May’s National Walking Month is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy everything the UK in springtime has to offer.
With 4,000 miles of national trails to choose from in England alone, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From rugged clifftops and sweeping beaches to the history of Hadrian’s Wall and the jaw-dropping Jurassic Coast, there is something for everyone.
And while some of these routes are very long, remember that they can be tackled in stages, or made into short circular walks to include the points of interest that most appeal to you.
Here are just seven great choices to tempt you into your hiking boots this National Walking Month.
1. Glyndŵr’s Way
- From: Knighton to Welshpool
- Distance: 217 kilometres (135 miles)
Named for the Welsh prince who rebelled against King Henry IV in 1400, this beautiful trail through the heart of mid-Wales takes in open farmland, rolling moors, and dense woodland.
Whether you intend to take on the whole 135 miles – nine days are recommended – or you’re looking to hop on and off the trail, a reasonable degree of fitness will be required.
The route takes in the Cambrian Mountains and the Radnorshire Hills. Nearby, you’ll also find the 2,930 foot (893-metre) Cadair Idris.
2. Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
- From: St Dogmaels to Amroth
- Distance: 299 kilometres (186 miles)
To walk the length of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path you’ll have to set aside between 12 and 14 days at a steady pace and reasonable fitness. Hugging the coast, the route isn’t flat – it incorporates around 35,000 feet of ascent and descent.
On the way, you’ll pass Tenby, Broad Haven, and the city of St Davids.
Whether you’re looking for rugged coastlines, harbour villages, or sweeping stretches of sand, you’ll find them all somewhere along this breathtaking trail.
3. Jurassic Coast
- From: Exmouth to Studland
- Distance: 153 kilometres (95 miles)
Part of the 630-mile South West Coast Path national trail – England’s longest waymarked footpath – the stretch along the Jurassic Coast is among the most picturesque. As a world heritage site, it also boasts around 185 million years of history.
The places of interest along the route speak for themselves: Lulworth Cove, Chesil Beach, and the much-photographed arch of Durdle Door.
You’ll also take in Sidmouth, Seaton, and Lyme Regis, home to the beach on which 12-year-old Mary Anning discovered the first complete ichthyosaur to be found in England.
4. Hadrian’s Wall Path
- From: Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway
- Distance: 135 kilometres (84 miles)
As you’d expect, this historic route runs along the remains of Hadrian’s famous wall.
Although lengthy, the walk is one of the gentler on our list with flatter sections at either end if you want to dip in and out of the trail.
You’ll find plenty of wildlife along the Unesco world heritage site route, but its status does mean it can get busy at times. Between May and October, you’ll stand the best chance of favourable conditions, but if you’re looking for solitude, steer clear during July and August.
5. West Highland Way
- From: Milngavie to Fort William
- Distance: 154 kilometres (96 miles)
Highlights of this jaw-dropping route include Loch Lomond, the village of Glencoe in the Glencoe valley, and Steall Falls, Scotland’s second-highest waterfall.
The southern sections of the route are considered less challenging than those in the north. For this reason, Fort William (in the south) is the recommended starting point.
This should give you the training you need to conquer the later sections. These include the highest point along the West Highland Way, the 548-metre summit of the Devil’s Staircase, likely to land on day seven of an eight-day route.
6. Causeway Coast Way
- From: Ballycastle to Portstewart
- Distance: 51 kilometres (32 miles)
Northern Ireland’s national trails are known as “Waymarked Ways”. There are 10 of them, including the Causeway Coast Way, which includes the Giant’s Causeway on its 32-mile route.
This National Trust-managed Unesco world heritage site is just one of the many points of interest along this rugged coastal path that also features castle ruins at Dunluce and Dunseverick.
7. North Downs Way
- From: Farnham to Dover
- Distance: 246 kilometres (153 miles)
The North Downs Way is a national trail steeped in history. It partly follows the ancient Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.
Head east from Dover, meanwhile, and you can walk in the footsteps of Archbishop Sigeric, who arrived here from Rome in 990 AD. This section marks the UK’s only Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, an initiative launched in 1987 and designed to showcase Europe’s shared culture.
Elsewhere along the route, you’ll find landmarks dating back to neolithic and roman times. Beyond the castles and cathedrals, stately homes and second world war fortifications will bring you closer to the present.
You’ll find beautiful views too, from rolling meadows to picturesque villages and the English Channel, viewed from the White Cliffs of Dover.