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11 of the best one-day hikes in the UK11 of the best one-day hikes in the UK

It was the Romantic poets, such as Wordsworth and Keats, who transformed walking from a necessity for the poor into a means of escaping smog-choked cities and connecting with nature. Their evocative accounts of strolling through the countryside captured public imagination, but private land ownership often barred access.

Undeterred, hikers formed rambling clubs to fight for their "right to roam", leading to the creation of national parks. Today, country walks (usually featuring a jolly good pub lunch, somewhere along the way) are a British pastime. Whether you prefer a challenging scramble up a mountain or a leisurely coastal meander, these are some of the best one-day hikes in the UK.

 

The Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, Cumbria (8 miles, challenging)

Country home nestled among fields and woodland in the Lake District, Cumbria

Starting from the lakeside village of Coniston, this demanding hike takes you to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston, one of the Lake District's most iconic peaks. The trail winds through ancient woodland, past tumbling waterfalls, and over rocky crags before reaching the 2,634-foot summit. On a clear day, the views stretch across the Coniston Valley to the tumultuous Irish Sea. As you ascend, keep an eye out for peregrine falcons soaring overhead and listen for the distinctive call of the cuckoo come spring.

TIP: For a less strenuous alternative, take a circular route around the tranquil waters of Tarn Hows, a fir-lined lake offering uninterrupted views of the Langdale Pikes.

Where to eat: After your descent, refuel at the Black Bull Inn, a cosy gastropub serving generous portions of Cumberland sausages with mash, fish and chips, and the like. These master brewers have won awards for their beers, so pull up a pew and let the barman run you through a tasting.

Where to stay: Skyline, with its 11 acres of fields and secret woodland to explore (as well as its own helipad).

 

The Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall (7 miles, moderate)

Lloyds Signal Station perched high on the cliffs of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall

This walk takes you along the precipitous coastline of the Lizard Peninsula, the southernmost point of mainland Britain. Starting from the village of Mullion (its shores a breeding ground for colonies of kittiwakes, cormorants, and guillemots), the route follows Cornwall’s South West Coast Path, past secluded coves and hidden beaches, before reaching the Lizard Point lighthouse. The Lizard is known for its unique geology, with rare serpentine rocks creating a mosaic of red and green hues along the coast. In summer, the cliffs are adorned with wildflowers, such as sea pinks and thyme, and you might just catch a glimpse of basking sharks, seals, or dolphins playing in the waves. Hop on the local bus from Lizard Village to take you back to Mullion.

TIP: Make a detour to Kynance Cove, a paradisiacal beach with powder-white sands, cerulean waters, and strange rock formations. This is the place for wild swimming followed by a picnic lunch.

Where to eat: The no-frills, beachfront Polpeor Café, “Britain's most southerly cafe” does superb pasties (though you pay a premium for the location), or head to Cadgwith Cove Inn to sample their gin, distilled in Mullion and flavoured with foraged rock samphire.

Where to stay: The Signal Station, an iconic coastal hideaway high on the cliffs.

 

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland (4.2 miles, moderate)

Chapel on The Isle of Skye, Scotland; moorland views, wild animals grazing, background of mountains

The Isle of Skye in Scotland is a hiker's utopia, with otherworldly landscapes and genuinely breathtaking views. The Quiraing is one of the most spectacular hikes on the island, taking you through a series of peaks, hidden plateaus, and narrow ridges. The trail can be challenging in places, with some steep ascents and descents, but the views are well worth the effort. In late summer, the heather turns the hillsides a vibrant purple; binoculars at the ready to spot golden eagles swooping through the sky and red deer grazing in the valleys.

TIP: For a shorter and more accessible alternative, try the nearby Fairy Glen. This mysterious landscape of conical hills, lush green valleys, and hidden waterfalls is said to be the home of the fairies.

Where to eat: Head to the Edinbane Inn for Hebridean mussels, Isle of Skye black pudding or wild venison burger, washed down with a pint of local ale. But the proof is in the pudding, and it’s got to be the deliciously sticky toffee, crowned with a double scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Where to stay: Supernova, an otherworldly chapel conversion offering total seclusion.

The Brecon Beacons Horseshoe, Wales (10 miles, challenging)

A home sitting beneath the peaks of Pen-y-fan in Wales; rolling hills and greenery

One of Wales’s most beautiful and unspoiled areas, this classic hike takes you to the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Starting from the Taf Fechan Forest, the path climbs steadily to the summit of Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain at 2,907 feet. From here, the route follows the ridgeline, taking in the peaks of Corn Du, Cribyn, and Fan y Big before returning to the starting point. Bluebells shoot out of the earth in spring, while in autumn the hills are alive with the sound of rutting stags. Rare species such as the Silurian moth and the Brecon Beacons hawkweed are found nowhere else in the world.

TIP: For a more secluded and less crowded alternative, try the nearby Cwm Oergwm horseshoe. It is a challenging eight-mile hike that takes in the peaks of Fan Fawr, Fan Llia, and Fan Dringarth, offering unrivalled views of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains.

Where to eat: At base, pick up supplies from Black Mountain Smokery – think Welsh charcuterie, cheeses, and smoked salmon – and tuck into your goodies at the summit of Pen y Fan. But before you fill your boots, take a refreshing dip in the crystalline waters of the Taf Fechan river, which flows through the valley below.

Where to stay: Gorgeously rustic Celestia sits beneath the peaks of Pen-y-fan, or Charity, a restored farmhouse with a hot tub, though it is a little further away.

The Seven Sisters, East Sussex (14 miles, challenging)

A green hillside with chalky white cliffs sloping onto a pebble beach at low tide, East Sussex

This arresting coastal walk takes you along the iconic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters in East Sussex, from Seaford to Eastbourne. The trail is sweat-inducing, with some steep ascents and descents, but the views are postcard-worthy. Along the way, you'll pass the famous Beachy Head lighthouse, the Birling Gap beach, and the archetypally English village of East Dean. The warmer months beckon cowslips to rear their heads, while you might catch peregrine falcons nesting on the cliffs, skylarks singing overhead and the occasional puffin.

TIP: For a shorter excursion, start the walk at the Birling Gap car park and head east to the Belle Tout lighthouse, touted as “Britain's most famous inhabited lighthouse” because of its use in film and television, including James Bond’s The Living Daylights.

Where to eat: Stop for a pub lunch at The Tiger Inn in Beachy Head, which has been serving patrons since the 16th century. Like stepping into a time warp, it’s all beer barrels, low-slung oak beams, an open fire, horse brass, a healthy selection of real ales, and what appears to be taxidermy tiger’s head.

Where to stay: Take a scenic road trip along the coast to The Matchbox, which overlooks the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, or Pearl’s on Sea, a boho beach shack with a pool.

 

The Mam Tor Circuit, Peak District, Derbyshire (6 miles, moderate)

Sheep grazing on a green hillside in the summer sun, Peak District

A satisfyingly circular walk takes you to the summit of Mam Tor, one of the most famous hills in the Peak District. Starting from the village of Castleton, the trail climbs steadily to the top of the "Shivering Mountain," named for its unstable geology (but fear not, it’s perfectly safe). From the summit, the views stretch across the Hope Valley to the gritstone edges of the Dark Peak. The Peak District is known for its unique moorland habitat. In summer, the hillsides are alive with the sound of meadow pipits, while red grouse and mountain hares silently through the heather.

TIP: For a more challenging route, continue along the Great Ridge to the summit of Lose Hill, a 10-mile round trip that offers stunning views of the Edale Valley and the Kinder Plateau.

Where to eat: On your descent, stop at the Castleton Visitor Centre to browse the artisanal shops, and sample some Castleton Blue cheese. The Bull’s Head in Castleton and The Blind Bull in Little Hucklow (a 15-minute drive away) are both excellent lunch stops. If you’re happy to travel further afield, this is the most beautiful pub in the Peak District.

Where to stay: Rally your friends and family and book into Castle Trinity for a regal escape to remember. It’s about an hour’s drive through the peaks to reach the start of the walk, but the road trip is worth it for the jaw-dropping Lord of the Rings scenery en route. 

 

The Callander to Strathyre Trail, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland (10 miles, easy)

A home with creeping ivy on the exterior set among lush gardens; Loch Lomond, Scotland

Following the route of the old Callander to Oban railway line, this delightful trail takes you through the heart of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Starting from the town of Callander (often described as the gateway to The Highlands), the trail meanders along the banks of the River Leny, past the Falls of Leny and the ruins of St Bride's Chapel, before reaching the village of Strathyre. Red squirrels, ospreys, and the elusive pine marten rule the roost here, while in autumn, the woodlands are ablaze with the colours of turning leaves, making it tricky, but not impossible, to spy red deer rutting in the glens.

TIP: Make a detour to Bracklinn Falls, a cascade of waterfalls popular for wild swimming and picnicking.

Where to eat: In Strathyre, call into The White Stag, a traditional Scottish pub. Warm yourself by the fire in the colder months, or relax in the beer garden in summer, with unrivalled views of Ben Sheann on the other side of the valley, Ben Ledi to the south, and Meall an t-Seallaidh to the north.

Where to stay: Little Eden is a romantically remote loch-side cottage surrounded by Acer trees, with the West Highland Way right on its doorstep.

 

The Amberley and Bignor Hill walk, West Sussex (10 miles, easy)

Stately home in West Sussex, pruned gardens ad trees, water feature and pond in the grounds

If you’re looking for a long but gentle amble, this route through the undulating hills and storybook villages of the South Downs National Park in West Sussex is ideal. Starting from the historic town of Amberley, known for its thatched cottages, the trail climbs gently to the top of Bignor Hill, where you'll be rewarded with panoramic views across the Weald to the English Channel. Along the way, you'll pass through ancient woodland, wildflower meadows, and hidden valleys, serenaded by the trills, whistles, and warbles of skylarks. Look out for rare butterflies like the Duke of Burgundy and Adonis Blue.

TIP: Families should make a detour to the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre, an open-air museum that tells the story of local industry and craftsmanship, including pottery, printing and a steam train travel.

Where to eat: Stop for a pub lunch at The George and Dragon in Houghton, a charming 16th-century inn with a lovely garden and a menu featuring homemade soups, devilled whitebait and pints of prawns. We think a cheeseboard and bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape are also merited after a 10-mile schlep.

Where to stay: The Art House and Studio Fold in Pulborough offer design-led, atmospheric stays, and are ideal for those travelling in larger groups. 

 

The Helvellyn via Striding Edge, Lake District, Cumbria (9.5 miles, challenging)

Brown and green mountains with bodies of water cocooned throughout, the Lake District

A classic Lake District hike takes you to the summit of Helvellyn, England's third-highest peak, via the exhilarating Striding Edge ridge. Setting off from the village of Glenridding, the trail climbs steadily to the summit, where you'll be greeted with 360-degree views across the fells and lakes of the region. The Striding Edge ridge is not for the faint-hearted, with some exposed scrambling required, but the sense of achievement at the top is a natural high. In summer, purple heather carpets the mountainsides, creating a stunning backdrop for golden eagles and peregrine falcons.

TIP: For a more leisurely hike, take the trail from Glenridding to the summit of Helvellyn via the gentler Swirral Edge, a seven-mile trip that still offers fantastic views of the surrounding fells.

Where to eat: After your descent, head to the Travellers Rest in Glenridding, a walkers’ pub serving simple fare with superb views. If you’re looking for something smarter, head into Windermere, where you’re spoilt for choice – this is Simon Rogan territory, and plenty of top restaurants have set up shop here.

Where to stay: The ivy-clad, former hunting lodge of Winterfell or spectacular lake-side Aquila, an unequivocal paradise in the heart of the wilderness

 

The Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door walk, Dorset (4 miles, easy)

Durdle Door at Lulworth Cove along the Jurassic coast in Dorset

Short but sweet, this hike takes you along one of the most iconic stretches of the Jurassic Coast, from Dorset’s picture-perfect Lulworth Cove to the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door. The trail is easy to follow, with some gentle ascents and descents, and plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking along the way. At Durdle Door, don't miss the chance to take a dip in the bay, or scramble over the rock formations of the surrounding cliffs. Spring brings a carpet of wildflowers to the clifftops, including sea pinks and wild thyme, while dolphins and seals often play in the waves below.

TIP: Make a detour to Stair Hole, a secluded cove with sheer cliffs and a natural rock arch that's become a honeypot for wild swimming and snorkelling.

Where to eat: After your walk, take a bus back to the Lulworth Lodge for champagne by the glass, American-style fries with parmesan and truffle, and sweet chilli halloumi; flawless coastal nibbles. For pud, pop into The Dolls House, a jade-green cottage serving homemade fudges, traditional boiled sweets and fantastic ice cream.

Where to stay: Truck along the coast to luxuriously renovated 18th-century Kingfisher Farm, or Sugar Ray with its heated pool and sea views, both in Burton Bradstock. 

 

The Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales (10 miles, challenging)

A home nestled among green forestry with blue skies above; Nevern Valley, Pembrokeshire, Wales

This challenging circular hike through the mystical Preseli Hills – the source of the ancient bluestones used to build Stonehenge – starts and ends in the coastal village of Newport, Pembrokeshire. The trail ascends through moorland, passing the Neolithic Pentre Ifan burial chamber before reaching the summit of Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highest point in these hills at 1,759 feet, with views of Snowdonia. The route then descends through the scenic Gwaun Valley, known for its woodland and pretty villages, before returning to Newport. Watch for red kites and wild ponies along the way.

TIP: If you’ve got family in tow who aren’t keen on a long walk, leave them to explore Newport's sandy beach, castle ruins, and art galleries.

Where to eat: Modern gastropub The Ridgeway serves upscale grub, such as chicken liver pâté with toasted sourdough or butternut-squash gnocchi, alongside an array of excellent steaks – chimichurri, red wine, or peppercorn sauce? We’re ordering all three.

Where to stay: You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation near Newport; The Milk Wood, Huckleberry and Hiraeth each have something different to offer and cater to larger groups.

 

Feeling inspired? Read about our home-to-home hikes in our new summer pilgrimages, discover the best places to eat in Britain's national parks, or browse the full collection of luxury homes in the UK and Ireland.

Properties featured in this article: Charity, Winterfell, Castle Trinity, Aquila, Sugar Ray, Little Eden, The Matchbox, The Signal Station, Kingfisher Farm, The Art House, Pearl´s on Sea, Huckleberry, Studio Fold, Supernova, Skyline, Hiraeth, Celestia, The Milk Wood

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