Scenic Journeys of Britain: Walks

The pick of Britain's Scenic Walks ... in which getting there is truly half the fun.


Britain is home to some of the finest landscapes in Europe - from the Lake District to little trodden Welsh mountain massifs. So put on your walking books, pack your raincoat and start walking!



Scotland and Northern England

Wester Ross; Scottish Highlands

Since Monty Halls turned his back on the twenty-first century in favour of the simple life as a crofter in The Great Escape, the coast of Wester Ross has become as popular with would-be escapees as its mighty Munros have long been with hill-walkers and climbers.

Hadrian's Wall

From the suburbs of Newcastle to the Solway Firth, Britain's most iconic Roman monument doubles as perhaps its most compelling long-distance path, marching some 84 miles across northern England's most bracing and barren terrain.

The West Highland Way

As Scotland's inaugural long-distance path, the 95-mile West Highland Way did much to raise the profile of the hiking opportunities on Glasgow's doorstep. It's a rites-of-passage trek that segues beautifully from city suburbs to the Scottish Highlands.

Southern Upland Way, Borders

The Scottish Borders are perhaps still more identified with horseriding than hoofing it, but this coast-to-coast, Irish to North Sea odyssey may one day change that. And while the dome-like hills of the Southern Uplands mightn not match the Highlands for drama, they more than match them for sheer remoteness.

Helvellyn, Lake District

It's not the highest peak in the Lake District but it can still stake a claim as the most romantic. Beloved of Wordsworth, Wainwright and generations of walkers, England's most popular mountain is a study in contrast, its summit flat enough to land a plane.

Stanage Edge, Peak District

A kind of Peak District Table Mountain in miniature, the 7 kilometres of gritstone cliff that make up Stanage Edge have been scaled since the nineteenth century, while the surrounding dry-stone dykes, historic buildings and emaciated moors have been sewn into England's cultural and literary landscape for much longer.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Yorkshire

Measuring 127 miles and containing 91 locks, the Leeds and Liverpool canal is the longest watercourse of its kind in northern England. Reminders of the area's industrial past are evident in the old factories and mills that cluster along the canal's banks.

Burns Trail, Ayrshire

Birthplace of Robert Burns, Alloway in Ayrshire is sacred ground for Scots. The village of the country's greatest literary figure has been subsumed into the historic country town of Ayr. Starting out along a combination of country roads and track, the route takes you around the grounds of Newark Castle before climbing into the Carrick Hills.

St Cuthbert's Way, Northumberland

This long but comparatively easy walk affords fine views and handsome scenery, but its real appeal lies in its connections to the seventh-century bishop and pilgrim St Cuthbert. To the south lie Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands, but it's to Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island) in the north-east that the path leads.

Falls of Glomach, Ross-shire

At 114 metres, the Falls of Glomach boast the single biggest drop of any waterfalls in the UK. Despite their gravity-gushing, depth-charging descent, however, they are curiously easy to miss - a phenomenon that has led some to call them the hidden falls; they are up a narrow gorge in a remote corner of the Scottish highlands.

Coast to Coast Walk

The Coast to Coast Walk is a 309 km unofficial and mostly unsignposted long-distance footpath in Northern England. Devised by renowned walker and writer, Alfred Wainwright, it passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park.

Bracken Way, Yorkshire Dales

This customised circular ramble was devised to show off the best of the Dales. It skirts the 723m Ingleborough peak, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside, which make for easy side walks, and whose stark slopes and flat tops soften into valleys, such as Dentdale and Wensleydale. The route covers a few kilometres of the Pennine Way - and it makes a shorter alternative.

Berwickshire Coastal Path

This walking route, some 45 kilometres long, runs from Berwick upon Tweed to Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders. Cockburnspath is also the termini of the Southern Upland Way and the John Muir Way. The walk passes one of the most spectacular coastlines in Great Britain, in an area nationally and internationally important for seabirds, coastal flora and marine life.

St Cuthbert's Way, Northumberland

This long but comparatively easy walk affords fine views and handsome scenery, but its real appeal lies in its connections to the seventh-century bishop and pilgrim St Cuthbert. To the south lie Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands, but it's to Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island) in the north-east that the path leads.

John Muir Way

The John Muir Way is a 215-kilometre continuous long distance route in southern Scotland, running from Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute in the west to Dunbar, East Lothian in the east. It passes through North Berwick. The walking trail is named in honour of the Scottish conservationist John Muir, who was born in Dundar, and became a founder of the United States National Park Service.




Midlands, Wales, Northern Ireland

Pembroke Coast, Wales

The Pembrokeshire coast is wild, gorgeous and beautifully looked after. For family activity holidays, it is a nature lab one minute and an adventure playground the next. It's heaven for wildlife-watching, watersports and walking too. When you're ready to chill out after all that fresh air, there are cosy pubs, spa treatments and fabulous sunsets to enjoy.

Tryfan, Snowdonia

It may receive some of the heaviest rainfalls in Britain, but Snowdonia is hard to beat. Its serrated, slate-lined peaks cater for a range of abilities, yet it's also home to the only mountain on the British mainland that demands scrambling as part of the main ascent.

Glyndwr's Way, Mid-Wales

Where in Wales can you find a grown-up, long-distance trail that's properly in the sticks, where you might not meet anyone for hours on end, and where logistics aren't so easy? Bang in the middle, of course, where there are rolling hills dotted with sheep, forests, lakes, high moors, the low Cambrian mountains and settlements you've never heard of.

Pembroke Coast, Wales

The Pembrokeshire coast is wild, gorgeous and beautifully looked after. For family activity holidays, it is a nature lab one minute and an adventure playground the next. It's heaven for wildlife-watching, watersports and walking too. When you're ready to chill out after all that fresh air, there are cosy pubs, spa treatments and fabulous sunsets to enjoy.

Roman Way, Cotswolds

An early section of the little-known Roman Way walk, this walk offers an archaeologically intriguing ramble through the heart of the Cotswold hills. The route crosses over the limestone heights along the last leg of Akeman Street, a major Roman road running west from modern-day St Albans to Cirencester.

Kerry Ridgeway, Welsh Borders

If you had to choose anywhere for a final stroll through the British countryside, you'd be hard pushed to choose better than this delightful ridgeline walk. On a clear day, the views spread out for 130 km or more, from Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons in Wales over to the Shropshire hills across the border.

Walberswick nature reserve, Suffolk

With tiny terns looping the loop and waders skipping through the grasslands, spring is the perfect time to visit Walberswik National Nature Reserve on the Suffolk coast. If you can tear yourself away from reed beds, estuary marshes, saline lagoons and shingle beaches, then there's a very pleasant circular walk to be had, too.

Mourne mountains, Nthn. Ireland

Adventure abounds on this demanding walk, which encompasses three of the highest peaks in the Mournes: Slieve Donard, Commedagh and Bearnagh. The summit of the second offers fine panoramic views of the High Mournes, while the choppy straights of the Irish Sea can be seen from the third.




Southern England

South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path was originally created by coastguards, patrolling the south west peninsula looking out for smugglers. Starting at Minehead in Somerset it runs along the coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall.

South Downs Way

Cradling a hundred-mile swathe from the historic city of Winchester to the spectacular white cliffs of Beachy Head, this clement landscape of ancient woodland, open heath and chalky downs was recently awarded national park status reflects a rural charm wholly distinct from Britain's more remote corners.

Tramway Trail, Cornwall

This 11-mile route along the west country peninsula follows the line of two early horse-drawn tramways, along which the tin and copper would once have trundled. Popular with cyclists and walkers, this coast-to-coast hike is peppered with interpretation boards fixed to granite stones that give insights into Cornwall's mining past.

Rinsey Coast, Cornwall

Rinsey is a delightful mix of seascape, landscape, mining heritage and natural history. Take in three old engine houses with World Heritage Site status on this short trail. There are also close-up views of rare plant-life, and the enigmatic Bishop Rock. You might see ponies grazing, or some choughs displaying or even dolphins playing.

Minions, Bodmin Moor

Whether you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary beast or would rather take in the Neolithic Hurlers stone circle; this 7 km trek is a great location to explore. This circular walk will start here and is relatively easy in terms of pace, taking you over fields, past mining chimney ruins and through the sprawling valley.

Ashdown Forest: Pooh Country

The Ashdown Forest was one of Henry VIII's hunting grounds and also a centre for iron smelting in the middle ages, but it is best known now as the setting for the Winnie the Pooh stories. There are many walks with stories to interest kids and all can be cut short or made longer, thanks to the multitude of paths.

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