11 Top Walks in England to Explore

There's an array of picturesque walks across England to discover, from easy to advanced and countryside to coast, plus a host of wonderful places to stay nearby. With spring in full swing, it got us thinking about our favourite locations to get out on foot. Below, we highlight some of the top walks in England, including scenic routes in Kent and challenging hikes in the Lake District.

St Ives to Zennor

Make your way along the gorse-topped cliffs from picturesque St Ives, and after six miles of dramatic (and sometimes challenging) Cornish coastline, you'll reach the historic town of Zennor. A little way beyond, the Gurnard's Head is an excellent spot for lunch and to rest your head for the night. Or, if you prefer to stay in St Ives, take the inland route back, and you'll have tramped 12 miles in all. Jumping on the Land's End Coaster bus is also an option. Upon your return, check in to Blue Hayes, where sumptuous boutique suites with panoramic sea views are the order of the day.

High Force Waterfall

From way up on the North Pennines, the River Tees gushes towards a precipitous rock ledge, where it plunges into a raging pool below. To see it in all its glory, start at Teesdale's High Force Hotel, and after a walk through woodland, you'll reach the 70-foot thundering waterfall – the biggest single-drop in England, so you really shouldn't miss this! If you'd prefer a bigger walk, hike up to the falls from Bowlees Visitor Centre, a few miles back down the valley. High Cup Nick is also well worth considering: a spectacular and challenging 9.5-mile walk. At the end of the day, head to Hillcrest Hideaways, a duo of luxury lodges for couples (one is dog-friendly, the other has a private hot tub).

Norfolk Coast Path

Spanning 84 miles, the Norfolk Coast Path meanders from Hunstanton in the west to Cromer in the east. For the most part, it's an easy stroll, weaving along marshes, sand dunes and low cliffs. Plus, as a National Trail, it’s well-signed. Consider booking into the White Horse at Brancaster Staithe and joining the path at the bottom of the garden: head westwards, where you stay at boutique hotel Titchwell Manor if you prefer, or go eastwards towards Wells-next-the-Sea, if you're after a lengthier walk.


The hike up England’s third-highest peak is way beyond a Sunday afternoon stroll – an ambitious mixture of fell walking and scrambling. In fact, the ascent of this 950-metre peak is one of Britain’s biggest mountain challenges, which is one of the reasons it made this '11 Top Walks in England to Explore' list. The truly spectacular route starts in the village of Glenridding, then the climbing really begins, followed by making your way along the narrow ridge of Striding Edge to the summit. It will come as no surprise that you pass some pretty dramatic scenery along the way, on the steep climb over Birkhouse Moor and at the top of Helvellyn itself, where the sweeping views stretch across virtually the whole of the Lake District National Park. Accommodation-wise, luxury country house Another Place, The Lake is an excellent option nearby. One-of-a-kind boutique bolthole Randy Pike and deluxe Brimstone Hotel are also top choices, albeit further away by car.

North Bovey to Easdon Tor

Brace yourself for invigorating country air with an energetic hour or so walk up Easdon Tor. Head to the triangulation point, and as you reach the top, take in scenic 360-degree outlooks of Dartmoor, including a range of additional famous tors – King, Honeybag, and Chinkwell. If you're lucky, you may spot wild ponies grazing. Also look out for the craggy outline of Hound Tor, referenced in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. By the time you walk back down, you'll no doubt be ready for some R&R, so make your way to The Lodges at Bovey Castle, where family-friendly accommodation sits in the vast grounds of a first-rate hotel. On-site, there's also an 18-hole championship golf course, plus a swimming pool, sauna, spa, gym and tennis courts.

Blakeney Point

It's possible to take a boat to see the seal colony at North Norfolk's Blakeney Point, but many prefer to explore the iconic shingle spit of the Nature Reserve on foot. The route we recommend (also one of Time Out's top walks in England) showcases the very best of this stretch of coastline. Start at Wells-next-the-Sea and check into The Globe before heading hitting the coastal path; taking 2.5 hours or so, you'll probably want to jump on the Coasthopper back to your starting point. Or, stay at The Wiveton Bell instead, a country pub with boutique rooms on the outskirts of Blakeney.

Malham Cove

The eight-mile walk at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales really does take some beating, and in a way, it's a shame to tell you too much about it in advance. What we will say, is it involves lush green fields, a babbling stream and a curved limestone cliff that's almost 300 feet high – formed by a melting glacier that created a natural amphitheatre. Tired but exulted, make your way to Falcon Manor, a grand manor house set in manicured grounds on the edge of Settle.

Stiperstones Ridge

Shropshire's Stiperstones is steeped in myth and legend, but it's also a Nature Reserve, meaning you can leave your vehicle in the handy car park. Proceed on foot up the jagged mountain, which looks east towards the equally spectacular ridge of the Long Mynd, and west far across the border into Wales. The landscape is as dramatic as you'd expect, and this is also one of the furthest places south where you can see wild grouse in the wild – look out for a plump, medium-sized game bird with a small hooked beak. Then back to Castle Hotel, a lovely country bolthole with comfy rooms, a welcoming bar and a restaurant focusing on local produce. Oh, and they're dog-friendly too.

Nine Ladies

This early Bronze Age stone circle is supposed to depict nine naughty ladies who were turned to stone. Why? As a penalty for dancing on a Sunday. Interestingly, it's actually made up of 10 stones: one was discovered in 1977, but the name stuck anyway. The walk from the nearby village of Birchover is short but lovely – around three miles – taking in some of the best of Derbyshire's Stanton Moor itself, with its expansive views, slopes of bracken and heather, and of course, those ancient stones. Fancy staying in the area? Dannah Farm is the ideal spot – a high-end B&B in an informal setting.

Old Man of Coniston

It really is worth the effort to get up the Lake District's Old Man of Coniston. Not only is the view from its peak unmissable, but so is the rugged scenery you see on the way up. What's more, wild swimmers will be in their element – we recommend heading to the secluded tarn of Low Water for a dip. If you have energy to spare, make your way north to Swirl How, before descending and then climbing to the summit of Wetherlam. There, you can take in the vistas of Coniston Water before making your way back to the village itself, where the comfy and brilliantly appointed YHA Coniston Holly How makes an excellent base. Home to private rooms and dorms, the hostel is also a Mountain Leader Training and Assessment base for walkers of all ages and levels. For something a little more luxurious, head to Windemere and check in to Storrs Hall Hotel, a beautiful Grade II-listed country house right on the shores, or Applegarth Villa, a glam five-star retreat up in the village.

Viking Coastal Trail

This 32-mile walk around the coast of the Isle of Thanet can be completed in a couple of days, or you may prefer to focus on the eight-mile stretch that links Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – a flattish stroll along sandy beaches and grassy cliffs. Take in the old town of Ramsgate, the lovely beaches and array of pubs at Broadstairs, and the sweeping harbour, foodie hotspots and art gallery at Margate. Come evening, head inland and stop at The Duke William, a quintessential Kentish pub with superb food and stylish rooms. Or, for a romantic retreat, make your way just north of Canterbury to Honey Tree Lodge, where deluxe cabins await.

For more information about places to stay near these top walks in England, head to our 'Destinations' guides, including the North Norfolk Coast, Cornwall, and Sussex.

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