If you enjoy the great outdoors and want to spend as much time in nature as possible, you definitely include at least one or two hiking paths. Hiking is one of the best forms of exercise, as it trains all your muscles and helps your bones become stronger. It also provides your heart with good cardio, helping reduce the risk of chronic illness, such as high blood pressure or heart disease. It also helps improve your balance and maintain a healthy weight. And of course, because all this exercise takes place outside, you get the psychological benefits as well, as hiking can help regulate your mood and enhance your overall well-being.
If you’ve set your eyes on the UK for your trip this year, you most likely already know that there are many trails available for both beginners and pros. Here are the best spots you must visit if you love exploring on two legs.
England is home to many beautiful hiking trails that offer scenic views and the opportunity to visit important landmarks in the process. Hadrian’s Wall is a perfect example of this category. As the best-known land frontier of the Roman Empire, it is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. It marked the border between the territory of the Roman Britannia from Caledonia, the unconquered land known today as Scotland.
Hadrian’s Wall is now one of Britain’s most famous cultural landmarks. You can reach it quite easily by train when starting from large cities such as Manchester. Just make sure you check for the proper parking Manchester airport beforehand to ensure you get the best spot for your vehicle. The hiking path is approximately 135 km, and you’ll see many remnants of the Roman Empire along the way, from settlements to ancient roads and pathways.
The South West Coast Path is England’s longest National Trail. Stretching for 1,014 km, it starts in Somerset, moving to the Cornish coast and stopping in Dorset. The ideal duration for completing the whole route is approximately fifty-two days, but if that’s not realistically doable for you, there’s also the option of focusing solely on the best spots of the path. In Somerset, you can enter the Exmoor National Park and see the Selworthy Beacon Hill, both featuring a rocky terrain of ravines and cliffs.
Foreland Point in North Devon, Saunton Sands and Land’s End are some of the other main attractions. There are many port towns and harbours along the way where you can stop for a drink at the pub or a nice meal featuring local cuisine specialties.
Scotland is known to be the most mountainous country in the United Kingdom, and its Highlands are one of the most emblematic images of the country. You must also look for an appropriate parking space here since you won’t do much driving. Parkos offers a wide selection of places to choose from, but you must be sure you don’t leave it to the last minute to secure the best spots. The Ben Nevis is the best challenge for experienced hikers, as the highest mountain in the United Kingdom. If you want to add an extra excitement factor, try rock or ice climbing. Be mindful of the weather, as the fog can make navigation challenging, even with the cairns that mark the path.
The West Highland Way is one of the best spots for hill walking in the country, while some sections are adequate for horse riding. Some of the local wildlife includes red deer, golden eagles and feral goats, which started inhabiting the area after the Highland Clearances of 1750 and 1860. The Highland Boundary Fault is an area of geological importance. You will pass through the rural community of Rowardennan, the most popular point for reaching Ben Lomond.
And, of course, you can’t miss the opportunity to climb the Stac Pollaidh in the Northwest Highlands. Just 612 metres high, it is appropriate for non-experienced hikers as well. However, just because the peak isn’t very tall, you shouldn’t believe the views won’t be much. You’ll get some of the most outstanding panoramas of the Summer Isles to the south and the Assynt in the north.
The Wales Coastal Path runs along the Welsh coastline, one of the most picturesque areas of the entire country. It is highly accessible, yet the moderate difficulty factor makes it enough of an exciting challenge for those that are up for it. It stretches from Chester to Chepstow for 1,400 km and is the first coastal path in the world to cover an entire nation. Some sections are also suitable for horse riders, cyclists, and individuals with restricted mobility.
Starting at the mouth of the River Dee, part of the border between England and Wales, the footpath will take you through seaside towns such as the walled Conwy, to the Isle of Anglesey, the Llŷn Peninsula and then the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park with its numerous beaches. However, if you’re looking for a route that’s a little shorter, you can try the North Wales Path of 97 km, which runs between Bangor in the west, Prestatyn in the east and the northern Welsh coast.
The Llŷn Coastal Path, covering 146 kilometres, is part of a region that holds the designation of Area of Outstanding Beauty due to its numerous beaches, coves and the rich biodiversity featuring multiple species of birds and marine mammals.
The Blackhead Path is one of the most beautiful in Northern Ireland, where you can see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Surrounded by water and lush vegetation, you may also get the chance to interact with the local people on the road. Ideally, you should travel when the weather is mild enough that the visibility from the path is ideal.
The Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, located in the Cuilcagh mountain at the border between the counties of Fermanagh and Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, cuts through a wide expanse of featherbed bog. It includes a staircase and a boardwalk. But although it may sound simple enough, you should know that the final ascent goes through a section of rather steep stairs. Make sure to have waterproof clothing, as the weather can change anytime. Hiking in the UK is a stellar experience regardless of which country you choose. In fact, given the variety of footpaths, you might want to return the following year as well.