If your desire is to don your walking boots and head outdoors on an adventurous trip then look no further than the United Kingdom. From gentle coastal strolls to some of the most epic and challenging mountain hikes, there are literally thousands of walking trails in the UK for one to enjoy and explore.
In the United Kingdom, hikers are spoilt for places to walk in, so to make matters simple these handpicked walking trails will make it easy for you to find one that is best suited to your capabilities.
- Guide to the Best Walking Trails in the UK
- Coast to Coast, North England [12 days / Moderate]
- Thames Path, England [12-14 days, Easy]
- South Downs Way, England [7-9 days, Easy]
- West Highland Way, Scotland [8 days, Moderate]
- Hadrian’s Wall, England [3-7 Days, Moderate]
- Cotswold Way, England [7-10 days, Moderate]
- Lake District National park, Northwest England
Guide to the Best Walking Trails in the UK
Coast to Coast, North England [12 days / Moderate]
Traversing some of the country’s most impressive natural trails, the 192 miles Coast to Coast walk spans three National Parks stretching from the west to the east coast of England. The trail was the brainchild of the famous hill hiker Alfred Wainwright and kick starts at the town of St.Bees situated on the Irish Sea coast. Further on it passes through the Lake District mountains towards the Yorkshire Dales and then over the North Yorkshire Moors before culminating at Robin Hood Bay on the North Sea shores. Accommodation along the route is severely limited and restricted to just a few villages through which the route passes. There are a few campsites available but hikers are advised to book well in advance, especially during the peak summer period.
Thames Path, England [12-14 days, Easy]
Excellent signages, ample accommodation, plenty of food shops and above all pubs around every corner to keep the spirits high, makes the 184 miles long Thames Path walk the most perfect in England for those seeking a long and easy walking holiday. As the name suggests, the route follows the River Thames, the longest river in England, through the pastoral English countryside, right from the source in Kemble and ending at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich, London where it drains into the sea at Woolwich. The hike begins in a bit of isolation, but as the trail progresses, thriving villages and cities are present. The entire hike is flat and easy and takes hikers past the iconic towns of Henley and Oxford and further on towards the spectacular skyline of London.
South Downs Way, England [7-9 days, Easy]
The South Downs Way commences from the town of Winchester, Hampshire in Southern England and terminates 99 miles away at the coastal town of Eastbourne in East Sussex.T he route passes through a national park for its entire length and is one of its kind in the whole of the UK. The path is steeped in history having been used as a trade route for thousands of years dating back to the Bronze Age. Though the path is well defined with good transport connections, accommodation on the main trails is non-existent. The amazing views of the English Channel, the limestone cliffs of Beachy Head and the ancient figure of ‘Long Man of Wilmington’ etched on the mountainside, more than makeup for the minor drawbacks.
West Highland Way, Scotland [8 days, Moderate]
The West Highland Way, starts at the fringes of the city of Glasgow before ending at the foot of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Britain. All along the 95 mile route, the path is of varied terrain, ranging from tarmac to rocky. The trail is easy to follow with plenty of signage but involves one steep climb in a cold environment (remember you are in northern Scotland) which can also be wet at times.
The route offers the hiker the near-perfect way to admire the beauty of Scotland including the shores of Loch Lomond to the stunning Highlands landscapes. There is no need to carry large supplies as there are many outlets available on the way. Accommodation too is widely available to suit all budgets. Be careful of the awful Highland midge during the summers and do not forget to carry a repellent.
Hadrian’s Wall, England [3-7 Days, Moderate]
The Hadrian’s Wall is a moderate 135 km trek which is ideal for those looking to combine a bit of local history with the engaging scenery. The entire route offers a breathtaking trip starting from Wallsend to Bownes-on-Solway and, as the name implies, follows the defensive Roman fortification of the Hadrian’s Wall for the total length. All along the route, there are plenty of things to see and partake in as well. From exploring the ruins of the Roman Forts to taking in the sights at the scores of museums dotted on the way, there is no better opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the most iconic periods of English history.
Cotswold Way, England [7-10 days, Moderate]
This famous 164 km long National Trail lies between the towns of Chipping Campden and the city of Bath. The path follows the Cotswold escapements for almost the entire length and thus provides stunning views of the surrounding countryside. While the suggested time to complete the walk is around ten days, one can opt to do smaller hikes or go slowly in order to see the maximum number of sights on the way. The walk can be undertaken by a reasonably fit individual even though it involves some steep climbs in places. Persons with restricted mobility can also take part in the walk around the Crickley Hill Country Park area. The Cotswolds Trail has enjoyed prominence for more than forty years. It is of great historical significance as it passes through the heritage town of Bath and the Neolithic burial chamber among others.
Lake District National park, Northwest England
The World Heritage Site of the Lake District National Park, in the Cumbria region, gained international acclaim due to some very special characteristics. The park has thirteen different valleys within its boundaries, each of them made up of a number of lakes, which are home to rare flora and fauna. There are routes suited for all levels of walkers, thus making this beautiful area a must visit destination. Obviously this district features heavily in the list of the best walks in the UK. Some of the walks like, The Old Man of Coniston,Scafell Pike,Buttermore,Cat Bell’s and Helvellyn are all worth doing. A large number of activities and events take place at regular intervals in the Park. They depict local culture, scenery, wildlife and much more. These programs are organised at all places in the Park, so you are not likely to miss anything, irrespective of which part you are in. An example is the navigational skill course which was conducted especially for adult women in the Ullswater area recently.
Walking, is perhaps the most suitable way to explore and get immersed in the beauty of the United Kingdom.Right from Cornwall to Scotland,there are so many different walking trails in the UK, that one can probably walk for months on end and yet still yearn for more. The entire region is cross crossed with an abundance of all kinds of trails, both rugged and paved, and passing through the most surreal scenery that one can imagine. It is important to remember that one needs to prepare well prior to the walk. This may include the right clothing, supplies, navigational aids and methods of contact during an emergency.