From coast to countryside: Britain’s best summer walks

Advice

The summer Bank Holiday weekend is on the horizon and with rumours of another heatwave in the forecast, there’s no better excuse to strap up your hiking boots and make tracks for Britain’s walking trails.

From meandering around Cornwall’s fishing villages to rambling in the Lake District fells, you don’t need to be an expert hiker to make the most of the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a dramatic coastal path or spectacular summit staycationers are spoilt for choice when it comes to plotting their next walking route.

Below we highlight the perfect spots for a summer walk in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, chosen from the National Trust archive.

1. Boscastle and the Valency Valley, Cornwall 

Beginning in the picturesque seaside village of Boscastle, this walk explores the cliffs above Boscastle’s medieval harbour before heading inland across the Valency Valley and through peaceful woodland, alongside the meandering Valency River. Follow the route here.



Boscastle, Cornwall


Boscastle, Cornwall


Credit: Getty

2. Castle Drogo, South Devon 

Perfect for families and anyone unfamiliar with astronomy, this walk will introduce you to stargazing in the tranquillity of the Teign Valley, near Castle Drogo. The open skies are a magical location for stargazing and wildlife spotting. You can also print off a copy of their summer stargazing guide to take with you. Follow the route here.

We’ve rounded up the best walking holidays across the UK.

3. Bolt Head, Devon

Discover the dramatic coast around Salcombe, walking from East Soar to the charming secluded beach at Soar Mill Cove. After a rest on the beach, journey around the jagged rocks at Bolt Head and drink in the fantastic views as you walk up the Salcombe Estuary. Follow the route here.



Salcombe Estuary, Devon


Salcombe Estuary, Devon


Credit: Getty

4. Ivinghoe Beacon on the Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire

Ivinghoe Beacon is the best point on the Ashridge Estate to enjoy spectacular views over several counties. The hill is speckled with hundreds of wild flowers and rare orchids and even rarer butterflies like the Duke of Burgundy. The Beacon is steeped in history, including prehistoric earthworks, an Iron Age hill fort, Bronze Age burial mounds and rutted paths from centuries of cattle droving. Have a go at the butterfly trail, perfect in the summer months. Follow the route here.

5. Compton Bay & Downs, Isle of Wight 

Butterfly spotting doesn’t get any better than this. As you walk along the chalk ridge that runs through the middle of the Isle of Wight you’ll find an abundance of flora and insect life. Look out for beauties including the Adonis blue, small blue, dark-green fritillary and Glanville fritillary. Follow the route here.



Compton Bay, Isle of Wight


Compton Bay, Isle of Wight


Credit: Getty

6. Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

Devil’s Dyke Histories and Mysteries walk has stunning views and the opportunity to see kestrels and the remains of an Iron Age hill fort. The trail passes through chalk land and woodland, with a café en route, and then on to a working farm, Saddlescombe. The walk finishes near a country pub for a final pit stop. Follow the route here.

7. Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

As well as a grand Baroque mansion with a large natural history collection, Calke Abbey has secret walled gardens and parkland, much of which is a National Nature Reserve. The park is a rich and varied landscape of grassland, ponds and wood pasture – one of the rarest habitats in Europe. You’ll also find majestic veteran trees and some great bug-watching sites. There are no public roads at Calke so it’s perfect for a peaceful walk. Follow the route here.

8. Derwent Valley, Peak District

Wonderful for taking in the many Peak District habitats, this walk will lead you alongside the Ladybower Reservoir, through farmland and up steep wooded cloughs, before emerging high on top of the moors. The panoramic views of the Derwent Valley and much of the Dark Peak are stunning on a clear summer’s day. Follow the route here.



Derwent Valley, Peak District


Derwent Valley, Peak District


Credit: Getty

9. Hardwick Hall, Chesterfield 

Once home to Bess of Hardwick, the hall’s Elizabethan splendour dominates the landscape, which once provided for her household. Much of Hardwick looks the way it does today because of the way Bess and her Devonshire descendants shaped the countryside to meet their needs. A walk around the estate could transport you back to its heyday. Follow the route here.

10. Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

The whole family can enjoy the wildlife in this unique habitat on an easy walk. Visit three wildlife hides including the 10-metre high Tower Hide, with commanding views across the reserve, and in summer you could take a short detour onto the Butterfly Trail. Follow the route here.



Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire


Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire


Credit: Getty

11. Blakeney to Stiffkey, Norfolk

Norfolk’s vast open landscape and big skies are highlighted on this lovely walk along the coast path beside pristine saltmarsh. Remember to bring your binoculars, as there are lots of wildlife-spotting opportunities across the marshes and scrub. Follow the route here.

12. Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

The coloured jewelled way-markers on this pleasant route form a loop at the top of Dunstable Downs, taking in woodland and, as you return to the Chiltern Gateway Centre, open pastures with views of Aylesbury Vale. Follow the route here.



Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire


Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire


Credit: Getty

13. Craster to Low Newton, Northumberland

For a bracing and beautiful coastal walk, Northumberland is without compare. This walk takes you past Embleton beach.  Setting off from the fishing village of Craster, it passes the mighty ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, and the long sweep of Embleton Sands before reaching Low Newton by the Sea. It’s a wonderful walk all year round but is ideal for paddling (or swimming for the brave) in summer. Follow the route here.

14. Old Saltburn to Warsett Hill, North Yorkshire 

Starting in the Victorian seaside town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea, this walk has many interesting features. Though the area may seem like a natural landscape when enjoying the coastal wildlife, man has had a significant impact on it. Follow the route here.



Saltburn-by-the-Sea


Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire


Credit: Getty

15. Sticklebarn Blea Tarn Trail, Cumbria

This walk offers a great opportunity for all to get out into the fells safely, while enjoying brilliant views of Lingmoor and Pike of Blisco and other surrounding Langdale fells. The vistas on a clear summers day are incomparable. Follow the route here.

16. Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

An easy walk around Bosherston’s beautiful lily ponds, with options to explore the dunes and pools of the Mere Pool Valley behind Broadhaven beach. The walk is mostly along even gravel paths with two narrow causeways and is rich in wildlife all year round. Follow the route here.



Bosherston's lily ponds


Bosherston’s lily ponds, Pembrokeshire


Credit: Getty

17. Marloes Peninsula, Pembrokeshire

Explore this beautiful heathland peninsula, which has amazing views over the Pembrokeshire coast and is teeming with wildlife, such as seals, seabirds and porpoises. Follow the route here.

18. Murlough National Nature Reserve, Dundrum, Northern Ireland

There aren’t many better places to unwind than on a beach walk at Murlough with a stunning view overlooking the Mourne Mountains. There are also fantastic nature trails, and winding paths amongst the dunes, to get lost on. Follow the route here.



Murlough, Northern Ireland


Murlough, Northern Ireland


Credit: Getty

19. Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Enjoy a gentle walk through native Irish woodland with historical estate features along the way, including the Florence Court Yew Tree. There are two different routes for walkers, the forest park and pleasure grounds on the Blue Trail, or take some extra time to tackle the Red Trail. Follow the route here.

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