The 9 best places to hike in Britain during National Walking Month

We love a good excuse to get outdoors and climb a few mountains – and National Walking Month does the job nicely. Here are 9 of our favourite hiking regions for you to enjoy this spring

Walkers on Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill Peak District 1

by Oli Reed |
Published on

May is National Walking Month and since we love encouraging people to get outside and explore the wilder parts of Britain in a pair of boots, we've created a list of the best places for you to hike over the next few weeks.

The most popular hiking areas in Britain are mountainous and hilly regions such as the Lake District, Eryri (Snowdonia), the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the Brecon Beacons and the Scottish Highlands. But that doesn’t mean hillwalking is solely restricted to those areas.

Walking in Rothiemurchus Forest, Aviemore, Cairngorms National Parks
Rothiemurchus Forest, Cairngorms National Park ©LFTO

If you live in a big city, a long way from mountains or national parks, why not start in your local hills? Areas such as Dartmoor, the Southern Uplands, the Chilterns, the Cotswolds, the Shropshire Hills, the Malvern Hills and the Yorkshire Wolds are all close to major urban areas, and all have plenty of ascent and descent offering excellent walks for beginners.

But at Live for the Outdoors we’ve always been addicted to walking, hiking and backpacking in the mountains, so below we've picked out some of Britain’s classic hillwalking areas for you to drool over.

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1. Lake District, England

Swirral Edge Helvellyn Lake District Trail 100

The mountainous heart of England is also the country’s most visited National Park, thanks to its seemingly endless landscape of high fells, wooded valleys, deep lakes, picturesque villages and traditional pubs. Don’t be fooled by the tourists, poets and gift shops though – the Lakes is high on mountain drama when you get off the beaten track.

ICONIC PEAK: Helvellyn – England’s third-highest mountain is a cracker. It can be walked, scrambled, backpacked, climbed and even skied off in winter! n

WALK OF A LIFETIME: Climb Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain) from Wasdale via Sty Head and the less busy Corridor Route, descending over Lingmell for huge views.

2. Brecon Beacons, South Wales

Hiking in Brecon Beacons National Park

Dramatic flat-topped peaks rise like giants among mile-upon-mile of grassy, emerald-green moorland. And with a network of remote waterfalls and hidden caves to discover, a trip to the Brecon Beacons is guaranteed to unleash your inner explorer.

ICONIC PEAK: Pen y Fan (886m) – it’s the biggest and arguably the best peak in the Beacons, surrounded by shapely, magical mountains on every side.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: A traverse of the long, sweeping escarpment of the Black Mountain above the twin lakes of Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr shows off everything that’s great about this unique National Park.

3. Eryri (Snowdonia), North Wales

Female hikers on Glyder Fach Bristly Ridge Tryfan Snowdonia

From the wild ponies that roam the high plateau of the Carneddau to the razor-sharp rock of Yr Wydffa (Snowdon), Tryfan and the Glyderau, Snowdonia is a magnificent location for lovers of big, rough mountains. It’s a great place to walk, scramble and climb if you’re feeling daring, all set against a backdrop of pyramidal peaks and shimmering llyns.

ICONIC PEAK: Tryfan, a scramblers’ paradise voted the UK’s favourite mountain by Trail magazine readers. Go with a guide or an experienced friend if you’re new to scrambling though.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: The Snowdon Horseshoe, which is high on both drama and crowds. Just make sure you have a head for heights for the ridge traverse of Crib Goch.

4. Dartmoor, England

Hound Tor Dartmoor

Free, legal wild camping in much of Dartmoor National Park is just one reason to head to the highest ground in southern England. Add to that the emotive and heart-stirring sight of a vast, moody moorland crawling with myth and legend, plus the chance to scramble on the rocky outcrops known as tors, and this place is hard to beat.

ICONIC PEAK: Yes Tor (619m) and High Willhays (621m). OK so that’s two peaks, but they mark the two highest points on Dartmoor and are so separated by less than a kilometre, it would be rude not to bag both.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: The Belstone Tors – walk south from Belstone village over Higher Tor and Oke Tor, returning in a cross-country loop over Hound Tor and Cosdon Hill.

5. Yorkshire Dales, England

Janet's Foss waterfall Malham Yorkshire Dales
Janet's Foss, Malham, Yorkshire Dales ©LFTO

The Dales is often overlooked in favour of the higher summits of the nearby Lake District, but this is a wonderful place to test your hillwalking legs. With limestone pavements, wide river valleys, thick woodlands, sheer cliffs and, of course, the famous Three Peaks walk, it certainly doesn’t lack variety.

ICONIC PEAK: Ingleborough (723m), not the highest of the Three Peaks but certainly the most interesting with its limestone pavement, gorges, plateaued summit and underground cave network.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: It feels too obvious to say the Yorkshire Three Peaks, but we’re saying it anyway. Avoid the busiest times, and it’s a genuine walk of a lifetime.

6. Peak District, England

The Great Ridge with Mam Tor in the distance
The Great Ridge with Mam Tor in the distance ©LFTO

The distinctive gritstone edges that cut through the Peak District’s dark, moody moorlands are locations that have kicked off the career of many a famous climber and mountaineer. But The Peak is also home to some truly excellent hillwalking that’s easy to access by train from Manchester and Sheffield.

ICONIC PEAK: Mam Tor, a spectacular sight from miles around and instantly recognisable due to its famous landslip. Combine with the Great Ridge for a classic day out.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: Skirting the edge of the Kinder Scout plateau, starting from Edale. It’s a full day but takes in the Kinder Downfall waterfall, the surrounding valleys, and plenty of weird and wonderful rock formations.

7. The Hebrides, Scotland

Scotland’s mountainous islands have something for every type of walker. White sand beaches, soaring eagles, jagged peaks, remote bothies, shimmering sea lochs, deserted glens, legendary local traditions and hospitality, all just a short hop from the mainland (with the exception of Harris and Lewis). Absolute paradise, right here in Britain.

ICONIC PEAK: Ben More (966m), the highest point on the Isle of Mull and a great place to spot white-tailed eagles. Commonly saved by many walkers as their final Munro.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: Sgurr Alasdair (992m), via the Great Stone Chute, which delivers you to the highest point on the Isle of Skye’s Black Cuillin Ridge. Be warned, this is serious mountain terrain!

8. The Highlands, Scotland

Beinn Alligin Torridon Horns of Alligin Trail 100
Beinn Alligin, Torridon ©LFTO

The mountain scenery in the Scottish Highlands matches that found anywhere in the world, with silent glens, spectacular lochs, awesome wildlife spectacles and giant mountains melting into the distance as far as the eye can see. The walking can be tough and at times intimidating, but with the right preparation there’s really nowhere like it in Britain.

ICONIC PEAK: Beinn Alligin, an icon of the wild Torridon region of NW Scotland, its two Munro summits and exciting ridge scramble make this one of Britain’s best mountain days.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: Ben Nevis (1345m), via the curved ridge of the CMD Arête. It’s a Grade 1 scramble and needs good fitness and navigation skills, but it’s the undisputed best hillwalking approach to the roof of Britain

9. The Cairngorms, Scotland

Corrour Bothy, Devil's Point, Scotland Cairngorms
Corrour Bothy ©LFTO

The vast subarctic wilderness of the Cairngorm plateau is regarded as Britain’s most inhospitable mountain environment. But with five of the UK’s six highest mountains inside the National Park, alongside 55 Munros (mountains over 3000ft), huge forests of ancient native trees, cascading waterfalls, and more wildlife than you can imagine, it’s a magnificent place to walk.

ICONIC PEAK: The Devil’s Point (1004m) rises sheer above the meeting of two glens, towering over Corrour Bothy (above), delivering the most striking viewpoint in the Cairngorms.

WALK OF A LIFETIME: It’s got to be Ben Macdui, Britain’s second highest mountain, from the Linn of Dee. This is about as classic as Scottish mountain routes get.

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