Hiking in the UK | 13 Breathtaking Hiking Trails You Need to Explore

The United Kingdom is a vast piece of heaven on the surface of the Earth. You would think you would run out of places to visit in this sovereign country, but then once you’re there, the amount of sights to see is overwhelming.

It’s not limited to the bustling cities and pretty suburban towns. It also has astonishing landscapes that you should never miss out.

Whether you want to go all out on a challenging hike, or chill and enjoy the breeze while walking on a scenic path, then you should look no further. The United Kingdom is literally a kingdom of breathtaking mountains and trails.

It’s time to dust off your hiking poles and start the decade with a new adventure!

Here are our top hiking trail picks.

Sett Valley Trail

If you love a bit of trail history, then try exploring Sett Valley. This part of the Peak District on the Manchester Side is originally the walking path going to the Manchester railway that was closed down in 1970, so it’s a relatively gentle 2.5-mile trail.

It would be just like a typical day walking around the countryside. You can pick your adventure if you want to take a chill hike, or you want to see more of the district by heading up the Lantern Pike peak.

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Photo by Rowell Heria on Unsplash

Mam Tor

Mam Tor, which means Mother Hill is a hill that sits on the edge of the Dark Peak and the White Peak. It’s easily one of the most popular sites in the Peak District because of its breathtaking views. With a difficulty level that even dogs could conquer, Mam Tor is probably on top of the list of novices.

It has an excellent walking path, with occasional steep climbs that won’t cause you any worry. This 5-mile walk gives you the chance to see the beauty of Edale Valley, Kinder Scout, and Derwent Moors.

Old Harry Rocks

Now for a change of scenery, Old Harry Rocks offers an excellent vista of the ocean, including the Jurassic Coast and a handful of unique rock formations.

If you happen to be at Knoll Beach, which is the starting point of this hike, and wanted to see something more spectacular other than hunks in their trunks, try giving Old Harry Rocks hike a try.

It’s considered to be a gentle trail with a steady climb up. The sheer edges, though, should be under your watch. Overall, it’s a beautiful place to be in, especially if you’re the type of person to appreciate the sound of crashing waves and ocean breeze.

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Cotswold Way

With paved paths and scenic views, how can you not say yes to Cotswold Way? It may be a long 100-mile hike full of rolling hills, sheep, and quaint villages to keep you company during the walk, it still is one of the most beautiful areas that should be explored.

And since a hundred-mile walk will take you around six or seven nights to finish, you have to plan your stay in the area.

Lairig Ghru

This trail might be short, but it’s going to challenge you to the bones. It has an altitude of 835 meters across the central Cairngorms, which in fact, is one of the wildest areas in the country.

Rocks and rugged terrain will welcome you right into the heart of Lairig Ghru so you better not forget your walking sticks!

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Photo by Rory Collins on Unsplash

South West Coast Path

If you truly plan to go hiking in the United Kingdom, South West Coast Path should be on your list. And because it’s the longest national trail in Britain, you pretty much know how you should prepare for this adventure.

With a 630-mile hike of stunning coastlines, rock formations, and wildlife, it would feel like you’ve seen the rest of the countryside. The way to conquer this lot is to create a day-by-day guide and divide the hike into sections.

Plan the necessary breaks. This could include swimming on the nearby beach or just lounging in one of the cliffs. There’s a lot of adventures that you can do in this area, so you better plan well.

Ben Macdui

Ben Macdui is the second-highest mountain in Scotland and the highest in Cairngorm. But despite it being one of the highest peaks in the area, this hike is still a relatively easy one to complete, given its pretty straightforward path.

But don’t be fooled, don’t forget to bring a map or a compass as you can get lost walking around the plateau.

The Glyders

Looking for something to spice up your very regal U.K. vacation? Head over to The Glyders and give yourself some action. With jagged stones and rock towers, it would feel like you are in a Star Wars scene and extremely far away from Earth.

The climb up the Devil’s Kitchen, though steep, is worth taking. But take note that you have to be prepped up for this climb as it is a serious mountain challenge. GPS will come in handy when things get rough, so you better be ready.

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Yorkshire Three Peaks

Yorkshire Three Peaks is a 24-mile hike that can be completed in under 12 hours or so. But suit yourself up, it might look short, but the ascent will give you the challenge you are craving for. With over 1,600m of ascent, make sure that you’re fit enough to complete the hike.

West Highland Way

One of Scotland’s best-loved long trails, West Highland Way, stretches 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William.

It might be an obvious choice for a hike in the United Kingdom, but given its popularity among hikers and beginners, this trail is one for the books.

Some say that the best way to go around the area is to take the southern stage first as it is easier and will prepare you to complete the northern steps, which are far more complicated.

Either way, you have to keep in mind safety precautions to make sure that you come out of the trail in one piece.

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Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash

Cumbria Way

This low-level route is one of the best places to take in the beauty of nature. The Lake District is one of the most majestic places in the country with glistening lakes and mountains, so green to top the list.

The Cumbria Way is best taken slowly. Who cares about beating the time? The views that will leave you tongue-tied deserve more attention and appreciation, so don’t bother looking at how fast you’re going.

It usually takes five or six days to complete, so you better plan the trip accordingly. There are difficult sections that you will encounter, but those are nothing compared to the view that’s waiting for you.

The West Mendip Way

The West Mendip Way is a 30-mile route across the natural beauty of Wells to Uphill.

Paper mills, limestones, and caves will greet you during this hike, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping in the middle of the trail to appreciate the beauty of nature around you.

And while you’re at it, better take photos as well for posterity’s sake. Your future children and grandchildren will make you their hero if they see pictures of you conquering this side of the country.

Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain. It’s also rich in history as it is a war memorial. No wonder it’s always on the list of places to visit in the U.K. among locals and tourists.

Despite it having the best views in the country, no one should underestimate the hike as it can get serious once you’re up there. More than 12 miles to hike, and with an elevation of over 1,200m, this hike is no easy feat.

Weather conditions could also be a challenge, so researching beforehand will help you discern whether it’s safe to climb up or take a rain check.

Featured Image | Photo by Cat Bassano on Unsplash

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Simone Ribeiro
I'm a Brazilian journalist based in West Midlands. In Brazil, I have worked with International Trade and Logistics publications.

Now in the UK, I keep writing and I dedicate myself to a new project : Midlands Trade - a blog focused on business in Europe and Brazil. It's also supporting small businesses throughout the #MeetTheBusiness.

10 thoughts

  1. Those pictures are stunning. I’ve always wanted to do old harry rock and the three peeks! May be time for me to invest in some new hiking gear!

  2. I recently got into hiking! I just did one in the Brecon Beacons up to Llyn Y Fan Fach. You’d probably enjoy it! I want to do the Cumbria Way one! Sounds so good!

  3. I have to be honest, hiking is not something I think I will ever get into but I have plenty of friends who love it so I’m bookmarking this post for them. Although the South West Coast Path sounds fab with the addition of some swimming! Lisa

  4. These all sound amazing. My asthma stops me doing much at the moment but when it is more stable I am hoping to get out more places like this so thanks for sharing

  5. Wonderful post and photography! I’m not much of a hiker myself but my boyfriend is and we are actually off to the cotswold at the end of this month so maybe we’ll have a couple days hiking!

  6. Interesting list, thank you. I recommend the Pennine Way for an authentic UK hiking experience, it’s our oldest and best National Trail.

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