Long-distance walks are an awesome way to really immerse yourself in nature. You can cover some serious ground in just one hike, which means you can expose yourself to a huge variety of scenery and landscapes. They’re also great for building fitness, and you’re less likely to injure yourself than you are with other faster-paced sports. Having said that. It’s important to ease yourself into the world of long-distance hiking gently – don’t run before you can walk, as they say.
Although the UK might not be a number one tropical holiday destination (the weather could definitely be better), it’s probably one of the best hiking destinations in the world. It’s home to mighty mountain ranges, rustic moors, majestic lakes, meadows covered in wildflowers, dramatic coastal cliffs… the list goes on. And it’s not just this incredible diversity that makes hiking in the UK so special – it’s also how well its natural areas are preserved.
The UK is home to a whopping 15 national parks, with well-kept and clearly signposted trails weaving throughout them. Plus, the fact it isn’t sunny all the time can actually be a good thing when it comes to long-distance hikes – carrying a pack around for days in the baking sunshine can be very hard work, after all.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that the UK has long attracted hiking enthusiasts from around the world. But what are the best long-distances hike the UK has to offer? And which one is right for you? Read on the find out!
We know that the world of long-distance hikes can be a little daunting to begin with, so we’re kicking our list of the best long-distance walks in the Peak District in the UK with a simple day hike.
The Edale Skyline is definitely one of our favorite hikes in the whole of the UK. It begins in Edale, a small town located in the heart of England, within the borders of the spectacular Peak District National Park.
The route is circular and can be started from various points, but we recommend starting from Hope Valley, which can be accessed easily via public transport and has lots of parking spaces.
As the name suggests, the majority of this hike is way up high on a ridgeline that dips down and back up occasionally (so brace yourself for some steep inclines), and offers seriously impressive views of the surrounding National Park – you’ll witness a huge range of scenery, including luscious green hillsides dropping dramatically into the valley below, babbling brooks, and impressive rock formations. What’s more, you’ll summit various peaks that offer panoramic views as far as the eye can see.
To complete this walk in just a day, you’ll have to set off nice and early (even in the summertime) because, even at a rapid pace, the hike will take at least 10 hours to complete.
For our next hike, we’re heading right up to the north of the UK to bring you the spectacular Lairig Ghru hill pass. This 30.5 km-route will take you through the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, an area known for its rugged, wild beauty.
There are various starting points for the hike, but it typically begins at Coylumbridge, which can be reached via a short bus or car journey from the nearby town of Aviemore (which can itself be accessed by train).
This mountainous pass is not for the faint-hearted, and is best avoided in winter altogether, but, for those that are up for the challenge, the rewards are definitely worthwhile. As you ascend to a peak of 810 m, you’ll be flanked by snow-capped mountains and pass through some of Scotland’s finest scenery, including land-locked water pools, cloud-covered hills, and rustic moors.
Although much of the route is clearly signposted, there are areas where it’s possible to get lost, so make sure you check out your route in advance. Make sure you allow some extra time for you to pause and figure out the route – this is one trail you don’t want to be completing after the sun has set.
One of the great things about this walk is its remoteness – you’ll really feel like you’ve left your everyday life behind you – but bear in mind that you might not bump into anyway along the way, so you need to be able to look after yourself in an emergency situation.
We’re popping into Wales briefly to bring you the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, before we head back over to the north of England.
At just shy of 300km, this route is the longest on our list, and it can take anywhere from 10 to 15 days to complete. It begins in St Dogmaels and heads steadily south to Amroth. Along this oceanic trail, you’ll mostly hug the shoreline and encounter almost every coastal sight you could ask for, including harbors, lagoons, estuaries, fishing villages, golden sanded beaches, hidden coves, jagged cliff edges, surfing spots… the list goes on!
You’ll experience exception sea views for most of the route, and there are plenty of towns where you can rest for a night (or two) and replenish your supplies. Many of the towns along the way are accessible by bus, so you can practice short stretches at a time before you tackle the whole route if you prefer. If you’re after a magical coastal hike and are lucky enough to have up to 2 weeks to spare, then this is without a doubt the hike for you.
We’re heading over to the Northwest of England now to bring you the first multi-day hike on our list, the Cumbria Way.
This 117 km hike will take you on a grand tour of the stunning Lake District National Park, the largest National Park in England. The route begins in Ulverston (which conveniently has a train station) and heads north to Carlisle, but along the way, you’ll pass through some of the most spectacular scenery England has to offer, including grassy meadows, mystical bodies of water high in the mountains, and of course, serene lakes snaking their way across the landscape.
Although this walk is long, it’s not particularly strenuous in terms of inclines and the terrain, making it a very popular choice among people of all ages and physical abilities. What’s more, you can break up the hike over as many days as you like, giving you time to rejuvenate or, if you fancy more of a challenge, there are various add-ons you can do – so this really is a hike that everyone can enjoy. Plus, it’s super easy to catch the train back from Carlisle to Ulverston, which is great if you’ve left the car or some gear back there.
Tip: Check out our post on the best Lake District camping spots.
Slowly working our way to the south of England, the next hike on our list is the James Herriot Way. This multi-day hike is typically completed in 4-5 days and takes you through the best scenery the Yorkshire Dales National Park has to offer.
The route is named after James Herriot, a TV-star vet who worked in the Dales and took his son on the journey years ago. It’s a circular route that can be started at various locations, but the most common starting point is Aysgarth, known for its impressive waterfalls.
You’ll also pass through luscious valleys with lively rivers streaming through and spend some time up on the mountainous ridgelines (so expect some up and downs). You’ll see rolling hills separated by the remains of Roman walls, and even some old castles, as well as passing through plenty of untamed moorlands.
There are old-fashioned pubs and inns dotted along the way, so you’re never far from a much-needed cup of tea (or a pint), so you can break up the hike however you like. There are plenty of maps describing the route in detail, and you should have no problems following the trail. Obviously, the hike requires some stamina, but it’s fairly easy-going and a great first-time route for anyone new to multi-day hikes.
The Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk in kent has to be one of the finest round walks the south of England has to offer.
The route is 44.3 km in total, so it’s definitely a full day’s hike (some people even decide to break it into two), and it will take you through gorgeous countryside and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As it’s circular, you can begin your march from any point. You’ll not only pass through the quaint English countryside, which looks particularly magical in spring when the flowers being to bloom, but also various structures of historical and architectural interest, such as various churches, mills, and even a manor house. Oh, and if you’re an avid climber, you might want to think about taking some gear with you, as you’ll pass through various rock formations that will get your fingers twitching, including Harrison’s Rocks, which offers some very tempting sandstone overhangs.
You’ll also pass through small towns with shops where you can pick up refreshments, and of course, you’ll see various pubs along the way too (it is England after all), so don’t worry if you find that you’ve under packed on the food front (not that we ever do).
If you’re a thrillseeker looking for a hike that takes you into the back and beyond, then this might not be the one for you. But if you want a stress-free day of exploring towns, meadows, and riversides, perhaps in training for a multiday hike, then this is a very pretty long-distance route.
We all love a good coastal hike – after all, there’s something incredibly calming about the ocean and nothing beats breathing in that fresh sea air. Unfortunately, because coastal walks are so lovely, they can easily become overcrowded.
Luckily, the multi-day Suffolk Coast path takes you along some barely-trodden parts of the coast, such as the Snape to Felixstowe section. The views of the sea from the clifftops are spectacular, and you’ll also pass many majestic rivers. The hike is 80 km in total, although you can add up to 10 miles if you back and forth from the cliffs to the beach regularly (this option will be highly tide-dependent).
It heads from Felixstowe to Lowestof, and you have the option of incorporating the Orford Loop into your route, which will take you past the Alde estuary and Gedgrave marshes before joining back to the main path this will add roughly 16 miles to the overall length of the hike). You’ll not only have stunning coastline for much of the hike, but you’ll also pass through Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its numerous wetlands and historical points of interest.
As you’ll pass through many places offering accommodation along the way, you can break this hike up into as many days as you like, although most people complete the hike in 3-5 days.