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Feel like advancing from weekend warrior to endurance trailblazer? The UK has some of the best long distance walks in the world on offer, here's where to start.
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Amy S

With international holidays pretty much off the table again this year, we’re looking for new experiences a little closer to home. And luckily for us, the UK is jam-packed full of epic long-distance walks to help you get your adventure fix. With over 7,000 miles of coastline and almost 9,000 miles of national trails and parks, it’s oh-so easy to find somewhere to start.

From the peaceful fells of the Cumbrian Way to the leafy footpaths of the London Loop, here’s our guide to the best long-distance walks in the UK.

8 of the Best Long Distance Walks in the UK

1. Pennine Way

Pennine Way long distance walks

The lowdown:

When it comes to long distance walks, the Pennine Way is somewhat of a founding father. The ‘Backbone of Britain’ snakes for 268 miles from the Peak District to the Scottish Borders, making it ideal for long-distance walking. It’s one of the more challenging options on this list, thanks to its steep ascents and rocky terrain. Tackle it all at once (which’ll take you around 19 days) or choose sections which lead you through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and along the Hadrian's Wall path in Northumberland.

Expect: Some of the wildest landscapes in the UK, plenty of hills, lonely ridges and hilltops, boggy sections and a healthy dose of northern hospitality.

Perfect for: intermediates and those who fancy a challenge.

Highlights

Kinder Downfall: You’re likely to tackle this formidable ascent on your first day hiking the Pennine Way (who needs to be eased in gently?). It’s also the second highest ascent of the whole route. To get to Kinder Downfall itself, you’ll first hike up Kinder Low, then trek across Kinder Scout. This brings you to the tallest waterfall in the Peak District, with its billowing clouds of spray that are visible for miles around. For the most dramatic views of Kinder Downfall, visit in the winter or shoulder seasons – it’s little more than a trickle in summer.

Top Withins Farmhouse: Listen up, bookworms. Top Withins Farmhouse, which you’ll reach en route from Hebden Bridge, is said to be the location of Emily Brontë’s famous 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights. It’s surrounded by the dramatic moorland landscape that served as inspiration for many of the Brontë sisters’ novels.

Malham Cove: Malham Cove is easily one of the Pennine Way’s most dramatic features. This natural amphitheatre rears up 70 metres in height and was likely formed by glacial water over 12,000 years ago. This is a totally unmissable spot to check out on your way out of Malham.

Hidden gem:

High Cup – This massive U-shaped valley wouldn’t be considered a ‘hidden gem’ if it weren’t so out of the way – it’s three miles from the nearest road, so if you want to see it, you have to commit. We reckon it’s more than worth it: the dramatic view is unlike anything else on the Way.

Where to stay:

Upper Booth Camping BarnThis back-to-basics barn is your ideal accommodation if you’re looking for something wallet-friendly and no-frills. There’s no electricity or heating (so bring your own camping stove), but there are hot showers and a food parcel service (which sounds pretty good after eight hours walking, trust me).

Mankinholes YHASometimes you can’t beat a good, no-nonsense YHA, and there are plenty along the Pennine Way route. The Mankinholes location, near the Battle of Waterloo monument, is particularly notable for its cosy lounge complete with log burner (bliss) and proximity to some of the Way’s best pubs. We recommend the Top Brink Inn for its enormous burgers and cider selection.

The Traddock HotelFancy a touch of luxury? Go for the Traddock Hotel, which you’ll come upon after around six days of hiking. It’s legendary for a reason – the rooms are sumptuous, the scenery incredible and restaurant well worth writing home about.

2. West Highland Way

West Highland Way Long Distance Walk

The lowdown:

Next up on our list of long distance trails: the West Highland Way. This is one of Scotland’s most beloved walking routes, and one of the best long-distance walks in the UK. It stretches for a total of 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William, taking in Loch Lomond along the way. It passes through rolling country parks, secluded glens and, yep, you guessed it – plenty more lochs. Oh, and there's a sneaky opportunity to scale Ben Nevis, if you fancy it.

Check out our complete guide to hiking the West Highland Way.

(Source: The West Highland Way Route Map | Route Sections)

Expect: Timeless Scottish churches, plenty of wildlife (including midges), loch-shore views and the opportunity to sample local whiskies.

Perfect for: Beginners and intermediates alike looking for a scenic long distance walk.

Highlights

Loch Lomond: What’s a hike in Scotland without a visit to its most famous loch? You’ll pass it on your way from the village of Drymen towards Rowardennan. Look out for the sequence of lonely islands stretching across the loch: they’re the boundary between the highlands and lowlands of Scotland.

The Bridge of Orchy: Once you’ve set off from Tyndrum, the route gets into the some of the most remote parts of the Way. After making your way around the impossibly steep slopes of Beinn Odhar and Beinn Dorain, you’ll come across the spectacular Bridge of Orchy and other viaducts on the West Highland Railway Line.

Buachaille Etvie Mor: It’s time to come face to face with Scotland’s famous mountain range: the Munros. Buachaille Etvie Mor is one of the most well-known, and for a reason: it enjoys a scenic position between Glen Coe and Glen Etvie. From the foot of the mountain, you’ll make your way up the zig-zagging steps of the Devil’s Staircase (not as bad as it sounds), which takes you up to the West Highland Way’s highest point. Get ready for some epic views.

gray rocky pathway on green grass field near mountains under blue sky during daytime

Hidden gem:

The Falls of Falloch: Take a short detour between Inverarnan and Tyndrum to find the thundering, 30-foot Falls of Falloch. There’s no better spot for a rest and a picnic before continuing your hike on the Way.

Where to stay:

Ben Lomond BunkhouseRun by the National Trust for Scotland, this hostel offers spacious bedrooms and a cosy guest lounge, complete with log stove. There’s a large self-catering kitchen, too, so you can rustle up your own grub.

Ardoch House B&BThis hotel is conveniently located close to the starting point of the Way, making it the ideal place to stay the night before you get going on the hike. It’s pet-friendly, and has free Wi-Fi and comfortable rooms. You can also camp here if you prefer and are free to leave your car while you walk the Way.

Glenalva – A traditional, family-run B&B with en-suite rooms. The views are pretty unbeatable (look out for Conic Hill), and there’s nothing to set you up for a day of walking quite like a breakfast of Scottish smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

3.   Coast to Coast

Robin Hoods Bay

The lowdown:

Cross the country from the Irish to North Sea on this classic Coast to Coast route, which was first devised by Alfred Wainwright. Starting at St Bees in Cumbria, you’ll then tramp through three National Parks (the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors) before ending at Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast, making this a seriously scenic option. The total route length is 182 miles, which, if you walk it all at once, will take you around 15 days to complete.

Check out our full guide on hiking the Coast to Coast route.

Expect: Sweeping coastal views and picturesque landmarks like Dove Cottage in Grasmere and Richmond Castle.

Perfect for: Intermediates, fit beginners and those looking for a dose of English country charm while long distance walking.

Highlights

Grasmere – Not far into your Coast to Coast walk you’ll come across the charming little town of Grasmere, which feels a bit like going back in time. It’s most famous for the Wordsworth graves and gingerbread (yes, really).

Kirkby Stephen – The scenic Kirkby Stephen, nestled in Cumbria’s Upper Eden Valley, is seriously beautiful, and is a great place to stop and stay for a few days if you have the time. Stroll around its cobbled courtyards or ride on the famous Settle-Carlisle train line.

Robin Hood’s Bay – This picturesque fishing village near Whitby marks the end of the Coast to Coast trail in great style. It’s part of the North York Moors Heritage Coast national park, with rugged scenery and a huge amount of restaurants and cafes to choose from along the way.

Hidden gem:

Grosmont: Lots of people will walk right through Grosmont, as it’s only a few miles from your final destination, Robin Hood’s Bay. However, this town is well worth a look. It’s home to the North York Moors Railway, with nostalgic old steam trains to take you on a scenic journey through dense forest and moorland.

Where to stay:

Orchard Caravan and Camping ParkPlanning on camping? There are plenty of campsites on the route, and many farmers will let you use their land for free (just make sure to bring a camping tarp to stay dry). As a starting point, the Orchard Caravan and Camping Park is a peaceful option located just at the edge of Reeth village on the River Swale. This is a great location to explore the surrounding area, such as Wensleydale Creamery and Forbidden Corner.

YHA Black SailMost of the hostels along this route are found in the Lake District. This one’s a little bit remote, but that’s part of its charm. It’s only accessible on foot, nestled in a peaceful, traffic-free valley near some of the Lake District’s most beautiful peaks, like Great Gable and Red Pike. The communal lounge has a great buzz and is the perfect place to meet fellow adventurers.

Old Water View B&BLocated in the pretty village of Patterdale, this B&B has been a mainstay on the route for over 100 years. Alfred Wainwright himself even stayed here while he was creating the walk, so you don’t really get much more iconic than this. The rooms have plenty of charm and luxurious touches, like en-suites and tea and coffee facilities.

4. South West Coast Path

walks in the uk

The lowdown:

Lace up your boots, because this is the UK’s longest National Trail and one of the UK's best long distance walks. The South West Coast Path stretches for a whopping 630 miles around England’s south west coastline. It starts at Minehead in Somerset before running along the coast of Exmoor, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset before ending in Poole Harbour. If you’re not feeling brave enough to tackle the entirety of the mammoth route, you can choose any one of its seven sections (with plenty of pub stops factored in between). The walk takes around 7-8 weeks on average to complete, although many do it much faster. A great place to start is the 52-day itinerary.

Like the look of the south of England? Check out other our epic Cornwall adventures.

Expect: A sunny dose of southern England, epic coastlines, dramatic cliffs and plenty of water sports.

Perfect for: Intermediates looking for a challenge.

Highlights

The Jurassic Coast: The South West Coast Path takes in the entirety of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO site which stretches from Devon to Dorset. Walk along craggy cliffs shaped by the sea over 185 million years. Pretty epic.

West Cornwall: This sunny section of Cornwall has so much to offer, from bustling St Ives to the spectacular Lizard Coast and outdoor Minack Theatre. You’ll also pass by the fairytale-esque St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island sitting pretty in the sparkling water.

Great Hangman, Devon: It’s a bit of a challenging hike to get up the formidable Great Hangman, which is one of the highest points on the Devon coast, standing proud at 318m (trust me, it’s worth it for the views).

south west coast path uk

Hidden gem:

Hawker’s Hut – This strange little hut has been made using salvaged wood from local shipwrecks. It dates back to the 1800s, and was built by the eccentric Reverend Hawker. It’s easily accessible from the path, near Bude.

Where to stay:

Treen Farm CampsiteWild camping isn’t permitted on the Path, but there are plenty of campsites to pitch up your tent. The clifftop Treen Farm Campsite in Cornwall, near the Lizard Coast, has some of the best views of them all: on clear days, you can see out the Isles of Scilly.

YHA at Beer, Devon – Meet other walkers and kick back after a long day of walking at this hostel, which is a favourite for its picturesque Arts and Crafts architecture and top location on the Jurassic Coast. There’s a gorgeous garden for chilling in, as well as bell tents for glamping.

Baytree B&B Minehead – B&Bs are a great option for occasional luxury while walking the trail. The Baytree in Minehead is set in a peaceful Victorian house, and offers a 5-minute walk to the start of the South West Coast Path.

5. Cumbria Way

Cumbria Way

The lowdown:

The Lake District is home to some of the most awesome landscapes in all of the UK, and there’s no better way to enjoy them by taking on the Cumbria Way. It’s a walk in the park (literally) compared to some of the other walks on the list, with a total length of 70 miles. Much of the route is flat, but you will be challenged by a few steep, high-level parts. This is a great walk to start with if you’re new to long-distance hiking.

Expect: Idyllic Lake District scenery, low-level footpaths with the occasional elevated section.

Perfect for: Newcomers to national trails and those looking for a long-distance hike they can complete quickly.

Highlights:

Tarn Hows – A ‘tarn’ is a small mountain lake, and Tarn Hows is one of the best on the Way. You’ll find it near Conniston, surrounded by leafy woodland. Get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds – this is a popular spot.

Colwith Force – The Lake District is blessed with plenty of waterfalls, and the 55-foot Colwith Force near Ambleside is one of our top picks. Most people will head for nearby Skelwith Force, but Colwith is more hidden, and all the more rewarding.

Langdale – The Great Langdale Valley stretches for 12,170 acres from Ambleside all the way to the Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, so there’s no missing it. It’s surrounded by some of the Lake District’s most famous fells, such as Crinkle Crags and Rossett Pike. The views are about as timeless as you can get, full of grazing sheep, white-washed cottages and dramatic peaks.

Cumbria Way Langdale

Hidden gem:

The Howk – Take a short detour off the Cumbrian Way walking route near Caldbeck to discover one of over 100 bobbin mills that once operated in the area, the Howk. Today it’s an atmospheric skeleton of a forgotten industry, but it was once a powerhouse, home to the biggest waterwheel in the country.

Where to stay:

Skiddaw House: This seriously remote hostel gives a whole new meaning to the phrase: ‘getting away from it all’. It’s the highest hostel in Britain, and there’s no road access – get there by walking 3.5 miles from Threlkeld. Warm up in cosy lounges with wood-burners, get a comfortable night’s sleep and stock up on essentials at the handy on-site shop.

Dungeon Ghyll HotelA stay at the Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale is a quintessentially Lake District experience. The building’s been standing since the 1800s, and features cosy rooms, a bustling bar and plenty of local produce. They even offer packed lunches for walkers.

Long distance walks UK

6. London Loop

The lowdown:

London Loop long distance hike

Get out of the city and explore its leafy outskirts by taking on the London Loop, an accessible national trail circling the capital.  This 150-mile long-distance walk consists of 24 sections, most of which are totally or almost flat, making this walk another great option for beginners. Along the way, you’ll explore much-loved beauty spots like Bushy Park and Halnault Forest Country Park, as well as historic places like Black Jack’s Lock and Mill.

London Loop Long Distance Walk

Expect: Historic buildings, gorgeous parkland, and a hidden side of London.

Perfect for: City-slickers and weekend walkers seeking easier walks in England.

Highlights

Farthing Downs - You’ll find this secluded woodland on the edge of London and Surrey. Though you can enjoy panoramic views of London from here, it feels miles from the city, full of wildflower meadows, local wildlife and colourful flowers.

Enfield Lock – Section 18 of the London Loop takes you journeying along London’s waterways, including Enfield Lock. It was once the site of the Royal Small Arms Factory, which

manufactured the famous Lee-Enfield rifle.

Bushy Park – One of London’s most attractive parks, and one that often offers glimpses of wild deer

(not to mention kingfishers, kestrels, woodpeckers…). You’ll find this huge expanse between Kingston Bridge and Hatton Cross, and it also provides easy access to Hampton Court, which is a must-see if you’re in the area and haven’t been before.

Hidden Gem:

Bentley Priory – In amongst all of this sprawling woodland is Bentley Priory Museum in Stanmore, North West London. It tells the story of the Battle of Britain, as the building was used as the Headquarters for Fighting Command during the battle. This is a great place to spend the afternoon on your way around the Loop.

Where to stay:

Abbey Wood Caravan and Motorhome Club Site - There are loads of campgrounds to stay at on the London Loop Trail, and Abbey Wood is one of our favourites. It’s open to both motorhomes and campers, and enjoys a convenient location near Welling with easy transportation options to the city. It’s a dreamy green oasis to rest and recharge before taking on the next section of the loop.

The Old Stable Yard – This cosy B&B is located in a 17th-century Jacobean house, making it an atmospheric pit-stop on your way around the Loop. It’s located in Gravesend and offers sumptuous rooms as well as a hearty breakfast to set you up for a day of walking.

The King’s Head – Is there anything better than resetting after a long day of walking with proper pub grub and local ales? Didn’t think so. The King’s Head in Bexley is the place to go for all of the above, with traditional rooms and a beer garden to boot.

7.      Offa’s Dyke Path

Offa's Dyke BreconBeacons National Park

The lowdown:

The Offa’s Dyke Path long-distance walk, which was first established in the 1970s, runs for 177 miles along the English and Welsh border. The trail is your gateway to plenty of Wales’ rolling hills and most charming and well-known towns, like Chepstow and Monmouth. It passes through serene marshes, the dramatic Brecon Beacons National Park and the Shropshire Hills, also following Offa’s Dyke, a hand-dug ditch which separated kingdoms back in the 8th century.

Expect: Riverside views, challenging uphill stretches and mountains carpeted with heather.

Perfect for: Hikers of all abilities with a soft spot for history.

Highlights:

Tintern Abbey – This Cistercian abbey is one of the most spectacular in all of Wales, and also one of the most ancient, founded way back in 1131. Admire awe-inspiring views of the abbey as you head on towards Chepstow.

Pontcysyllte – You can walk over the UNESCO-listed Pontcysyllte, Britian’s highest (navigable) aqueduct as part of the Offa’s Dyke Path, but a word to the wise – only do so if you’re not phased by heights. It arches 40m above the River Dee, so don’t look down.

The Black Mountains – Despite their name, the Black Mountains are actually a group of hills are scattered across parts of southwest Wales and the Brecon Beacons National Park. You can experience them for yourself by ascending up to Hatterall Ridge.

Hidden Gem:

Montgomery – Most hikers on this long-distance walk look for a town to explore while walking the Offa’s Dyke Path will head to Hay-on-Wye, which offers buckets of quaint charm and a renowned annual book festival. Montgomery is a little less well-known but equally worth a look, if only for the award-winning brewery, Monty’s.

Where to stay:

Beeches Farm CampsiteLocated near Chepstow, this campsite offers next-level views over the Wye Valley as well as fire pits, perfect for chilly nights. It’s surrounded by woodland, so makes for a secluded spot to rest and recharge. It’s directly accessible from the Offa’s Dyke Path.

Parva Farmhouse Riverside GuesthouseThis bed and breakfast near Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley is the place to go for laid-back luxury. There are eight en-suite bedrooms, a traditional beamed guest lounge and an on-site restaurant serving up breakfast and dinner lovingly made from local produce.

Green Man BackpackersStay in the centre of Chepstow at this lively hostel, which has both dorms and private rooms. There’s a bar on-site, ideal for meeting other walkers, as well as complimentary breakfast every morning (bonus).

8. Causeway Coast Way

Giant's Causeway Long Distance Walk

The lowdown:

This route in Northern Ireland is celebrated for being one of the best long distance walks in the UK. It's well-known for passing through the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is also a World Heritage Site. To walk the entirety of the route, which stretches for just over 30 miles, it’ll take you around six days at a leisurely pace.

Expect: Rocky coastlines, remote distilleries, high rope bridges and access to lively tourist towns.

Perfect for: Beginners as well as intermediates looking for the best long distance walks in Northern Ireland.

Ireland Long Distance Walk

Highlights

The Giant’s Causeway – Arguably one of the most famous walking routes in all of Northern Ireland and its only UNESCO site, the Giant’s Causeway is made up of 40,000 striking basalt columns along the coast. Look out for the Giant’s Boot (a 2-metre formation in Port Noffer), the Wishing Chair (a natural seat of smooth basalt stone) and the Grand Causeway, the largest of the rocky outcrops. Carve out a whole day to check this out – it’s worth it.

Dunluce Castle – The ruins of this medieval castle can be found on the coast of County Antrim. It’s a super romantic and dramatic sight, the crumbling stone set against the crashing waves of the sea below. It’s surely one of the most photogenic spots on the Causeway Coast Way.    

Carrick-a-rede – Listen up, thrill-seekers, this one’s for you. The Carrick-a-rede is a rope bridge near Ballintoy, linking the mainland with the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans for 20 metres above a bed of sharp rocks – not for the faint-hearted.

Hidden gem:

Rathlin Island – Just six miles across the Sea of Moyle from Ballycastle you’ll find Rathlin Island. It’s a haven of tranquillity – look out for seals basking on the beach, and shipwreck artefacts in the Boathouse Visitor Centre.  

Where to stay:

Cushendun Glamping PodsKeep your home comforts while camping at Cushendun Caravan Park. The pods are warm and spacious, offering views across the North Channel. You’ll also be close to Mary McBride’s pub, known for its extensive whiskey menu and open fire.

Ballyvoy Camping BarnComfortable and affordable, the Ballyvoy Camping Barn offers a little more space and warmth than a tent, with en-suite bathrooms and bunkbeds. There’s a communal area for catching up with friends and other travellers, and a pub right across the road.

The Barn at Ballycairn in BallygallyThis self-catering cottage in Ballygally has everything you need to for a stay on the Causeway Coast, from a welcome hamper packed with snacks to a cosy living room to chill out in. The barn comfortably sleeps six.

We might not be travelling abroad any time soon, but we hope that this list of the best long-distance walks in the UK serves as a little inspiration for doing some exploring here on home turf. Share this list of walking routes if you enjoyed it, and let us know your favourite hike in the comments.

FAQ

How should I train for a long distance walk?

Long distance walking isn't something we do every day. Us weekend warrior might shoot for the trails on a Saturday but a 2 or 3 week walking trip is another kettle of fish. It's hard to build up the stamina if you're low on annual leave, but level up your weekend walks with weighted bags and hills to make sure you can handle the daily distance. You'll get used to it as you go though, the first few days you might be hitting the hay at 8pm, but your muscles will quickly rise to the occasion.

What's the best long distance walk in the UK?

Tricky one. Of all the routes and trails we've mentioned, it's probably the West Highland Way or The South West Coast Path that takes the crown for us. Incredible mountain views or secluded beaches at every turn, can't beat it. Those two walks have some of the best landscape this country has to offer.

Why undertake a long distance walk?

Great question. Because you want to challenge yourself, push yourself to the edges of your comfort zone, get fit, get used to spending time in your own company, become more hardy at wild camping, spend time with loved ones, the list is endless. Long distance walking is hailed as an incredible way to see some of the most picturesque routes and villages in the country, but also as a way to gain perspective and take some time out form the hustle and bustle of city life. 2 or 3 weeks walking is properly immersive and really gives you a chance to hit the pause button on life and enjoy the simple things for a while.

Should I go solo or with friends?

It completely depends what you want to get out of your trip. Some people go solo hiking because they feel they've forgotten how to be in their own company. Other walkers go as part of a bigger social trip and feel safer in a group. It totally depends what you want, but at some point we definitely recommend trying both.

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