Head out for a hike at one of these picturesque locations
There’s nothing like a good hike to clear the head and make the soul soar – and handily, the British Isles are blessed with plenty of brilliant walks.
Plan a winter walk at one of these, our pick of the best UK walks – and afterwards, head to a cosy hotel to give your weary limbs the rest and relaxation they deserve.
Buttermere, Lake District
Best UK walking spot for: Gentle trails
Distance: Approximately 4.5 miles
Owned by the National Trust, Buttermere Lake is nestled within the Lake District’s Western Fells and is surrounded by some of this area’s most beautiful scenery, particularly the run of fells bordering its southern edge, including Red Pike and Haystacks.
Visitors can start at the car park at the northern end of Buttermere. Circling the lake provides a walking path that’s relatively gentle and flat, with only a short stretch of road walking. Completing the full loop will take around three hours and one of the most rewarding views is looking towards Fleetwith Pike, which drops steeply towards the edge of the lake.
Where to stay: The nearby Linthwaite House Hotel, set into the hills with stunning views over the surrounding Lakeland and 14 acres of gardens.
Seven Sisters, South Downs, East Sussex
Best UK walking spot for: Stunning chalk cliffs
Distance: Approximately 5.5 miles
Covering 600 square miles, the South Downs National Park is the perfect choice for walking enthusiasts, offering the chance to a wide variety of native wildlife and picture-perfect villages. The Seven Sisters, a series of chalk cliffs fronting the English Channel, makes for a spectacular coastal scene.
Start at Birling Gap car park near East Dean and follow a footpath along the coastline, past Flagstaff Point. Head inland towards the Exceat Countryside Centre, passing along the forest track near Friston Pumping Station and back to Birling. For those who would prefer a more secluded stroll, the Birling Gap and Crowlink further inland are definitely worth a visit.
Where to stay: The Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa is close by in the historic market town of Arundel
Marloes Peninsula, Pembrokeshire
Best UK walking spot for: Coastal views
Distance: Approximately 4 miles
Situated on the west coast of Pembrokeshire, Marloes Peninsula offers dramatic views along the Welsh coastline and out to nearby islands. The coastal environment also offers visitors the chance to see not only porpoises and seals, but also birdlife, with many including puffins returning to the islands to breed each year.
Start and finish at Marloes Sands car park and walk clockwise around the headland, passing the Iron Age fort, the deer park and Martin’s Haven beach along the way. As you continue along the coastal path you will enjoy wonderful views across the bay towards Newgale, St David’s Peninsula and Ramsey Island.
Where to stay: The Penrhiw Hotel in nearby St David’s is just a five-minute drive from nearby Ramsey Island with two acres of private woods and gardens.
Lynton & Valley of Rocks, Exmoor
Best UK walking spot for: Variety
Distance: Approximately 4.2 miles
This walk takes you into a magical corner of Exmoor, evocatively named the Valley of Rocks, just a mile from the hilltop town of Lynton. The jagged, spiky rocks with memorable names such as Ragged Jack and Devil’s Cheesewring are just another elements in the contrasting landscapes of Exmoor.
Visitors can start in Lynton and travel along the level South West Coast Path on a stretch called North Walk, which boasts wonderful coastal views. Allow plenty of time to explore the valley before returning to Lynton via an off-road path. For those who would prefer to take a gentler route, the water-powered funicular railway provides an equally scenic route from Lynton to the quiet village of Lynmouth.
Where to stay: Georgian-style Exmoor Country House looks over the stunning Exmoor National Park.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Best UK walking spot for: City views
Distance: Various distances from 1 to 5 miles can be covered
Scotland’s capital offers the perfect mix of city and scenery with a variety of walks in a range of distances and levels of difficulty. The summit of Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano, sits 251 metres above sea level and is a steep ascent, but worth the effort for the spectacular views over Edinburgh. The climb up Calton Hill to the City Observatory is less strenuous but offers a similarly impressive vantage point.
Start and finish at the car park of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. As well as tackling Arthur’s Seat and World Heritage Site Calton Hill, you can also wander around the well-signposted Royal Park, situated minutes from Edinburgh Castle.
Where to stay: The Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel is conveniently situated just metres away from the city centre and has a range of delicious dining options.
Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire
Best UK walking spot for: Wildlife encounters
Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles
Cannock Chase Forest’s idyllic Fairoak Trail provides a circular walk through woodland to the Fairoak Valley, with accessible paths that suit all skill levels and make this route suitable for all the family.
The streams and stunning Fairoak Pools along the way make for the perfect habitat for wildlife and if you’re quiet, you may even catch a glimpse of wild deer.
This walk begins and ends at the Birches Valley Forest Centre close to the small town of Rugeley. There are no gates along the route, though there are stepping stones through a shallow river and visitors should allow around 1.5 hours to complete the entire loop, taking in all the wonderful scenery.
Where to stay: Award-winning Colton House is situated in the picture-perfect village of Colton and prides itself on its sustainable focus.
Savernake Forest, Wiltshire
Best UK walking spot for: Tree lovers
Distance: Approximately 5.9 miles
Managed by the Forestry Commission, the ancient forest of Savernake has a rich past and is the home of one of England’s oldest trees, the Big Belly Oak, as well as thousands of other veteran trees, sure to fascinate plant and history lovers alike.
You can park in the Postern Hill car park and take the easy-to-spot path opposite the Bumble Oak into the forest. Continuing down the track, you will come across a wide variety of other ancient trees including Saddle Oaks and a White Road Oak, as well as the beech-lined Grand Avenue, a landscape design put in place by Capability Brown and celebrated as the longest tree lined avenue in Britain.
Where to stay: Set in the stunning Marlborough Downs, Chiseldon House is a grade II listed building and blends modern style with its historical legacy.
Hadrian’s Wall, Cumbria
Best UK walking spot for: Roman ruins
Distance: 73 miles
Tackling the route along Hadrian’s Wall – not necessarily all on the same day – will really clear the mind.
A spectacular World Heritage Site, the route reaches from the North Sea to the Solway Firth across some of the wildest and most dramatic countryside in England. Particularly incredible are the views from the Birdoswald walk, dominated by remains of the Roman frontier and picturesquely set by the River Irthing.
With its well-maintained paths and level terrain, the Hadrian’s Wall Path is one of the gentlest National Trails in the UK, making it perfect for less experienced hikers. Don’t miss the views from Harrows Scar Milecastle and Wall, the longest continuous stretch of wall and Lanercost Priory.
Where to stay: The magnificent 14th century-built Langley Castle Hotel features stunning stone walls and views over the Northumbrian Valley.
Snowdonia, Northwest Wales
Best UK walking spot for: Wild landscapes
Distance: 3 miles
Snowdonia National Park is full of wild, sweeping landscapes, craggy hills and is home to Mount Snowdon – the highest point south of Scotland.
There are views for miles and the Cwm Idwal Walk provides visitors with the chance to see some of the most dramatic scenery this mountainous area has to offer.
This three-hour hiking trail is of moderate difficulty and takes you through the oldest National Nature Reserve in Wales to the ice-sculpted Cwm Idwal hollow which is famous for both its rock formations and rare plant life.
Where to stay: Clogwyn Barn is a luxury-converted barn that sits on the western slopes of Snowdon itself and provides accommodation for up to four people.
Symonds Yat, Herefordshire
Best UK walking spot for: Birds of prey
Distance: From 1.2 miles to 11 miles
A hearty two-hour walk from the picturesque village of Symonds Yat is Symonds Yat Rock, a famous viewpoint just over 500ft above sea level, which offers panoramic views over the River Wye and its surrounding area.
From Symonds Yat Rock there are marked trails to the River Wye and a choice of circular walks into the forest itself, each of varying distances to suit all abilities. Discover the ancient hill fort and look out for peregrine falcons nesting in the surrounding cliffs along the way.
Where to stay: The Elizabethan Manor House of Old Court Hotel & Suites maintains many original features including beams, leaded windows that evoke much of its rich history.