Our top 5 spots for walks in the UK
We're all craving space and fresh air these days, and as we inch our way closer to spring, it seems like the perfect time to venture out and explore the great outdoors. Here in the UK, we're lucky enough to have some of the most beautiful walks in the world right on our doorstep. Read on for some of the best routes for walking in England and Scotland. We've also highlighted which are ideal family walks if you fancy taking the kids (or pooch) along!
Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door
While plenty of visitors flock to Durdle Door in Dorset every year, many don't take the time to explore Lulworth Cove, an absolute gem that is a gentle 30-minute walk away. This naturally formed cove came together at the end of the last Ice Age, and is considered to be one of the best places on Earth to study geology due to its endless unique rock formations. As part of the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, it boasts turquoise waters, arches, caves, and stunning stretches of coastline. The 1.25-mile coastal walk to Durdle Door is well marked and offers breathtaking scenery as you reach 400-foot-high clifftops, pass secret beaches below, and end at Durdle Door, the iconic image of the Jurassic Coast. Click here for more information about walks in this area.
As this route offers some great hiking for beginners, and features a proper footpath with several barriers, it is suitable for youngsters and dogs to join, too. However, it's not a walk you can do with a buggy, so be sure to take little ones in a back carrier and closely supervise any tots. We recommend grabbing an ice cream from The Dolls House — a traditional sweet shop on the lane down to Lulworth Cove — which happily welcomes children and well-behaved dogs!
Mam Tor, Peak District
It's easy to see why the landscape of the Peak District — the UK's original national park — inspired the likes of Brontë, Byron, and Beatrix Potter. The moors and mountains are best seen on foot, with the 18,000 miles of walking trails providing some of the best day hikes in England. If you're looking for great long-distance circular walks, look no further than the open spaces of the Derbyshire countryside. Adventurers will enjoy the challenging trails of Mam Tor (also known as Shivering Mountain). This 1700-foot-high hill near Castleton is a favourite Peak District walk. The 3-mile circular walk includes a couple of steep climbs, but you'll be rewarded with some of the most impressive views over the Peak District. From the top you'll see the Hope Valley on one side, and, on the other, the Edale Valley extending to Kinder Scout (the highest point in the Peak District). If you're brave enough to tackle the 10-mile Mam Tor to Kinder Scout loop, you'll come across dramatically sculpted rocky outcrops and wondrous waterfalls. You can view a Mam Tor National Trails map here.
The climb up Mam Tor is probably too hilly for little legs so it might be best to steer clear of this route with smaller kids. If you're up for a more leisurely family stroll, we suggest the riverside Dovedale walk (about an hour's drive away), which features shady paths, fields of wildflowers, and an amble through the quiet village of Ilam. As one of the UK's best river walks, the 6-mile route begins and ends at the famous Dovedale stepping stones. Throw in a picnic en route to make the most of the good weather. These wide-open spaces are ideal for exercising doggies — plus there are designated water bowls near the Stableyard Grab and Go and the toilets at Ilam Park.
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
If you're up for a more challenging route, there is a 3.3-mile circular hike at Tintagel Castle, which is ideal for exploring this part of Cornwall's rugged north coast. Known for its Medieval forts and association with the legend of King Arthur, the site offers something different for walkers. An ancient walkway once connected the two halves of the castle, which were built on the mainland and a jagged headland jutting out into the Cornish sea. This 230-foot walkway remained inaccessible until 2019, when it was restored for the first time in 500 years. You'll need at least two hours to complete the hilly trail, which takes you down to a secluded beach, then follows the coast towards Bossiney, and ends back at Tintagel Castle, where you can investigate the ruins and cross the new footbridge. (You'll need to buy a ticket in advance for admission to the castle and footbridge.) Click here for a walking routes planner of this amazing circular walk.
Given the uneven cliff paths on the circular route, it's better if the kids sit this one out. They'll still love a visit to the castle and the beach below, where they can build sandcastles, explore rockpools, and check out Merlin's Cave (where it is said the legendary wizard once lived). The castle isn't pushchair friendly. Dogs are welcome on all parts of the site, as long as they are on a lead.
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
Connected to the mainland by bridge, the Isle of Skye is one of the most famous Scottish islands, and a haven for avid walkers. The crystal-clear Fairy Pools near Glenbrittle are a must-see and can be reached easily on foot. This destination is a bit more remote, so it ticks all the boxes for a crowd-free ramble (tip: go out of season to have the pools all to yourself). Depending on how far you want to walk, there are 3- or 5-mile loop trails, but the real highlight is the spectacular scenery — a series of waterfalls flow into the transparent pools from the surrounding Cuillin Mountains. If you're up for an icy dip, wild swimming is allowed; thrill-seekers will love the 20-foot jump and the underwater arch that you can swim through. Find out more about the Fairy Pools, walking routes, and the area by clicking here.
This walk is definitely doable with kids, as much of the terrain is flat enough to accommodate little feet (and paws). It's not buggy-friendly though, so be prepared for piggy backs (or take a baby carrier with you). Waterproofs are essential (take wellies!) and don't forget the fully stocked nappy bag as there are no toilet facilities nearby. There's plenty to keep the kids busy, including stone bridges to walk across, streams and rivers to splash in, and miles of space for stretching energetic legs.
The Cotswold Way: Stroud to Dursley
The Cotswold Way National Trail covers 102 miles from Chipping Camden to the city of Bath. But there are lesser-known parts of the footpath that bypass these tourist hot spots, that make for interesting places to go on a hike. Stroud to Dursley is a 10-mile trek that offers some incredible Gloucestershire countryside views. Hit the road just outside Stroud, and head south to discover the Severn Estuary and Welsh border on the horizon. The hilly terrain takes you via Penn Wood (one of the Chilterns' largest ancient woodlands), and Uley Bury (an Iron Age hill fort), before you arrive at the quiet market town of Dursley, hidden in the forested hills of the Cotswolds. Click here to explore more routes along the Cotswold Way National Trail.
If the entire 10-mile route is too long, you may decide to only do a portion of it with the kids. Otherwise, take your time and make a day of it with regular pitstops along the way. Furry friends are welcome too and will love the off-lead freedom that this area has to offer. The Cotswolds are also home to a host of dog-friendly hotels, if you intend to explore the quaint villages nearby. The Painswick, a luxury boutique hotel, has dog beds, water bowls, and doggy bags to make your hound feel right at home.