Exploring Britain's walking trails, with their abundance of heritage, archaic ruins and beautiful vistas, is a year-round delight regardless of season.
As Spring's warmth rejuvenates and revives our weather-beaten winter landscapes, there is none more beautiful a sight than the carpets of bluebells which grow by the wayside of Wiltshire's woodland walks. In summer, the balmy evenings light the way for heritage trails along the spectacular Hadrian's Wall bordering Scotland, encouraging many a couple to head for the North of Cumbria to enjoy romantic sunset views along the Solway.
Whether you seek the isolation of a wilderness that seems to fall away with every step, or the lively spirited gardens of English country mansions – they're not as far away as you think.
Best For Exploring - Exmoor, North Devon
Exmoor - stretching between the North Devon hills and West Somerset, is considered the wildest of England's national parks. Well-trodden walks such as the South West Coast National Trail take in some of the highest cliffs in the U.K, while Dunkery Beacon (the highest of Exmoor's hills at 519m/ 1,704 ft) poses more of a hiking challenge to those seeking spectacular views of the rise-and-fall landscape, punctured by crags, chasms and gushing rivers.
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Best For Climbers/ Advanced Hikers - Snowdonia National Park
By contrast, Snowdonia National Park offers little respite in the way of flatlands; the landscape comprising the mountainous spine that bridges England with North Wales. While the Yr Wyddfa peak of Snowdon offers a defiant challenge to skilled climbers, there are plenty of less exhaustive routes, including the walk from Rhydd Ddu village, just beneath the slopes of the six-peak Moel Hebog range. Nantlle Ridge is well worth an afternoon's ascension, offering stunning vistas of Snowdonia's North face.
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Best For Families - The New Forest, South-West Hampshire
If you long for a gentile amble through a wooded glen or canopied forest, the New Forest in South-West Hampshire offers over 146 miles of meandering foot and bike paths, with an additional 35 miles of bridle-paths intersecting them. With a plethora of roaming wildlife species such as the elusive Muntjac deer, wild ponies and Mandarin ducks, the New Forest is ideal for family days out – some of the best walks starting from Brockenhurst village, just off the M27 at Cadnam.
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Best For A Scottish City Vista – Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh
The arresting beauty of Scotland's wild fells and plains prompts many a U.K family to up sticks and head to the North for their summer or winter breaks, but there is more to the Scottish allure than the heavenly Highlands. Just a ten-minute walk from Edinburgh's archaic Old Town will transport walkers to a land of uncompromising beauty – Holyrood Park. Characterised by sheer volcanic cliff fascias, curious chapel ruins and one of the best cityscapes in Scotland, Holyrood Park boasts the now benign volcanic mound, Arthur's Seat. At just 251 metres high, it's not the highest peak in the world, and the ascent is fairly tame, but from the top, you'll enjoy panoramic views of sprawling Edinburgh and beyond.
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Best For Off The Beaten Track – The Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire
When you're seeking the kind of escapism that only a rural journey can bring, the Yorkshire Dales presents one of the most verdant places in England to get away from it all. Sleepy villages nestle within craggy valleys, which gently extend down to sloping plains and babbling brooks. Here, the modern world is almost fantasy, and it's just you, the green, and the sky. Malhamdale in the South of Dale country (not far from Skipton) is a treasure trove of trails, including Gordale Beck which leads to the thundering Gordale Scar Waterfall. The limestone cliffs around Malham Tarn shelter a plenitude of pathways up from the village, encompassing what is also known as “Lime Lake” (Malham Tarn), due to its having the highest concentration of lime deposit in all England. Here, time stands still, and nature is King – the perfect escape from hectic town life.
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