Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail
Linking northern England’s coastlines, Hadrian’s Wall, the frontier wall built from AD 122 onwards to protect Roman England from Scotland, stretches 84 miles from Tyneside in the east to Bowness-on-Solway, Cumbria in the west. Designated a National Trail in 2003, Hadrian’s Wall Path was named Britain’s finest long distance trail by Countryfile in 2011. A full 6-day trek of the wall will take walkers though wild moorlands, rolling countryside, the bustling cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Carlisle and important historic sites like Housesteads, a wonderfully preserved Roman fort. For walkers attempting the whole hog, there’s plenty of pretty villages and country offering a welcoming respite.
Lizard Peninsula Coast
Down in Cornwall on mainland Britain’s most southerly point is the Lizard Peninsula, a scenic stretch of land dotted with picturesque coves and tiny, unspoiled fishing villages. From the pretty town of Porthleven to the sleepy village of Helford, the Lizard coastline is linked by the South West Coast Path and one of its most popular stretches. Home to rare flora and fauna, the Lizard Peninsula coast is a haven for nature lovers especially during spring and midsummer when its mild climate sees species like fringed rupturewort flourish.
West Highland Way
When it was officially opened in 1980, the West Highland Way became Scotland’s first designated long distance trail and remains one of its most popular today. Starting at Milngavie just outside Glasgow, West Highland Way leads walkers through an awe-inspiring landscape taking in the tranquil beauty of Loch Lomond and the remote wilderness of Rannoch Moor before finally ending at Fort William at the foot of Britain’s biggest mountain, Ben Nevis. While committing to walk the whole length of the 96 mile long West Highland Way can take around a week, the walk is widely deemed ‘moderate’ – a beautiful and surprisingly navigable trail utilising old drovers’ and military routes that skirt the highest peaks while still offering spectacular views of the Highland scenery.
Causeway Coast Way
Hop over to Northern Ireland to hit the 33 mile, two-day route known as the Causeway Coast Way: passing through a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and via of Britain’s most iconic landmarks the walk is the best way to experience Northern Ireland’s dramatic, rugged north coast. Leaving from the picturesque Victorian seaside resort of Portstewart, the Causeway Coast Way winds past the ruins of the medieval Dunluce Castle perched on its crumbling rocky outcrop, stopping off at the geological wonder that is the Giant’s Causeway and the breathtaking Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge before ending in beautiful Ballycastle.
Known for its rugged mountains, glacial lakes and market towns, the Lake District National Park is one of England’s most beloved destinations and the stunning route known as Coniston Round takes in some of the most breathtaking scenery the park has to offer. Starting out in the pretty lakeside village of Coniston the circular route explores the Coniston Fells leading walkers via up to the Old Man of Coniston, one of Lake District’s most popular peaks, and on to Grey Friar, the most remote peak in the Coniston Fells and a perfect lunch spot, before ascending Dow Crag, whose rocky summit affords walkers beautiful views of the surrounding falls.
Covering the delightfully unspoiled and rugged Kintyre Peninsula along Scotland’s wild Atlantic coastline, the Kintyre Way may be too much for some but with gentle ambles even less experienced walkers can break down the route into bite-size stretches and still experience its breath-taking beauty. Trailing from Tarbeth in the north to Machrihanish in the south, Kintyre Way zigzags its way across the peninsula taking in a varied landscape of rolling hills, lochs and stretches of coast dotted with tiny fishing towns. On a clear day, Kintyre Way affords walkers views across to the Isle of Arran’s dramatic mountains and even as far as Northern Ireland.
Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail
Boasting 186 miles of some of Britain’s most spectacular coastline, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail in Wales traverses a varied marine landscape from towering clifftops and dramatic rock arches to wide sandy beaches and scenic coastal towns. The first section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path from St Dogmaels to Newport just happens to be its most arduous stretch with frequent steep hills and dramatic, sheer cliff faces. It’s a perfect trek for the experienced hiker, although there are less challenging sections like the stretch between the stunning rock formations of Stack Rock and The Green Bridge of Wales to St Govan’s Chapel.
Cotswold Way National Trail
Winding its way just over 100 miles through some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside, the Cotswold Way National Trail is a scenic route taking in chocolate box villages, rolling green hills and sites of ancient historical significance stretching from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south. While the whole route can take between seven and ten days to complete, the Cotswold Way National Trail is broken down into several manageable circular walks like the Winchcombe and Belas Knap route, a scenic walk starting at the market town of Winchcombe.
Edale to Crowden, Pennine Way
The stunning Pennine Way, a 268 mile route running from the Peak District in Derbyshire through the Yorkshire Dales all the way to the Scottish Borders village of Kirk Yetholm, became Britain’s first designated National Trail in 1965. The first section of the Pennine Way connects the Peak District villages of Edale and Crowden and while one of the most scenic stretches, it’s also arguably one of its more challenging. It’s worth the effort though, taking hikers through the wild, untamed beauty of the Kinder Plateau and offering panoramic views of the Peak District.
South Foreland Lighthouse Walk
A shorter, scenic route ideal for the less experienced rambler, the South Foreland Lighthouse Walk along England’s southeast coast takes in one of the country’s most iconic natural landscapes, the White Cliffs of Dover. Starting out at the White Cliffs Visitor Centre, the four mile walk winds along the clifftop past sites evidencing the coastline’s importance during World War II, like Langdon Hole: an underground system of tunnels previously housing a wartime radio command centre, before ending up at the beautiful South Foreland Lighthouse, built in 1843. Climb to the top on a clear day and you’ll be treated to breath-taking views across the English Channel to France.