The UK has often been synonymous with hiking, and for great reason too. With its diverse, ever-characterful terrain and many beautiful landscapes, you could visit the country ten times and have a completely different experience. The same goes for its cities, and especially London where 1500 square kilometres plus make for a truly diverse experience for locals and guests on spa breaks in London.
However, many Londoners and indeed city visitors might be a little sick and tired of cityscapes, especially after so much time spent in our local vicinities over lockdown. Lockdown restrictions are still in place and trips abroad might still feel untenable on account of the quarantines, restrictions and health documents required to escape the country. Thankfully, trips within the UK are far easier to organise, and with summer just ahead, it’s the perfect time to get planning your next escape into the great outdoors.
With the many diverse landscapes of England, this blog will outline the top walking holidays and nature retreats that landlocked Brits and guests of London hotel deals can enjoy in lieu of international escapes.
The Lake District
The Lake District is comprised of stunning valleys, deep lakes and high mountaintops. Located in the Northwestern corner of England, the area is known for its stunning hiking trails and camping spots, making it the perfect holiday destination for the more adventurous hikers among us. Further to this, it’s one of the best ways to come closer to the psychology of some of England’s literary greats. Poets and writers such as William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransom were inspired by and dwelled in the dramatic landscapes of the Northumbrian Lake District.
The Scottish Highlands or more specifically the western Highlands, are home to Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis, as well as jaw-dropping landscapes between Glasgow and Fort Williams. With Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park being the focal point here, there are dozens of forests, lakes and glens to explore on your way through historic drover and military routes that are steeped in Scottish history.
The Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is located between Leeds and the North Pennines, comprising hundreds of miles of beautiful hills and river valleys. Farmland and country pubs rule the roost here, and there are many hiking trails to explore during your visit. Highlights include the 12th-century monastery ruins of Bolton Abbey and village side rock formations such as the Cow and Calf on the outskirts of Ilkley.
The South Downs are easily reachable for guests at Paddington Hotels by train from Victoria that takes just under an hour. Take your pick of walking trails from escarpments and valleys inland to estuaries and chalk cliffs on the southeastern coast. The English Channel cliffs of Beachy Head and the dramatic Devils Dyke valley are two of the mainstays of the South Downs hikes that Londoners can quickly escape the city to.
Another easy trip for Londoners but this time to the West of England, the Cotswolds are a vast swathe of bucolic fields and rolling hills, pockmarked with some of the most English twee villages in the country. There’s a lot to see in the Cotswolds, from Jurassic Limestone built villages to Saxon age forts.
Located across the north of England, the Pennines are a long trail of mountains and hills that are often called the “backbone of England” due to their narrow formation. The area is easily reachable from Yorkshire or Northumberland and consists of challenging but serene walks across over a 251-mile long trail.
From the 97 mile Eyre Way to the 3000-foot peaks of the Snowdon Massif mountain range, Snowdonia is a hikers dream. Be prepared for long days of gruelling terrain that are all worth it for the stunning views of northwestern rails. If visiting with young children who won’t be up for the hike, there are regular trains that take you closer to some of the most popular peaks of the massifs.
For a gentler hiking trail, the Norfolk Broads flat and marshy trails along the Norfolk coast aren’t without their surprises. From Blakeney Point’s seal colony to the windmills and canals of the peaty Norfolk bogs, the Broads offer an insight into any often forgotten area of the country.
The Peak District is located in the midlands and northern area of England and is easily reachable from cities such as Manchester and Sheffield, two of the most fascinating industrial cities of the northern area of England. The Peak District itself lies on a geological faultline that sees the mountainous area switch between gritstone and limestone – the dark peaks and the white peaks. There are 2000 miles of trails in the Peak District, so you can be sure to experience both sides of its dual nature.
Literally encapsulating part of the English border with Scotland, Northumberland is the northernmost area of England – it’s in the name really. Whilst here, you can enjoy wild terrain on the borderlands on the Northumberland Coast and the inland national park between the North Pennines and the Scottish border. The area is steeped in history too, with hundreds of years of Scottish-English fighting during the medieval period leaving its mark on the national park in the guise of striking castles and now crumbling border walls.
Head southwest from London and you’ll end up at the craggy, ancient Jurassic Coast. The area is true to its name, fossils are in abundance along the crumbling coastline between Weymouth and Bournemouth, and the walks are idyllic as well.
St Patrick’s Way
You may not have heard of the Irish patron saint’s namesake walking trail, but you may very well have seen it on the television. St Patrick’s Way was often used as a location in the filming of Game Of Thrones but is also home to lesser-known walking trails across 82 miles of Irish pastures, such as Newry Canal Way and Carlingford Lough.