The Greatest Hikes in the UK?
For many years I have dreamed of doing a long walk in the UK — the place where the idea of long distance walking in the modern sense was born. In addition to being scenic, the UK offers many other advantages, including the fact that it is an English speaking nation, has an excellent public transportation system, and is a single nonstop flight away from RDU (or Heathrow is anyway.)
Problem is that of the many options for such a hike (England has more long distance hikes than any other comparable sized nation; in fact it probably has more any other half dozen comparable nations) I could not decide which one was truly worth doing, if any were worth doing at all. There is serious competition, after all. Many more impressive mountains ranges (the Alps, Pyrenees) and coastlines at least as fine (Norway, Greece) adorned mainland Europe. And that doesn’t include Iceland…
One of the most celebrated hikes in Great Britain is the West Highland Way of Scotland. However, my research has led me to believe that this hike is perhaps overrated. In fact, it has been described as ‘mostly flat’ by many authorities and panned by many knowledgeable hikers. The West Highland Way appears more a grand and soggy pub crawl doesn’t appear to be what we are looking for. Unless someone can convince me otherwise…
Many other of the English ‘walking holidays’ look very fine, but seem to be more along the lines of countryside walks through bucolic, rolling hillsides, charming cottages and cow-dotted dales. In other words, not exactly wilderness. Great its own right, but not exactly what we are looking for. After all, we already live right next door to rural Appalachia. Do we really need to go abroad to see rustic hillsides?
As usual, when you look search for top hikes in England (or anywhere else) what you end up with is the same recycled list, over and over. The West Highland Way is on most of them.
One thing the British Isles have going for them…there are more great hiking/walking online resources in the UK than anywhere, and the best UK hiking sites are the best anywhere, period.
Based on our research, we think we now have at least one, perhaps two, candidates for the Bucket List among UK hikes…and perhaps as many as a half dozen other hikes of potential interest, enough to keep us bust for many future trips across the Atlantic.
Here at the present trips under consideration by Sylvia and I…We may not be able to do the entirety of all of them. The Southern Upland Way alone is over 200 miles long. But at least a section of most is entirely possible.
Skye Trail, Isle of Skye*
The Coast to Coast Walk (St. Bees to Robin Hood Bay), Lakes District
Pennine Way, Northern England
Pembrokeshire Coast Trail, West Coast
Crib Goch/Snowdon Horsehoe, Wales (dangerous and near technical!)
Southern Upland Way, Scotland
Helvellyn, Lake District
Brecon Beacon Way, Wales
Hadrians Wall Path, English/Scottish Frontier
*Denotes bucket list contender.
Note that I am not including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks since it is in the Republic of Ireland. But if this was purely a list of the best hikes in the British Isles it would be here.
We’d also love to see Glen Coe and Ben Nevis too of course. We’ll keep researching! Maybe somebody out there can talk us back into the West Highland Way. We are open to persuasion where mountains are concerned.
One of the best online resource is the Long Distance Walker’s Association
In the meanwhile we’ll likely be adding one of the two hikes above to our Bucketlist sometime soon.
(Photo Credit for the featured image: By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8376312)