Make the most of the summer on home soil by getting out into the great outdoors and hiking one of the many beautiful routes the British Isles have to offer.

Post-pandemic, UK active holidays are likely to surge in popularity. And while we may live on a small-ish island, it’s not so small that you can’t find remote regions to hike in.

There are hundreds of long-distance footpaths and national trails available, across all four of the home nations.

Here are six of our favourites…

Stunning UK Hiking Routes To Try This Summer | Men's Fitness UK

Offa’s Dyke Path, Wales

Distance: 34 miles
Section: Monmouth to Hay on Wye
Difficulty: 2 out of 5

When, in the 8th Century, King Offa ordered a huge dyke to be built between Mercia and Wales, he couldn’t have imagined it would one day form part of a popular walking trail.

Criss-crossing the modern-day border between England and Wales, this 177-mile route links the Severn Estuary to the Irish Sea.

The 34-mile section from Monmouth to Hay on Wye skirts the edge of the Brecon Beacons and can be completed in a weekend.

Hiker’s Hack:
Once you hit the Brecon Beacons, there’s a 15-mile section without a single village or hamlet. Be sure to pack food and lots of water.

Stunning UK Hiking Routes To Try This Summer | Men's Fitness UK

Causeway Coast Path, Northern Ireland

Distance: 33 miles
Section: Portstewart to Ballycastle
Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fairly low-lying and rarely too challenging, this is a great two-day hike, ideal for inexperienced walkers.

Starting in Portstewart, it links up the eminently Instagrammable Dunluce Castle, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giant’s Causeway, as well as plenty of stunning beaches, cliffs and rock stacks.

If you find you’re making good progress, you can always opt for a short whiskey-tasting detour to Bushmills Distillery.

Stunning UK Hiking Routes To Try This Summer | Men's Fitness UK

West Highland Way, Scotland

Distance: 41 miles
Section: Drymen to Tyndrum
Difficulty: 3 out of 5

Not far north of Glasgow, the West Highland Way twists its way through some beautiful countryside, along the east shore of Loch Lomond and through the Trossachs National Park.

Avoid the Glaswegian suburbs by starting your hike at the village of Drymen, then hug the loch all the way to its northern tip before heading through moorland and woodland to Tyndrum. Here you can catch a train back south again.

Overnight halfway at the youth hostel in Rowardennan.

Hiker’s Hack:
Never go hiking in the Highlands during midgie season. The rule is: avoid any month without the letter R in its name.

6 UK Hiking Routes To Try This Summer | Men's Fitness UK

The Ridgeway, England

Distance: 43 miles
Section: Goring to Ivinghoe Beacon
Finish: Ivinghoe Beacon
Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Topographically more interesting, the eastern half of the Ridgeway heads from the River Thames into the Chiltern Hills along footpaths, tracks, and over downland, woodland and farmland.

It may not have the standout historic sites of the western section of the trail, but it’s certainly more varied.

You’ll need to overnight halfway.

Hiker’s Hack:
There are long sections of bridleway which can become quaggy with mud during winter. You’ll enjoy it much more – and clip along much faster – if you opt for the drier months.

Stunning UK Hiking Routes To Try This Summer | Men's Fitness UK

Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

Distance: 20 miles
Section: Tenby to Bosherton
Difficulty: 3 out of 5

The Welsh county of Pembrokeshire features some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the entire UK – so beautiful that National Geographic magazine once voted it the second best coastal destination on the entire planet, above the likes of the Seychelles, Bermuda, Hawaii and Australia.

If this all sounds a little implausible, wait until you’ve hiked the 20-mile section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path from Tenby to Bosherton.

Caressed by a warm sea breeze (or an Atlantic gale, depending on the time of year), you’ll pass sandy beaches, rocky coves, steep cliffs, teetering rock stacks, all the while negotiating a roller-coaster of a cliff path. Just off shore, you’ll spot surfers and, if you’re lucky, seals, porpoises and dolphins.

Hiker’s Hack:
Head inland at Broad Haven beach and terminate your hike with a quick jaunt around Bosherton’s lily ponds.

Stunning UK Hiking Routes To Try This Summer | Men's Fitness UK

Cotswold Way, England

Distance: 102 miles
Section: Bath to Chipping Camden
Difficulty: 3 out of 5

In the beautiful Cotswolds – a range of limestone hills which runs from Bath in the south to Chipping Campden in the north – you’ll be competing with plenty of green wellies, tweed jackets and Range Rovers.

Nevertheless, there are some testing climbs and descents, as well as a glorious backdrop of golden-stoned villages in between. If you need to cut short your walk, there are convenient railways stations at Stroud and Cheltenham.

Hiker’s Hack:
If you’re fairly fit, give yourself up to a week to complete the route. This may be southern England, but don’t underestimate some of the hills.

 

Words: Dominic Bliss