It might be a small island nation, but the UK’s hiking options are seemingly endless. The country’s varied landscapes, which include heather moorland, snow-peaked mountains, stunning coastline and thick forests, mean that wherever you go walking in the UK, you’re likely to stumble across something new. What’s more, the country’s fourteen national parks mean that many areas of natural beauty have been carefully preserved for future generations. With so many possibilities for a walking holiday, let Plum Guide come to the rescue with our pick of the best hikes in the UK.
Make your way up Scafell Pike
The Lake District is the place to go for the best hiking vacations in the UK, as the huge national park is crisscrossed by trails that pass through its U-shaped valleys, wind over its steep ridges and circumvent its famous lakes. The views here are some of the best in the country, partly because the national park boasts both England’s second-highest mountain and its longest lakes. While there are myriad hikes to choose from, climbing Scafell Pike is one of the best hikes in the UK for good reason. The most popular route up is from Wasdale Head, initially following West Water, before covering around three miles of fairly steep land to reach the peak of Scafell Pike. Start early and you can complete the whole walk before lunch at a nearby pub. Other excellent hiking options in the area are Helvellyn (start at Thirlmere or Glenridding) and the Old Man of Coniston.
Scafell Pike, Seascale, United Kingdom
Walk the South Downs Way
Stretching 100 miles in total, you’ll need over a week to cover the entirety of the South Downs Way by foot – the route runs from the medieval city of Winchester all the way to Eastbourne. It’s best to start inland from the Winchester end, as this means you can finish the hike with the rewarding view of the striking white cliffs of Beachy Head. Along the way, you’ll cross open fields, climb hills for spectacular views of the English countryside, pass placid lakes, and walk through misty forests. You’ll also have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the area’s past, with Roman roads, historic towns and prehistoric remains visible along the way.
Scramble up Mount Snowdon
The highlight of Snowdonia National Park is undoubtedly Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. More than half a million visitors come to the park each year to experience its expansive lakes, craggy mountains and alpine scenery. There are eight different routes to reach the top of Snowdon, and the most popular is the Miners Track. But for a bit of added excitement, follow Tryfan for a scramble up the north ridge route to the top, where you’ll have the opportunity to leap five feet between the famous Adam and Eve rocks. For those who can’t make the hike, it’s also possible to take the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a delightful single gauge track that will whisk you up to the summit in no time. Who said our recommended best hikes in the UK had to actually include hiking?
Hike from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door
Follow the Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches for 95 miles from Devon to Dorset – for this ramble from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door. The route takes you along the South West Coast Path, which winds a total of 630 miles along the southwest coast of England. This shorter walk, which you can complete in a couple of hours, takes you along its most picturesque stretch. Be aware that the route can be busy in the summer months, so you may wish to visit outside of peak season for a more relaxed experience. The highlight is Durdle Door, a unique rock formation that forms a beguiling archway over the sea just off the shore.
Follow the Cotswolds Way
If the fact that the Cotswolds is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty isn’t enough to convince you to hike along the Cotswolds Way, we don’t know what will. Perhaps the opportunity to follow the route all the way from the pretty town of Chipping Campden to the Roman ruins in the UNESCO-listed city of Bath? Or maybe the traditional houses that you’ll weave past, with their pretty limestone walls and slate roofs, will tempt you. Better still, the historic pubs at every turn, where you can pause your walk for a hearty English meal or a pint of ale.
Climb Ben A’an in the Scottish Highlands
Head into the Scottish Highlands for this hike up Ben A’an. This small peak might be referred to as the “miniature mountain”, but that doesn't mean that its views are diminutive. Situated in the middle of the Trossachs nature reserve, from the top you’ll have the ideal lookout over the loch below, as well as the surrounding glens and braes. From your holiday home in the Highlands, make your way to the Ben A’an car park, from which you’ll need to head up a track, crossing a gurgling stream, before hopping over stepping stones to reach a clearing. From here, you’ll be able to see Ben A’an itself up ahead. Once you get there, climb the mossy, sometimes snow-dusted peak for a panoramic vista over the surroundings – and an excellent photo opportunity.
The Trossachs National Park, Scotland