafell Pike and Helvellyn.

Coniston Water, Lake District

The 3rd largest lake in the Lake District National Park Coniston Water stretches for 5 miles with the Old Man of Coniston towering above, a hugely popular mountain for walkers. Follow the footpaths to the other Wainwright summits, such as the Langdale Pikes, or take a more leisurely stroll around Tarn Hows.

The lake is one of the most picturesque corners of the Lake District, with many attracted by the stunning walks. The ‘Old Man of Coniston’ towers majestically across the valley, offering a stunning vantage point to survey Coniston and the beautiful fells beyond.

Read our tips for fun and different ways to explore the UK

Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere, Lake District.

Lake Windermere, Lake District

Perhaps the most famous of Cumbria’s many and varied lakes, Windermere is the largest freshwater lake in England and has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway's branch line in 1847.

Try one of these other great walks in the Lake District

Airton, North Yorkshire

Whether its picture postcard villages or the solitude of the unbroken heather moorland the Yorkshire Dales Country Park offers some of the finest walking in the UK.

Home of the legendary Three Peaks, Gordale Scar and the underground waterfalls of White Scar Cave Airton is the ideal location to base yourself for a memorable 3 or 4 days, or even a full week, of walking.

Sedburgh, North Yorkshire

Sedbergh, England's Book town in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales National Park offers a plethora of breath-taking walking routes; Howgill Fells and The Calf, Baugh Fell and the Cautley Spout waterfall are all highly recommended.

Alnmouth, Northumberland

Situated in a quiet harbour village Alnmouth nestles sedately on the Northumbrian Heritage Coast.

With both inland and coastline offering a refreshing contrast you can spend your time between tranquil valleys or craggy headlands with stunning views from the Cheviot and Simonside Hills. Other walks popular with visitors include Hadrian's Wall, Dunstanburgh and Lindisfarne.

Dove Crag, Northumberland

Enjoy the ancient, semi-natural oak woodland on a four-mile, circular walk from Holystone to Dove Crag.

The waymarked walk passes through North Wood (look out for red squirrels), which is stunning in autumn and one of Britain’s most extensive upland oakwood areas, parts of which have survived since 1600.

The trail then rises to heather moorland scattered with juniper and birchwoods, where you can see the rich-yellow needle display of the larches, which “turn” each October. When you reach Dove Crag you will be rewarded with breathtaking views – on a clear day you can see as far as the Northumberland coast.

Whitby, North Yorkshire

The seaside town of Whitby is located in the North York Moors National Park and just north of Scarborough. With an abundance of great walks available you can try cliff-top walking along the Cleveland Way or enjoy the views from Roseberry Topping.

Walks in Scotland

Glen Coe, Argyll

It's virtually impossible to think of anywhere in the Western Highlands that isn't good for walking but the tranquil lochs and magnificent mountains of Glen Coe and the enticing Munros make this a walkers paradise like no other. With walks to enjoy to Glen Nevis, Buachaille Etive Mor and the world famous ben Nevis it's no wonder Glencoe is also known as the outdoor capital of the UK.

Loch Ness, Highlands

Containing more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined, Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of Nessie. Loch Ness is part of a series of water channels, including the Caledonian Canal, that follows a natural fault line through the dramatic heart of the Scottish Highlands.

It is overlooked by the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle, which have looked across the shores of Loch Ness for seven centuries. If your visit coincides with a day when Nessie is feeling shy, don’t worry, the surrounding glens are home to fascinating variety of wildlife include red (as well as roe) deer, osprey and pine martins.

Lock Lomond, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire

The bonny banks o’ Loch Lomond” so the song goes, and with good reason, Loch Lomond is renowned for its stunning beauty. This is an exquisite fresh water loch that effectively marks the border between the Lowlands and the Highlands.

Even if you’ve lived your whole life in the UK, there’s always somewhere new to discover. Find out more here

Walks in Wales

Brecon, Powys

The market town of Brecon is the gateway to the wonderful Brecon Beacons National Park – a haven for walkers of all abilities. From the Black Mountains, Usk and Wye valleys, to the amazing Sgwd yr Eira waterfall that you can walk behind Wales is one of the best places in the UK for walking holidays.

Usk Valley
Usk Valley in the Brecon Beacons.

Usk Valley, Gwent

Home to the longest flowing river in Wales, the Usk Valley is a haven for experienced and novice walkers alike.

Begin your journey at the source of the River Usk on Fan Foel in the Brecon Beacons National Park and follow the towpath of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal as it passes the Black Mountains and the interior uplands.

Brecon Canal, Gwent

The Brecon Canal offers something different throughout the year. In autumn you’ll be enchanted by the vivid red and gold leaves reflecting in the still waters of the canal. In spring, you’ll notice how the trees and wildflowers growing along the path make it a haven for butterflies and birds.

A relatively easy, peaceful walk, it can be taken in small sections depending on the amount of time you have.

Find out about the UK's most scenic canal routes

The Wye Valley, Gwent

A picture-perfect walk to awaken your senses. Start the walk at Chepstow Castle, heading through orchards, meadows, mountains and woodland, and you will soon see why the Wye Valley gave inspiration to Wordsworth's poetry and why it's now an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Dolgellau, Gwynedd

Home of the famous walkers favourite Cadair Idris, Dolgellau also offers routes in to climb Dovey Hills, the Rhinogs and Aran Fawddwy. With wooded valleys and RSPB reserves this part of Snowdonia National Park is perfect for both walkers and wildlife lovers.

Llanarthne, Dyfed

A relaxed stroll through Pont Felin Gat in Carmarthenshire can be completed in around an hour and a half. Here you will see the National Botanic Gardens and a breathtaking waterfall, as well as ancient woodland flowers.

Snowdon, Gwynedd

With various ascents available for the beginner to the experienced walker Snowdon is a marvellous mountain to climb, or you could just get the train up! Moel Siabod, the Nantlle Ridge and the Glyders also offer fabulous walks. Be aware that Snowdon can get extremely busy at peak times so if it's solitude you're after it isn't always the best option.

Lake Bala, Gwynedd

Lake Bala, or Llyn Tegid as it is known in Welsh, sits proudly in the Snowdonia National Park and lies just a short distance from the town from which it takes its name.

The largest natural lake in Wales, Lake Bala joins with the fast flowing River Dee making this area a premier destination for fishing with salmon, trout and grayling tempting anglers from throughout the country.

The rolling countryside and numerous other lakes in the area also mean that this part of Wales is favoured by cyclists, pony trekkers and walkers. Guided walks and cycle hire are available with routes following the lake and extending beyond into some of the most scenic countryside in Britain.

Walks in Northern Ireland

Glenariff Forest Park, County Antrim

Glenariff Forest Park in County Antrim is 1,000 hectares of beautiful woodland, lakes and waterfalls. A timber boardwalk winds its way along the river gorge, allowing spectacular views of the waterfalls and local wildlife.

Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim

Stunning coastal vistas can be viewed from Carrick-a-Rede in County Antrim, if you're brave enough to cross the famous rope bridge, first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755 and now maintained by the National Trust.

The Mourne Way, County Down

This 26 mile long off-road route from Newcastle to Rostrevor offers stunning views of the granite Mourne Mountains. Experienced hillwalkers can opt for the Mourne Wall Challenge Walk, which includes some of the highest mountains in Northern Ireland.

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