Britain’s landscape is covered with spectacular hills, from the Cambrians in Wales and the Chilterns in southern England, to Northern Ireland’s Mournes and Scotland’s Southern Uplands.
One of the best ways to explore this bounty of ridges, knolls and uplands in on foot. There are thousands of paths to choose from – here are a few our our favourites.
History of hills in the UK
Hills normally form the horizon line of our landscapes but in the past they were often viewed for how they could be used for the benefit of humankind. Thus, it is on and within these great mounds of rock and earth that some of our most meaningful historical relics can be found.
Hills have long been used for symbolic reasons. The St Michael Ley Line, for example, is thought by some to connect a string of hilltop churches dedicated to the archangel across southern England. Earlier people also used hilltops for spiritual purposes; some stone circles on hills may reflect this.
Wiltshire contains plenty of sites employing another ancient practice: the creation of geoglyphs. Here, grass and topsoil were removed to reveal an image on the hillside, white from the chalk beneath. The White Horses are a notable example. More recently, regimental badges were carved into slopes near Fovant by serviceman awaiting call-up in the First World War.
As a protrusion of geology, hills were, and still are, used for the properties they contain; the Welsh coal-mining industry springs to mind. But excavating rocks and minerals from hills has been going on longer than our image of canaries and cage lifts. Few visitors to the Langdale Peaks in the Lake District realise that not all of the scree on Pike o’ Stickle is natural. Some is discarded material from one of the most important Neolithic axe factories in Europe.
See our guide to Britain’s best hill walks, including route descriptions and hiking maps.
Precipice Walk, Gwynedd
3.4 miles/5.5km | 2 hours | moderate
Wander the snaking shores of a Welsh fishing lake, bound by pendulous trees, sky-striving mountains and a Victorian cliff-top walk. Precipice Walk route and map.
- Guide to Britain’s National Parks
- Learn more about Britain’s mountains
- Are there volcanoes in Britain?
Cefn Bryn, Gower
Rhosgadfan and Moel Tryfan, Gwynedd
8.3miles/13.3km | 5 hours |moderate–challenging
Enjoy this nine-mile hill walk across open slopes and though slate quarries in the Snowdonia National Park. Moel Tryfan walking route and map.
The Clwydian Range, Denbighshire/Flintshire
17.5miles/28.2km |9–10 hours | challenging
Connecting the Irish Sea with mid-Wales, this 17.5-mile route follows the length of one of Britain’s least-known ridgelines. It can be walked in one long day or two moderate days. Clwydin Range walking route and map.
Dinas Mawddwy, Foel Benddin and Y Gribin, Gwynedd
8.7 miles/14km | 5–6 hours | challenging
Brave the wild hills of south-east Snowdonia in Wales, an unforgiving landscape once roved by a band of cattle-rustling, bow-wielding robbers. Dinas Mawddwy walking route and map.
Conic Hill, Stirlingshire
6.4 miles/10.3km | 4 hours | moderate
Climb an iconic Scottish hill, pausing for a picnic at the summit with views across beautiful Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Conic Hill walking route and map.
Moffat Hills, Dumfries and Galloway
The quiet hills, rambling rivers and vibrant forests surrounding the town of Moffat are a serene alternative to Cumbria’s lakes. Moffat hills walking route.
5.5 miles/8.9km | 3.5 hours hours | moderate
Bennachie’s sprawling plateau offers plenty of space to explore, marvellous wildlife and exemplary views of the Cairngorms’ mountains. Bennachie walking route and map.
Glen Tilt and Loch Moraig, Perthshire
12.3 miles/18.8km | 7 hours | moderate–challenging
A 12.5-mile walk from Blair Atholl into the Cairngorms National Park, passing beneath the summit of Carn Liath before returning through Glen Tilt. Glen Tilt walking route and map.
Slieve Binnian, County Down
6 miles/9.7km | 4 hours | moderate-challenging
Severe weathering during the last ice age sculpted Slieve Binnian into the most distinctive peak in Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains. Slieve Binnian walking route and map.
Loughrigg Fell, Cumbria
You don’t have to climb high in the Lake District to get the finest fell views – a short stroll through the heart of the national park offers rewards aplenty. Loughrigg Fell walking route and map.
St Martha’s Hill, Surrey
4.6 miles/7.4km | 3 hours | moderate
Leave the medieval streets of Guildford on foot, discovering the surprising isolation of a hill once traversed by pilgrims on their journeys across southern England. St Martha’s Hill walking route and map.
Beddingham Hill, Alciston and Firle Estate, East Sussex
9.5miles/15.3km | 6 hours | moderate
Enjoy scenic views from the outset on your climb to the peak of Firle Beacon, then wander through forest, farmland and the pretty village of Alciston towards 15th-century Firle Place. Firle Beacon walking route and map.
Settle to Stainforth, Yorkshire
8.5miles/13.7km | 5 hours | moderate
The limestone hills around this classic Yorkshire town are laced with delights, from ferocious waterfalls and flitting northern wheatears to intriguing bone caves and slinking green lanes. Settle walking route and map.
Polden Hills, Somerset
12 miles/19.3km | 6–7 hours | moderate
Midsummer in mid-Somerset – there’s no better time or place to spot one of Britain’s rarest butterflies – take a walk in the Polden Hills in search of the elusive large blue. Polden Hills walking route and map.
Chrome Hill, Derbyshire
Caer Caradoc Hill, Shropshire
4.5 miles/7.2km | 3 hours | moderate
Numerous walking routes emanate from the pretty Shropshire town of Church Stretton, making it a great base from which to explore the surrounding hills and woodlands. This moderate-level ramble takes you from the train station to the summit of Caer Caradoc and its ancient hill fort. Caer Caradoc walking route and map.
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire
Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland
8.2 miles/13.6km | 5 hours | moderate
An eight-mile walk over the broad grassy ridgelines, steep-sided valleys and ancient droving routes of Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills. Upper Coquetdale walking route and map.
Venford Reservoir and Bench Tor, Devon
1.7 miles/2.8km | 1-1.5 hours | easy
Climb from the placid waters of Venford Reservoir to a grand vista overlooking the hills and valleys of Dartmoor National Park – it’s the perfect place to spread out your picnic blanket before returning via charming waterfalls. Bench Tor walking route and map.
Simonside Hills, Northumberland
Deacon Hill, Pegsdon and Barton Hills, Bedfordshire
7.1 miles/11.5km | 4 hours | moderate
Rising high above the Bedfordshire countryside in the Chiltern Hills are three hills, home to resplendent butterflies, flowery meadows and dramatic views. Chilterns walking route and map.
Cat Bells, Cumbria
3.6miles/5.8km | 2.5 hours | easy–moderate
This Lake District mountain is small compared to its neighbours, yet what it lacks in height it makes up for in accessibility, views and atmosphere. Cat Bells walking route and map.
Dover’s Hill, Gloucestershire
3.7 miles/56km | 2.5 hours | easy–moderate
Named after the creator of the Cotswold Olimpick Games, Dover’s Hill not only offers a brisk, thigh-burning climb but also majestic views across the Malvern and Cotswold hills. Dover’s Hill walking route and map.