The Best Hiking in the UK

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Part 9 of the Series: The Best Hiking in the World

The Best Hiking in the UK

Whenever we think of the best hiking in the world, we typically think of towering mountain peaks with panoramic views.

Or we think of exotic countries, hacking through the jungles and forests in the far corners of the Earth.

But that is the whole point of this series. It’s to explore the trails that you may not have heard of before. Even to discover trails in your own backyard.

And that is exactly what The Best Hiking in the UK represents.

These travel writers have shared some of the highlights of the best trails in Britain.

And not only do these hikes make a great excursion for locals. One could argue, these trails are worth another look at the natural wonders in the UK.

Monsal Trail – Peak District, England

by Molly from Lovely Local Indie

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Photo by Felix on Unsplash
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The Peak District was recently voted the fourth best national park in Europe in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. 

There’s everything you would expect from a world-class national park from stunning scenery, fascinating historical sites, and extensive walking, hiking and cycling routes.

One of the most famous routes is the Monsal Trail which is excellent for walking, cycling or just a great base to explore the local area.

The Monsal Trail is an 8.5 mile, traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales.  

It runs from Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale to the pretty market town of Bakewell. The trail is on an old railway line so in addition to being very accessible, including for pushchairs and wheelchairs, you can also walk through the old train tunnels which are well lit.

There’s a large pay and display car park at Hassop Station where you can also rent bikes, and relax in their extensive café facilities. The food and coffee are pretty good here, and the toilets are clean and well maintained. 

There’s also a small children’s play area. From Hassop Station you can easily walk to Bakewell in one direction (just over a mile and a half) or the magnificent views at Monsal Viaduct (2 miles).

The Monsal Trail is an excellent choice for families with young children or people looking for an easy, relatively flat walk. From here you can always build longer and more challenging routes.

 –Molly

 Follow Molly on Instagram

Newborough National Nature Reserve – Anglesey, Wales

 by Alexandra Kidd from Alexandra Kidd Travels

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Photo credit: Alexandra from Alexandra Travels

The best hiking trails on Anglesey can be found at Newborough National Nature Reserve. 

Located in the south-west of the Island, the terrain varies from forest paths to rolling dunes to the wide, sandy Llanddwyd Beach.

The main carpark (post code LL61 6SG) has toilet facilities, picnic benches and an information point. Parking costs are approximately £1 per hour.

Refreshments are available from the car park during summer months. From here you can head off on one of the many trails which criss-cross through the forest or walk straight through to the beautiful sandy beach.

The various trails range from flat to moderate in difficulty. The biggest challenge is scrambling over the sand dunes for stunning views over the Irish Sea. All of the trails have direction markers and the occasional information board. Suggested routes vary in length from 1-6 miles.

The forest is known for its population of red squirrels which were re-introduced to the area in 2004. Check out the aptly named ‘Red Squirrel Trail’ for the best chance to see this endangered species.

Dogs are welcome but are restricted from the main part of the beach during summer months.

This beautiful natural location is popular with tourists and locals alike, so like any place worth seeing, it can get busy.

Newborough has great trails, stunning scenery and extraordinary wildlife – the only thing which can’t be guaranteed is the weather!

-Alexandra

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The Cotswold Way, England

by Lucy from Explore the Cotswolds

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Photo credit: Lucy Dodsworth from On The Luce

The Cotswold Way runs for 102 miles through some of England’s most picturesque countryside, travelling through the green rolling hills of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

This part of the world is known for its beautiful villages, many of which date back to the region’s days as a centre for the wool trade, with their thatched cottages, impressive churches and honey-coloured Cotswold stone buildings draped in flowers.

The Cotswold Way – made a National Trail in 2007 – runs between the town of Chipping Campden in the north to the spa city and UNESCO World Heritage site of Bath in the south. The route takes around five to ten days to walk – and it’s worth taking your time as there is plenty to see along the way. 

The Cotswold Way takes you on a tour through the area’s history, from neolithic burial chambers and Iron Age hill forts to stately homes and ornate gardens.

Highlights include fairytale hilltop Broadway Tower, the mansion and deer park at Dyrham Park, Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe and the remains of medieval Hailes Abbey. 

But there’s also plenty of peaceful countrysides, farmland and woodland to enjoy, and a whole series of viewpoints looking across the Cotswolds, Vale of Evesham and Severn Vale. The Cotswolds also has lots of cosy pubs to stop off in along the way – and is known for its top-quality accommodation and food and drink.

The trail is well-signposted and easy to follow, with local companies offering baggage transfer if you don’t want to carry too much, Or if you don’t have the time to complete the full route, there are a range of Cotswold Way circular walks ranging from 2.5 to 6 miles which you can complete in a day if you’re visiting the area.

-Lucy

Jurassic Coast, England

by Angela from Exploring Dorset

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Photo credit: Angela from Exploring Dorset

The Jurassic Coast stretches for 95 miles across Devon and Dorset. There are some great parts of the coastline that are perfect for hiking with stunning views. 

Possibly the most popular section is at Durdle Door, the most famous landmark in Dorset. The limestone arch attracts thousands of visitors every year.

If you’re considering walking a portion of the Jurassic Coast, popular walking locations are between Weymouth and Lulworth Cove, which includes passing Durdle Door. Perfect for enthusiasts to get those all important photos.

Beginning in Weymouth, the coastal path is a gentle start, taking you inland, across fields with views of the Cerne Abbas Giant in the distance. There are some great pubs along the first stretch of the hike including the award winning Smugglers Inn at Osmington.

After a pit stop at the pub, the South West Coastal path starts to get serious. The 6 miles between Osmington and Durdle Door have some tough inclines, with elevations of up to 200 metres. The challenging inclines and descents are offset with superb views across the English Channel.

You can often find livestock close by, and sometimes they share the same open fields with you as you walk by. Once you reach Durdle Door, there are plenty more facilities to enjoy, with perhaps a little rest before the final descent down to Lulworth Cove. 

The great thing about hiking the Jurassic Coast is that there are plenty of small sections that can be hiked without having to walk for over 6 miles (unless you want to).

Angela

Wrap Up

As we mentioned at the outset, the UK is densely packed with natural beauty and covered with the trails to explore them.

Thanks to our UK guides for providing us with a reason to give Britain a second look when searching for some of the best hikes in the world.

If you would like to find out more about the region, these writers have way more to say than could fit in this article.

Be sure to check out their websites for more discovery in the area.

Before You Go

But before we let you go, we have way more to discover here!

So have a spot of tea and explore Maps Over Coffee’s other hiking and outdoor guides.

You can follow all of the links from the box at the top to explore the rest of the regions and continents in this series.

In fact, The Best Hiking in Europe could be the first stepping stone to find more great hiking in neighboring countries.

The Best Hiking in Spain is a little more country specific and breaks down some samplings for some Spanish trekking.

And if it’s camping you like, don’t miss our Best Camping series. Much like this series, it’s a compilation of travel writers getting together for their favorite camping spots in the world.

You can start with campsites in Europe since we’re here in the UK.

Then again, we compiled our own favorite camping grounds in Iceland. Definitely check this one out before you head to the land of fire and ice.

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