Best hill walks in Britain

Our guide to hillwalking explores the most beautiful ridges, tors, pikes and crags in the UK

Conic Hill, Scotland
Published: September 8th, 2021 at 1:06 pm
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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.

View from Caer Caradoc hill towards The Lawley in Shropshire
View from Caer Caradoc hill towards The Lawley in Shropshire Getty

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.  

Ruins on a rock
The ruins of St Michael's Chapel sit on the hilltop of Roche Rock near St Austell in Cornwall Getty

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.

Castle on a hill in autumn
Carreg Cennen Castle in Wales is one of Britain's most dramatic hilltop ruins Alamy

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.

Cadair Idris from the Precipice Walk, Gwynedd
Cadair Idris and the Mawddach Estuary from the Precipice Walk near Dolgellau Getty
Langdale, Lake District, Cumbria with mountains fells and blue sky and clouds in summer

Cefn Bryn, Gower

8 miles/12.8km | 5 hours | moderate
Follow in the footsteps of our ancestors on this stunning walk through the heart of the Gower Peninsula. Cefn Bryn walking route and map.
Coast from Cefn Bryn hill The Gower peninsula Wales uk
The view from Cefn Bryn hill on the Gower Peninsula Getty

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.

Rhosgadfan and Moel Tryfan, Gwynedd
Rhosgadfan and Moel Tryfan, Gwynedd Alamy

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.

View over the Welsh countryside on a beautiful spring day
The view from Moel Famau Country Park on the Clwydian Range Getty

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.

Autumn hills in Wales
The village of Dinas Mawddwy sits beneath wooded Foel Dinas and Foel Benddin, with the 905m ridge of Aran Fawddwy beyond/Credit: Alamy


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.

Conic Hill, Scotland
Conic Hill stands at 361m Alamy

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.

The town of Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway
The town of Moffat and its surrounding hills, Dumfries and Galloway Getty

Bennachie, Aberdeenshire

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.

Female hiker at the summit of a hill
Hiker at the summit of Bennachie near Inverurie in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland/Credit: Getty

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.

Glen Tilt, Scotland
The view up Glen Tilt into the Cairngorms Daniel Graham

Northern Ireland

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.

Hikers among snowing mountains
Hikers stride towards Slieve Binnian, with the North Tor towering above. The word ‘slieve’ derives from the Irish word ‘sliabh’, meaning ‘mountain’ Getty


Loughrigg Fell, Cumbria

2.5 miles/4.1km | 2 hours | easy–moderate

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.

Bluebells on loughrigg Terrace near Ambleside in the English Lake District, Cumbria, UK.
Bluebells on loughrigg Terrace near Ambleside in the English Lake District, Cumbria, UK Getty

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.

Autumn view across Surrey hills
The rich colours of mixed woodland in autumn embellish the slopes of St Martha’s Hill/ Credit: Alamy

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.

Firle Beacon East Sussex
The view from the summit of Firle Beacon Getty

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.

Green lane in the countryside
Goat Scar Lane Yorkshire Dales, England

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.

View from the Polden Hills, Somerset
A wonderful sunset over Dundon Hill with the Somerset Levels stretching out beyond

Chrome Hill, Derbyshire

6.2 miles/10.0km | 4.5 hours | moderate
In this quiet corner of the Peak District National Park a turf-covered monster has lain sleeping for millions of years – discover the spectacular Dragon's Back with this moderate-level hill walk. Chrome Hill walking route and map.
A walker at Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill
A walker at Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill, White Peak, Derbyshire Getty

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.

Caer Caradoc Hill, Shropshire
Caer Caradoc Hill, Shropshire Getty

Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire

8.3 miles/13.4km | 5-6 hours | moderate
This route to Sutton Bank provides walkers with one of the finest views in Yorkshire and a chance to see the North York Moors National Park’s varied scenery from up high on the escarpment edge. Sutton Bank walking route and map.
United Kingdom, England, North Yorkshire, Sutton Bank. A signpost on the Cleveland Way.
The Cleveland Way runs across Sutton Bank Getty

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.

Upper Coquetdale
Upper Coquetdale is physically and historically one of the wildest parts of England Alamy

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.

View from Bench Tor, Dartmoor
View from Bench Tor, Dartmoor ©Alamy Alamy

Simonside Hills, Northumberland

7.4 miles/11.9km | 4h 42min | moderate
Walk through conifer forests and across heather moorland to the summits of the most distinctive hills in Northumberland National Park. Simonside walking route and map.
Dove Crag in the Simonside Hills, Northumberland National Park
Dove Crag in the Simonside Hills, Northumberland National Park Getty

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.

Pegsdon Hill, Bedfordshire
Pegsdon Hill, Bedfordshire Getty

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.

A“proper little mountain”, a “family fell’, a “mountain in miniature”. If ever there was a hill to be fond of, it’s Cat Bells
Cat Bells sits above Derwent Water in the Lake District

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.

Autumn view from hilltop
Gaze over the Severn Valley from the sheep-grazed grassy slopes of Dover’s Hill/Credit: Alamy


Daniel Graham of COuntryfile magazine on a hike with wet hair and blue coat and hills in background
Daniel GrahamSection editor, BBC Countryfile Magazine

Danny is the Section Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.


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