If you love hiking and are traveling to the UK you’ll be spoilt for choice! There is an abundance of exceptional hiking trails that take you through diverse landscapes.
Whether you are looking for a casual day hike or craving a more challenging multi-day hike, the UK has something for everyone!
I’ve put together 7 of the best hikes in the UK that offer incredible coastlines, picturesque mountains, and beautiful river trails.
So let’s begin with Scotland’s world-famous trail.
1. West Highland Way
It’s easy to see why the world-famous West Highland Way in Scotland is one of the best hikes in the UK. Beginning in Milngavie in Glasgow, the trail takes you through stunning highland landscapes all the way to the town of Fort William.
This is a multi-day hike that takes about 5 to 9 days to complete and is a total of 154 km (96 miles) long. It can be challenging but people with average fitness drive will be able to complete it.
The trail offers incredible scenery which takes you the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis. You will also find yourself walking along the shores of the loch, the largest freshwater loch in Great Britain.
Most tour operators offer fully planned self-guided walks. They plan your accommodations and make sure your luggage is delivered. All you need to worry about is taking along your daypack.
Ticks carrying Lyme disease are frequently found on the trail so be sure to check yourself daily!
2. South West Coast Path (West Lulworth to Weymouth)
England has some of the best hikes in the UK. This section of the South West Coast Path takes you from West Weymouth to Lulworth Cove.
If you love bird watching, beaches, and stunning views, this is the one for you!
It is about 19km (12 miles) and can be done in a day, but there are plenty of quaint little towns along the way with accommodation so you can extend your hike to a few days. Keep in mind that in winter months your accommodation options will be limited and during the summer they will be busy, so make sure to book well in advance.
While the trail is not very challenging, there are some steep sections along the trail where you’ll be walking along exposed coastal cliffs with dramatic drops to the ocean below.
Along the way, you will find beautiful beach coves and majestic cliffs. You will even get to see the famous Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast, one of the most photographed landmarks in Dorset!
Something else to look out for on the trail is Tyneham ‘ghost’ village! Abandoned during World War II, the village was never reclaimed. During the week, it can be difficult to visit the site because of living firing nearby on the Ministry of Defense land, but on weekends you can take a walk through what is left of the buildings and church. It can be a little eerie though!
3. Chess Valley Walk
This trail in England takes you from Rickmansworth all the way to Chesham. Part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Chilterns AONB) the path is full of wildlife and history.
You will walk about 18 km (11miles) along the Chess river, a chalk stream that is amazingly clear, and you will pass through Holloway Lane. Here you will see many beautiful watercress beds.
The trail can easily be done in one day and you can begin in either Rickmansworth or Chesham. Both towns are on the Metropolitan tube line so getting to the trail is no problem, and getting home is a breeze!
There are information boards placed along the trail which provide walkers with some interesting facts about the history of this stunning natural stream. Something to remember is that it’s best to take a map with you because not all sections on the path are marked properly.
Be on the lookout for historic buildings and estates, beautiful kingfishers, and stunning orchids along the way!
4. Mole Gap Trail
This is another trail in England that follows a river!
Surrey is a really great place to get out and explore the outdoors. The Mole Gap Trail begins in Leatherhead and ends in Dorking following the River Mole.
When you exit Leatherhead station, you’ll soon find silver arrows leading the way to the trail.
It’s a 10km (6 miles) hike through fairytale-like woodland areas and the path is mainly level so walking is pleasant and easy. The silver arrows continue all the way along the trail so it’s very simple to find your way.
It takes about 3 hours from end to end, but I recommend taking it easy and really soaking in what the trail has to offer. The landscapes are known to provide artists and writers with inspiration for their work which is a testament to the beauty of this trail.
You will come across various livestock, birdlife and beautiful meadows. I can recommend stopping at either The Stepping Stones Public House or Denbies Wine Estate for refreshments.
5. Dingle Way
Set in the stunning green landscapes of Ireland this is truly one of the best hikes in Europe! You will start in Kerry, and end in Kerry.
The route takes you through picturesque countryside and shorelines around the Dingle Peninsula. It is 180 km (112 miles) long and takes about 9 to 14 days depending on how fast your pace is.
While it is not a very difficult trail, it does test your physical endurance. Keep in check with the weather conditions daily as this can really affect your journey. It’s best to hike this trail during the summer months.
You will be passing through many towns and villages along the way where you can find accommodation in hostels or B&B’s if you prefer not to camp. If you are on a budget The Rainbow Hostel and Castle Hostel are reasonably priced. The Brandon Hostel is another great option but you will pay a little more than the other hostels.
Definitely try some authentic Irish grub while you’re in town!
6. Old Man of Storr
Another stunning hike to be discovered in Scotland is the trail to the Old Man of Storr. A massive pinnacle rock that can be seen for miles away. The rock formations below make for some incredible photo opportunities!
The trail to the Old Man of Storr is the most popular trail in the Isle of Skye. It’s a circular track that is about 6km (4 miles) long, so you can make the whole trip in just 2 hours.
The walk is fairly easy and well-constructed but you’ll be walking up a constant incline. It can be done in most weather conditions but in rainy conditions be aware of rockfalls and slippery sections! The best time to go is during the summer months but everyone will have the same idea so expect the trail to be crowded.
The parking area has limited space so going early in the morning, or later in the day is your best bet to finding a spot. Otherwise, you will have to park along the road and walk towards the car park where the trail begins.
This is not a long or difficult hiking trail and it only takes about 45 mins to get to the pinnacle rock formations. However, it is definitely one to note for its incredible beauty set amongst stunning green hills. You’ll want your camera for this one!
7. Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail
England has yet another trail to offer. This is a coast to coast trail that follows the famous Hadrian’s Wall. The 117 km(73 miles) long wall is part of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire and has been claimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of 15 National Trails in England and Wales, Hadrian’s Wall Path is waymarked by an ‘acorn’ symbol for easy navigation.
The trail is not very challenging and can be done by someone who is moderately fit. It’s a 133 km (83 miles) walk which can take about a week to complete. But, I recommend spending maybe two or more days on the trail so that you can explore the ancient Roman sites that you’ll find along the way.
There is ample accommodation along the trail! Some of the best spots are the Jesmond Hotel, The Dyvel’s Inn based in Corbridge and Oakwood Park Hotel in Brampton. For a more personal experience book an overnight stay at Brookside Villa in Gilsland or Saughy Rigg Farm in Once Brewed, where the owners will really look after you.
Most accommodations will offer a pickup and drop off service so all you need to worry about taking with you is your daypack! This is such a great touch and makes a big difference to your walking experience so be sure to inquire about this service when you book.
These are only a few of the best hikes in the UK. The list of trails to experience is almost endless! As you can see, there really is something for everyone.
So will you start with a day hike? Or are you ready to challenge a multi-day hiking experience? Either way, the UK will provide you with picture-perfect scenery and a wonderful break from the city rush!
Author Bio: Mark loves to hike! He has trekked exten
sively in Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. In 2014, he founded Mountain IQ with a goal to become the best online information portal for the most popular mountain destinations in the world. If he isn’t writing articles on hiking, he is out exploring the outdoors with his wife.