Published On: Wed, Oct 18th, 2023

15 Best Hikes in England in 2023 (For All Levels)

15 Best Hikes in England in 2023 (For All Levels)
15 Best Hikes in England in 2023 (For All Levels)

While England may not boast the world’s tallest peaks, its hiking trails offer a unique blend of breathtaking landscapes and a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

As someone who has spent a lifetime in the UK, I’ve had the privilege of exploring numerous areas across the country, and I’ve curated a collection of personal favorites. As a current resident of Manchester, I’ve seized the opportunity to hike in the picturesque surroundings of the Peak District, Lake District, and Lancashire.

What makes England’s hiking trails truly remarkable is their accessibility – many can be reached by train or bus, eliminating the need for a car.

From tranquil paths through charming countryside to challenging terrain showcasing the wonders of nature, England’s hiking trails cater to every adventurer’s taste. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a weekend getaway, continue reading to uncover some of the most outstanding hiking experiences in England, suitable for various skill levels.

The 15 Most Captivating Hikes in England

A group of mountaineers over the mountain at sunset.
Top Hiking Trails in EnglandHaving spent my whole life in the UK, I’ve embarked on numerous hiking adventures. Over the years, I’ve curated a list of my favorite trails. England’s National Parks and its breathtaking countryside are among the top destinations I recommend.

This list of hiking paths in England is curated based on factors such as difficulty level, scenic views, historical significance, and ease of access.

1. Mam Tor (Peak District National Park)

Mam Tor (Peak District National Park) with cloudy dark afternoon sky and a yellow sky caused by sunset rays with fences on the side and stones beside a tiled trekking way
Mam Tor

Nestled near Castleton, Derbyshire, Mam Tor holds a special place in my heart as one of England’s finest hiking destinations. Accessible from both the Edale and Castleton sides, the former offers a more rugged and rocky path, while the latter features a well-defined stone-surfaced footpath, making navigation a breeze.

Mam Tor tends to get crowded during weekends and the summer season, so an early visit or a weekday hike is recommended for a quieter experience.

The scenery is nothing short of spectacular, with rolling valleys and lush landscapes flanking the trail.

For an unforgettable adventure, embark on an early morning trek to witness the sunrise from Mam Tor’s summit.

I did this in winter, and the pink-hued skies were a sight to behold. Keep in mind that the peak can get chilly and windy, so layering up is essential.

Trail Details and Information

Location: 45-minute drive from Sheffield, or a 45-minute train journey from Manchester
Length: 2.6 miles / 4.2 km
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 233 meters
Best For: Beginner to moderate hikes, families, dog-friendly hikes

2. Fairy Glen (Lancashire)

Fairy Glen (Lancashire) water falls into the stones and water splashes beneath
Fairy Glen

If you’re in search of an easy-going hike in England, Fairy Glen should be high on your list.

This delightful route takes you through a blend of canal and woodlands, with occasional stretches of road walking. The circular trail, mostly flat, makes it a popular choice for families eager to enjoy picturesque scenery and spot local wildlife. Be prepared for muddy paths after heavy rainfall, so pack sturdy hiking boots or wellies. Picnic areas and seating are available, perfect for a post-hike refreshment amidst the local flora and fauna.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 45-minute drive from both Liverpool and Manchester, near Skelmersdale in Lancashire
Length: 4 miles / 6.4 km
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 158 meters
Best For: Beginners, families, woodland, dog-friendly

3. Scafell Pike (Lake District National Park)

Scafell Pike (Lake District National Park) sky shading the water lake between the two mountains
Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike isn’t for the faint-hearted. Renowned as one of the “National Three Peaks,” this challenging route is a pilgrimage for avid hikers. It’s essential to attempt Scafell Pike only in clear, dry weather, as rocky steps and loose gravel add to the difficulty.

Sturdy footwear and prior hiking experience are imperative, given the lack of shade and the unpredictable weather. The reward for your hard work? Astonishing vistas of the shimmering Wastwater Lake await at the summit.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Scafell Pike is a 2 hour and 20-minute drive from Manchester – the nearest large town is Keswick, 8 miles from the starting point of the hike.
Length: 5.3 miles / 8.5 km
Duration: 3 – 4 hours depending on ability
Type of Trail: Out and back
Elevation Gain: 919 meters
Best For: Advanced hikers, wildlife, views, scrambling

4. Malham Landscape Trail (Yorkshire Dales National Park)

Malham Landscape Trail (Yorkshire Dales National Park) a huge rock formation with curve shape beneath
Malham Landscape Trail

This popular trail meanders through Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar, and Malham Cove, offering a captivating blend of gushing waterfalls, intriguing geology, and serene pools. While certain sections can be a tad challenging to navigate, overall, it’s a moderately paced hike.

The highlight of the journey is undoubtedly Malham Cove, an amphitheater-like rock formation shaped during the Ice Ages. Pay close attention to the rocky terrain, especially when it’s wet, making summer the ideal time to attempt this trail.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 1 hour and 20-minute drive from Leeds, or a 1 hour and 30-minute drive from Manchester – the trail is near Malham, in North Yorkshire.
Length: 5 miles / 8 km
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 296 meters
Best For: Moderate hikes, wildlife, history, dog-friendly

5. Dovestone Reservoir (Peak District National Park)

Dovestone Reservoir (Peak District National Park) A lake with mountains at the back
Dovestone Reservoir

Dovestone Reservoir  is one of my top picks for easy hikes in England. Situated within easy reach of Manchester and Sheffield, it’s a favored choice among locals and visitors alike. I’ve enjoyed numerous outings here with family members of all ages, and everyone has found it to be a tranquil and rejuvenating hike.

Whether it’s observing falcons through a telescope at Ashway Gap or picnicking by the reservoir, Dovestone offers a splendid day out. On sunny days, it transforms into one of England’s best summer hikes, surrounded by lush greenery and the reservoir’s serene waters. No need for elaborate footwear; trainers or wellies will suffice for this trail.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 30-minute drive or 20-minute train journey from Manchester City Centre.
Length: 2.7 miles / 4.3 km
Duration: 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 105 meters
Best For: Beginners, families, quick walk, bird watching, scenery, dog-friendly, easy hikes

6. Cheddar Gorge (Somerset)

Cheddar Gorge (Somerset) a rocky green mountain covered by a dark blue clouds with lake
Cheddar Gorge

Venturing into the southern reaches of England, we encounter Cheddar Gorge, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and one of the country’s most impressive natural landmarks. This moderate hike unveils subterranean caves, imposing stalagmites, and the captivating history of British ancestors.

While the initial part of the hike can be challenging, the panoramic views at the summit make it all worthwhile. After your hike, indulge in traditional tea and scones at one of the nearby cafes.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 40-minute drive from Somerset, in the Mendip Hills
Length: 3.7 miles / 6 km
Duration: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 320 meters
Best For: Moderate hikes, wildlife, scenery, history, caving, rock climbing

7. Leith Hill (Surrey)

Leith Hill (Surrey) small fences along dirt road with tower and trees along the blue sky
Leith Hill

Situated in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Leith Hill offers one of the most scenic hiking trails in England, albeit with a strenuous climb. I’ve attempted a challenging route from Friday Street to Leith Hill in the past, but we had to turn back due to overgrown, muddy paths.

For a less demanding experience, consider the Leith Hill Woodland Circular trail. After navigating ancient woods, you’ll reach the summit of Leith Hill, Southeast England’s highest point. Take a moment to savor a coffee while soaking in the breathtaking views, which may even include a distant glimpse of Big Ben on a clear day.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Leith Hill is a 40-minute drive from Surrey, in the area of Dorking.
Length: 9.4 miles / 15.1 km
Duration: 5 hours
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 647 meters
Best For: Advanced hikers, scenery, history

8. The Roaches (Peak District National Park)

The Roaches (Peak District National Park) A rock in the top of mountain overlooking the fields under it in a sunny weather
The Roaches

Distinctive craggy rock formations and expansive moorlands make The Roaches a magnet for hikers from across the country. Steep sections are interspersed with relatively moderate climbs.

As you traverse rolling green landscapes and heather fields, you’ll encounter picturesque ponds and the echoes of local folklore. Some portions of the trail demand a bit of scrambling, so equip yourself with proper walking shoes and a readiness for adventure. Don’t forget to capture Instagram-worthy moments atop the gritstone rocks.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The Roaches is a 35-minute drive from Stoke, in the Staffordshire region of Peak District National Park.
Length: 3.6 miles / 5.8 km
Duration: 2 hours (or longer with children)
Type of Trail: Out and back
Elevation Gain: 258 meters
Best For: Beginner to moderate hikers, families, dog-friendly

9. Seven Sisters and Friston Forest

Seven Sisters and Friston Forest, a white high cliff and the green grasses above it. Beneath the cliff is an ocean
Seven Sisters and Friston Forest

Seven Sisters, renowned as one of the UK’s most famous sites, presents a circular trail that undoubtedly ranks among England’s finest hikes.

The initial leg treats you to breathtaking sea vistas along the iconic chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters. Following this, the trail weaves through undulating terrain, including fields and the woodlands of Friston Forest. Wind conditions may influence your choice of route, so consider Friston Forest to Seven Sisters depending on the prevailing winds. The Seven Sisters Visitor Center offers a convenient stop for freshening up or grabbing a snack.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 15-minute drive from Eastbourne, in East Sussex.
Length: 7.9 miles / 12.7 km
Duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 373 meters
Best For: Moderate hikes, scenery, views

10. Margate to Broadstairs

Margate to Broadstairs A cliff beside the ocean with rounding fences and grasses
Margate to Broadstairs

This moderately easy point-to-point trail is perfect for families eager to explore the great outdoors. The coastal route showcases stunning ocean views and can be largely walked along the seaside, provided tides permit. If you choose to follow the clifftop path, be prepared for brisk winds.

Nonetheless, this easily navigable hike suits a wide range of abilities and is an excellent choice for those seeking accessible day hikes in England. While I haven’t personally completed this route, I’ve visited both Margate and Broadstairs, and they are undeniably beautiful areas, especially for beach enthusiasts.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The hike starts at a point in Margate, just a 10-minute walk from the town center.
Length: 5.9 miles / 9.5 km
Duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Type of Trail: Point-to-point
Elevation Gain: 172 meters
Best For: Beginners, families, views, bird watching

11. Ingleton Waterfalls Trail (Yorkshire Dales National Park)

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail (Yorkshire Dales National Park) Water falls from the huge rocks beneath the ground with trees along the rocks
Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Another gem in the North of England, Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, offers the opportunity to witness cascading waterfalls and abundant wildlife. While not overly challenging, I would advise caution around uneven steps, which can become slippery after rain.

As you traverse the trail, take moments to spot birds and butterflies amidst the dense woodlands. For the adventurous, a dip in the chilly waters of Thornton Force can be invigorating. This trail ranks among my personal favorites for waterfall hikes in England, and I would highly recommend it. If you can only try one trail from this list, make it this one.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 90-minute/2-hour drive from Manchester, and a similar distance from York – the trail is situated in Ingleton, North Yorkshire.
Length: 4.2 miles / 6.8 km
Duration: 2 – 4 hours
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 192 meters
Best For: Moderate hikes, wildlife, scenery, waterfalls, history

12. Cotswold Way (Gloucestershire)

Cotswold Way (Gloucestershire) with sunlight rays struck the tree. Trees and grasses along a narrow dirt road.
Cotswold Way

Stretching from Chipping Camden to Bath, the 165km-long Cotswold Way demands stamina and preparation. While it may take up to ten days to complete, the experience is immensely rewarding. Aside from its length, the Cotswold Way is relatively undemanding, making it an excellent choice for winter hikes in England.

In the colder months, the charming villages and serene woodlands appear even more enchanting. Along the way, you’ll encounter historic landmarks such as Sudeley Castle and the Broadway Tower. If you’re not up for the entire trek, shorter circular routes offer enjoyable day trips. Regardless of your choice, the Cotswolds promise an unforgettable journey through the English countryside.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The Cotswold Way starts in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, a 40-minute drive from Cheltenham.
Length: 102 miles / 164km
Duration: 7-10 days
Type of Trail: Point-to-point
Elevation Gain: 5,369 meters
Best For: Families, winter hikes, birdwatching, wildlife

13. Hadrian’s Wall (Northumberland National Park)

A mountainous and long wall formed by breaks.
Hadrian’s Wall

It’s astonishing that I have yet to explore this renowned route! Celebrated as one of the most beautiful hiking trails in England, the Hadrian’s Wall hike encompasses Housesteads Roman Fort and Sycamore Gap, offering a fascinating blend of history and natural beauty. The trail presents various inclines and descents, requiring strong legs and sturdy boots to navigate the undulating landscapes safely.

Despite the occasional challenge, the well-marked paths and the historical backdrop create a memorable hiking experience. Housesteads Roman Fort offers a great opportunity to delve into the museum’s intriguing archaeology and immerse yourself in the Roman Empire’s history. Don’t forget to have your camera ready at Sycamore Gap, where a majestic sycamore tree graces a dip in Hadrian’s Wall – one of England’s most photographed spots.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Hadrian’s Wall is an approximately 1-hour car journey from Newcastle upon Tyne – the trail starts near Haltwhistle, Northumberland.
Length: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km
Duration: 3 hours
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 337 meters
Best For: Moderate to difficult hikes, bird watching, history

14. Old Glossop and B-29 Crash Site (Peak District National Park)

Mountainous with two large rocks, one of which has been sculpted
Old Glossop and B-29 Crash Site

Another entry from the Peak District National Park, the Old Glossop and B-29 Crash Site hike is deeply moving and thought-provoking. It takes you to the site of a B-29 airplane crash in 1948 and the subsequent memorial. After passing through Old Glossop, the trail gradually ascends to reveal the remnants of the US Air Force plane, serving as a poignant reminder of history.

A visit to the memorial allows you to pay your respects before continuing your hike through the picturesque Glossop hills. I undertook this hike with my family during my teens, and the experience left an indelible mark on me. It evokes humility and gratitude for our veterans’ service.

Trail Details and Information

Location: A 45-minute drive from Sheffield, near Glossop, Derbyshire.
Length: 8.2 miles / 13.2 km
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 570 meters
Best For: Moderate hikes, dog-friendly (on lead), history, scenery

15. Four Waterfalls Walk (Bannau Brycheiniog National Park / Brecon Beacons)

In the forest four waterfalls walk
Four Waterfalls Walk

While technically located in Wales, the Four Waterfalls Walk stands out as a challenging yet immensely rewarding hike that’s easily accessible from England. The steep, demanding terrain requires careful navigation, especially near the waterfalls. However, the effort is well worth it.

The hike leads you to all four waterfalls in the national park, with opportunities for refreshing dips beneath the cascading waters, particularly during the summer months. The combination of a demanding trail and the sheer beauty of the waterfalls places the Four Waterfalls Walk among the most captivating and best hikes accessible from England.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The nearest city is Swansea, a 30-minute drive from the trail’s location near Ystradfellte.
Length: 5.3 miles / 8.5 km
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 307 meters
Best For: Advanced hikers, scenery, waterfalls

Essentials for Your England Hiking Adventures

A stunning cliff landscape in Cornwall

To ensure a seamless and enjoyable hiking experience in England, consider packing these essential items:

Portable Charger: A reliable portable charger ensures your phone remains powered, allowing you to access maps and capture memories without interruptions.

Daypack: Opt for a compact, waterproof sling daypack with easily accessible compartments to carry your essentials comfortably.

Collapsible Water Bottle: Stay hydrated during your hike with a collapsible water bottle. It’s lightweight and easy to carry.

Thermal Socks: Ensure comfort and prevent blisters by wearing thermal socks, especially if you’re breaking in new hiking boots.

Water Shoes: Ideal for water dips and protection on rocky steps around waterfalls, water shoes are versatile for various outdoor activities.

Microfiber Towel: A must-have for drying off after a swim or wiping away sweat during your hike. It can also double as a blanket when needed.

Hiking Boots: Sturdy hiking boots with excellent grip are essential for tackling slippery trails, muddy paths, and rocky routes.

Things To Know About Hiking in England

There is a one woman surrounded by forested mountains.

Once you’ve decided which of the England trails you’ll hike, it’s important to plan ahead. Knowing your route and having a backup plan for poor weather is essential.

Check The Weather Before Heading Out

image of the Weather forecast.
Weather forecast

Before setting out on an England hiking adventure, it’s imperative that you check the weather. The weather dramatically impacts the safety of the route you take and will dictate your choice of clothing too. Clouds can shroud the pathway on higher-altitude climbs, so consider hiking on a different day if this is likely to be the case. Find out more about the best time to visit England.

Plan Your Route

The purpose of your hike is to see and experience the best of the area you’ve chosen to trek in. Planning ahead means you can see all of the nearby points of interest, plus there’s less risk of getting lost. Knowing your route also allows you to plan what to wear and take along with you.

The Trails Can Be Slippery

A slippery caution and waterfall on the behind.

As I mentioned, the weather in England is notoriously unpredictable; it could be sunny one minute, and rainy the next. That’s why I’d recommend wearing walking boots with a particularly good grip. The pathways can be muddy and rocky steps get extremely slippy – nobody wants any injuries!

Always Have A Backup Map

A map with red pin on the top.

AllTrails has an array of easy-to-follow route maps, but if you’re stuck without a signal, you could potentially get lost. The best way to avoid this is to download the map before leaving so that you have an offline version to hand. Always take a portable charger in case your battery runs low too.

Leave No Trace

A hand of a person holding a plastic bottle and put into black trash bag.

The best hikers leave no trace behind. That means picking up your trash, never feeding animals, and respecting wildlife by viewing them from a distance. Always leave what you find, too – never take nature’s gifts with you! You want to leave the trail as beautiful as when you arrived for all the hikers who will visit after you.

Hiking in England: FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the best hikes in England:

What is the most popular hike in England?

The Cotswold Way is considered to be one of the most popular hikes in England, along with Hadrian’s Wall Path and Mam Tor.

What is the easiest hike around England?

Cat Bells, Cumbria, is considered to be one of the easiest mountain peak hikes around England. The easiest national trail hike would most likely be The Dales Way, starting in Yorkshire.

Are there any waterfall trails in England?

Yes! There are lots of waterfall trails in England, two of which are featured in this article. One is actually in Wales, so I’d say that Malham Landscape Trail is a good option for waterfall trekking in England.

What should I wear when hiking in England?

The weather is rather unpredictable in England, so it’s a good idea to wear light, waterproof clothing and pack plenty of layers. I’d recommend investing in a sturdy pair of all-terrain hiking boots to cater to all types of trails.

What is the most beautiful trail in England?

This is subject to opinion, but my personal favorite is Mam Tor. However, Cotswold Way and Scafell Pike are also well-loved for their stunning scenery. Overall, many England treks offer hikers the chance to discover the country’s abundant natural beauty.

Is hiking in England dangerous?

Generally, no. Some paths are more treacherous than others, so you need to plan ahead to ensure you are well-equipped for the hike you are setting out on. The weather plays a big part in how safe a route is too.

In Closing

Whether you prefer woodland adventures, coastal walks, or the wonder of waterfalls, England walking trails provide a plethora of options for outdoor enthusiasts to discover.

My next hike will likely be the Cotswold Way, though the long duration seems a bit daunting! I’ll be sure to fill you in on my next trekking adventure. Which trail will you try first?

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