Top 5 UK Hiking Trips
My friends and I were chatting yesterday about how one of the things we have found tough was that the inability to plan ANYTHING. No weekend mini breaks, no summer holidays and no international travel. Obviously there’s a really good reason for it but it doesn’t stop the wanderlust!
As with the rest of the world, we’ve been at home (or nearby) for months on end. And I’m very excited to travel a little further afield. My travel buck list is long, and usually I choose far flung destinations like Nepal and Hawaii often overlooking locations closer afield like Europe and even within the UK. I have to admit that although I used to spend a lot of time in the UK as a kid. More recently I’ve always chosen to travel abroad when I have time off.
However, following travel influencers like my friends Charlie and Jess at The Travel Project, has helped opened my eyes to the beauty within the British Isles and certainly whet my appetite to explore more within England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. I asked them to share some of their favourite UK hikes for those (like me) looking for active adventure!
‘Like many of you, we’re not great at being stuck in one place for too long. And so we’ve been itching to get exploring again as lockdown has finally started to ease here in the UK. With the uncertainty of surrounding foreign travel, we’ve been using this time to explore more of the UK – an incredible set of islands that we feel are far too often overlooked. So when Charlie asked us to share our top tips for UK hikes it was a great opportunity to remind ourselves of some of our favourite adventures to date.
Below is our top 5 UK hikes to suit every taste and ability :
Wales Located in the Southern end of the Snowdonia National Park, near the town of Dolgellau, Cadair Idris certainly packs a punch when it comes to stunning landscapes and views. Often referred to as Snowdon’s sister (it’s comprised of the same rock). It’s not only an incredibly scenic hike but also offers the perfect opportunity for a wild swim in its stunning turquoise lake, Llyn Cau. It really is up there as one of the most beautiful wild swims we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy. And the perfect way to ease weary legs at the end of the walk. There are several routes up this mountain. So an added bonus is that you can avoid sharing the trail with too many other people.
Holkham beach and Nature Reserve
Norfolk Miles and miles of vast sandy beaches and a surprising lack of tourists. This stretch of Norfolk coastline has to be one of our favourite for beach walks. Instead of starting your walk from the Holkham car park, we actually suggest putting ‘Sand Dunes’ into your Google Maps which will take you 5 minutes further down the road. Here you can walk to the beach across a wooden boardwalk which will take you through the National Nature Reserve, famous for it’s birdlife and amazing to watch at any time of day.
Once you get to the dunes, there’s still plenty more to explore… at the far end of the beach on your right is a vast pine forest that runs into the sand which highly recommend exploring and the dunes themselves offer the perfect spot for a picnic before a dip in the sea. If you’re lucky with the weather, the sunset over the water as you cross the reserve on the way home is nothing short of incredible.
Scotland Scotland has been the setting for many of our favourite UK adventures. However, if we had to pick one hike from here it would be the hike to Stac Pollaidh. When it comes to effort vs payoff, this hike is a clear winner. After a fairly short but steep hike, (don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a stroll in the park though) you reach the summit, from which the views are spectacular. We hiked Stac Pollaidh in mid-winter; if you’re making the trip at this time of year too, be warned the weather can be very changeable. And the wind at the top strong enough to take you off your feet if you’re not careful! That said it also makes for an incredibly moody and beautiful landscape that Scotland does so well. 360-degree views of dramatic mountains and gorgeous lochs.
With an appetite for adventure and off-the-beaten-track experiences, the Cotswolds wouldn’t be our usual go to destination for a hike. However, the beautiful rolling-hills, fields of golden crops and quintessential villages here offer something a bit different. And are a great way to spend a day/ afternoon out and about without overexerting yourself. We don’t have one particular walk to recommend here. Because there’s a vast network of trails that meander between the villages. Meaning, you can find something to suit your needs depending on the time your have, of whether, like us you plan to finish your walk with a delicious pub lunch and beer in the sun at one of the many cosy country pubs there.
Wistmans Woods and the Tors
Dartmoor When we first saw pictures of these woods they looked like some sort of scene from Lord Of The Rings. The ancient, moss covered trees, bend and entwine around enormous boulders in strange almost human-like shapes – creating a mystical and very intriguing sight. And seeing them in real life only exacerbated this feeling. Unlike the towering Oak trees you normally expect to see, these ‘stunted oaks’ are miniature, twisted, bent and covered in moss to create this magical setting. Some of these trees are over 400 years old are all that is left standing of what was once a vast forest. A short 15 minute walk from the carpark at Two Bridges. These are a must see if you find yourself in this part of the country.
For those wanting a longer walk, you can continue walking north-east from the woods to explore the Tors. Starting first with Longaford Tor, from where you can enjoy amazing views of the moors. There are a number of different routes you can take from here. Depending on how long you want to keep exploring. To top things off, Dartmoor is the only place left in England that you can wild camp, making it one of our favourite spots for going off-grid for a couple of days.
We are spoilt for choice here in the UK – 4 countries, 10 national parks and thousands of miles of coastline providing a wide variety of gorgeous hikes to cater for all appetites for adventure. And with Covid changing international travel for the foreseeable future at least, there has never been a better time to start exploring what’s on our doorstep.’
Where are your favourite places to travel close to home? Where is the best place you’ve explored in the UK?
Personally is Isle of Skye, Cornwall and another attempt of Scafell Pike!
Absolutely hiking in the Cotswolds. Whenever I head out to the Cotswolds I either stay in Bourton on the Water or Stow-on-the-Wold. There are a few incredible AirBNBs that I’ve stayed at there too. Nothing like a little get away from London when on a trip overseas! 🙂
I absolutely love going to Scotland- such a long drive (or train) but so worth it for beautiful views and the feeling of being in the wilderness.
Scotland is the best place for hiking!