With endless kilometers of coastline, an abundance of National Parks, and a plethora of landscapes ranging from rolling hills, rocky moors to gigantic lakes, England really does have a lot to offer hiking enthusiasts.
The weather might leave something to be desired, but it’s thanks to the substantial rainfall that English landscapes are as lush as they are. And you’ll find a bit of drizzle doesn’t stop the English from hitting up the hikes – they’ll be out there with their boots on come rain or shine (it helps that you’re never far from a pub serving hearty food and beverages in England to warm you up afterwards).
Key areas to note are the Peak District and Lake District national parks and the Yorkshire Dales in the north of England, and the stunning coastal paths in the south. We’ve hand-selected 10 of the best hikes in England, bringing you a mixture of simple strolls to more challenging week-long hikes, so no matter what you’re in to, there’s bound to be a hike for you.
As we’ve mentioned, the weather in England can be pretty grim at times. Although all seasons have their charm – crisp winter walks in the sunshine, autumnal walks through leaves of all colors, and watching the spring bluebells emerge after a long winter – you need to make sure that you’re prepared for the worst. That means taking extra layers with you and always being ready for a torrential downpour (even in the peak of summer). Some routes are best avoided altogether after a long rainy patch, so make sure you research your specific area before you set off.
We’re going to start off with a nice, gentle walk to ease you into the world of English hiking. The Peak District, situated in the North of England, at the end of the Pennines, is undoubtedly one of England’s greatest natural treasures.
One of its most impressive features is it’s dramatic low-lying cliff edges and one of the best examples has to be Froggart Edge. Although parking is available at the Froggart Car Park, we’d recommend using the National Trust Car Park a couple of minutes up the road. From here, after a short amble through some woodland, you reach the stunning clifftop, with spectacular views of the valley below.
This is an almost entirely flat route along a well-trodden path, and there’s no way you can get lost – simply follow the edge of the cliff as far as you want to go. If you continue for long enough, Forggart Edge eventually turns in Curbar Edge. There is a car park here, so if you’re traveling with a group and are feeling organized, it might be possible to leave one car here and drive back to the start point to pick up the second.
There are ways of making this a round walk, doubling back away from the edge to the start point, but, honestly, we recommend going back the way you came – you really do feel on top of the world up there. If you want to make the walk more challenging, you could try one of the routes that ascends from the valley below. One thing to note – it can get pretty windy on those unexposed edges, so make sure you pack an extra layer.
The rocks make a great picnic spot and, for any climbers out there, the gritstone edge is home to hundreds of climbing routes. Easily reachable from nearby towns, and less than half an hour’s drive from the city of Sheffield, this is the perfect route for a casual half-day in the countryside. Oh – and there are several pubs in the area for a well-deserved post-walk beverage.
If multi-day hikes are more your thing, then the Hadrian’s Wall Path makes for a great week (or two, depending on your pace) of walking along one of England’s most historic monuments.
Stretching across the north of England, this hike originates in Wallsend, Newcastle Upon Tyne, on the West Coast and ends in Bowness-on-Solway, Cumbria, on the East Coast. It incorporates a unique blend of cityscapes, gorgeous countryside, quaint villages, and historical sites.
The wall itself is a remarkably well-preserved Roman monument and is located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, plus there are remains of Roman forts and settlements and lots of museums along the trail too. The rugged countryside has a rustic charm, and there are plenty of places to rest for the night along the trail.
Although it is by no means a short walk, it’s a whopping 135-km in total (although some people opt to only walk certain sections), it isn’t a particularly challenging walk either. The most difficult stretch is the 37 km between Chollerford and Birdoswald, due to some steep ups and downs, but otherwise it is relatively painless and general fit individuals shouldn’t have any problem with it.
As with all English hikes, the route can become damp and boggy during the winter months so, if you have the option, try and do this one in the summer.
Breathe in the fresh sea air as you stroll from Seaford Beach to East Bourne on this spectacular clifftop walk. They might be less well-known than the white cliffs of Dover, but the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters are second-to-none in terms of their beauty and are certainly the highlight of this hike.
With a total distance of 22 km, this is a full day’s hike. You’ll spend much of the time high up beside the dramatic white cliffs, and you’ll even pass through Beachy Head (Britain’s tallest cliff), yet you’ll dip down to the shoreline every now and then too, so don’t forget to take your swimming gear (if you’re feeling brave!). The combination of fresh grass fields, dramatically steep white cliffs, and deep blue sea makes this one of the most striking routes in England.
Despite some ascends and descends, the trail isn’t particularly challenging – as long as you can keep going all day. And with a range of picnic spots and inns along the way, there’s no excuse not to factor in some scenic pauses. Bus routes link the finish and start points, so you can leave your car in Seaford, although it’s well served by trains and buses from elsewhere too.
If you’re an intrepid summiter of mountains, then why not take a hike up Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, situated in England’s most-visited National Park, the Lake District.
The easiest, and most popular, route to Scafell Pike is via Hollow Stones from the Wasdale valley. You’ll need a car to reach the start point, and you can leave it in the National Trust car park for around 10 bucks a day. The route is fairly steep, rising almost 3000 feet in just over 4 km, but the path is clear and easy to follow. Watch out for bad weather though, as snow and mist can make it much trickier to stick to the trail, particularly at the top.
Although the up-and-down approach is the easiest and gives great views in its own right, if you want a bit more variety in terms of scenery we recommend an alternative route from Wasdale. This involves reaching Scafell Pike via Sty Head and a stint on the corridor route. With lush greenery at the base, breathtaking mountain lakes part-way up, and snowy peaks at the top, this hike really does have it all, but it is longer and more strenuous than up-and-down route.
Finally, whichever route you go for, you’ll be pleased to know that the Wasdale Head Inn, situated a few minutes form the Wasdale car park, is homey pub that serves hearty meals and a mixture of hot and cold drinks – the perfect place to treat yourself after a day on the trail.
Edale is a quaint English town situated in Derbyshire in a particularly lush section of the Peak District National Park. The ridge of Edale and Hope Valley, a nearby rural area, has a spectacular skyline offering incredible views. The Edale Skyline hike itself is a circular hike that takes you along this ridge, overcoming several summits along the way.
The hike typically starts at Hope Valley but, as it’s circular, it can be started from other locations too, most often the nearby villages of Castleton and Edale. However, it’s worth noting that Hope has the advantage of being on the trail itself, so you don’t waste any extra time (or energy!) with this starting point.
The scenery is not only breathtaking, but it’s incredibly varied too – you’ll gaze over idyllic reservoirs, rolling hills, rocky ridges, and more on this hike. You’ll also climb the peaks of Win Hill, Kinder Scout, Mam Tor, and Lose ill (just to name a few!), all of which are offer fantastic views and are often the highlight of smaller walks. However, the Edale Skyline hike is not for the faint-hearted – the long distance and steeps inclines do require a substantial level of fitness but, if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll certainly be rewarded!
You will find some people powerwalking on this route, as it’s used as a training ground for some famous UK hiking challenges, such as the National 3 peaks or Yorkshire 3 peaks challenges. If you’re up for a challenge, then try to complete the route in 10 hours or under but we certainly wouldn’t blame you for taking it nice and slow and absorbing the stunning scenery. This hike is easy to access too, thanks to the train station, bus routes, and car parks in and around Edale.
Established in 1965, the Pennine Way was the UK’s first National Trail, and it has become a solid favorite ever since.
Originating in the Peak District (again, in the quaint old town of Edale), crossing the famous Yorkshire Dales, passing the picturesque Swaledale Valley, leaping over Hadrian’s Wall, and finishing in Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders of Scotland, this route covers some of England’s finest countryside.
Although sections of the route are now paved, you’ll become all too familiar with mud on this hike so, if you want to make it a little nicer, we’d recommend doing it from May-October. You’ll pass through tonnes of places to spend the night en route, so it’s up to you how long this walk takes. Most people, however, finish the hike in around 3 weeks. You’ll need a good level of stamina and fitness to handle the distance as well as the steep inclines and declines – the total ascent exceeds that of Everest!
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a spectacular part of Nothern England and is home to some fantastic hikes. Probably the most popular hike is a circular walk that originates in Malham and passes through Gordale Scar and Malham Cove.
After leaving your car at Malham, a footbridge leads you away from the town and towards Janet’s Foss, a beautiful waterfall at the end of a gorgeous ravine. Next up is Gordale Scar, a ravine with towering limestone cliffs on either side and two lively waterfalls – make sure you remember to bring your climbing gear if you’re keen as it’s one of the prettiest spots in England for a scramble. Malham Cove is also a great climbing spot, but it also makes for spectacular viewing from the ground. Oh, and make sure you keep your eyes on the sky and bring your binos, as there’s a good chance you’ll spot some Peregrine Falcons here!
Finally, stroll back to Malham to end your day with a well-deserved pint at one of several pubs situated in Malham. Although not particularly long, this walk does cover some rough terrain and has some steep climbs in places, so it requires a good level of general fitness.
It’s no surprise we’re returning yet again to the Lake District National Park to bring you yet another classic English walk.
The ascent from Glenridding to Helvellyn (the third highest point in England) via Striding Edge is no easy feat – you’ll definitely have all four limbs on the floor at times – and once you’re up there, the ridge itself is spectacularly slim. However, the views are out of this world, and there’s certainly a thrill factor to walking along such a narrow strip with dramatic drops on either side.
If you’ve enjoyed your scramble to the top, we’d recommend scrambling your way back down too via Striding Edge, although there are longer, easier alternatives. After you’ve tiptoed down the ridge, you’ll encounter the lovely Red Tarn Lake, and then it’s homeward bound down the valley to Glenridding.
This circular walk requires a high degree of fitness and some precise footwork, but you’ll really feel like you’ve been on an adventure afterward. Glenridding itself has a car park plus some great places to stay and treat yourself after such a spirited venture.