It’s National Walking Month and we’re celebrating by getting in as many walks as possible this May. The good news is we’re allowed to explore a little further from home now that restrictions are easing, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
With walking being one of the main sources of exercise many of us have adopted over the last year of lockdown, the benefits of getting outside in the fresh air are finally starting to sink in; immersing ourselves in nature really does help to decrease stress, clear the mind and increase our serotonin levels – aka. give us a little boost of happiness.
From coastal paths to rolling hills, scenic afternoon rambles to multi-day routes, the UK really does have some beautiful places to hike. Turn it into a day trip: take a picnic a couple of cans of Caleño some tasty snacks, and you’re all set for a wonderful day out.
- The Jurassic Coast – Durdle Door
Stretching all the way from Old Harry Rocks, Swanage, to Orcombe Point, Exmouth, the Jurassic Coastline offers 154km of rolling hills and remarkable views. If you’re up for a real challenge, you could hike the entire length and even throw in a spot of wild camping too. Otherwise, the coastal path by the iconic Durdle Door in Dorset offers stunning views across the glistening blue sea (on a sunny day). If you park at Lulworth Cove Carpark and follow the steep cobbled hill, you’ll be faced with Durdle Door in just a mile or so. For a longer route, try this 11k out and back hike, which takes in four big hills – you’ll be glad to know there’s a selection of great cafes, pubs and ice cream spots to refuel in.
2. North Downs Way – Box Hill
Made famous by the NDW100 – an 100 mile annual ultra running event – the North Downs Way threads through the Surrey Hills, covering 208 km of trails. The route begins in Farnham, weaving through the undulating Surrey Hills – known as an ‘Area of Natural Beauty’ (AONB) – and finishes on the Dover coastline. The North Downs Way also takes in Box Hill, a favourite spot for hikers and cyclists alike. At the top of Box Hill, there’s a cafe and car park, and from here you can explore many routes, like the iconic Stepping Stones or even the 12.8km Box Hill circular walk, which covers much of the Box Hill estate, with views stretching over the North Downs.
3. New Forest – Lymington Marina to Keyhaven Nature ReserveIf
If you like hiking amongst nature then the New Forest, in Hampshire, is a great area to explore. Spanning 150 square miles of mostly flat trails, expect to see pigs, deer, ponies, rabbits and an array of birds – there’s also reptiles too but they’re slightly more tricky to spot. Most people will know Lyndhurst, the ‘unofficial capital’ of the New Forest as it’s right in the centre. There are multiple routes you can take from here, whether you embark on a tour through the many villages or meander along the Beaulieu River.
If you like to be by the sea, there is a great 9km hike that starts at Lymington Marina, goes through the Keyhaven Nature Reserve (watch out for birds) and ends at Hurst Castle.
4. West Highland Way – Inveroran to Kinlochleven
The West Highland Way is 154km long, running from Milngavie to Fort William, taking you through some of Scotland’s most beautiful areas. With the route being mostly footpaths, it’s well-maintained and not too technical, making it a great place to get in the miles. One of our favourite sections of the route starts at Inverlonan and passes through the beautiful village of Glen Coe. Depending on how far you want to hike, you can either finish at Kings House (16km), or Kinlochleven (30km).
5. Pembrokeshire, Wales – Worm’s Head
Offering both in-land and coastal trails, Pembrokeshire, in the South West of Wales, is a great place to go for an adventure. There are plenty of sign posted routes in the area, taking you rambling over marches and stiles, across sand dunes and along gorse-clad headlands. And with seaside towns lining the coastal path, there are lots of places to stop and refuel with food, water or even some ice cream. One key place to visit is Rhossili, a small village on the southwestern tip of the Gower Peninsula. Home to the famous Worm’s Head, you can take an 8km out and back scramble from the visitor’s centre to the very tip – just make sure you’re back before the tide comes in.