Avid ramblers, rejoice; we’ve come up with a definitive list on where to go for the best hikes in England. Friends and family members of avid ramblers who are always dragged along on these walking holidays – you can also rejoice, because we’ve also managed to scout out some truly lovely homes to stay in once you get there. It’s what we at Plum Guide do best, after all. Whether you’re braving the coastal and country paths yourself or simply admiring the scenery, here are the best hiking locations in England everyone can enjoy.
If you’re really looking to switch off and get away from it all, shut your computer down and head straight to the Cotswolds. (Once you’ve finished reading this article, of course – let’s not be silly). This might be one of the most visited places in the UK, with landscapes immortalised on greeting cards (and period films, chocolate boxes, and everything in between) but if you’re looking for a peaceful pocket of land to get lost in, here’s where to go. You’ll feel like the only person left on earth as you wander through unspoiled countryside, discovering stone circles and ruined towers like the last remnants of a lost civilisation. And best of all? At the end of it, you simply go back to the luxury of your Plum home to rest your aching feet and enjoy some 21st century comforts. Don’t let anyone say you can’t have it all.
A misty morning in The Cotswolds, England
Fans of Emmerdale will already be intimately familiar with the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, but you don’t need to appreciate the joys of Britain’s most rural soap opera to acknowledge that you’ll find some of the best hikes in England in them there hills. The two-mile circular route around Langstrothdale is a particular favourite, with lots of points of interest like a lime kiln, Bronze Age stone circle, and lots of wildlife and native flowers to admire. The Dales is also home to some of Plum’s loveliest homes including a stately property straight out of Austen’s novels which includes a greenhouse, grand drawing room, and the rarest find of all in this part of the world – a swimming pool.
We do like to be beside the seaside, and Cornwall offers ample opportunity for lazy days on the beach eating ice cream and getting overly competitive about sandcastles. (What do you mean, yours has a moat?) But it is still England, after all, which means it’s a rare day that you won’t have to keep moving to stay warm. Luckily, this sandy corner of Britain is home to some of the best hikes in England. If you’re a fan of King Arthur or are travelling with kids, check out the hikes around Tintagel – you can find the ruins of the castle where the once and future king is said to have been born, as well as the sea cave where Merlin allegedly lived. Bit damp, if you ask us – you’re better off sticking to one of Plum’s homes on the beach, which are much less likely to flood at high tide.
This is one to hype up the kids with – as the name suggests, the Jurassic Coast was formed millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. And if the abundance of fossils found on these shores are anything to go by, it was as popular a route back then as it is now. Today this stretch of English coastline is a World Heritage Site and is widely recognised as the place for some of the best hikes in England. You can do the entire coastline, of course, but it’s around a hundred miles long so if you’re looking for something to bash out before lunch we’d tackle one of the more manageable chunks. Our favourite is the stretch from Lyme Regis and Charmouth, which takes around three or four hours to complete. It’s also the fossil-hunting capital of the coast, so plan to finish on one of the beaches with a picnic and plenty of time to search for treasures in the sand.
The Lake District
If you’re the artsy sort, you’ll already know that the Lake District has inspired painters and writers like Ruskin, Lowry, and three generations of Heaton Coopers (father, son, and grandson – how’s that for a family tradition?) Though many have put the Lake District on the canvas, it’s the area’s writers who put it on the map, most notably William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. With plenty of well-marked paths criss-crossing around the lakes, you too can wander lonely as a cloud through the rolling hills and valleys of the Lake District. One of the best hikes in England for children is the Beatrix Potter Walk – starting from The World Of Beatrix Potter attraction where you can hang out with Peter Rabbit and friends, it traces the author’s steps from Lake Windermere to her own house at Hill Top, which is now a National Trust Property. Just don’t follow Peter’s poor example and raid any gardens along the way.
Typical country home in the Lake District, England