Today we have a new blog post written by our blogger friend Matt Lynch. Matt is a serious hiker, adventure traveler and, having thrown in his career after studying biology, is now a full time travel writer.
Since he has been stuck in the UK suffering on-again off-again lockdowns, Matt has put together a great article for us on 5 Great Day Hikes in the UK.
There are 15 National Parks in the UK and at least 20% of the landscape is rural countryside. With so many fantastic nature areas to explore, choosing just 5 is a real challenge. Areas like the Lake District, the Scottish lochs, and the Cornish coastline have been immortalised for their wilderness and beauty.
You could spend a lifetime walking around the 140,000 miles of trails that wind their way through a wide range of terrains and landscapes in the British Isles. If you are after summits, look to the Cairngorms and Snowdonia; if you wish to see lakes, the Lake District and Loch Lomond; if you desire coast, look no farther than Pembrokeshire and the NC 500.
The best way to experience these landscapes is on foot. Doing a series of day walks will allow you to sample the spectacular nature in Britain. To begin your Anglo odyssey, here are 5 great day hikes in the UK.
1. Mam Tor – Peak District National Park
Nestled between the northern hubs of Sheffield and Manchester are the sublime hills of the Peak District. The Hope Valley around Edale is considered to be one of the most beautiful vales in the whole National Park.
Rising above Edale on one side is the landmark hill of Mam Tor (524 m). It can be reached by following a trail over the River Noe and up the side of the valley. This path will take you past fields filled with grazing sheep and along crumbling stone walls before rising onto the ridge where you will be greeted with spectacular views.
From here, you can follow a ridge along to Back Tor (438 m) and Lose Hill (481 m) which jut out into the valley above Castleton. Admire the patchwork of fields that stretch out before you and see if you can make out the hulking mass of Kinder Scout on the far side of the valley.
2. The Seven Sisters & Beachy Head – South Downs National Park
The South Downs Way is one of the most famous long-distance walking trails in the UK. It stretches 100 miles between Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex. If you only wish to walk a short section of it, there’s no better place than the Seven Sisters.
It is right at the end of the trail, and what a magnificent final stretch it is. Beginning at the Seven Sisters Country Park, follow the path along the Cuckmere River out to the coast. Turn up past Cuckmere Haven and climb onto the grassy bluff that towers over the English Channel.
Before you, seven gleaming white headlands rise from the beach. These limestone cliffs are the famous Seven Sisters. Follow the trail up and down the headlands until you reach the red and white lighthouse of Beachy Head down amongst the waves. There are car parks all along this route that you can stop at if you wish to walk a shorter section of the trail.
3. Durdle Door – Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast may well be the most famous coastline in the UK. Its layers of limestone rock have fossilised many fascinating pre-historic organisms and over the years, coastal erosion has carved out some arrestingly beautiful rock features.
Most walkers park at Lulworth Cove then walk down to the beach to see the distinctive inlet cove. The visitor centre and cafes in Lulworth are packed during summer holidays and on weekends, so it’s worth visiting off-peak if possible.
From Lulworth, follow a staircase up the headland towards Durdle Door, a magnificent stone arch that rises out to sea. Walk down onto the shingle beach and enjoy a view of this sublime rock feature up close. To avoid the crowds, continue along the beach towards the Bat’s Head which has a lower foot-fall and is a much more tranquil area.
4. Llyn y Fan Fach – Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons are one of three Welsh National Parks. They are close to the cities of Swansea and Cardiff and brush against the border with England where lays the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley. Most hikers choose to visit Pen y Fan (886 m), the Brecon Beacons’ highest peak.
However, to the west, in the Black Mountain range, there are a set of more rugged and untouched peaks. You can leave your vehicle at the Llyn y Fan Fach car park before embarking on a loop around the summits of Waun Lefrith (679 m) and Bannau Sir Gaer (749 m).
If wild swimming is your thing, you have two opportunities to dip your toes in the icy waters of the black lakes. Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr lie in the shadows of the ridge and offer a spectacular opportunity for a bracing swim!
5. Sycamore Gap – Northumberland National Park
Pressed against the border of Scotland is the remote Northumberland National Park. In its southern section, it is particularly well known for the ancient Hadrian’s Wall that runs through its midst.
Hadrian’s Wall was built nearly 2,000 years at the height of the Roman Empire to protect the legionnaires against blood-thirsty Britannic tribes. Today, the remains of the wall can still be seen, following a lonely ridge through the sweeping moors of the National Park.
One of the most stunning sections is between the old Roman fort of Homesteads and the iconic Sycamore Gap. It’s well worth taking a tour around Housteads before walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path to the place where a sycamore tree dips into a gulley alongside the wall. An amazing feature!