The best hikes in England isn’t necessarily something one might think when planning a trip to England or perhaps even just looking for things to do on a weekend here but it is actually one of the best ways to properly explore England!
There are so many amazing places to see in England that can only be reached following a good hike and some that are easier to get to but best-enjoyed hiking!
It is England, after all so packing a mac is always a good idea (checking the weather is also a very good call – even if it’s just before you leave the house/hotel) but as long as you’re prepared, the best hikes in England are just an amazing way to get a sense of all things English.
You’ll get to find little villages and towns that you might have otherwise missed, amazing English wildlife you’d never have gotten the chance to see (don’t worry, there aren’t really any dangerous animals in the UK – perhaps avoid badgers but they’d most likely scamper away before you even get to see them), you’ll get to find so many hidden gems and truly appreciate England’s natural beauty.
Anyway, enough of why you need to head on a hike in England, here are 12 of the best hikes in England you absolutely have to experience.
Located near Keswick, this is a relatively short (8.5-km) but extremely challenging hike that takes you on a gorgeous tour of the England/Scotland border.
Beginning and ending in the village of Threlkeld, you will follow the ruggedly beautiful Hall’s Fall Ridge through beautiful English forests while making your way to the summit – a spot that boasts the most spectacular views of the Keswick countryside below!
On this hike, there is some very real technical skill required to ascend safely, as the rocks can be unstable, the ridge narrow, and a misstep could prove to be catastrophic, if not fatal. If the weather is bad, definitely do not attempt the final ascent up the rock scrambles to get to the top. Truth be told, the beautiful view can be enjoyed from far lower lookout points without taking unnecessary risks.
Plus, on the subject of risks, it’s always a good idea to take out reputable travel medical insurance whilst exploring. This is especially important when you’re out hiking and heading to unfamiliar territory.
For us, we’d recommend something like SafetyWing, which is totally flexible and pretty well-priced to cover trips of different lengths. To put it simply, this means you can subscribe for your travel medical insurance when and where you need it, even if your international travels have already started.
2.) Hadrian’s Wall
This is one of the best hikes in England for those who wish to combine gorgeous natural scenery with a fair bit of English history.
This moderate 135-km trek takes you on an absolutely breathtaking journey from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway and as the hike name implies, the entire journey follows the line of Hadrian’s Wall, which once served as a Roman defensive fortification.
There are a staggering number of things to see and do along the trail, from visiting the ruins of ancient Roman forts to spending a few hours exploring the museums that are dotted along the path, which serves to paint a better picture of this history of this iconic part of England.
*Contrary to popular belief, Hadrian’s Walls does not mark the border between England and Scotland and is actually entirely in England.
Located in the famous lake district of Cumbria (it’s seriously gorgeous around these parts), this is a difficult trail that is just over 14-km in length.
You must be well prepared to attempt this ascent, as there are very steep, exposed areas as well as places where you are scrambling on a ledge with dangerous drop-offs on either side – suffice to say, a tolerance for heights is pretty necessary on this one. Once you arrive at the summit, you’ll soon see why this is one of the best hikes in England as all of your efforts will be well rewarded by the jaw-dropping beauty around you here.
At the summit, you will find yourself on Striding Edge – home to the Dixon memorial on one end, and another memorial to painter Charles Gough on the other. You will then find yourself gazing upon Red Tarn, a pristinely beautiful lake that is well worth a stop to relaxing and perhaps even for a perfect little picnic before beginning the loop back to Glenridding.
After completing your hike, there is no better way to end your day than with a stay at the absolutely amazing Another Place, The Lake – a fantastic spot that’s worth spending a few days to kick back and unwind in.
Take a dip in the indoor swimming pool, warm your cockles and loosen those muscles in the sauna or jacuzzi and pamper yourself at the spa before heading to one of the restaurants for an absolutely amazing meal (The food is also pretty good here… and let’s face it, you’ve earned it after that hike).
4.) The Lizard Coastal Walk
A moderately paced 11-km trek around the southern coast of Cornwall, you start and finish at Kynance Cove – oft considered as one of the best beaches in all of England.
From the cove, you will traverse along the coastal cliff path, which is usually blanketed in a fragrant sea of heather blossoms, then pass an abandoned Victorian before arriving at Lizard Lighthouse.
A short distance from here, you will come to Pen Olver, which not only offers beautiful views of the coastline but also is home to two small huts that were once used by Guglielmo Marconi himself. (For the uninitiated, Guglielmo Marconi is a famous inventor and Nobel Prize winner) These days, the huts are a small radio museum paying homage to Marconi’s work (amongst others) that is sure to delight hikers of all ages (Plus it makes for a decent rest-stop).
Aside from the glorious scenery, one of the major highlights of this walk is the plethora of wildlife all around you! Here, pretty guaranteed to catch a glimpse of a chough, a type of corvid that was once hunted to extinction in almost all of England.
Towards the end of your journey, you will venture past Pistol Ogo Meadows, which is reputed to be the final resting place of over two hundred souls who were drowned in 1720 when the Royal Anne wrecked on the rocks.
This is an area with a somewhat eerie reputation, as visitors have reported hearing strange noises echoing from the beach as if someone were trying to call for help.
5.) Malham Cove
Easily, one of the best hikes in England… actually, across the entire United Kingdom! This moderately paced 6.5-km day hike is located in Yorkshire Dales National Park, an area that is renowned for its spectacular beauty.
On this hike, you will go through Janet’s Foss – a wonderfully pristine area that is perfect for capturing photos of the gorgeous waterfalls and pretty much basking in the natural scenery before making your way to Gordale Scar, a canyon that is flanked by huge rocks on either side.
Malham Cove itself is pretty amazing too and is a perfectly idyllic spot with gently flowing water running through beautifully green rolling hills.
6.) North Downs Way
This is a spectacularly scenic hike spanning the 246-km distance between Farnham and Dover.
Although this is not a very difficult hike, you will want to allow approximately two weeks to complete this journey, as there are lots of amazing places you will want to explore at every turn.
A path that is absolutely teeming with beauty and historical significance, you will walk past medieval castles and cathedrals, ancient Roman forts as well as trenches and other shelters dating back to World War Two.
When your journey comes to an end, be sure to reward yourself for all your hard work with a meal at the Dover Waterfront Restaurant, which looks out over the English Channel and Dover Castle.
7.) Pennine Way
At just over 420-km, this is a long-distance hike that will lead you through some of the most beautiful scenery in England!
If you want to be able to brag about having properly traversed the English countryside, this is the hike for you, as it begins in Eldale and creeps right up to the Scottish border before ending in Kirk Yetholm.
Not only will you be treated to the unearthly beauty of England’s famous Peak District, but you will also experience the beauty that is the Yorkshire Dales and even briefly intersect with Hadrian’s Wall!
8.) Cuthbert’s Way
Located in Northumberland, this nearly 30-km trek is long but relatively easy, making it one of the best hikes in England for all levels of proficiency and providing you with spectacular views the entire way!
Known as one of England’s most beautiful long-distance hikes, you will skirt the border of Scotland as you begin your journey in the village of Wooler and end on Holy Island.
Key spots not to miss on this hike include St. Cuthbert’s Cave – the temporary burial site of the Saint himself, as well as Greensheen Hill, which provides you with spectacular views of the North Sea coast!
At the end of your journey, you must wait for the tides to be just right, as the land bridge that will bring you to Holy Island which is only accessible during low tide.
9.) South Downs Way
Covering approximately 160-km, this is a moderately paced long-distance hike that offers a little of everything – including spectacular scenery and the opportunity to view many different kinds of wildlife.
You will also come across a number of picturesque villages that make for a much welcome pitstop for hot food and cold drinks before hitting the road again!
You begin your adventure in Winchester, the ancient capital of England and end at Eastbourne, which is famous for its chalk-white cliffs.
Along the way, you will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful English countryside, including impossibly green river valleys and rolling hills that provide the perfect place to stop and enjoy a rather unforgettable sunset.
10.) Stanage Edge
This is one of the most popular and beautiful hikes in England, treating you to unforgettable views of the famous Peaks area! You begin and end the 10.5-km, moderately paced hike in the scenic village of Hathersage, which is a lovely place to explore in and of itself.
You will walk along a gorgeous green path up to Stanage Edge itself, which boasts a series of impressive gritstone monoliths along with unforgettable views of the Hope Valley.
The landscape here is pretty spectacular, as you are able to make your way through a series of rock formations all the while being treated to absolutely gorgeous scenery around you, in every direction you look.
Once you return to Hathersage, be sure stop at the historic George Hotel for beautifully decorated accommodations coupled with an on-site restaurant that is out of this world. Begin your feast with the pan-seared scallops before moving on to one of the house specialities, such as wild sea bass or rosemary venison.
Stonehenge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world and rightly so too! Suffice to say, it needs no introduction.
This background to and construction of this place is still largely a mystery as no one is really sure of the exact purpose behind the original construction of Stonehenge, nor the precise mechanics employed to build such an impressive monument given the relative lack of resources in prehistoric times.
While there is definitely the change of coming across some serious crowds on your visit (I did say it was popular), the Stonehenge trail is one of the best hikes in England is well worth undertaking at least once.
At only 8-km, the trail moderately easy, circular path packs a double treat, as you get to experience the amazing Durrington Walls before following the path to Stonehenge itself.
12.) The Thames Path
The River Thames is the second-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the longest in England.
This is a fairly easily-paced, 294-km long-distance hike that follows this magnificent river from its source in Greenwich to where it empties into the sea at Woolwich and is one of the best hikes in England in that you get to see part of London you might otherwise have missed out on.
From relative isolation, in the beginning, the trail becomes more populated with villages and thriving cities as you continue on your journey.
You will go past Windsor Castle as well as Hampton Court, and be treated to pretty amazing views of London’s spectacular skyline!