From hiking across Scotland’s rugged landscapes to tranquil canal-side strolls, exploring Britain on foot can uncover a raft of striking scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife. If you’re a rambling enthusiast keen to immerse yourself in autumn colours or winter wonders, you can soak up spectacular views and enjoy walking paths that have remained unchanged for centuries, in locations where your imagination can run wild. Here we countdown a handful of Britain’s most interesting, historic and breathtaking hikes, for seasonal adventures to remember.
If you’re dreaming of stepping into Yorkshire’s industrial past, you can plan a canal-side stroll from the market town of Skipton to the World Heritage Site of Saltaire. This walk forms part of the 204km-long waterway that connects the cities of Leeds and Liverpool, originally designed to transport coal and limestone in the 1800s. The 26km-walk follows the River Aire valley, a route surrounded by the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, and passes through picturesque villages including Bradley, Kildwick, Silsden and Keighley, home to the steepest canal lock staircase in the UK.
The village of Saltaire, this route’s endpoint, stands as a monument to Yorkshire’s industrial heritage. Purpose-built by Titus Salt between 1851 and 1872, the mills and surrounding village have been excellently preserved - great if you’re wanting to soak up Britain’s countryside and history.
Looking to extend your autumnal escapade? Why not plan to spend a restful night in one of the luxurious private apartments at Vivo, next door to the mills.
If you have a wanderlust for Scotland, you can add the Burns Trail to your dream walks list. The backdrop to this short route is Alloway, a village awash with Scottish charm as the leaves turn from green to gold. Beginning at the traditionally thatched Burns Cottage, former home of the nation’s beloved poet, Robert Burns, the route passes Poet’s Path which leads to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Other highlights along the way include Burns Monument Gardens, Alloway Parish Church and Alloway Auld Kirk, the spot said to be the scene of the witches' dance in Burns’ poem Tam o' Shanter. You will also pass over Brig o’ Doon, a 15th-century cobblestone bridge, celebrated as another key location in Burns’ famous lines.
A few steps from the historic bridge lies the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel. Having reopened on 15 July 2020, this luxury riverside hotel is ideal for recharging after a day of exploring Scotland’s historic roots and beautiful, frost-dusted scenery
One of the most vista-filled paths along part of the vast Glyndŵr's Way National Trail is a hike from Knighton, close to the English border, to Machynlleth, in west Wales. A great ramble if you’re seeking to discover the seasonal charms of the undulating Welsh countryside, it includes wild moorland and a chance to see some of the country’s wildlife and glowing autumn leave displays. This route follows in the footsteps of Welsh warrior Owain Glyndwr and includes steep climbs that reward walkers with expansive views of the towns and valleys below. You can also plan a stay in a cottage, camping pod or B&B at the Brandy House Farm, near Felindre, which reopened with VisitBritain’s We’re Good to Go industry standard on 11 July 2020.
From wandering through picturesque British villages to exploring truly stunning surroundings, the walk from Chipping Camden to Broadway, part of the Cotswold Way National Trail, is a feast for the senses. Starting in the historic market town of Chipping Camden, ramblers pass through Dover’s Hill where they can revel in panoramic views of the British countryside in glorious autumn technicolour as far as the eye can see. Dover’s Hill is also the home of the historic Olympick Games, an annual tournament of quirky British games. Walkers can then admire the views from Broadway Tower, the highest structure in the Cotswolds, which overlooks the hike’s final destination, the chocolate-box village of Broadway. For those longing to immerse themselves in the history of Britain’s rich Arts & Crafts movement, the village has a strong connection to designers such as Gordon Russell.
Those dreaming of an overnight stay can book into the luxurious Broadway Hotel, which offers rooms and cottages in the titular village, having reopened on 15 July 2020.
Voted one of Britain’s favourite walks, the Old Man of Coniston is a classic Lake District challenge, full of rugged scenery and rewarding vistas. Hikers on this circular route will pass glorious summits, abandoned mine workings and even a secluded mountain pool, perfect for a spot of wild swimming! This walk takes hikers to the summit of Wetherlam, providing breathtaking views over Coniston Water, one of the National Park’s largest lakes.
Those wanting to relax and replenish can book a plush room or suite at the Brimstone Hotel, in Ambleside, which was ready to welcome guests on 4 July 2020.
Length: 6.8 km
For mesmerising views across the Isle of Skye, the Quiraing walk is a short, sharp hike following a well-trodden path and involving scrambles up steep hills. Clifftops along the route provide expansive views onto the mainland below, while visitors can take in otherworldly rock formations including a structure known as The Prison, named because of its resemblance to a medieval keep.
Visitors wanting to spend the night on this magical island can plan a stay at the luxury loch-side hotel, The Three Chimneys, which reopens from 30 July 2020.