The Best Mountain Walks in the UK
Hills, valleys and a haiku: read on for the UK's best nature trails at great heights.
So, you’re either a mountaineer or you have a death wish, but in any case: you need mountains, and we’ve got some for you. The British Isles aren’t exactly the Alps, but we’ve scoured the island for the best mountain walks in the UK. It’s no secret that the further north you go, the bumpier it gets... the only climbing you’ll be doing in London will be in a lift to the top of the skyscrapers. That’s why we’ll be looking into North Yorkshire, Wales and Edinburgh on our list of top nature walks. That said, we’d be remiss to miss Hampshire from the mountain discussion, given it has stunning hills and walks in the New Forest and by the south coast. And what’s more, as it happens, Plum Guide has countless (well, we could count them) homes in these parts, serving as deluxe bases for your mountaineering.
Though many of the mountain walks in the UK we’ll look at are in rural areas, we couldn’t ignore the Scottish capital, seeing as it's entirely made up of hills. Take one of the guided walking tours and ghost tours up to Edinburgh Castle on the summit of the Calton Hill. From this peak, enjoy the commanding views across the city and the Firth of Forth, which is one of the best alliterative rivers we know of. On the way up to the top, you’ll pass by some of the main attractions in the city, including the St. Andrew’s House that contains the Scottish Government headquarters. The Scottish Parliament Building and Holyrood Palace also lie near the base of the hill, and you’ll get a closer look at the old Royal High School, the Dugald Stewart Monument, the Nelson Monument and the National Monument on your way to the peak. Outside the city, you’ll find plenty of serene and secluded nature walks in the mountains, with the brooding and misty Pentland Hills mountain range making for a proper Scottish trip.
Our only southern choice for mountains is Hampshire. Between Southampton and Bournemouth lies the charming New Forest, which is a bit of a misnomer, since it was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. And it’s where you can get acquainted with the old-world picture of England you see in the fairytale books. Stay in a charming cottage and grab lunch at one of the pubs that appear to be from millennia ago (well, one millennium at least). Among the most exclusive dining options are the Verveine Fishmarket Restaurant, The Elderflower Lymington and the Les Mirabelles Restaurant. As for mountains, rent a bike to cycle up the lanes to reach the summit of Pipers Wait. Blissford Hill, Hungerford Hill and Stuckton Hill are among the other summits that await you in the idyllic forest. Another set of hills and valleys can be found in the Hampshire Downs. It has the county’s highest peaks, with the Butser Hill known for its Iron Age earthworks.
If the Bronte sisters were able to hike up and down the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, while composing some of the most iconic literature in the English language, you should be able to at least manage the walk. The least you can do is go on a stroll through some scenic hamlets of North Yorkshire, before heading back to your Plum Guide home. We don’t ask that you write a tome, but perhaps you could start with a haiku. In fact, we’ll do one ourselves:
Yorkshire mornings. When a Plum Guide renter hikes up the mountains.
You can pretend to your family that you wrote it, then reveal all in a tearful and repentant speech at the summit of the Ingleborough, Whernside or Pen-y-ghent mountains.
Some of the largest mountains in the UK are situated in Wales, making it (obviously) a top destination for mountain walks in the UK. It’s almost unfair, because the tiny country is packed with so many stunning beaches, scenic valleys and rugged bluffs. Head into the Snowdonia National Park and climb to the top of Mt. Snowdon, the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. Embark on a walk to High Carneddau from Ogwen, taking in the mesmerising scenery and snow-capped rocks along the way.