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Some of our best hikes in England

Our five best hikes in England

Who doesn’t love taking a photo of a waymarker in a beautiful location while walking? While hiking in England, however, you can be bamboozled by logos on signposts, with an array of landowners, charities and national bodies represented on them. This means, however, that the trails are well preserved and much loved, whether you’re walking on a section of the South West Coast Path that’s owned by the National Trust, or Hadrian’s Wall Path which is a National Trail that’s looked after by Natural England, a public body. The symbol for the National Trust is an oak leaf, and Natural England’s is an acorn but you will also see lots of yellow arrows, marking a right of way for walkers or, less common, a round brown symbol with a person walking over hills which shows open access, so you can explore away from the paths. Here are some of our best hikes in England, all part of longer trails where we, and many others, will make sure you find the way.

You can’t go too wrong on the South West Coast Path, as long as sea is in sight.

Pooley Bridge to Patterdale, Lake District National Park

England’s largest national park at over 2,362km², its lakes, tarns and peaks are a thing of poetry, art and music. One of our favourite day hikes comes on day three of this self-guided holiday walking between Pooley Bridge and Coniston because it’s got such a variety of terrain that is typical of the Lake District. Starting in Pooley Bridge, you follow the eastern shore of Ullswater Lake, following part of the Ullswater Way which was described by the eminent writer and walker, Alfred Wainwright, as “the most beautiful of lake walks in the national park.” 

At the start it clings to the shoreline, passing by landmarks like Hodgson Hill, which is thought to be the remains of a Viking settlement. Then head inland up to Bonscale Pike before descending back to the lakeshore at Howtown Wyke. After that you enter proper fell territory, a local word for hill, with the route skirting around Hallin Fell, Birk Fell, and Silver Crag, before coming to a finish in Patterdale, where you spend the night. The next day also brings one of the best hikes in the Lake District, with more of a climb than the day before to ascend Helvellyn (946m), the third highest mountain in the Lake District. 

Distance: 15.5km
Hiking time: 4.5h

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the national park, with a super walking trail around it.

Ingleby Cross to Blakey Ridge, Coast to Coast Path

This epic English trek is one of the most well known long-distance walking trails in the world, and walking the Coast to Coast Path is one of the best ways to explore England’s three most celebrated national parks. For our favourite day trek, however, we are taking you to a section in North York Moors National Park, because it’s the lesser-known section and also one of the wildest. If you are doing the complete Path, you enter the national park on day 13, which starts in the village of Ingleby Cross, or in Osmotherley depending on your accommodation for the night, but both are on the edges of the park. From here, you ascend to expanses of heather-covered moorland, contrasting with the distinctive rocky crags called Wainstones, prominent sandstone rocks that are a feature of the Moors. 

You can really feel the wide open spaces that inspired the likes of Brontë sisters, Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker on this walk, but also at your hotel that night, staying in the wonderfully remote Lion Inn. This was originally a 16th-century hunting lodge, and it’s the third highest pub in England. Perfectly poised at the highest point of the national park (403m) on Blakey Ridge, it has superb views across Rosedale and Farndale. After a long hike you’ll be glad to see the roaring fire and array of fine local ales on offer so that you can raise a glass to your achievements. For more information see our blog, Everything you need to know about the Coast to Coast Path

Distance: 33km
Hiking time: 9-10h

Little Blakey Howe, a bronze age round barrow topped with an ancient standing stone on Blakey Ridge in the heart of the North York Moors.

Marazion to The Lizard, South West Coast Path 

The South West Coast Path is such a joy to hike that we simply couldn’t pick just one day on it, and so we’ve opted for two back-to-back beauties. The section between Marazion and The Lizard Peninsula can be undertaken on this South West Coast Path holiday. The first day takes you along the coast from west to east as far as the handsome harbour town of Porthleven. After taking in the quirky and quintessentially Cornish island of St. Michael’s Mount in Marazion (owned by the National Trust) which you need to time carefully with the tides, continue along dramatic landscapes of cliffs that dip up and downd to hidden bays and former tin mine towns, through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

After spending a night in Porthleven, famous for its seafood, the magnificence continues. This second day takes you to the southernmost part of England at Lizard Point, with the trails becoming more and more wild with every ascent and descent along the way. Highlights include the Mullion and Predannack Cliffs which are part of Lizard National Nature Reserve where, if you travel in summer, are covered in heather and wildflowers such as trefoils, thrift and oxeye daisies. Give yourself plenty of time because, between sandy expanses such as Kynance Cove and turquoise waters of Mullion Cove, you’re going to want a lot of photo moments.

Distance: Marazion to Porthleven 18km
Hiking time: 5-5.5h

Distance: Porthleven to Lizard Point 24km
Hiking time: 6-6.5h

Walking through Gunwalloe in Cornwall on the South West Coast Path en route to the Lizard Peninsula.

Alfriston to Eastbourne, South Downs Way 

The South Downs Way is a 160km National Trail open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It cuts through chalk escarpment, which has made it historically accessible and, therefore, always been favoured for traditional means of transport. It starts in Winchester in Hampshire, crosses the South Downs National Park and finishes in the East Sussex coastal town of Eastbourne. The trail is a natural playground of unbroken, undulating utopia, where you follow a route through the many ages of English history. This last section is one of our best hikes in England, starting inland as you follow the Cuckmere River, then up onto the Downs onto an extraordinary trail over the Seven Sisters. This is a series of iconic chalk cliffs that take you to Beachy Head, a promontory with a famous lighthouse. Much of the coastal path along here is owned and managed by the National Trust, and a great coffee stop is its cafe at Birling Gap. From here the route soon descends into the old Victorian seaside resort town of Eastbourne, where you can have a well-deserved cooling swim, with our ten day walking holiday including a night here at the end. This section of the trail can get busy, so do start early if you want to avoid crowds in peak season.

Distance: 17km
Hiking time: 5.5h

The South Downs Way is open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Which is why it’s also called a bridleway.

Chollerford to Once Brewed, Hadrian’s Wall Path

Most people usually walk Hadrian’s Wall Path from east to west, starting in Newcastle on the North Sea and completing their Roman ramble of 135km at Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. Also a UNESCO site, walking Hadrian’s Wall Path is a journey not only to historic gems such as Vindolanda and Housesteads Roman forts but also through natural triumphs like Northumberland National Park. It’s the national park where we have chosen our best day on the Hadrian’s Wall Path and one of our best hikes in England. Starting in the village of Chollerford, where sections of the wall can still be seen, you follow a trail that takes you to some of the path’s most historic sites. 

The first is Chesters Roman Fort, which is considered one of the finest preserved forts of the period, with an impressive museum. You then continue along some of the most complete sections of the wall to Housesteads Roman Fort, originally called Vercovicium. Nearby, there is a section of the wall that you are allowed to walk on, so don’t miss that. As you continue into the national park, the walk takes you along ridges and crags, then through the infamous Sycamore Gap to Peel Crags. Infamous because vandals cut down the ancient and much-adored Sycamore tree there in 2023. You have one more climb before the day comes to a close, ascending stone flagstones known as Cat Stairs, into a landscape that’s peppered with heather and wild flowers, with views across to Peel Crag and the grey-blue waters of Crag Lough. 

Distance: 21km
HIking time: 5h

Crag Lough in Northumberland National Park, just one of many places to conquer along Hadrian’s Wall Path.

We hope you have enjoyed our selection of some of the best hikes in England. There are many more to be had, of course, as these are just snapshots of some of our best days on trails that are carefully-crafted to have daily delights. If you enjoyed this blog, you may also like to read the following hiking blogs: Everything you need to know about walking the Coast to Coast Path, Best hikes in Scotland and Which of the Camino de Santiago routes is calling you?. You can see all of our England tours here and, for more information, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our adventure specialists.