When you go hiking in UK, you’ll be diving into a world abundant with diverse, breathtaking scenery. Pristine nature combined with cultural highlights make the island a terrific destination for anyone who likes to discover the world on foot. Whether it’s a romantic stroll along the mighty cliffs of Cornwall, an extended hike in the gently rolling picture-book countryside of the Cotswolds or a visit to mysterious lakes like Scotland’s legendary Loch Ness, the UK is a hiker’s dream come true. The best hikes in the UK run through broad moors and deep forests, along the Thames in London and up exquisite mountains. British weather does have the occasional surprise in store, but it also delivers impressive sights like mist-covered hills and dramatic cloud formations.
I divided this guide into a few different sections:
- Why the UK is a fabulous hiking destination
- Best time to go hiking in the UK
- Best hiking regions in England
- Best hiking regions in Scotland (coming soon)
- Best hiking regions in Wales (coming soon)
Breathtaking Sceneries – Best Hiking in UK
Your hikes in the UK will lead you through a rich diversity of landscapes. It needn’t always be a challenging day trip; England’s stately manor houses and gardens invite you for simple, relaxing strolls, too. The country is criss-crossed by world-renowned long-distance hiking trails. Hadrian’s Wall lures you in the north, while in the south, it’s the divine world of the Cotswolds that entices. The Scottish highlands enchant with their unspoiled, rugged countryside, while storybook castles await you in little Wales. Follow Robin Hood’s footsteps into the heart of the forest, or clamber up Ben Nevis, Great Britain’s highest peak at 1,344 meters. You can stop for a bite at quaint pubs anywhere along the hiking trails in UK, have a beer and join the locals in complaining about the weather.
The Joys of Hiking in the UK
Here in the UK, hiking is an age-old tradition. The countless hikes in the UK allow you to discover the entire island on your own two feet. Will it be imperial England, fairy-tale Wales or untamed Scotland? You’ll have a tough time choosing among the most intriguing hiking routes. From short walks to thrilling themed trails to some of the world’s loveliest long-distance routes, Britain has everything the hiker’s heart desires. Thanks to the excellent infrastructure, hiking with kids in the UK is a real pleasure. Hiker-friendly hosts and hiking trails that accommodate strollers will simplify your arrangements, and the wide range of leisure activities will provide diversion when the kids get bored or the weather upsets your plans. Whatever the weather, you’ll meander by scenic lakes and through dense woodlands, over rolling hills and vast highlands or along fascinating, wave-battered coastlines. Sheep and cattle graze in bright green meadows, and time and again you’ll find yourself in tiny, enchanted villages where you can warm up, dry off and chow down.
What is the best time to go hiking in the UK?
Concerns when planning hikes in the UK mostly relate to the unpredictable weather. Although surprise showers do occur, they’re often only brief ones. The famous climate contributes to the drama of the dreamlike scenery, which would only be half as lovely in perpetual sunshine. Fog-shrouded rocky coasts are beautifully photogenic, as are the solitary beams of light that find their way through dramatic cloud formations, bathing the forests in a mystical glow.
The best time to go hiking in the UK is usually between May and September. In general, spring is less rainy than fall. That said, even in summer you should be prepared for all weather conditions. Waterproof hiking boots and a rain jacket are essential items, and planning will be easier if you take a daily look at the weather forecast. Snow comes down in winter, especially in the northern highlands, and the countryside transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland. Whether it’s a romantic stroll along cleared winter hiking trails or a stomp in snowshoes over the gleaming whiteness, gorgeous views are guaranteed.
Best Hiking Regions in England
1. THE LAKE DISTRICT
Located in North England, the Lake District is one of the most iconic places in the UK for hiking and pretty much any outdoor activity. The national park has been announced a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 and is home to England’s highest mountain (the craggy, 978-meter high Scafell Pike) and over 14 lakes and tarns – the deepest and largest in England. Its landscape is defined by smooth U-shaped volcanic valleys and steep and sharp ridges, which make for fantastic hiking possibilities.
2. DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK
If you’ve ever read British mystery or horror books, it’s likely they were set in England’s wildest landscapes in Dartmoor National Park. The open moorlands and deep river valleys inspired many famous novelists, like Agatha Christie e.g.. With its rich history and rare wildlife it certainly belongs to the best hiking in UK and won’t disappoint you.
3. THE PEAK DISTRICT
The Peak District is a classic among the hiking regions in the UK. It was England’s first national park and remains one of the most popular destinations for outdoor lovers. You can’t go wrong here, there is so many hiking trails to choose from that it’s hard to actually choose. For breathtaking 360° views over the valleys and mountains of the Peak District, trek up Mam Tor. The route is well-paved and not too hard to hike but rewards you tenfold.
4. THE NORTH NORFOLK COAST
If you love extended hikes by the ocean, the North Norfolk coast in England’s east is the perfect hiking destination for you. As one of the flattest regions in the UK you can enjoy long walks with trekking up hills, perfect for beginners and families. The scenery boasts miles of rugged shores, cute little villages and rich wildlife. Another bonus: In North Norfolk, you will likely have most landscapes for yourself as it’s one of the less crowded hiking destinations in the UK.
5. EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK
The hiking trails in Exmoor National Park will take you through deep forests, over lush hills and along the rugged coast down of Devon in the very south of England. If you’re looking for the most spectacular views over the cliffs, hike around the huge rocks in the Valley of the Rocks. Did you know that Exmoor National Park is one of the best places in the UK for stargazing? It’s a dark sky reserve, meaning that the night sky is protected.
Wiltshire is home to one of England’s most famous landmarks – Stonehenge. It’s probably on the bucket list of many hikers and lucky for you, the whole area is an amazing hiking destination. Here, you’ll see something that seems a little odd at first. The best hikes lead around the eight giant images of horses that have been carved into the hills hundreds of years ago (mostly made of chalk). A truly unique sight!
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