Best summer walks in Britain

Make the most of the longer days and warmer weather with our pick of the best summer countryside walks in the UK

Summer coastline and sea

During the long, balmy days of summer, options for walking are seemingly endless. Step out of your door and stroll to your local park or reserve; amble through cool, shady woodlands; follow riverside trails and canal towpath; relish the seaside charm of a coastal path; head for the high hills or climb mountains.

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With so many options, choosing a summer walk can be tricky. To help you out, we’ve put together a selection of our favourite summer hikes. Each summer walk includes route directions and a map, as well as wildlife highlights, amenities, distances and difficulty.

Looking to make the most of your summer walk? Check out our guides to the ‘best walking shoes to buy this summer‘, ‘picnic essentials‘ and ‘eco-friendly gear for walkers‘.

So, without further ado, from long coastal walks and mountain climbs to riverside rambles and wildflower strolls, here is our guide to Britain’s best summer walks.

A woman walking in hills
Spending time in green spaces for exercise or relaxation has a positive impact on their mental health/Credit: Getty

Best summer walks in Britain

Valley of Rocks, Devon

Distance: 3 miles | Duration: 1.5 hours

Valley of the Rocks and Wringcliff Bay at sunset in Exmoor National Park, Lynton
Valley of the Rocks and Wringcliff Bay at sunset in Exmoor National Park, Lynton/Credit: Getty

Exult in towering sea cliffs where feral goats clamber skilfully between Devonian crags on our short circular walk around the Valley of Rocks in Exmoor National Park.

Valley of the Rocks walking route and map

Sunlit valley and hillwalker; English Lake District, U.K

Nant Bochlwyd and Llyn Bochlwyd, Conwy

Distance: 2 mile | Duration: 1.5 hours 

Nant Bochlwyd, Glyderau mountains, Snowdonia, Wales
The slopes of the Glyderau mountains that surround Nant Bochlwyd are dotted with Alpine plants species, including the Snowdon lily, purple saxifrage and mountain sorrel/Credit: Alamy

Almost 200m above the magical Llyn Idwal National Nature Reserve are the mercury waters of Llyn Bochlwyd. For many, this small, isolated lake offers a welcome stopping point en route to the vertiginous heights of Tryfan – one of Snowdonia’s most prized summits.

But the pool has another secret: an unruly cascade that spills from its outflow between two huge rocky buttresses that conjure visions of Tolkien’s Gates of Argonath, or The Pillars of Kings.

Nant Bochlwyd and Llyn Bochlwyd walking route and map


River Stour, Suffolk

Distance: 3 miles | Duration: 1.5 hours

Willy Lott’s House – the subject matter for Constable’s The Hay Wain
Willy Lott’s House – the subject matter for Constable’s The Hay Wain ©Alamy

A short walk along the marshy banks of the River Stour, running from the Suffolk town of Dedham to Flatford Mill – once home to painter John Constable – and back again.

River Stour walking route and map


Crail to Anstruther, Fife

Distance: 3.8 miles | Duration:  2 hours

Fishing village on coast
Crail village, Fife, Scotland/Credit: Getty

From the latter half of the 19th century, the fishing industry developed in earnest. Fishing still runs deep and working harbours remain along the Fife coast. A walk along the gentle coastline in the invigorating sea air is the best way to discover the area and its heritage. It’s also straightforward thanks to the waymarked Fife Coastal Path.

Crail to Anstruther walking route and map


Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down

Distance: 4.7 miles (7.6 km) | Duration: 2.5 hours

Sandy beach
The granite tops of the Mourne Mountains – Northern Ireland’s highest peaks – overlook Murlough National Nature Reserve/Credit: Alamy

Situated 3.5 miles north-east of the coastal town of Newcastle in County Down, Murlough National Nature Reserve is a wildlife-watchers’ dream. Its range of habitats play host to a vast diversity of flora and fauna, and the long, sandy beach is the focal point of a fantastic walk, overlooked by the iconic Mourne Mountains.

Murlough National Nature Reserve walking route and map


Greenlee Lough, Northumberland

Distance: 3 miles | Duration: 2.5 hours

Cotton grass
Cotton grass on the banks of Greenlee Lough ©Getty

Lying to the north of the Great Whin Sill, and easily visible from Hadrian’s Wall, Greenlee Lough is the largest natural lake in Northumberland.

Greenlee Lough walking route and map


Caer Caradoc Hill, Shropshire

Distance: 4.5 miles | Duration: 3 hours

Caer Caradoc Hill, Shropshire
Caer Caradoc Hill, Shropshire
Getty

his moderate-level ramble takes you from the train station to the summit of Caer Caradoc and its ancient hill fort – thought to date from either the Iron Age or Late Bronze Age. It’s a stiff climb to the top, but one worth the effort for the spectacular views.

Caer Caradoc walking route and map


South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Distance: 6.9 miles (11.1km) | Duration: 3 hours

Wildflower meadow and mountain
A wildflower wonder in late spring, machair – meaning ‘fertile plain’ in Gaelic – is one of Europe’s rarest habitats/Credit: Alamy

Backing on to wild Atlantic beaches, the west coast of South Uist is a land of undulating flatness, where fields gently rise like the crests of waves, hiding the ocean until you are almost upon it. 

As smooth and polished as a snooker table for much of the year, this landscape transforms into a riot of wildflowers as spring unfolds and blurs into summer.

South Uist walking route and map


Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire

Distance: 8 miles (13km) | Duration: 5 hours

United Kingdom, England, North Yorkshire, Sutton Bank. A signpost on the Cleveland Way.
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire/Credit: Getty Images

This route to Sutton Bank provides walkers with one of the finest views in the Yorkshire Dales and a chance to see the national park’s varied scenery from up high on the escarpment edge.

Sutton Bank walking route and map

New forest

Coille Mhor, Highland

Distance: 5 miles (8km) | Duration: 3 hours

Coille Mhor, Balmacara, Highland
A rainbow arcs over Coille Mhor in Balmacara, Highland

The zing of spring and summer is powerful here. Pure air provides ideal conditions for an impressive range of lichens that grow en masse upon the old oaks of Coille Mhòr’s lower slopes. Higher up, birch, rowan, alder and ash thrive, and the forest is also home to mammals including badgers, pine martens and visiting otters.

Coille Mhòr walking route and map


Meon Valley, Hampshire

Distance: 12¾ miles (20 km) | Duration: 5-6 hours

The Meon Valley
The Meon Valley in summer ©Thinkstock

Discover a landscape shaped by man and nature over 6,000 years on a walk that enters the heart of the South Downs National Park in Hampshire. This walk offers a perfect blend of impressive natural wonders and interesting historical sites.

Meon Valley walking route and map 


Cwm Idwal, Gwynedd

Distance: 3 miles (4.8km) | Duration: 2 hours

Llyn Idwal lake and mountains, Snowdonia, North Wales
Summer landscape of Llyn Idwal lake and Glyderau mountains, Snowdonia, North Wales

The jagged peaks that soar over Cwm Idwal dwarf the Arctic-alpine plants that grow on the slopes around its waters. To appreciate them fully, you have to crouch down or dangle over them to see their colourful petals hunkered on ledges or in crevices  – it’s here that they thrive, feeding on minerals that leach through the rock.

Cwm Idwal walking route and map


Chee Dale, Miller’s Dale and Wye Dale, Derbyshire

Distance: 4 miles | Duration: 2.5 hours

Cheedale, Derbyshire
Chee Dale in summer, Derbyshire ©Neil Coates

Deep in the White Peak east of Buxton is a captivating area of countryside; a union of natural bounty and majestic engineering that together create a truly astounding landscape. Although it may have its challenges, this walk is readily accessible to all with a measure of agility and a sense of adventure.

Cheedale walking route and map


Seven Sisters, East Sussex

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km) | Duration: 2 hours

Seven Sisters East Sussex
Seven Sisters on the East Sussex coast ©Alamy

At the National Trust hamlet of Birling Gap, the sea’s aroma sits strong in the air. From the top of the steps above the beach and its numerous rockpools, the views of the Seven Sisters and Seaford Head are excellent. For many, these huge chalk cliffs are even more picturesque than the famous White Cliffs of Dover up the coast.

Seven Sisters walking route and map


Ennerdale and Haystacks, Cumbria

Distance: 14.2 miles (22.8km) | Duration: 7 hours

Haystacks, Lake District
The view from Haystacks in Lake District ©Getty

Ennerdale – the Lake District’s least populated valley – is into its second of a long-term plan to re-wild Lakeland’s westernmost dale. Management of the valley was delegated to Mother Nature back in 2006, but the Wild Ennerdale project isn’t about conserving or restoring a landscape to some long-lost idyll – it’s about getting out of the way to let nature take its course.

Ennerdale walking route and map

What is a national park?

In the UK, national parks are protected areas set aside for their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage.

Our guide explores all 15 of Britain’s breathtaking national parks, each with its own unique landscape, wildlife, history and communities.

Read our national park guide

Cnicht Snowdonia
Alamy

Abbotsbury, Dorset

Distance: 8 miles (12.8km) | Duration: 4.5 hours

St Catherines Chapel, Abbotsbury
St Catherines Chapel, Abbotsbury ©Getty

Take a walk through the Dorset countryside to a chapel overlooking the spectacular Jurassic Coast. The Jurassic Coast spans over 90 miles of Dorset’s shoreline. You’ll scarcely find a coastline with more places to stretch your legs and explore the local landscape. And at the heart of it all is the village of Abbotsbury.

Abbotsbury walking route and map


Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km) | Duration: 3.5 hours

Eigg, Scotland
A view of An Sgurr on the Isle of Eigg, Scotland ©Alamy

Home to prehistoric inhabitants, Vikings, clashing clans and crofters, this mini Scottish isle has a dynamic history written deep into the land. Of all the Small Isles, Eigg – pronounced egg – is undoubtedly the most distinctive. The dramatic rocky remains of an old lava flow – An Sgurr – stand proud above the surrounding flatter land, like a whale breaching the ocean.

Eigg walking route and map


Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km) | Duration: 2 hours

Low Tide on Holy Island
Fishing boats lie in the harbour at Holy Island during low tide with Lindisfarne Castle in the background ©Getty

In 635 AD, King Oswald of Northumbria invited St Aidan from the monastic settlement on Iona to found a monastery on Lindisfarne. Aidan’s death, 16 years later, coincided with the vocation of local shepherd boy Cuthbert, who became bishop of Lindisfarne. The island is also an mportant national nature reserve and wintering site for migrating birds, including whooper swans and brent geese.

Lindisfarne walking route and map


St Davids Peninsula, Pembrokeshire

Distance: 9.5 miles (15km) | Duration: 5 hours

Stroll along the blissful shores of Whitesands Bay
Stroll along the blissful shores of Whitesands Bay/Credit: Getty images

This superb coastal walk follows the trails of some of the Dark Age saints, for whom the St Davids Peninsula was a place of pilgrimage, and passes beside the wild waters of Ramsey Sound. The area is home to a wealth of wildlife, from dolphins and porpoise to peregrines and chough.

St David’s Peninsula walking route and map


Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire

Distance: 7 miles (11km) | Duration: 4 hours

Upper Wharfedale is a charming little valley off the beaten track
Upper Wharfedale is a charming little valley off the beaten track ©Alamy

Upper Wharfedale is a charming little valley off the beaten track where the roads are too narrow for trucks and busses to navigate. It’s a bit of a bind to get to, but once you’ve found the dale, you’ll never forget it. The limestone and peat uplands hereabouts are riven with steep-sided valleys and ghylls where water teems off the fells and tumbles over a series of waterfalls through the heart of the picturesque villages of Cray, Yockenthwaiteand Hubberholme.

Upper Wharfedale walking route and map


Glen Sligachan, Isle of Skye

Distance: 11 miles (17.7km) | Duration: 5 hours

Dark skies over moody mountains
Glen Sligachan on a moody day ©Getty

Winding through true wilderness country, you’ll feel a real sense of progression as you ford several rivers, moving from one loch to the next, past herds of red deer and the dramatically located Camasunary Bay, before arriving at the houses of Kirkibost. Save it for a fine late-summer day after a spell of dry weather – the midges will be fewer, the burns lower – and you will have a memory to last a lifetime.

Glen Sligachan walking route and map


Sark, Channel Islands

Distance: 9 miles | Duration: A leisurely 5 hours

Sark, Channel Islands
Visit Sark, a sleepy idyll in the Channel Islands where there are no cars or street lights and people still travel by horse and cart ©Getty

This nine-mile walking route takes in the whole island,  although there are options to shorten the way or split it into two or three days of walking. Three miles in length and half that across, Sark’s small size encourages visitors to slow down. There are plenty of trails, but no official coast path, so after visiting viewing points, you will need to retrace your steps inland at times.

Sark walking route and map


Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

Distance: 13 miles | Duration: 7 hours

Beach, Sandwood Bay, Highland Region, Scotland, UK, Europe
Explore glorious Sandwood Bay in Sutherland on this 12-mile hike across wild moors and through mighty dunes ©Getty

Sandwood Bay is one of Britain’s most remote and beautiful beaches. Flanked by grassy dunes and buffeted by the rolling breakers of the Atlantic, the swath of white sand is a wild and wonderful place. The only way in is on foot and the car park at Blairmore, on the narrow road between Kinlochbervie and Sheigra, is the perfect place to start.

Sandwood Bay walking route and map


East Lyn River, Devon

Distance: 6 miles | Duration: 4 hours

East Lyn River, Devon
“And here, upon that stone, we rest awhile, For we can see the lovely river’s fall,” wrote British poet Arthur Shaughnessy in his poem Lynmouth ©Alamy

This beautiful six-mile walk begins at Lynmouth in the Exmoor National Park and follows the East Lyn River upstream to Rockford before heading back to the coast.

East Lyn River walking route and map


Malvern Hills, Worcestershire and Herefordshire

Distance: 5.3 miles | Duration: 3.5 hours

Malvern hills
Malvern hills ridgeline
Getty

Hike along the Malvern ridge from British Camp, a magnificent Iron Age hill fort, before descending into the picturesque town of Great Malvern for a well-earned pub meal.

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Malvern Hills walking route and map