Here in the UK you’re never too far away from a spectacular place to dust of that anorak and go for a long walk. Good for the heart, the soul and indeed the eyes too, here are some of the best places to go for a weekend walking.
Up in the north west of England, a short drive off the M6 the Lake District National Park has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway’s branch line in 1847. Choosing from walking around the flat beautiful lakes including Windermere England’s largest, or indeed take it to the hills and explore some of the most refreshing skylines whilst conquering Scafell pike which at 978m is England’s tallest mountain.
Want a quick escape from the capital? Try the South Downs and its rolling hills, sleepy villages and cracking coastline. Take a day to skirt the River Cuckmere down to the sea and admire the dazzling chalk cliffs from below, before heading up to walk atop the Seven Sisters to Birling Gap. Another great walk awaits if you head west, exploring the network of paths around the mischievously named Devils Rest Bottom and over towards Red Lion Pond, utilising the handy south downs way on your return.
Ancient stone circles, weathered, rocky tor’s slicing the sky, and Bronze Age hill forts. When it comes to exploring, Devon’s rugged interior is hard to beat. As wild camping here is legal in Devon take a tent and find your own spot. Check out the longest known stone row in the world on Erme Plains before heading to Higher Hartor Tor for stunning views. Then find your way back to civilisation, picking your way across this completely wild yet accessible landscape.
Why not try walking Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, via the Rhyd Ddu Path. Enjoy a brew at the summit cafe before heading down the Llanberis Path, into the town of Llanberis, and make a beeline for one of the many nice pubs for hearty post-walk grub. Then take the Sherpa bus back to your start. Or, if you want to stay away from the hills then walk around the valleys near Betsy-Coed and marvel at the beautiful countryside in one of the country’s most accessible national parks.
As you travel around the far north of Scotland you’ll be able to explore a wide range of areas – from historic towns to dramatic and remote wilderness. From the cavernous dark depths of Smoo Cave at Durness to the exhilarating hairpin bends of the ‘Pass of the Cattle’ over the mountains to Applecross, and from the towering sea-stacks at Duncansby to the dolphins leaping off the coasts of the Black Isle, the northern Highlands is thrilling and designed to leave a big impression.
It is a land of escape – a place to discover the wonders of the natural world amid one of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe. The area has a long human heritage, starting with archaeological gems such as the Grey Cairns of Camster and passing through 5000 years of Pictish, Viking, and Gaelic history. There is so much to treasure here for those who love wildlife, adventure and the great outdoors.
If you live in London, hop on the sleeper Friday night and you’ll wake up on Saturday morning raring to go at Rannoch Station. A place of remarkable natural beauty with its tranquil glens, lush forests and a vibrant, ancient city which is also Scotland’s most recent, Perthshire offers visitors centuries of history alongside adrenaline-packed adventure, delicious food and drink, an incredible array of wildlife, some of the most exciting events and festivals in the country and much more.
See why Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns found literary inspiration in the region’s spellbinding landscape in their works on a visit to the region’s ‘Big Tree Country’ where you’ll find ancient trees including the Birnam Oak, said to be the last survivor of the oak forest portrayed in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
Opened in 1970, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first National Trail in Wales and is one of 15 National Trails in Britain.This impressive National Trail hugs the coastline for 186 miles of some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in Britain.
From St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the trail covers almost every kind of maritime landscape from steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands, beaches, estuaries and flooded glacial valleys.
Lying almost entirely within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the trail displays an array of coastal flowers and bird life, as well as evidence of human activity from Neolithic times to the present.Completing the Coast Path in one go, taking on average between 10 to 15 days, is quite an undertaking. The ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet!
Most visitors walk a short section at a time, adding a piece to the jigsaw each time they visit and make good use of the Coastal Bus Service, which serves the rural communities and coastal path walkers.
Harry Potter camped there, James Ward created a huge painted there, and William Wordsworth wrote a sonnet about it – so it’s about time you paid a visit to the Yorkshire Dales. For a campsite to rival all others, pitch at Gordale Scar, at the bottom of the crumbling ravine. Wake up and scramble up it, over to shimmering Malham Tarn, then on to the limestone pavement above the cathedral of rock that is Malham Cove. Head back via Janet’s Foss – a waterfall named after the fairy queen who is said to inhabit it. Or, go west to Attermire Scar, a dramatic cliff, where you can enjoy views of Pen-y-ghent as you head back to your tent.
Mourne mountains, Co Down
The 22- mile Mourne Wall, built between 1904 and 1922, rises and falls over 15 of the highest Mourne mountains. The hills themselves are a magical mix of rugged tors, rocky outcrops and granite slabs, and are said to be the inspiration behind CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The length is perfect to split between two days, starting and finishing at the Silent Valley, with a stay at Trassey Bridge in the middle.
In the Peak District and Derbyshire you’ll find walks in landscapes that are spectacular, with many traffic free trails and routes that you can follow. There is something for everyone, from challenging treks up hills and crags to simple circular walks in the Peak District and Derbyshire countryside.
The atmospheric and often eerie moor is scattered with the wreckage of the B-29 Superfortress aircraft that crashed here in 1948, and is often swathed in poppies. Or, go north and check out the surprisingly exposed Laddow Rocks to the summit of Black Hill, or over to Tooleyshaw Moss.