Come rain or shine, the British love the great outdoors. From a summer’s day stroll to a traditional boxing day walk, there’s always a good excuse to get away from the bustling city and take in some country air. According to Walking for Health, a good walk can uplift your mental wellbeing, improving self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. Pair this with the physical benefits brought on by fresh air and exercise, and you should need no more encouragement to embrace the outdoors. There really is no reason not to (ignore the rain, guys).
Thanks to data collated by the Ordnance Survey, based on routes created by OS map users over the last few years, we have now discovered the most popular walking routes throughout the UK. Despite most of the routes being grouped in and around the national parks (as could be expected), city routes also got some recognition. Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham all featured highly in the results, showing that OS users were making time for healthy walks even in built-up areas. This is good news for anyone that wants to throw on some flat boots and go on a shorter stroll — you don’t have to scale the highest mountains in the country to sample the great outdoors.
But enough of the chitchat, let’s get to it. The results are in, and here are the UK’s IDEAL top ten walking destinations.
MOUNT SNOWDON, WALES
This mountain is not for the faint hearted, that’s for sure, but the glorious views make all that heavy breathing and potential altitude sickness well worth your while. There are various routes up to choose from, ranging from Crib Goch, a challenging scramble, to Llanberis Path, which provides a steady gradient and a relatively straightforward route. Choose your poison accordingly.
EDALE, THE PEAK DISTRICT
Edale, a quaint village in the Peak District, is a walker’s paradise. Many people use Edale as a starting off point to walk the Pennine way (a 268-mile trek that takes most hikers up to 19 days) but if you’re looking for a more relaxed walk, you could try the Edale Low Level Circular Walk which will take you on a picturesque, steady route.
SCAFELL PIKE, THE LAKE DISTRICT
Scafell Pike is a complex mountain to hike, but the landscape will take your breath away. The simplest route to take up the summit is via Brown Tongue from Wasdale, but if you’re feeling more ambitious and want to see the best the mountain has to offer, try the Corridor Route.
ALLEN CRAGS, THE LAKE DISTRICT
Allen Crags, in the beautiful Lake District, is part of a nine-mile scenic walk that takes in the glorious Great Gable mountain. The walk starts from Seathwaite and then winds up the summit of Allen Crags. You’ll be rewarded by some glorious countryside if you take this one on.
GREAT END, THE LAKE DISTRICT
The Lake District strikes again with a mountain sometimes overlooked by those headed for Scafell Peak. But Great End is a dramatic mountain in its own right, with a sheer edge; striking to behold, make no mistake. The route up this mountain is fairly challenging due to the unavoidable large boulders on the way to the peak, so perhaps this isn’t one for the laypeople. Keen hikers, though, should stand to attention!
HELVELLYN, THE LAKE DISTRICT
Helvellyn is a beautiful mountain surrounded by the Lake District’s signature bright blue lakes. The peak is 50 metres (or 3117 feet high, in old money) and should take three to four hours to ascend. All the routes to the summit are fairly challenging and require a high level of fitness. Better get on that heavily inclined treadmill, pronto, in preparation.
EDALE (HOLLINS CROSS), THE PEAK DISTRICT
Not satisfied with being second, Edale makes a comeback as the union’s seventh most popular walking area, too. The walk from Edale to Hollins Cross takes you off in a different direction to the Edale walks that we looked at previously, and here’s some good news after all that hard work; this is an easy walk along a public footpath, suitable for seasoned hikers and newbies alike. The path takes you up to the Hollins Cross memorial, from which you get a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape.
HOPE CROSS, THE PEAK DISTRICT
The walk that leads you to the landmark of Hope Cross will take you through fields, over stiles, and through woodlands, giving you access to the Great British countryside at its best. This walk is moderate and can be accessed very easily from Sheffield city centre as you can jump on a train straight to the starting point (Hope train station). It’s an easy and accessible route for anyone to enjoy. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of us breathing a sigh of relief.
CROOKSTONE HILL, THE PEAK DISTRICT
Crookstone Hill, or Crookstone Knoll to some more ‘seasoned’ walkers, is close to the Hope Cross walk, meaning combining the two in a day is eminently doable. A steady, grassy landscape with a beautiful panorama, this hill can be reached easily from the car park at Hope, making it accessible to all.
FAIRHOLMES, HOPE VALLEY
If you’re looking for a gentle walk in Yorkshire, then Fairholmes is a great place to start. Beginning at the Fairholmes Visitor Centre, this stroll is well signposted and moderate in the challenging stakes. Taking you through farmland and a peaceful valley, the scenery (and pace) is truly idyllic.
So there you have it. Great for both your physical and mental health, and with difficulty levels ranging from canter to clambering a cliff, the options are endless for walking in the UK. Now, get out there and show those paths what you’re made of!