The UK countryside is blessed with a wealth of hills to explore. If you're looking for one of the major mountains in the UK to climb, see our article below.
Hill walking is a great way to get outside, have a good workout and see the stunning landscapes in the process. The great thing about hill walking is that it's accessible for almost everyone. To get started, all you have to do is get together some basic kit, round up some friends (or just enjoy a simple stroll by yourself) and get going!
Just remember, if you're going without an experienced walking leader up challenging mountains, make sure you're able to navigate in any circumstances, even if the weather changes. Also make sure you've got the means to call for help in case you have to. And if you're going out by yourself, be sure to tell a friend where you're going in case you don't return so people can come and find you.
If you're looking for something less daunting or with less travel, we've pulled together some of our favourite locations to find hill walking near me. This is largely compromised of the UK's National Parks and AONBs, with a couple of other good hill walking locations for good measure.
National Parks Hill Walking
Each of the National Parks in the UK have a distinct landscape and reason to visit. The National Parks were set up for the public to enjoy and to protect the land by the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The first National Park established was the Peak District National Park in 1951 and since, the remaining 14 added across the UK.
England Lakes District, Peak District, New Forest, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Broads, Northumberland, North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, and South Downs.
Wales Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast
Scotland Loch Lomond & the Trossachs and the Cairngorms.
Each National Park has great walking to be had and you're never too far away.
The Lake District is known as some of the most mountainous in England, with Scafell Pike the England's highest peak. The Peak District is a little less remote and is more accessible being close to major cities Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. The Peak District offers a wealth of hill walking. Another major National Park is the New Forest. It's brilliant for Londoners, being a relatively easy journey, but has less room for hill walking due to its elevation being much lower. It's much better suited for long walks, bike rides and horse riding.
Stretching from Winchester in the West to Eastbourne in the East the South Downs Way winds through the beautiful countryside of England’s Newest national Park. The South Downs were only given National Park status in 2011 but have long been revered as an area of outstanding beauty and a great venue for outdoors activities. The South Downs way also holds the claim to being the only long distance national trail that lies wholly within the boundaries of a National Park. The trail takes you through two areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB’s), the East Hampshire AONB and the Sussex Downs AONB. The trail is fairly easy walking in most places and takes your right through the heart of the threatened chalk downlands. Views across the bountiful agricultural land of Southern England offer a patchwork of views featuring chalk hangers, woodlands and grassland. For those planning to do the trail in one hit and camping along the way it is well served with camp sites, youth hostels and B&B’s along it’s length making walking the whole length of the trail in either direction relatively strait forward. Alternatively you can do it a chunk at a time should you want to share the experience with friends and family who aren’t as keen on camping as you are.
Brecon Beacons Horseshoe
The Brecon Beacons Horseshoe Ridge links four table-top peaks (Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, Fan y Big) which contains the three highest summits in South Wales. As a result, if the weathers good, you can see some spectacular views in all directions. We decided to hike this route one weekend as we’d heard good things about it. It is easy to navigate (or at least it was for us in clear weather), as we were able to see the full horseshoe and just followed the path that was clearly well worn, which led us around the whole route. I’ve heard in bad weather that it can actually by quite tricky to find your way – so it’s worth making sure you’re clear of the route before you go and take mobile phones just in case you need to ring for help (assuming you can get signal of course). The best section is up at Pen Y Fan which has really great views all around. The only issue was, that because it was quite good weather with the sun shining, there were a lot of other walkers out there – which is fine, but we wanted to feel like we were in a more secluded spot. Obviously, this is a really popular route, so that may have been wishful thinking, nevertheless, it’s a good 4 – 5 hour circular route with nice panoramic views of the mountains around.
The Cairngorms is Britain’s largest National Park, with the most extensive range of high mountains in the UK. In Winter, the Cairngorms mountain range can feel like Lapland, with the only herd of free-ranging reindeer in the Britain. A popular activity for the serious adventurers is snow-holing where you’re taught the skills to survive in the mountains during winter, for the evening you dig a hole in the snow which keeps you warm through the night. There are many walks you can do with little planning with some which are more extreme and may require a guide if you’re not confident with navigation.
AONB Hill Walking
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( AONB ) is an area of countryside in England, Wales or Northern Ireland which has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value.
The Cotswold Way
A national trail of a little over 100 miles through the countryside of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, views from the Cotswold escarpment take in the Severn Valley and the trail winds past historic sites and through the picturesque settlements and countryside of the Cotswold Area of outstanding natural Beauty.
This national trail stretches 102 miles from Chipping Campden at the North of the Costwolds to the city of Bath in the South. The trail follows the Cotswold escarpment which dominates the landscape for miles around and from that vantage point offers spectacular views. The trail winds through the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and through picturesque villages as well as woodland and farmland. I’ve walked parts of the trail several times and am constantly awed by the views across the vale of Evesham and towards the Malverns.
Views towards the river Severn and the Welsh border across Gloucestershire are fantastic in good weather but the views in the parklands of Dodington, Dyrham and Stanway are just as pleasant. The villages, settlements and estates many of which are owned and maintained as heritage sites open to the public by The National Trust including Dyrham Park and Horton Court are as much a feature of the journey as the countryside.
On my frequent trips along the Cotswold Way I have particularly enjoyed walking through the parkland and watching the deer at Dyrham Park and am always fascinated by the Devils Chimney near Lekhampton hill. As you approach the Southern end of the Cotswold way and start to descend the escarpment in to bath you will pass Little Down hill fort and bath racecourse as you enter the city of Bath and finish your journey at Bath Abbey.
Dorset Coastal Walk
Park up at St Catherine’s by the Sea (which can get quite busy during peak season, so you may have to be more creative with parking). Navigate to the start of the South West Coast Path, which leads you to all the way along the coast past Bat’s Head, past Durdle Door and to Lulworth Cove. There are nice places to stop off for lunch at Lulworth Cove with a white-pebble beach. A round trip can be 10miles with some good hill walking.There are a wealth of other walks in Dorset with beath-taking coastal views.
Hill Walking In Scotland
The Cateran Trail
A 64 mile trail in Perthishire established in commemoration of the hystoric 'caterans' sheep rustlers and thieves of the Scottish lowlands.
The Cateran Trail is a fairly long distance but circular trail, which makes it convenient to get to. If you are planning to walk it you can start and finish in Blairgowrie without having to spend ages trying to get your car back from wherever you left it. The fantastic open access laws in Scotland also make camping along the route very easy should you wish to do the whole lot in one go.
The trail winds through some beautiful lowland parts of Perth and Kinross in central Scotland but also takes you over old drovers roads and up above the treeline on to the moors and mountains. The trail takes you over several moorland areas including Cochrage moor but between mountain tops and moors the trail descends into the valleys and quant settlements of rural Scotland including Kirchmichael, Bridge of Cally and Enochdu.
At it’s further and highest point the trail takes you the Spittle of Glenshee and it’s ski resort while later in your treck you will summit Mount Blair a, round toped hill offering views back up the trail towards Strathardle and onward to Alyth where you will head to before completing the loop and returning to Blairgowrie. Along your route you will be treated to a huge range of wildlife including black and red grouse, roe, fallow and red deer and if you are observant the residents beaver colony at Blairgowries and maybe some wild boar in Alyth forest.
An iconic peak overlooking the tourist town of Pitlochry and an accesible summit for anyone visiting the area.
Ben Vrackie is a Corbett, a Scottish mountain of at least 2500 feet but not tall enough to be classified as a Munro at 3000 feet. A Corbett must also have a drop of at least 500 feet on all sides. Ben Vrackie overlooks Pitlochry at it’s foot and is a popular walk for those visiting the popular tourist town of Pitlochry.
In Summer the route follows well-made paths through woodland and then up onto the open moor and eventually to the summit. In Winter however there may be considerable amounts of snow on the route and the steeper more exposed parts of the route will require the use of ice axe and crampons and may present a danger to those who are not experienced in Winter mountaineering.
The easiest route begins at the Ben Vrackie car park just outside Pitlochry and first winds it’s way through woodland before heading out onto the open moor. You will have an easy, well-marked path to follow and finding your way won’t be a problem at all. Once you reach the view point at the summit you will have fantastic views of the Cairngorms and Beinn a Ghlo. Your route down can take you past Loch a’Choire although this part of the trail can be very boggy, so going back the way you came might be a better option.
Arthur's Seat Edinburgh Walk
Arthur's Seat sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile in the picturesque town of Edinburgh and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It can be done in between an hour or so, depending on how fast you're moving, to around 2.5 hours if you're taking your time.
When I lived in Edinburgh a trek up Arthur's Seat was a regular Sunday activity, blowing away any cobwebs from the night before and allowing us to get some fresh air and reasonable exercise before heading back into the Old Town in search of a good roast. There are two options for climbing Arthur's Seat - a short, steep route and a longer path marked by hundreds of stone steps. We would usually go up the steep side and get the heart racing and come back down the longer path after stopping off at the top to take in the views (and have a sit down).
From the top you can see right across Edinburgh, including the castle, Old Town and New Town and across to Calton Hill. If you turn round you can see out over Portobello and onto the Firth of Forth. It's a great walk for the whole family or if you're a bit more adventurous also makes for a more challenging and picturesque running route than going around the city.
Hill Walk in Wales
The Cambrian Way
One of the most challenging long distance trails in the UK, stretching from Cardiff to Conway and taking in some of the toughest terrain the country.
The Cambrian Way is one of the most challenging long distance walks I have attempted, my journey along it started in Cardiff from where I headed to my first major landmark, the fairy tale like Castell Coch made of red stone and with conical tiled roofs. Moving on from Castell Coch I headed into the Black Mountains and to Crickhowell before turning West into the Breacon Beacons.
The Breacons present navigational challenges as it’s sometimes featureless rolling landscape, although beautiful offers few landmarks to navigate by. The Breacons are beautiful though and the weather during this part of my hike was fantastic. Later as I headed North again towards Llyn Brianne and the Elan Valley the weather turned bad and I had to hike in the rain for several more days.
The scenery and mountains were still beautiful but the rain did put a dampener on things. The Cambrian way goes all the way from Cardiff in the South and Conway in the North of Wales and after the moorlands of central Wales the trail took me into The Snowdonia National Park and some of the highest peaks in Wales. Some of the key peaks along the trail include Plynlimon, Cadair Idris, The Rhinogs and the Major peaks of the Snowdon range.
When the ascent and descent of all the peaks and valleys across the whole trail are totalled you will have ascended seventy eight thousand feet, almost three times the height of Mt. Everest.
Useful Resources for Planning your next Hill Walk in the UK
There's a great number of resources to find local places for hill walking. Below are a list of useful resources. For the best hill walking routes, see our summary of some of the best day long hill walks across the UK. If you're looking for something closer to home and our recommendations are too far to travel to, check out:
This provides an interactive map to search walks, with 20,000 searchable walks, with GPX downloads available for printing. Many of the feartured walks focus on the national parks to access the stunning landscapes, but there are villages and towns in some walks.
The countries leading resource on hill walking with over 3000 hills and mountains across the UK to explore, with community uploaded photos, comments, route information, latest weather and more! You're bound to find a local hill walk near you by searching through their website.
Explore from over 100 guided day, holidays and navigation courses for Hill walks near you at Beyonk.com. Each experience is lead by a certified leader, passionate about showing off the best routes and sharing skills on survival, geology or navigation. Joining a group is a great way to meet others and get sociable.