It’s highly likely that, during this extended period of pandemic strangeness, you’ve found a new penchant for walking. Unable to meet friends indoors for coffee or wine, most of us have taken to exploring our local areas on foot. But what about when we can explore beyond our doorstep, again? Keep up that healthy walking habit with our recommendations on where to go hiking in the UK.
The Cotswolds Way
Best hike in the UK for: countryside scenery
Bucolic scenes abound on the Cotswolds Way National Trail, which winds its way from Chipping Campden down to the glorious city of Bath. Of course, that’s a rather long way to walk, so take on sections of the trail, such as around Broadway Tower or from Old Sodbury to a medieval hill fort. The National Trail website has some excellent circular hike suggestions.
Where to stay: For luxury, we love Minster Mill, with its intimate spa, beautiful gardens and excellent restaurant. If you’re on a budget, Mollie’s Motel is a brilliant option by the Soho House group with rooms from £40 a night, and a middle ground bolthole is pub-with-rooms, The Kingham Plough.
Northumberland National Park
Best hike in the UK for: a history lesson
The beautiful Northumberland National Park is all hills, valleys and meadows – the perfect terrain for a great hike in the UK. But beyond the scenery lies an historic landscape that tells a tale of Roman Britain. The best hike for a view on this via Vindolanda and Hadrian’s Wall, where you can see an ancient Roman fort and the famous wall that made up the Roman frontier of Provincia Britannia 2,000 years ago. The six-mile walk can be downloaded from the National Park’s website.
Where to stay: For opulence fit for a Roman emperor, book Langley Castle Hotel, or try Battlesteads hotel for something a little more down-to-earth. For those on a budget, the highly-rated Grapes Hotel is a cosy spot to relax at the end of a day’s walking.
Cairngorms National Park
Best hike in the UK for: peak bagging
The Cairngorms, Scotland’s largest national park, has a fair few mountain peaks to scale, but if you’re not much of a mountain climber don’t worry. There are a fair few hills that make much gentler hikes, but have some spectacular views. Try the walk up Morrone, a 2,800-foot-high hill with a plateau summit that was made for midday picnics overlooking the valley below. It’s just 7.5 miles from Braemar village to the top and you can get directions here.
Where to stay: Braemar Lodge is by far the best hotel in the area, with cosy bedrooms with touches of tartan and a well-stocked bar. For a full Scottish castle experience book into Dalmunzie Castle Hotel, and budget hikers should try the glamping cabins at Howe of Torbeg.
Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Best hike in the UK for: a picnic on the beach
This 186-mile, craggy, dramatic part of the Welsh coastline is a walker’s paradise. Endless sea views, stunning cliffs and azure waters lapping soft, sandy beaches – on a sunny day, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere more tropical. We love the stretch between Saundersfoot and Tenby, where a string of Blue Flag beaches fringe the coastline and the jaunty colourful houses of Tenby are a cheering sight to end on. Countryfile has a great 7.5-mile circular version.
Where to stay: For total luxury and somewhere to spoil yourself post-walk, St Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot is the place to stay. Heywood Spa Hotel is a great mid-range option, and Coach Guest House in Tenby is a reliable budget hotel.
The Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Best hike in the UK for: natural wonder
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Giant’s Causeway, there may be no better way than on a lovely coastal hike from nearby Portballintrae. A 5.5-mile route takes you along the coast and towards the National Trust-run Causeway site, where 40,000 basalt columns strike up out of the Atlantic ocean to create an otherworldly view. Alltrails has the route mapped here.
Where to stay: The Bushmills Inn Hotel is by far the best retreat in the area, with an exceptional restaurant and its own cinema for rainy day entertainment. The Bayview Hotel is simple but has lovely views over the ocean, and further inland is Lisnagalt Lodge – a solid budget choice.
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