The UK may be a relatively small country, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to spectacular hikes! You’ll find lush green valleys, craggy pikes and snow-capped mountains, all just crying out to be explored.
The UK might not have the tallest mountains in the world, but what these peaks lack in height, they certainly make up for in glorious scenery and a remarkable diversity of terrain. From the rugged beauty of Snowdonia and the tranquil valleys of the Lake District, to the open wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, the UK has something to suit all walkers.
Looking to tick some UK walks off your hiking bucket list? We’ve done the hard work and come up with a list of our favorite hikes across the UK. All you need to do is decide where to start!
Map of the best walks in the UK
Best Walks in England
The best walks in England can rival anything you’ll find elsewhere in the UK. Keen walkers in the UK are often drawn to the high mountains of Wales and Scotland, meaning that England’s comparatively smaller peaks are often overlooked. However, the Lake District and Peak District offer some of England’s most iconic and distinctive mountains, and the beautiful South Downs are a wonderful place to admire the English coast. Here’s our guide to the best hikes in England.
This Helvellyn walk, via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, is rightly considered one of the best walks in England. Towering over the Eastern Fells, Helvellyn offers spectacular views, and this walk will take you past gurgling streams and peaceful tarns. However, the real draw is the thrilling scramble up Striding Edge – perhaps the most impressive ridge walk in England.
Kinder Scout Walk
The challenging Kinder Scout walk, in England’s Peak District, is one of the most popular walks in England, and it’s easy to see why. This 8.5-mile trek offers incredibly varied scenery and terrain – you’ll traverse streams, scramble over boulders and enjoy marvelous views along the way. The descent via Jacob’s Ladder might pose a challenge for tired legs, but a reward will be waiting at the bottom, in the shape of a pint at the warm and cozy Old Nag’s Head.
Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk
The UK is blessed with some truly spectacular coastline, and the epic Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk in England’s South Downs is one of the best ways to enjoy it. Beginning in Seaford, follow the entire 14-mile route to Eastbourne, along well-trodden coastal paths. If you enjoy sea views and chalk-white cliffs, you’re sure to find this one of the best hikes in England. This walk takes in part of the Seven Sisters
Scafell Pike Walk
No UK hiking bucket list would be complete without a Scafell Pike walk – the highest mountain in England and a living war memorial, gifted to the National Trust in memory of those who died in World War I. The scramble to the top of this towering mountain offers some of the best views in the Lake District. However, the best thing about this walk is the incredibly varied scenery you’ll pass on the way up through Ill Crag. A classic Lake District day out.
As part of this Dovedale walk, you’ll head to the Peak District for some of the best walks in England, and also some of the country’s best pubs! This circular walk is one of our favorites, incorporating iconic sights such as the limestone Lover’s Leap, and following the ancient packhorse routes that snake their way through the White Peak. Come in springtime to see the fabulous display of bluebells in Upper Taylor’s Wood.
Best Walks in Wales
The best walks in Wales are often thought to be in Snowdonia, where you’ll find high mountains and incredible views. However, don’t miss some of Wales’ lesser-known treats – in the hills and valleys you’ll find green, rolling countryside and some of the best places for stargazing in the whole of the UK. Wales has something to please all walkers, from the highest peaks of the north to the deep, green valleys of the south. To give you some ideas, here’s our bucket list of the best hikes in Wales.
Deep in the heart of Snowdonia, the craggy peak of Tryfan towers over the Ogwen Valley. This imposing mountain is legendary in the world of British mountaineering, as it was here that climbing pioneers such as George Mallory and Edmund Hillary came to cut their teeth before making attempts on Everest. Although Tryfan is not for the faint of heart, there are manageable routes for hikers with no climbing experience. You may need to use your hands as you scramble up the last few hundred meters, but the view from the top is undoubtedly worth the effort.
If there’s one thing not to be missed on a trip to Wales, it’s the epic summiting of Snowdon. There are many ways to get to the top of Snowdon, and we love the Snowdon Horseshoe route as well as this route via the Miner’s Track and finally this Snowdon walk. Snowdon, the highest mountain in the country, has long been renowned as the place to come for one of the best hikes in Wales. Indeed, this big, beautiful mountain is so popular that it attracts a steady stream of visitors, meaning that in peak season you may have to share the path with lots of other walkers! For a quieter hike, follow this route via the Watkin Path, where you’ll be able to admire the majesty of Snowdonia without the crowds, and enjoy a phenomenal view from the Bwlch Ciliau.
If you’re looking for a place to stretch your legs in the Welsh mountains, try this stunning walk up Moel Siabod in Snowdonia. This mountain rises like a pyramid from the green Welsh countryside, allowing for some of the best views of Mount Snowdon anywhere in the country. The beautiful, varied scenery of the lower levels quickly evolves into a short scramble to the top of the peak – an ideal hike for energetic families and those looking for a mid-level challenge.
Llyn Ogwen Walk
This Llyn Ogwen walk is one of the best rambles in Wales for beautiful scenery over easy, enjoyable terrain. You’ll walk in the shadow of Tryfan and Glyderau, two of Snowdonia’s most iconic peaks, strolling through boulder-strewn hills around the lake. According to legend, Llyn Ogwen is the final resting place of King Arthur’s mythical sword, Excalibur, so keep your eyes open for any hidden treasures beneath the calm waters! If you want to experience the power and majesty of Snowdonia without an arduous, high-level climb, Llyn Ogwen is for you.
Llangollen Canal Walk
You’ll need a head for heights on this delightful Llangollen Canal walk through the Welsh hills and valleys. The route will take you along the awe-inspiring 200-year-old Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which bridges the River Dee in the Vale of Llangollen. Still used by narrowboats today, this canal walk is one of the best walks in Wales, and certainly the most unique. The perfect blend of natural and man-made wonders, set in gorgeous green and rolling countryside.
Best Walks in Scotland
If you’re looking for the best walks in Scotland, one thing is certain – you’ll be spoilt for choice. The UK’s northernmost country is the wildest, highest and most spectacular place for hiking in Britain, and everywhere you go you’ll find rugged, beautiful terrain just waiting to be explored. The only difficult thing about creating a bucket list of the best hikes in Scotland is choosing what to include! Here’s a short list of some of our favorites.
Undoubtedly one of the best walks in Scotland, and one of our favorites, the hike to Ben Venue from Loch Achray is simply stunning. Ben Venue means ‘little mountain’ in Gaelic, and although this is one of the smallest peaks in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, climbing it is no mean feat! Your reward? Outstanding views over the lochs and hills, and a fun, challenging scramble to the top. On a clear day you’ll be able to take in Loch Katrine, Ben A’an, and Ben Lomond, all the way to the Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.
For epic wilderness and fabulous nature, you can’t beat the distinctive Scottish peak of Stac Pollaidh. The beautiful northwest coast of Scotland is a dream for walkers, and offers up some of the best hikes in Scotland. Stac Pollaidh, with its distinctive spiky ridge, sits amidst the beautiful, stark and wild terrain of the north, dotted with lochs and peaks and perfect for rambling. Stac Pollaidh offers a stiff, steep hike to the top, but you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views and a real sense of being out in the wild.
The pristine waters of Loch Venachar make for a very popular hiking spot in the Trossachs. When the Scottish mists draw in (and let’s face, the weather up there can be unpredictable), you might be looking for a low-level walk that still provides spectacular scenery and a bit of a physical challenge. This 11-mile hike around Loch Venachar offers just that, with exceptionally pretty views all around the waterside. Bring a picnic and enjoy the wonderful lakeside scenery.
Ben Nevis Walk
The Ben Nevis walk is at the top of every hiker’s UK bucket list. The towering giant of Britain, at 1345m, Ben Nevis stands as the tallest mountain in Britain. This beast of a mountain is a challenging hike, and there’s only one route up the mountain that’s suitable for amateurs. You’ll need a good clear day, but if you get it, you can enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the country. The climbs to the top Ben Nevis is, without doubt, one of the best walks in Scotland, and it will leave you feeling on top of the world.
Deep in the heart of the Trossachs, Ben A’an is frequently described as Scotland’s ‘best hill’. This miniature mountain is a great training ground for hikers looking to improve their stamina for some of Scotland’s higher peaks, and despite clocking in at just 452m above sea level, Ben A’an oozes character. Its pointed peak gives remarkable views over the Trossachs, Loch Katrine and Ben Lomond, and its diminutive size means that it’s a great option for those looking for a mid-level challenge. Bring your camera, as you’ll find plenty of photo opportunities along the way.
Best Walks in Northern Ireland
Many of the best walks in Northern Ireland are shrouded in myth and ancient Irish folk tales. Here, you’ll find holy mountains and magical lakes, surrounded by thick forests and mysterious caves. There’s no better way to explore this ancient land than by foot, and the rugged landscape offers spectacular views and wonderful, varied trails. Here’s our list of the best hikes in Northern Ireland.
Slieve Donard Walk
Reaching 850m above sea level, this Slieve Donard walk will take you up one of the tallest peaks of Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains. Although it’s a fairly short walk, clocking in at just 4.6km to the summit, it gets pretty steep in places, so offers an excellent opportunity for a good workout! Its proximity to the sea means that you can make the full 850m ascent, climbing up to the prehistoric burial Cairns at the peak. This striking mountain is thought to have been held sacred by the ancient peoples who once lived here, and looking up at the magnificent Slieve Donard from the coastline, it’s easy to see why.
Slieve Gullion literally translates as ‘mountain of the steep slope’ and is located in the Ring of Gullion, designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The unusual geology of this peak includes a circular ring dyke volcano, covered with a layer of colorful heather. This is an area steeped in history and mythology, and an old legend suggests that if you bathe in the mountain lough (lake) your hair is likely to turn white! Whatever you believe, the unusual silhouette and colorful heather of Slieve Gullion make this one of the best walks in Northern Ireland.
Polnagollum Cave sits in the atmospheric Belmore Forest in the Province of Ulster, which hides a maze of caverns and caves that are perfect for an afternoon of exploration. The forest and caves are well equipped with walkways and viewing platforms, allowing you to peer down into the lush, green gullies, and marvel at the beautiful cascading waterfalls. This is one of the best walks in Northern Ireland for kids and families, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a glimpse of the beautiful Irish hare, with its black-tipped ears.
Slemish Mountain holds a special place in Irish hearts, known as the first home of Saint Patrick, and an important site of pilgrimage throughout the ages. According to tradition, Patrick was taken into slavery and spent six years roaming this mountain as he tended to his masters’ livestock. Even today, the peaceful hillsides and epic views create the perfect place for contemplation. The central core of an extinct volcano, this distinctive cone-shaped mountain rises up from the landscape like a beacon, making for an impressive vista and steep, rocky climb.
Slieve Bearnargh is one of the highest mountains in the Mourne range and one of the most distinctive peaks in Northern Ireland. The magnificent granite tors that top the mountain make it extremely popular with hikers and climbers, and offer fantastic photo opportunities. An energetic, enjoyable climb, Slieve Bearnagh’s fabulous views make for one of the best hikes in Northern Ireland.