16 Oct, 2020
Adventurous spirits love to explore new landscapes and, now more than ever, many keen travellers are discovering the joys of hiking in the UK.
From rugged coastal paths near Land’s End to the farthest reaches of Scotland, the UK is filled with beautiful places for long distance walks and camping beneath the stars. Here we round up five of the best walks in the UK to satisfy your wanderlust and inspire you to #FollowYourOwnPath.
1. South West Coast Path, Cornwall
Cornwall is one of Britain’s best-loved spots for rugged coastal beauty and its hiking trails are not to be missed. Between ancient Celtic towns and wild coastal stacks, 630 miles of footpaths provide routes for advanced ramblers and beginners alike.
The waymarked pathway passes towers, farmland and countless hidden beaches along the fabled Lizard peninsula. It’s a hiking route which starts in Somerset then passes through Devon and Cornwall before emerging at Poole Harbour in Dorset.
Hiking the entire South West Coast Path would take at least 30 days but, since there are so many idyllic villages and landscapes on the route, even beginners can find a portion they’ll love.
Dark Horse tip: Search for a few great campsites along the route to give yourself a break in one of the most picturesque parts of the UK. Watch the sun go down with a gorgeous, golden glass of our Chardonnay – a treat to reward you after that hard work hiking.
2. Scafell Pike, Lake District
Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and so naturally takes it’s place as one of the nation’s best hikes. It’s not to be underestimated, however – you’ll need good fitness levels and thorough preparation before tackling its 978-metre peak.
The challenge is worthwhile, however. There’s a poignant war memorial set in the walls of the summit cairn and the climb boasts sweeping views of glassy Burnmoor Tarn that are begging to fill up your Instagram feed.
The fastest route to the summit begins at Wasdale and follows Brown Tongue Path. Venturing to Sty Head and along the Corridor Route can be a more rewarding detour, however, giving adventurers a full flavour of England’s loftiest landscape.
3. West Highland Way, Scotland
The Scottish Highlands are home to some of most remote hiking trails in the UK, so they’re popular with nature lovers who want to disconnect from city life.
West Highland Way is one of Scotland’s Great Trails and begins near Milngavie, just seven miles north of Glasgow. It stretches almost 100 miles through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, leading all the way to Fort William near Ben Nevis.
Wild camping is a popular pursuit here, but it’s important to follow guidelines set out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and any local restrictions.
Dark Horse tip: Great wine deserves to be served with great food. Check out our guide to campfire cooking for inspiration for your meals once you’ve got a safe spot for camping in the Highlands.
4. Three Peaks, Yorkshire
Yorkshire is half the size of Belgium and boasts two amazing National Parks. As such, the county is a great place to go hiking in England.
The Three Peaks route, also known as the Three Peaks Challenge, comprises the mountains of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Athletic visitors and charity climbers may challenge themselves to complete the route in less than 12 hours, but the hike can also be spread over a long weekend to take a more leisurely pace.
There are many campsites and hotels near the train station at Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
Dark Horse tip: Want to serve your wine cool? Let Mother Nature help. Chill a bottle in a stream, using pebbles to keep it safe.
5. Slate Valleys Path, Snowdonia
Snowdonia is known for magnificent lakes, quaint coastal castles and – of course – for Britain’s most-visited mountain. This rugged landscape is home to some of the best hikes in the UK, which combine natural wonder with historic locations.
The Slate Valleys Path charts several routes through the region’s 18th-century slate quarries and mines, which shaped the culture and landscape of North Wales. The Vivian Quarry is a popular starting point, since this scenic location is home to several tourist attractions including the National Slate Museum.
Dark Horse tip: It’s important to keep your wine safe as you walk. Pack a bottle tightly, with plenty of padding, or purchase a separate bag to keep your wine safe and cool as you go.
What to take on a hike
The hiking essentials
To take, or not to take? For hikers, it’s the ultimate question. Packing for a hike can feel like a balancing act, since the right kit can improve your trip immensely, but carrying extra weight can lead to blisters and aches. Here’s a guide to the essentials.
What to pack for a day hike:
- Water – take plenty for the duration of your hike or plot out refill spots
- Spare clothing, waterproofs, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen (the weather can change dramatically in the UK)
- High-energy food
- A map, compass and GPS device
- A portable charger
- First aid kit (including plasters, blister relief sprays and pain killers)
- Walking boots
For overnight hikes and camping, you’ll also need:
- A properly fitted hiking backpack
- A lightweight tent and sleeping bag
- A torch
- Matches, a stove and multi-tool pen knife
- Rubbish bags so you can leave no trace
- Cooking and washing products
Optional luxuries for a hiking day pack:
- A professional-grade camera to snap up enviable shots
- Hiking poles for steep terrain
- A flask for that morning coffee
- Feelgood snacks and treats
- A sit mat or compact chair to set by the campfire
- Some Dark Horse wine to pair with relaxing evenings or to toast an incredible view in style. Don’t forget a non-breakable glass or tin beaker to drink it from too.
Tips for successful hiking
Time it right
Crowds can be the enemy of spectacular views. To beat the crowds, consider setting off in the early hours or hiking outside of peak season.
Choose the right level of challenge
New to hiking? It’s a great pastime to pursue – but choose too high a difficulty level and your feet may not thank you. Taking things slow gives you time to soak in the views and get used to that free-as-a-bird feeling.
Wherever you go, let us know. Tag us in your Instagram pics and use the #followyourownpath hashtag to share your hiking experiences with our community.