Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
Great for seals and sand
Starting near the charming sailboat harbour village of Blakeney, this hike is a mix of windswept beach, saltmarsh and wildlife.
Set off from Cley next the Sea and you’ll hike through saltmarsh, past numerous wading birds along a maze of muddy channels. Eventually you’ll reach the coast and the 4 mile spit of shingle then sand dunes that make up the Blakeney National Nature Reserve.
The end of the spit, Blakeney Point, is home to a colony of grey seals, who haul themselves ashore each winter to give birth - it’s also a protected nesting site for arctic terns. The area does have restricted access during pupping and nesting season.
Haystacks, Lake District, Cumbria
Wainwright’s favourite fell, and possibly England’s best view
Could the master of all things Lake District be wrong? No, he can’t!
Haystacks was Wainwright’s favourite fell, and for good reason too - it’s much less visited than many of the Lakes’ more accessible fells, and has a truly wild and remote feel.
From Honister Pass you can easily gain access to Haystacks’ spiky slate and heather flanks. In fact, once you’ve left the visitor centre of the Honister slate mine (with its challenging Via Ferrata routes), you’ll forget all about the world’s modern trappings, and lose yourself in the remote beauty of the lakes.
The highlight of a hike to the summit of Haystacks is the view across Buttermere valley - possibly England’s finest.
Lizard Peninsula and the South West coast path, Cornwall
Cliffs, coves and cream teas
The South West Coast Path is England’s finest coastal route, but to tackle it all will take at least three weeks, as its 630 miles long - running from Minehead in Somerset, to Poole in Dorset.
Our favourite spot along the whole route is the Lizard Peninsula on Cornwall’s south coast - geographically close to Lands End, yet a million miles away from the tacky hustle, bustle, and coach parties of England’s most westerly point.
The Lizard Peninsula is surrounded by water, giving it an island feel, with three of its sides shaped by the sea and the Helford River to its north. Hiking anywhere on the Lizard is a joy, but it’s the coast path that is the undoubted highlight.
Malvern Hills, Worcestershire
A circular ridge walk with a pint!
The eight-mile ridge that is the Malvern Hills lies almost due north-south, and is simply perfect for a blustery day hike, with numerous options of varying lengths - with the best start point possibly being the excellent walker’s bar in the Malvern Hills Hotel at British Camp (actually it’s probably better as a finish point, or you may never take a walk at all!).
From the car park at British Camp there is an excellent circular walk which follows the ridge through the Witch Cutting and then up Worcester Beacon, the highest point of the hills; you can then either drop down to the west and take a lower route back, or go on to the top of North Hill, the last hill going north, and then return to the west of Worcester beacon on the lower route.
Hiking south from the car park, over British Camp (an ancient hill fort with Elgar connections) and then onto Castlemorton, Midsummer Hill and then further minor hills going south is shorter, but arguably prettier….
Greenwich to the London Eye, Thames Path, London
Shakespeare and Nelson’s blood-stained jacket!
Many may wish to hike the western reaches of the 184-mile Thames Path, but we’ve chosen an urban route into the heart of London, incorporating some of England’s finest historical tales and buildings.
Where better to start than Greenwich, with its National Maritime Museum (housing Nelson’s blood-stained jacket), the Royal Observatory, the Queen's House gallery and the Cutty Sark?
The hike towards Tower Bridge passes through the historical dockyards, and past many riverside watering holes with tales of pirates and mischief.
Continuing from Tower Bridge you’ll hike past the Tower of London, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, the Tate Modern and St Pauls before finishing at the London Eye opposite the Houses of Parliament.
Cheesewring and the tors of Dartmoor National Park, Devon
Mystical Granite Outcrops
All the tors of Dartmoor are worth a hike, yet we’ve chosen Cheesewring: firstly because of its stunning location, and secondly because it’s got such a great name!
Tors - large granite outcrops, which often seem totally out of place among the green rolling Devon hills - are present across much of Dartmoor National Park, and make for great focus points for any hike in this wonderfully unspoilt part of England. Many are great fun to climb up for a tor-top picnic, or to simply lie back on and watch the clouds roll by.
Hadrian’s Wall Path, Northumberland and Cumbria
Roman forts and remote ridges
South of the modern-day Scottish border, the Hadrian’s Wall Trail (a World Heritage Site) is an 84 mile long hike through rugged moorland and rolling fields, along the path of where the 2,000 year old Roman wall once marked the border between England and Scotland.
The hiking here is often exposed, and will appeal to those who love a bleak, wild and open landscape. There is some hiking is through sheltered valleys, but most is in on ridgeways offering fantastic views both to the north and south - and while feeling rugged and well away from urbanisation, it is in fact never too far from accommodation or a pint.
Malhamdale, North Yorkshire, on the Pennine Way long distance route
Falcons, cliffs and limestone pavement.
A circular hike incorporating the stunning cliffs of Malham Cove, a gorge scramble up Gordale Scar, as well as an ankle-twisting crossing over England’s finest limestone pavement, is all accessed in an energetic day from the Malham National Park Centre – which is also a great place to pick up maps.
If that’s not enough, then why not tackle all, or part, of the Pennine Way itself? It’s a 270-mile long distance trail which runs from the Peak District National Park, along the Pennine ridge, through the Yorkshire Dales and on into the Scottish borders.
The Sculpture Trail, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Art in an ancient forest
The Forest of Dean is a wonderful place to hike, especially when you can shelter under the trees in the hot summer months, and splash in its many streams.
Sitting between the Wye Valley and the River Severn, this former royal hunting forest offers a maze of hiking and mountain bike trails in one of the last few remaining ancient forests in England.
It’s also perfect in the spring, when the forest floor is carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic.
We love the Sculpture Trail, which is a series of huge art works created in 1986. It’s easy to imagine a giant strolling high above these woods before resting in the Giants Chair, our favourite artwork…
Seven Sisters and The South Downs Way, Southern England
England’s newest National Park
A coastal hike over the Seven Sisters is one of the highlights of the wonderful South Downs Way.
The ‘sisters’ are seven rolling green hills, which rise abruptly over a series of sheer chalk cliffs. If you don’t wish to hike over them, you can always opt for a lovey 11-mile hike from Seaford to Southease along the shore?
The South Downs Way is a little over 100 miles of almost entirely off-road route, which runs from England’s first capital - Winchester - all the way to Eastbourne in the east.