15 Best Hikes in England in 2023 (For All Levels) – Goats On The Road

Estimated read time 21 min read


While it may not be home to the highest peaks in the world, hikes in England still offer spectacular scenery and a peaceful escape from city life. The best hiking trails in England are, of course, subject to opinion, but I’ve been lucky enough to have hiked in many areas across the country and have garnered some favorites over the course of time.

As I currently live in Manchester, I’ve taken the opportunity to hike in some of the nearby areas of the Peak District, Lake District, and Lancashire. There are so many excellent day hikes around England that are easily accessible by train or bus, so you don’t necessarily need to have a car for some of the trails mentioned in this blog.

From serene trails taking in the quaint countryside to tricky terrain boasting stunning natural beauty, the country’s hikes offer a little something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, read on to hear about some of the best hikes around England, suited to all levels and abilities.

15 Best Hikes in England

A group of mountaineers over the mountain at sunset.
Best Hikes in England

I’ve lived in the UK for my entire life. Throughout that time, I’ve done more than my fair share of hiking, and have come to gather a list of preferred treks. For me, some of the best places to visit in England are the National Parks and the stunning countryside.

I’ve compiled this list of walking trails in England based on their level of ease (or difficulty), views, local history, and accessibility.

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

Situated near Castleton, Derbyshire, I consider Mam Tor to be one of the best hikes in England and the one I visit most frequently.

The route is accessible from the Edale side or Castleton. I’ve taken both routes and found that the Edale side is considerably more difficult as the trail is much rockier and has less of a defined path. The Castleton side has a stone-surfaced footpath, making it easier to navigate.

Mam Tor gets very busy on weekends and in the summer months, so I’d recommend getting there early or visiting on a weekday if possible. The scenery is gorgeous, with rolling valleys and lush landscapes on either side of the trail.

For something extra special, get an ultra-early start to watch the sunrise from the top of Mam Tor. I did the hike in winter and was blessed with pink-hued skies, plus, I bumped into some friendly cows beside the path. Note that it can get very cold and windy at the peak of the trail, so be sure to layer up.

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 looking for easy hikes around England, Fairy Glen should be one of your top choices. This lovely, meandering walk takes in a mixture of canal and woodlands but be prepared for some road walking too.

The circular route is mostly flat, making it a popular spot among families wanting to take in picturesque scenery and look out for local wildlife. The trail can get rather muddy after heavy rainfall, so pack your wellies or some good-quality hiking boots.

There are designated seating and picnic areas available; a fantastic way to fuel up after discovering 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 is not one for an amateur hiker. Known as one of the famed ‘National Three Peaks‘, it’s an unsurprisingly difficult route that is revered among UK hikers.

If you’re up for a tough yet rewarding trek, Scafell Pike is one of the best hiking trails in England. I would strongly suggest you only try this route in clear, dry weather, as rocky steps and loose gravel make this a challenging walk.

Sturdy footwear and previous hiking experience are an absolute must for Scafell Pike, particularly as there’s little to no shade and the weather can be rather unpredictable. Your hard work will pay off at the summit, however, with incredible views of the shimmering Wastwater Lake.

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 is a popular trail, and for good reason too. As you make your way through Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar, and Malham Cove, you’ll come across gushing waterfalls, intriguing geology, and a pretty pool. The terrain is a little tricky to navigate in certain areas, but overall it’s a generally moderate hike.

Malham Cove, a rock formation reminiscent of an amphitheater that was shaped during the Ice Ages, is sure to be the highlight of your hike. Malham Landscape Trail is one of my favorite places to hike in England, as it’s a gorgeous mix of history and nature.

Pay careful attention to the rocks, stones, and steep pathways along the route. They are especially treacherous in wet weather, so I’d suggest attempting the trail in the summer months when there’s less chance of rain.

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 among my top easy hikes around England. It’s a well-loved route for those in the surrounding areas of Manchester and Sheffield thanks to its ease and short completion time.

I’ve spent many a day out with family members of all ages at the reservoir, and everyone has found it a relaxing and peaceful hike. Kids and big kids alike will love being able to watch falcons through a telescope at Ashway Gap on their way around. It’s also a great spot for a picnic.

On a sunny day, this is one of the best summer hikes in England thanks to the surrounding greenery and beautiful waters of the reservoir. There’s no need for fancy footwear for this trail, as it can easily be done in trainers or wellies.

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

Introducing the first hike on this list in the South of England – can you tell I live in the North?! – Cheddar Gorge. This beautiful hike is an Area of Outstanding Beauty and one of the most impressive natural landmarks in the country.

As you hike this moderate trail, you’ll find subterranean caves, see imposing stalagmites, and uncover the fascinating history of British ancestors. If you’re the adventurous kind, you can try out rock climbing or caving here too.

Friends who have completed this trek have warned me that the start of the walk is a little tough, but the views at the top are worth it. After the walk, reward yourself with 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

I have tried, and failed, to complete this tricky trek in the past. Situated in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty, it’s one of the most beautiful walking trails in England, but you have to work for the views!

The particular hike I tried goes from Friday Street to Leith Hill, but we had to turn back due to the overgrown, muddy paths. If, like me, you aren’t up for a scramble, you can try the much easier Leith Hill Woodland Circular instead.

Following a scramble through ancient woods, you’ll reach the top of Leith Hill, the highest point in Southeast England. Stop for a quick coffee and take in the views – you may even spot Big Ben in the distance 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

The unique-looking craggy rock formations and sprawling moorlands attract walkers from across the country to The Roaches. Synonymous with myths and folklore, it’s an area shrouded by an air of intrigue thanks to the wallabies that once roamed the area following their escape from a private zoo.

Some parts of the hike are pretty steep, but despite that, it’s a relatively moderate climb. You’ll pass through rolling green landscapes and heather fields, and come across a picturesque pond.

There are parts of the trail that require a bit of a scramble, so come prepared with good walking shoes and a ‘mucking in’ mentality. Be sure to grab an Insta-worthy picture atop one of 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 is one of the most famous sites in all of the UK, and this circular route undoubtedly offers some of the best hiking in England.

The first part of the route is backed by gorgeous sea views as you traverse the edge of the famed chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters. Following that, you’ll enjoy an undulating, varied trail through fields and the woodlands of Friston Forest.

I’d advise you to choose your route carefully based on the wind conditions (e.g. Friston Forest to Seven Sisters may be a better option depending on which way the wind is blowing). The Seven Sisters Visitor Center is a handy stopping point if you want to freshen up or grab 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 route is perfect for families looking to explore the great outdoors. The coastal trail takes in beautiful ocean views and can be walked from the seaside for the most part, if tides allow.

Should you choose to walk along the clifftops, you’ll need to pack a jumper because the winds up there are unforgiving at the best of times. Other than that, there’s an easily navigable path on this hike which makes it suitable for most abilities. If you’re looking for easy day hikes around England, this is a great option.

While I haven’t done this particular route myself, I have visited both Margate and Broadstairs. The areas are incredibly beautiful and a must-see for beach lovers.

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 of my go-to hikes in the North, Ingleton Waterfalls offers the chance to see cascading waterfalls and abundant wildlife. This isn’t a particularly difficult hike, but I would exercise caution around the steps, which are uneven and can get very slippery after it rains.

As you make your way around the trail, you’ll get to see nature at its best. I’d recommend stopping once in a while to spot birds and butterflies as you make your way through dense woodlands. Or, if you’re feeling brave, make your way to Thornton Force for a cold water dip.

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite waterfall hikes in England. If you can only try one trail on this list, I’d suggest that it’s 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, this 165km route is one you need to be in good shape for. While it may take between 7 and 10 days to complete, it’s certainly worth it.

Other than its length, the Cotswold Way is a relatively easy route and is one of the best winter hikes in England. In the colder months, the pretty villages and tranquil woodlands look even more picturesque. Along the way, you’ll come across historic monuments such as Sudeley Castle and the Broadway Tower.

While I haven’t completed this route myself, a friend of mine has. She emphasized that there are few campsites along the trail, so you should book ahead to ensure you have a place to rest your head.

If you’re not up for the entire hike, there are shorter circular routes that can be completed as day trips instead. If you’re interested, click here for a fun tour of the Cotswolds.

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

I can’t believe I’ve yet to try this famous route! Renowned as one of the most beautiful walking trails in England, this hike combines Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads Roman Fort, and Sycamore Gap.

There are lots of inclines and drops on the trail, meaning you’ll need strong legs and some good boots to get you through the undulating landscapes. Overall, though, it’s easy to follow the pathways and you’re sure to love being surrounded by English history and rolling green hills.

If you’d like to break up the route, you can stop off at Housesteads Roman Fort to explore the museum and learn about its intriguing archaeology. You’ll be transported back in time to the Roman Empire while surrounded by beautiful views.

Get your camera ready at Sycamore Gap, where you’ll find a beautiful sycamore tree rising out of a dip in Hadrian’s Wall. It’s one of the most photographed spots in England, so be sure to grab a picture to remember your visit.

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 "Bozza."
Old Glossop and B-29 Crash Site

Another entry on the list from the Peak District National Park, but it’s for good reason. This captivating hiking trail is incredibly moving, as it takes you to the site of the B-29 airplane crash, and the subsequently built memorial.

After walking through Old Glossop, the path climbs gradually. At the top, you’ll find the debris of a US Air Force plane that crashed back in 1948. It’s a sobering experience, but one that is worth doing. You can also pay your respects at the memorial before continuing your hike through the beautiful hills of Glossop.

I did this hike with family back in my teens, and it’s left a lasting impression on me ever since. It leaves you feeling extremely humbled, while simultaneously grateful for the service of our veterans.

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

Technically this hike is in Wales, but if you’re looking for hikes near England, this challenging, steep hike is one of the more difficult trails to try and tackle on this list. It is, however, one of the most rewarding. Following a scramble among rough terrain and tricky pathways, your efforts will be compensated by immense views and access to all four waterfalls in the national park.

This trek requires a good amount of care as there are points that suddenly descend beside you, especially when you arrive at the waterfalls. This is an amazing spot for a wild swim, particularly in the summer months, when you can paddle beneath the cascading waters.

The demanding trail followed by the relief of seeing the stunning waterfalls makes the Four Waterfalls Walk one of the most beautiful and best hikes near 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

What to Pack for Hikes in England

A stunning cliff landscape in Cornwall

You may have heard that England is all rain, rain, rain. The country isn’t exactly blessed with amazing weather, so it’s best to be prepared for all types of conditions before setting off. Here are some must-haves to make your hikes a breeze:

  • A portable charger: There’s nothing worse than your phone battery dying while out on a hike. No phone potentially means no map and no taking pictures, so a sleek, lightweight portable charger will come in handy.
  • A daypack: You don’t want to carry around a heavy backpack. Instead, opt for a compact, waterproof sling daypack with plenty of easy-to-reach compartments.
  • Collapsible water bottle: Hydration is vital when out on a hike. Collapsible water bottles are a great addition to your hiking gear as they’re light, easily foldable, and take up less room than a traditional water bottle.
  • Thermal socks: There’s nothing worse than having to break in new hiking boots, so thick socks are a must to make things easier (and less painful). They’ll also keep your toes warm on winter hikes.
  • Water shoes: If, like me, you love to go for cold water dips, water shoes are a must-have. These quick-dry shoes protect your feet from the rocky steps surrounding waterfalls and have a multitude of other uses, such as yoga, beach excursions, and camping.
  • Microfiber towel: I absolutely swear by microfiber towels – I never travel or hike without one. Whether you use it to dry off after a swim or mop up your sweat during a challenging route, it’s a must-have for any hiking adventure. It can also double up as a blanket if you need to sit down.
  • A good pair of hiking boots: Slippery trails, muddy paths, and rocky routes mean one thing – you need a sturdy, comfortable pair of hiking boots. You can find the men’s version here.

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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