Throughout the many months of restrictions, walking has been one of the few pastimes many of us were able to enjoy. Whether you’re eager to climb towering summits, or if you’re just looking for a scenic stroll, we’ve got it covered in this handy guide. Here are some of our favourite walks that make the most of Britain’s beautiful landscapes…
1. Cromer to Sheringham, Norfolk
Distance: 4.3 miles | Difficulty: Easy
The relatively flat Norfolk countryside makes for easy walking, and the seaside stretch from Cromer to Sheringham is one of the best walks in the county. After roaming around the coastal town of Cromer, head west for a stroll along the cliffs with breath-taking views of the North Sea. Beeston Bump is Norfolk’s answer to Everest (it’s actually just a much smaller hill!) From the top of it, you’ll be treated to views over Sheringham’s picturesque parklands.
2. The Coast-to-Coast Tramway Trail, Cornwall
Distance: 11 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
In the early nineteenth century, the peaceful villages of Portreath and Devoran would be unrecognisable to today’s visitor. The boom in mining transformed these quiet coastal villages into busy industrial ports. Now an 11-mile coast-to-coast hike follows the paths trodden by horse-drawn trams and is peppered with signage detailing the region’s rich, historical past. Plus, the views here speak for themselves. Discover coastal coves and abandoned mines, interspersed with winding woodlands and mild meadows.
3. Slieve Donard Trail, Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
Distance: 5.9 miles | Difficulty: Hard
Often described as the real-life land of Narnia, Northern Ireland's Mourne Mountains are said to be the inspiration behind CS Lewis’ magic. But climbing them isn’t a fairy tale if you’re not used to arduous walks. Starting in the town of Newcastle, you’ll tackle a demanding trail of uneven pathways to the top of Northern Ireland’s highest peak – Slieve Donard.
Having said that, the panoramic views over the town’s beach and the Irish Sea more than make up for the difficult hike. At the summit, you’ll discover the remains of two ancient burial cairns. Local tradition dictates that you carry a stone from the bottom of the mountain to place on the cairn at the summit. On clear days, you’ll even be able to spot the Isle of Man, Wales and Scotland in the distance.
4. Ellerburn Trail, Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
Distance: 2–3 miles | Difficulty: Easy
This easy woodland walk on the slopes of the North York Moors National Park takes you past a rushing river and high hills that – according to legend – were created by giants. For a longer stroll, take a short detour to Ellerburn Pond which meanders past a hibernaculum (an artificial cave where bats spend the winter). If you have mobility issues, there’s a recently constructed circular trail perfect for wheelchair users, prams and bikes.
5. Winnie the Pooh Walk, Ashdown Forest, Sussex
Distance: 1–4 miles | Difficulty: Easy
If you’ve got children in tow – or if you just fancy a trip down memory lane – you’ll love the Winnie the Pooh walk at Ashdown Forest. The Hundred Acre Wood (based on Ashdown Forest) is home to Christopher Robin and friends. Only here can you discover The Enchanted Place and the Sandy Pit on the shorter walks. If you choose the slightly longer walk, you can explore Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place and take a trip to the North Pole – or an ‘expotition’ as Pooh calls it! What’s more, you’ll also be served up a side of history. That’s because Ashdown Forest was once one of Henry VIII’s hunting grounds and became a production hub for iron in the Middle Ages.
6. Walking Trails at Heddon Valley, North Devon
Distance: 2 or 6 miles | Difficulty: Easy or Hard
In the midst of Exmoor National Park, you’ve got the choice of two rural countryside routes. Choose between a five-mile trek to Woody Bay or a lighter stroll down to Heddon’s Mouth. The walk from Heddon Valley to Woody Bay follows a nineteenth-century carriageway down the southwest coast. You’ll pass a Roman Fortlet as you walk along some of the tallest cliffs in England. Or choose the gentler route through ancient oak woodlands and a lime kiln. There’s a lone bench at the end of the trail – the perfect place to take in the sounds and sights of the pebble beach just metres below.
7. The Thames Path at Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Distance: 3.6 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Encounter waterfront meadows, chalk paths and passing marinas on this circular walk beginning in the picturesque Georgian town of Marlow. Pass through peaceful pastures as you make your way toward the River Thames. You’ll finish off your scenic stroll along a quaint stretch of the river.
8. Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Distance: 1–2 miles | Difficulty: Easy, Moderate or Hard
You’ve got four trails to choose from here – Blue, Green, Red or Yellow – with Blue being the easiest, Yellow the hardest and the other two somewhere in between. The Blue Trail is a short walk that leads directly to the world-famous volcanic stone pillars. The two-mile clifftop Green Trail is ideal if you have accessibility issues. It’s completely geared up for wheelchairs, prams and young children. Although it doesn’t lead down to the columns below, you’ll still soak in breath-taking views from the accessible picnic area.
The Yellow Trail is the most gruelling of the four. Starting in the seaside town of Portballintrae, you’ll have to take an arduous path to the clifftop. Here, the trail merges with the Green and Red Trails. If you visit on a day with clear skies, keep an eye out for the Scottish coastline. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot dolphins and porpoises splashing in the Atlantic Ocean.
These are just some of our favourite scenic walks in the UK. To find out more about why exercise is great for you, check out our health guides section. Here you’ll discover articles like why swimming is good for your joints or the effects of too much sitting.