BEST HIKING TRAILS IN THE UK: 10 Epic Routes!
The UK isn’t necessarily known for its hiking and trekking trails but the country is home to some incredible landscapes. Indeed the UK doesn’t have the highest mountains in the world but it has a lot to offer, from white sand beaches to the Lake District and the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, there is something from everyone. Hiking in the UK might be one of the best ways to explore this beautiful and historical country! Here is a list of the best hiking trails in the UK: 10 epic routes.
Why hiking in the UK?
Our lives are busier than ever, luckily going for a hike can provide a calming and refreshing feeling, something only nature can offer. The great thing about hiking in the UK is that it’s economical, has many health benefits, and can be done alone or with friends and family. You’ll discover new things about yourself and the more time you spend on these trails, the more you learn to appreciate nature.
The UK is definitely a great hiking destination, there are beaches, lakes, woods, and mountains. In one short trip, you will see many different and unique landscapes. Use this list of the best hiking trails in the UK to pick your favorite route.
Best time to hike the UK
The UK isn’t exactly renowned for its tropical climates.
The weather is never really extreme, therefore, no matter at what time of year you decide to go hiking, it’s a good idea to pack for all seasons and always bring waterproof layers.
The weather is driest and warmest between May and September, this it’s the best time to organize your hiking and camping adventure. Keep in mind this is also the peak tourist season. The low season is between December and February, where you’ll come across lots of rain and cold temperatures. Spring is nice, from late March to May, where it’s chilly with occasional sun and rain.
Best Hiking Trails in the UK
The UK counts 15 National Parks, therefore it offers a wide selection of hiking trails. Some of the most popular areas are the Lake District, South Downs, Snowdonia, and the Loch Lomond. All of these National Parks have plenty to offer, from day walks to activities such as wild swimming, rock climbing, and paddle-boarding. You can spend days wandering around this National Parks without following a specific route. Nevertheless, here is a shortlist of the best hiking trails in the UK, most of them are long-distance routes that can be broken down into small circular walks.
West Highland Way
Where: Scottish Highlands
Distance: 96 miles
The West Highland Way is a world’s classic and the most popular long-distance trail in Scotland. There’s a reason why this route is one of the best hikes in the UK, you will experience breathtaking scenery and it’s a perfect introduction to the Scottish Highlands.
Every year many people from across the world meet in Scotland to walk the West Highland Way, this route takes them through beautiful and picturesque landscape. The trek usually requires five to ten days and it’s not particularly difficult.
South West Coast Path
Distance: 630 miles
The South West Coast Path is England’s longest long-distance route. The trail covers entire areas including Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset, therefore it’s easy to break this coastal path in sections. You don’t necessarily have to walk the entire route. Some highlights are the cliffs of North Devon, the fossil-rich shores of the Jurassic Coast (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Cornwall’s beautiful beaches. If hiking is simply not enough for you, here you can find plenty of activities such as heading surfing, kayaking, climbing, wild swimming.
Coast to Coast trail
Where: Lake District
Distance: 192 miles
The trail crosses the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors. Three national parks in one walking route. No wonder why is considered one of the best hiking trails in the UK. The route uses a network of public footpaths to access a huge variety of landscapes and terrain. Because of the popularity of this trail, people often think it’s an easy walk. However, the Coast to Coast trail is very challenging but extremely rewarding.
Southern Upland Way
Where: Scotland border
Distance: 214 miles
The Southern Upland Way is a coast to coast long distance footpath still undiscovered by many hikers. Chances are you’ll have the trail to yourself, even in the busiest months. That means you will walk through a spectacular, remote, and undiscovered part of the country. The trail makes up the southernmost part of Scotland, just north of England. It’s well-marked and it can be broken down in many different stages and shorter routes.
The Cotswold Way follows the western edge of the Cotswold Hills through stunning woodland, and dreamy villages. You will come across areas of outstanding beauty and historical villages and towns. The path is well marked and not very difficult. This trail is not only for long-distance walkers as it offers shorter and easy to follow sections where you can still enjoy views from the hilltops and Cotswolds’ beautiful stone villages.
South Downs Way
Where: South Downs
Distance: 100 miles
This trail shows you just how beautiful the South of England can be. The South Downs Way is well marked, easy to follow, and very accessible. It can be the perfect introduction to long-distance walking. This path links together many ancient trails and traditional villages. The scenery is breathtaking, the locals friendly and you can enjoy stunning wildlife. This trail can be done walking, on a mountain bike or on horseback.
Fife Coastal Path
Where: Scotland, East coast
Distance: 117 miles
The Fife Coastal Path is on the east coast of Scotland and passes through castle ruins, beautiful landscapes, and colorful fishing villages. It’s easily accessible from Edinburgh and offers a wide range of terrain, from easy paths to demanding rocky beaches. This long-distance trail must be high on your list of places to visit as it links some of Scotland’s most picturesque areas. Definitely worth a spot as one of the best hiking trails in the UK.
Where: North York
Distance: 109 mile
A dramatic coastline, colorful fishing villages, ancient castles, and beautiful moorland. Welcome to the Cleveland Way, one of the best hiking trails in the UK. This 109 miles long route passes through forests and farmland as well as some of the highest sea cliffs in the country. You will come across ancient ruins, such as the Rievaulx Abbey, Helmsley Castle, and Mount Grace Priory. The entire trek can be done in 8 to 10 days or divided into shorter circular walks.
Wales Coast Path
Distance: 870 miles
Wales is the first country in the world to open a trail around its entire coast, precisely 870 miles of coastline with some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Britain. Completing the Coast Path can take a very long time, but luckily you can decide to walk shorter sections and still enjoy the beauty of the trails. One of the most famous routes is in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, offering a large selection of landscapes, from steep limestone cliffs to volcanic headlands, flooded glacial valleys, and open beaches.
Norfolk Coast Path
Distance: 83 miles
Norfolk coastal path offers 83 miles of fantastic scenery and landscape as well as some of the best birdwatching in the UK. This route isn’t very popular but nevertheless it’s a beautiful long-distance walk with a variety of landscapes, from farmland to long sandy beaches and salt marshes. On top of that, you will have the chance to visit unique fishing villages and enjoy a pint of beer in cozy and traditional pubs.
Has this list of the best hiking trails in the UK made you keen to organize your adventure? Plan your trip now – these are 10 of the most adventurous routes.