England, Europe, Hiking

7 Wonderful Hikes in England to Add to Your Travel Wish List

January 22, 2020

If you’re looking to explore more of England on foot, this post will introduce you to a few hikes in England that are currently at the top of my travel wish list.

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Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis will know how much I enjoy hiking.   I always try to incorporate a hike into every trip I take, whether it be a relatively easy (or far more challenging) day hike, a longer multi-day hike or the main focus of  the trip.

And whilst the promise of better weather and a culture and cuisine that’s different to my own has often made the prospect of hiking abroad a  more appealing one than hiking in England,  I’ve recently  discovered a new-found love for my home country, and have been venturing outside at every available opportunity to explore more of it.

I think it all began with a trip down to the Jurassic Coast at the beginning of 2019.  Stu and I walked a small section of the South West Coast Path between Branscombe and Beer, and although the weather wasn’t particularly kind to us, I fell in love with the stunning clifftop views and rugged coastal scenery.  It also occurred to me mid-hike that this was a part of England that could only be explored on foot, and that there must be so much more of the country that is only accessible via walking trails like this one.

Ever since then I’ve been doing a lot of research into walking breaks in the UK that I can either undertake independently or with a group of friends.

As a result, several hikes in England, Scotland and Wales have now been added to my travel wish list.  In this post I’ll be sharing a few of the hikes in England that have captured my sense of curiosity and adventure; I’ll be covering those in Scotland and Wales in a separate post.

So, without further ado, here are a few of the hikes in England that I hope to see myself undertaking over the next three or four years.

1 | Hadrian’s Wall

If you’re a bit of a history buff who loves the great outdoors then this hike is for you!  Hadrian’s Wall is Europe’s largest surviving Roman monument, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.  The Hadrian’s Wall Path was opened as a National Trail in 2003.  It runs from Wallsend (near Newcastle) on the east coast of England to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, and takes you past a number of different Roman forts along the way.

Hadrian's Wall

As well as the wild and beautiful scenery of central Northumbria, this route appealed to me because you don’t need a qualification in navigation and orientation in order to complete it; you literally just follow the wall!

  • Length of trail: 135 kilometres
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
  • Time to complete: 6-8 days, depending on pace and level of fitness

That time I visited the section of Hadrian's Wall near Newcastle

2 |The Cotswold Way

If you fancy the idea of walking amidst landscapes of rolling green hills and quintessential English villages then this hike is for you!.  The Cotswold Way begins in the Cotswold village of Chipping Camden and ends in the Roman city of Bath.  It was officially inaugurated as a National Trail in May 2007.

Arlington Row, the Cotswolds

There are some lovely quaint and cosy places to stay on the Cotswold Way, and if you enjoy traditional home-cooked food then the Cotswold country pubs on route will certainly not disappoint.

  • Length of trail: 164 kilometres
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
  • Time to complete: 7-10 days, depending on pace and level of fitness

3 | The Shropshire Way 

The original Shropshire Way was created by the Shropshire Area Ramblers between 1991 and 2005.  It follows a circular route from the medieval town of Shrewsbury (where I currently live) and passes through a succession of iconic landscapes – Stiperstones, Long Mynd, Clee Hills, Wenlock Edge, the Severn Valley Gorge at Ironbridge and the Wrekin.

Although there is now a North Route, which – along with the original South Route – brings the total distance of the trail up to 310 kilometres, I’m only including the original Shropshire Way in this post.  But if you do luck out with an extended period of good weather in England (it happens occasionally!) then you may choose to add the northern loop on as well.

Image by Mark Hemmings from Pixabay

If you’re up for more of a challenge, it is possible to walk 80 kilometres of this route in less than 24 hours, as part of the Shropshire Way 80K Festival.  For my sins, I’m signed up to complete this endurance race with a friend this April.

  • Length of trail: 197 kilometres
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time to complete: 11 days, walking a maximum of 24 kilometres per day

4 | South West Coast Path – Jurassic Coast section

If you were to walk the entire South West Coast Path, you’d be starting in Minehead (Somerset) and walking a whopping 1014 kilometres to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset. It’s the longest National Trail in the UK.  However, even if I had the inclination to walk this far, I do not have enough annual leave at work to facilitate it;  it would take me approximately 7-8 weeks!! (assuming I wanted to make a few stops along the way and see a few of the sights – which would the whole purpose of the walk in the first place).

But the good news is that the South West Coast Path can be split into smaller segments, each offering  its own unique combination of heritage, geology and wildlife.  153 kilometres of the trail is along the picturesque Jurassic coast, and that’s the section I’d be most interested in walking.  I’d love to see landmarks such as Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and the Old Harry Rocks.

Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay

If you’re interested in reading about the route, Becky the Traveller has written a great guide to walking the Jurassic Coast.

  • Length of trail: 153 kilometres  (approx.)
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time to complete:  9 days, walking between 11 and 29 kilometres per day

5 | Scafell Pike | Lake District

Although this is only a day hike, it is a challenging one!  Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England, at 978 metres, and that’s one of the primary reasons I’d like to hike to its peak.  The other is the incredible views of the Lake District National Park that the climb affords.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

There are many routes you can take to the top but I always prefer a circular route if at all possible, so the trail I would choose begins at Wasdale Head and follows the Corridor approach, and then descends along the Hollow Stones path.   This is one hike that I would be doing with a friend (preferably one experienced in map/compass reading and navigation), because the trail is apparently not well-marked and not particularly easy to navigate if you’re an inexperienced hiker.

  • Length of trail: 11 kilometres
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Time to complete: 4-6 hours

6 | South Downs Way

Running the entire length of the South Downs range of hills, from the picturesque city of Winchester – the first capital of England – to the white chalk cliffs at Eastbourne, the South Downs Way is a very well-signposted route with consistently good views along the trail.

The highlights, however, are reportedly the hikes up and down the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, towards the end of the South Downs Way.

Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay

Another huge plus point about this hike is that there is accommodation available along the trail to suit every budget, and the large majority of it can be booked in advance online.

  • Length of trail: 160 kilometres
  • Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
  • Time to complete: 8-9 days

7 | Stretton Skyline

Like the Shropshire Way, this is another of the hikes in England that’s easily accessible from my hometown.  The starting point of the trail is in All Stretton, just under 20 kilometres from my house.  The epic route traces the entire skyline of the Stretton Gap, incorporating steep climbs up the Lawley, Caer Caradoc, the Ragleth and the Longmynd, and finishes back in All Stretton.

Although I’ve made ascents of all the aforementioned hills individually, I’ve never walked the whole of the Stretton Skyline in one go.  It is a long and challenging day-hike, but one that will afford you some of the best views in all of Shropshire.

Caer Caradoc_ Stretton Skyline

If you’re a trail runner, you may be interested to know that there is an annual Stretton Skyline Fell Race.  This year it takes place on 6 September.  Entry is just £7 and navigation skills are recommended.

  • Length of trail: 31 kilometres
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Time to complete: 9 hours (approx.)

Hikes in England | What to Pack

England is not known for its good weather (I live here, I know!).  Whilst we do have bouts of nice weather, it’s not reliable and it’s not consistent, so even in summer you’ll need to pack for all eventualities.

Here are a few things I wouldn’t leave home without:

    • A good pair of hiking boots.  I’d probably favour boots over shoes for the ankle support, especially if you’re going to be walking over hilly or rocky and uneven terrain.  My Keen hiking boots are honestly the comfiest I’ve ever worn and they’re super lightweight too.
    • A waterproof jacket.  Again I’d go for something lightweight that packs down pretty small, because you may get lucky and not need to use it, and then you’ll have to carry it – a long way! I love my Rab Downpour Jacket because it’s both lightweight and packable.
    • A lightweight, comfortable backpack.  For day hikes the Osprey Tempest 20 is my go-to pack.  However, for a week-long (or longer) hike, I’m thinking of investing in the super lightweight Osprey Lumina 45.
    • Hiking socks.  It’s a good idea to wear liner socks under your hiking socks, as these will stop your boots rubbing and therefore help to prevent blisters.
    • Vaseline.  Rub this on your feet before you put your socks on and it should help to prevent blisters.
    • Blister plasters.
    • Compass and OS map or maps for the area you’re visiting.
    • Osprey hydration bladder.  I can’t believe I only discovered the merits of hydration bladders last year.  For someone who’s consistently bad at remembering to stop and drink when she’s hiking, these are such an easy way to stay hydrated on the go.
    • Waterproof backpack cover.  I still use one by Outad, but I’ve recently invested in a high vis backpack cover by Osprey so that I can be seen better in the dark.
    • A head torch.  Because if you get lost and it gets dark, you’ll need it!  This Petzl head torch has a really bright beam and is powered by AAA batteries, but can also be recharged.
    • A portable battery pack.  Yes, it will add a bit of weight to your backpack, but these things have saved my life on countless occasions.  We rely on our phones so much these days, and especially on the gps function in maps, for accurate navigation.

And that’s my round-up of the hikes in England that are currently at the top of my travel wish list.

Over to you!  Have you completed any amazing hikes in England lately that you can recommend?  What were your highlights on the trail?

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18 Comments

  • Reply Katy January 25, 2020 at 11:07 AM

    I’m heading to the UK this spring and love the hiking inspiration. Haven’t figured out which hikes I’ll be doing yet but I’ll definitely be using your post to help me plan ☺️
    Katy recently posted…A Tour of Romania’s Castles: Day Trip to TransylvaniaMy Profile

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 11:12 AM

      Ahh, that’s so good to hear 🙂 and if you discover any I haven’t listed here, please let me know!

  • Reply Ashley January 25, 2020 at 11:08 AM

    Beautiful pictures! I’d love to do the Cotswold walk, they all look beautiful 🙂

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 11:19 AM

      I’m afraid I can’t take credit for most of the pictures (although the Hadrian’s Wall and Stretton Skyline ones are mine), but I will hopefully have some of my own to post from these hikes once I’ve completed them 🙂

  • Reply Sabrina January 25, 2020 at 12:12 PM

    All these hikes look fabulous. South West Coast Path is my ultimate coastal hiking wish list.

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 11:20 AM

      Definitely mine too! This last weekend I walked another small section of it (between Fowey and Lantic Bay) and I’m definitely in love 🙂

  • Reply Taylor Deer January 25, 2020 at 2:29 PM

    Woah these hikes look incredible! I’ve been to the Cotswolds and loved it, but I have to go back and do the rest. The South Down’s Way looks breathtaking.

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 11:31 AM

      I’ve also visited a few of the villages in the Cotswolds last autumn, and that’s partly what’s prompted me to add the hike to my wish list. Yes, the South Downs Way does look amazing, and it’s a part of England that I’ve not explored at all, so I’m really looking forward to that one 🙂

  • Reply April January 25, 2020 at 7:13 PM

    I love England and its history, but doing some serious hiking is something I have yet to do. I’ve done some small hikes in the Yorkshire Moors and along the White Cliffs, but these hikes all look incredible and I hope I can find the time to enjoy them!

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 12:00 PM

      Oooh, which hikes did you do on the Yorkshire Moors and along the White Cliffs? Were they day hikes or multi-day ones? Easy/hard? Would you recommend them? I’m always looking for new hiking inspiration 🙂

  • Reply Paula Martinelli January 25, 2020 at 7:23 PM

    Awesome guide! I lived in England before, but your guide makes me go back just to do some hiking around the country. The pictures are sunning!

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 12:02 PM

      Thank you 🙂 Whereabouts in England did you used to live?

  • Reply Tasha January 25, 2020 at 10:05 PM

    I’ve done a little bit of Hadrians Wall already – it’s pretty close to me since I live in North East England. The Jurassic Coast is amazing, I’ve only visited Durdle Door but would definitely like to spend more time exploring that area. Especially since I enjoy walking much more now than I did year ago on a family holiday there.
    Tasha recently posted…NE1 Restaurant Week returns for January 2020My Profile

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 12:06 PM

      I’ve visited parts of Hadrian’s Wall (as one my best friends used to live in Newcastle), but I’ve never hiked any of it. And, like you, I visited Durdle Door on a family holiday, but I was only a child then; I’d love to go back as an adult. The small parts of the Jurassic Coast that I have hiked were amazing, which is why I want to do the whole stretch now 🙂

  • Reply Meghan Emcee January 25, 2020 at 10:05 PM

    Honestly had no idea there were so many beautiful hikes in England! I was almost going to visit Hadrian’s Wall a few months ago but it was too much out of the way (we were coming from Scotland). I just found out that apparently it was the inspiration for The Wall in Game of Thrones!

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 12:07 PM

      Ah, I didn’t know that! Mind you, I still haven’t gotten around to watching Game of Thrones!

  • Reply Alexandra Booze January 26, 2020 at 12:49 AM

    England is such a beautiful country! I have never been there to hike as I am not much of an outdoorsy gal (lol) but these look like amazing places to visit!

    • Reply Kiara Gallop January 28, 2020 at 12:08 PM

      Yes, I think you do need to be a bit of an outdoorsy girl to enjoy the English countryside, due to our unpredictable weather!

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