Take a hike: Discover Britain by foot
Escape the buzzing cities and discover the big skies of Britain’s dramatic countryside. Explore one of a huge number of hiking trails, covering hills, dales and snaking rivers. Amble along its breathtaking coastline, and soak up scenic towns and historic villages.
Whether you take on a stretch of England’s striking south coast or head up to Scotland’s West Highland Way, you’ll find a countryside steeped in history, beauty and with a story to be told.
The hottest hiking trails in Britain
The South West Coast Path
Following 630 miles (1,014 km) of dramatic and varied coastline, the South West Coast Path goes from Somerset to Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. Starting in Minehead, Somerset, it was originally laid out for the coastguard to patrol for smugglers. Now, it’s popular with both serious hikers and day-trippers. If you did it all at once, it would take one to two months, or you could choose shorter sections, like the two-day Jurassic Coast walk, from Charmouth to Abbotsbury in Dorset.
An unforgettable journey is the five-day coastal walk in western Cornwall from the artists’ town of Marazion and St Michael’s Mount to Penzance, with its many galleries, past Mousehole to Land’s End and St Ives.
The Pennine Way
It’s the oldest National Trail in England and the 268 mile (431 km) Pennine Way is one of Britain’s most famous. The challenging, but stunning, route runs from the Derbyshire Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, ending on the Scottish border. It takes around 19 days, independently or as part of an organised walking holiday. It crosses many different terrains, so there are also numerous ways to slice it into shorter sections, like Yorkshire’s striking Malham Cove cliff formation, or climbing Derbyshire’s highest point, Kinder Scout.
Hadrian’s Wall Path
It’s a sight you’ll never forget and the ancient Roman fortification that snakes across Northern England doubles as a fantastic walking trail.
Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Trail that runs for 84 miles (135 km) from coast to coast, through the spectacular landscapes of the Northumberland National Park. The atmospheric route takes around a week to complete and goes through rugged moorland and rolling farmland. Museums and historic sites are dotted along the route, such as the Housesteads Roman Fort which gives you a glimpse into Roman life – even their toilets – as well as Segedunum, Birdoswald and Vindolanda forts.
For picturesque villages surrounded by rolling green hills, try the Cotswold Way. This beautiful trail runs for 102 miles (164 km), connecting the quintessential English market town of Chipping Campden to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath and takes around 10 days to complete. Highlights along the trail include the grand Sudeley Castle and Gardens, which is bursting with royal stories.
For a smaller slice of the Cotswold Way, take the six-mile Cleeve Hill Ring walk, through limestone grassland, vast views, babbling streams and lush woodland.
The Thames Path
It’s England’s best-known river and The Thames Path runs 185 miles (298 km) from the source of the River Thames in the Cotswolds right through London and ending in Woolwich. It can be walked in two weeks and the route takes you through some of the nation’s most historic locations such Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Windsor and Hampton Court Palace, right through the heart of London.
Alternatively, anyone based in the nation’s capital can simply pick up the path and head west, for a memorable journey. And if you catch a boat for some of it, we won’t tell.
One of the most peaceful hikes in Britain is through the middle of Wales. Glyndŵr’s Way is a National Trail that runs for 135 miles (217 km) through Mid-Wales and takes around nine days to complete.
It starts in Knighton and ends in Welshpool and highlights include gazing out over the Cambrian Mountains and seeing the sky reflected in Lake Vyrnwy as you enjoy the peace and quiet of the Welsh countryside. Other notable stops include the Owain Glyndŵr Centre, the site where the medieval warrior was crowned Prince of Wales in 1404, and art gallery MOMA Machynlleth.
Wales Coast Path
The first country in the world to have a navigable path around its coast and you can walk the entire 870 mile (1,400 km) Welsh coast from north to south, if you have the time and the energy. The Wales Coast Path goes from North Wales, through the Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire coasts, down to South Wales and will take you past stunning secluded beaches and bustling towns and cities.
It would take keen walkers two to three months to walk in one go, but you can choose any of its spectacular sections, such as the 186 mile (299 km) Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
The West Highland Way
The wonderful West Highland Way takes you through Scotland’s most famous landscapes, including the snowy crags of Ben Lomond, great glassy expanse of Loch Lomond and the rugged peaks of Glencoe.
This 96 mile (154 km) route goes from Milngavie near Glasgow, through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, to Fort William in the Highlands and takes around a week to complete. Some of the best views are during the last section of the trail, from Kinlochleven to Fort William, with scenes across Loch Leven and views of Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest mountain.
Loch Ness 360 Degrees Trail
The Great Glen Way and the South Loch Ness Trail have been joined together to create the Loch Ness 360 Degrees Trail, which stretches for 80 miles (129 km) and takes around six days to complete the loop.
It starts in Inverness and heads high into the hills overlooking Loch Ness to Fort Augustus, before circling back down and meandering through Foyers and Dores, ending where you started. You get bonus points if you spot Nessie.
See Britain best on foot
For an intimate look at Britain and get exploring by foot. Set your own pace and discover rich landscapes of rivers, trails, hills and villages. Take in verdant vistas of no fewer than 15 National Parks, collectively forming more than a third of Britain.
Discover its 46 stunning Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, threaded with an extensive network of footpaths to kick you off your adventure. And with 16 National Trails including the world’s longest -England Coast Path at 2,800 miles - there’s a lot to discover.
Whether you head for historic Hadrian’s Wall to the honey-hued Cotswolds, refuel at a riverside pub in the Norfolk Broads or head to the majesty of the Scottish Highlands, make sure you don’t miss out.
Britain's spectacular short walks
Soak up Scottish heritage on the Burns Trail
Follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns, Scotland’s beloved poet, on the 3.8 mile (6.1 km) Burns Trail in Alloway. The poet was born in the South Ayrshire village in 1759 in the thatched Burns Cottage.
Follow the trail to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Burns Monument Gardens, Alloway Parish Church and Alloway Auld Kirk, the spot said to be the scene of the witches’ dance in his poem Tam o’ Shanter.
You will also pass over Brig o’ Doon, a 15th-century cobblestone bridge, also celebrated by Burns famous lines, so iconic a location, it appears on the Scottish £5 note.
Be blown away by Bamburgh Castle
Discover the beauty of the Northumberland coast on the three mile (4.8 km) stroll along the beach from Seahouses to Bamburgh Castle, a truly beautiful stretch of coastline. Breathe in the bracing sea air whilst passing sandy dunes, azure coasts and rugged rock formations, before the imposing Bamburgh Castle fortress on the cliffs comes into view. Spy the impressive Farne Islands from the coast, home to grey seals and their pups in the autumn, or take a ‘sail around’ trip for a closer look at the region’s wildlife.
Climb to the top of Old Man of Coniston
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 7.8 mile (12.5 km) walk gives you breathtaking views over Coniston Water, one of the National Park’s largest lakes.
Scale Mount Snowdon at your own pace
The largest mountain in Wales is one of the most popular walks in Britain. You can enjoy the trails in the Snowdonia National Park, then tackle the mountain itself. There are six trails to the top, all taking around six to eight hours to complete and around seven to nine miles (11-14 km) long. But the good news is, there’s a café on the summit.
If you’re feeling a bit tired, there’s also a railway that will take you to the top. We won’t tell any one, if you don’t…
Stroll through the Cotswolds from Chipping Campden to Broadway
The Cotswolds is one of the most picturesque parts of the country and what could be better than a stroll between two of its best locations. The walk from Chipping Campden to Broadway is part of the Cotswold Way National Trail and is a feast for the senses, not least because it takes you past multiple tea shops.
Starting in the historic market town of Chipping Campden, you pass the natural amphitheatre, Dover’s Hill and eccentric landmark Broadway Tower, the highest structure in the Cotswolds, which overlooks the hike’s final destination, the chocolate-box village of Broadway.