Walking in England and Wales
is something in the UK for every outdoor person, whether casual walker
or hardcore hiker, from flower-shrouded tracks through calm,
endlessly rolling, pastoral hills to winding chalk cliff paths beside
fossil rocks to steep, wild trails up bleak and challenging mountains.
But beware, weather can be very changeable, particularly along the west coast,
in the north and as always in higher areas. Remember - 'there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes'!
There is excellent access to, and management of rural space, with parking, well marked trails, plentiful free information from local tourist offices, frequently cosy little pubs en route
and good, free medical facilities not far off - the UK is an
excellent walking destination.
Walking on Dartmoor, Devon
Rights of Way
These are paths accessible to people not on motor vehicles. There
are thousands of miles of right of way in the UK for
foot, horseback or bike.
to go in the UK:
Many areas without guidebook defined boundaries offer the adventurous
hiker inspiring walks.
However, for those taking a book along with them will find that
the UK's National Parks, 'Designated Areas of Outstanding Natural
Beauty', 'National Scenic Areas' and World Natural Heritage Sites,
combined with several long distance National Trails offer comprehensive
coverage of the best places and are usually worthy of their status.
Natural Heritage Sites:
'Protecting natural and cultural properties of outstanding universal value against
the threat of damage in a rapidly developing world'.
e.g. the Jurassic
Coast in Devon and Dorset - one of the oldest coastlines in
the world, stretching 95 miles from Orcombe Point in Devon and ending
at Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, it encompasses over 185 million years
of geological and fossil records.
The United Nations have described it as 'an outstanding example,
representing a major stage of earth's history and the record of
Most of this coast is part of the South
West Coast Path National
The most scenically interesting areas include the fossil centre of Lyme Regis, Chesil
Beach (though very tough walking), Portland Bill, Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge Bay,
Dancing Ledge and Old Harry Rocks. See Dorset's South West Coast Path pictures.
National Trails - in addition to numerous
rights of way and free to roam areas there are nineteen specially
maintained official long distance trails for walkers, cyclists and
riders in the UK. Guidebooks are available for each.
South West Coast Path, Stair Hole to Durdle Door, Dorset
West Coast Path (630 miles, Britain's longest footpath,
passing through 'The Jurassic Coast'.
Way (100 miles), Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Glyndwr's Way,
Offa's Dyke Path, Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, Wolds Way,
Cleveland Way, ***Hadrians
Wall Path, Southern Upland Way, ***West
Highland Way, Great Glen Way, Speyside Way.
National Parks in England
usually large protected areas, well organised and catering efficiently (signage, path maintenance etc.) for
all levels of walkers.
District in Cumbria, England - 885 square miles of steep
but rounded mountains of well watered green flora surrounding a
cluster of lakes in Cumbria, a hill walker's paradise.
Walking and Hiking: 1,799 miles of
public rights of way, from easy valley trails to steep, precarious
treks. The highest peak is Scaffel Pike at 3209 ft. Scaffel Pike walks
Buttermere is perhaps the most beautiful and tranquil lake for a
base at which to stay.
Climbing: many demanding peaks and
crags, topped by Pillar Rock and Scaffel Crag.
Watersports: various watersports on
Windermere, Coniston, Derwent Water, Ullswater and Bassenthwaite lakes, but water skiing is only allowed at Windermere,
the largest lake in England.
Dales in North Yorkshire, England - 683 square miles
of gently rolling landscape with dry stone walls, high granite hills
and limestone cliffs.
Walking: lots of potential but
make sure to visit the old waterfall of Mallam Cove and perhaps
some large caves like the Ingleborough Cave, White Scar Caves, and
the Stump Cross Caverns. The Malham walks
Climbing: quite a few gritstone crags
such as Caley and Almscliff and limestone scars such as the popular
Mallam as well as the Twistleton Scars, Giggleswick, and the Gordale
and Kilnsey Crags.
Caving: extensive limestone cave systems
including Alum Pot, Gaping Gill, Mossdale Caverns, and the Kingsdale
York Moors in North Yorkshire - 554 square miles which includes the largest
heath moorland in the UK and also the largest natural woodland areas
of all the national parks. Some parts are like the Yorkshire Dales
- created by generations of sheep farming.
Walking: 1,000 miles of rights of way
including the 108 mile Cleveland Way National Trail.
Biking: ideal for mountain biking,
for example the Whitby to Scarborough Trailway, 20 miles along the
edge of the North York Moors National Park, is one of the most spectacular
routes. You may be able to travel with bikes on the North York Moors steam
Northumberland embraces 405 square miles of gently rolling moorland and low hills and the
largest man made forest in the UK. It's often bleak and windswept,
with low a low population but hosts several old castles due to long
past differences with neighbouring Scotland.
Walking: castles, coastline, beaches and isolation are the main attraction of a good Northumberland
walk and the Pennine Way National Trail crosses the area. Bamburgh Castle and an ocean of dunes 13 miles (21kms) to Craster fishing village is one favourite longish hike or Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle for a short 1.5 hour walk.
Also in Northumberland is Kielder Water, an ambush of hillforts and Hadrians
Climbing: around a hundred or so crags
across the county.
Part of a Pennine Way footpath, Derbyshire
District, Derbyshire - 555 square miles of dry stone
wall patchwork, narrow winding lanes, and quaintly bleak rolling
hills and valleys.
Walking: 1,479 miles of public rights
of way, especially on the well-orgainsed Pennine Way.
Climbing: very popular region with
numerous gritstone crags.
Dartmoor in Devon - 368 square miles of hilly, high moorland in north Devon
with high points known as tors.
Walking: over 600 miles of paths, with
access to all of the park.
Hundreds of official guided walks all year round and the Ten Tors
race every year. Dartmoor walk
Exmoor in Devon and Somerset - 268 square miles of high moorland and rolling
grasslands with wooded areas, including part of the North Devon
Walking: a 620 mile walk including
part of the South West Coast Path National Trail - the most southerly
path in the UK, so relatively good weather!
Other long walks include the Two Moors Way and the Tarka Trail.
Watersports: sailing and windsurfing
on the Wimbleball lake, canoeing on the Exe and Barle rivers. Exmoor walk
Norfolk Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk (not far from London) -
117 square miles, the largest wetland area in the UK on the coast
of Norfolk. Consisting of 124 miles of waterway including 5 lowland
rivers, 40 shallow broads plus marshes and fens along with wooded
areas. The broads are the result of hundreds of years of digging
up peat for fuel.
Walking: 193 miles of paths. Generally
flat and easy traversing all manner of waterways and
their wildlife, through many villages with many pubs.
Long walks include the Weaver's Way and Angles Way.
Prefer to avoid crowds? Try Wells-next-the-Sea to Cley walk
Biking: easy going riding through country
lanes or along rights of way where permitted. There are 12 bike
hire places at moorings for boaters.
Watersports: canoeing allows access to the more sensitive areas
of the broads.
Boating: cruisers and houseboats are
available for voages along the larger waterways.
Birdwatching: excellent region for
watching migrating wetland birds.
UK, Wales, Snowdonia
Parks for hiking in Wales:
Wales is darkly magnificent and full of lush slopes, bug-eyed sheep, babbling brooks, brooding peaks, spooky woods, calm lakes and cosy little pubs. Some of the best spots are:
South Wales - 240 square miles of unspoilt coastline. The Gower
Peninsula is here.
Walking: 500 miles of rights of way
including the 186 mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail. Gower
Beacons in South Wales - 519 square miles of scenic,
moderately mountainous highlands.
Walking and Hiking: 1,242 miles of
Climbing: lots of crags and disused
Snowdonia in North Wales - 827 square miles of dark and dramatic mountain hikes, including Mt. Snowdon, with a peak at 3560 ft.
Walking & Hiking: 1,739 miles of
paths with lots of ups and downs, lakes, rivers, bogs and pubs.
Climbing: lots of mountainous crags,
especially Mt. Snowden itself, the second highest mountain in the
UK. Plus winter mountaineering. Snowdon summit walk
Pictures | England
Wales Counties Map | England
and Wales Map
Walking Tours | England