Walking holidays across not just the UK but around the world are now much more popular than they once were. Perhaps we have social media to thank for this. After all, before the internet how many people had seen the fantastic views gained from the Inca Trail or Kilimanjaro? Even Mount Everest Base Camp in 2016 saw a dramatic increase in visitors and whilst this is understandable, after all thrill seekers, adventurers and madmen wanted to push their bodies to the extreme have been trying to summit the world’s highest mountain for over 150 years, to see such an increase year on year, you have to argue that the internet has a part to play in all of this.
I know when we started hiking together many years ago now; I would spend hours on the internet scouring for information about not only the best hikes with the greatest number of challenging paths but also which ones would have the most impressive views both along the trail and from the summit, because seriously despite the natural health benefits attached to getting some fresh air who wants to exert all that energy without having something to see along the way.
Sometimes, also I prefer to wander rather than hike. I mean it is great to see the incredible views across the countryside when standing on the top of a mountain but they are not always guaranteed. Sometimes you will make it to the top, after hiking for several hours, at the same time as a very large and impressive fog cloud. At least, when wandering along low lying pathways and trails the threat of extreme weather changes is somewhat lessened.
But which trails have we attempted or would like to attempt?
Coming from the UK we are very fortunate that the land is diverse enough for us to enjoy all kinds -from gentle strolls along the canal to mammoth hikes to craggy outcrops but which ones stand out?
5 Walking Trails Everyone Should Attempt
Being the highest peak in England and Wales, Snowdon is one of the most famous landmarks in the UK. Standing at 1085 metres tall, there are six different pathways to choose from, varying in difficulty from a gentle, albeit lengthy hill walk up the Llanberis Path, which we have witnessed people do in dress shoes, up to the more challenging trails that include climbing scree slopes, scrambling over large rocks or navigating one of the finest ridge walks in Britain along the Crib Goch route.
For those that do not wish to hike up for themselves there is also the option of ascending in comfort on the Snowdon Mountain Railway that follows the Llanberis Path.
Once you reach the top this is one of the few mountain peaks with a fully functional restaurant and working toilets which are always a bonus. Plus on really clear days with views across to Ireland, Scotland, England and Isle of Man possible, this is one of the most remarkable places to visit.
When I turned 30 I wanted to challenge myself, don’t ask me why, and so I decided to head up Helvellyn in the Lake District with Paul and one of my closest friends in tow.
Once again, like when we challenged ourselves to hike up Snowdon, the idea of walking up an easier path held no appeal to Paul and so instead, we found ourselves clambering across Striding Edge like mountain goats attempting to get to the other end in one piece.
At 950 metres it is not quite the highest peak in the Lake District, that accolade goes to Scarfell Pike at 978 metres, but it is one of the most scenic.
With both William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge making it to the top, I wanted to make sure that I too could see the same beauty that they had once seen; to see what had caused them to write so lyrically about the landscape in poems like On Her First Ascent to Helvellyn.
#3 The Coast to Coast Walk
This unofficial path in 192 miles in length and crosses across three national parks – the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park.
This Northern England Walking Path starts at St Bees by the Irish Sea and finishes at Robin Hood’s Bay in the North Sea and is the brainchild of Alfred Wainwright.
For those dedicated to walking this trail, Wainwright suggests a two week timescale which also allows for a couple of rest days mixed in along the suggested 12 stages and despite the fact that it is still an unofficial walk it has been named as one of the best long-distance trails in England.
#4 The Pennine Way
At 268 miles in length, if you intend to complete this you need to be serious about your walking. With lots of hills and plenty of moorland, and with sometimes unpredictable weather to contend with, the Pennine Way is not the easiest of walks to complete but it may be one of the most satisfying.
Starting in Edale in Derbyshire National Park you will then wander north through the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park before ending in Kirk Yetholm just inside the Scottish Border.
The wonderful thing about walking routes like this one is that, should you want to split it, you can do so. You could challenge yourself to different sections across a period of time rather than all at once should you be so inclined.
#5 Leeds to Liverpool Canal Walk
Should you ever have the desire to wander from Merseyside to Leeds then this is the way to do it – along the canal. At 127 miles it is still quite a length but these towpaths are guaranteed to be far more picturesque than taking the motorway. With 91 locks including the impressive Bingley Five Rise Lock and a double-arched bridge, this is a trail that will see you walking partly across the Pennines whilst taking in industrial towns and cities, old factories and mills all steeped in history.
Of course, there are thousands of walking trails out there some far shorter than the ones we have mentioned, some even longer.
Ultimately, the idea of a walking holiday is to get out and explore the countryside around you, get some fresh air and break free from modern living for a while. Not only that, if you join one of the numerous walking tours now available such as the ones offered by Macs Adventure, these trips can often be quite a social affair with evenings reminiscing about the day’s walk over an open fire in a traditional village pub that are dotted all over the British countryside.
Have you been on a walking holiday – self-guided or otherwise? Which trails would you recommend to others?