The UK has an estimated 149,300 miles of footpaths and bridleways, and according to the Ramblers Association, 9.1 million adults in England enjoy walking recreationally. If you are looking for an activity to enjoy as a family with different fitness levels, that finishes in the pub, then pick up a map and plan a walk.
Why is it good to do in the UK?
We have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world with views that inspired William Wordsworths poetry, Charlotte Brontës writing and Chris Bonington to climb Everest. The UK has a network of well maintained and well documented paths that span the country, and it is possible to walk from one side of England to the other without leaving a foot path. We have some of the oldest byways in Europe with travellers using routes like the Ridgeway to get from Norfolk to Dorset for over 5,000 years. And where you find an ancient footpath you will normally find a pub to rest your feet and quench your thirst.
We are very fortunate to have 15 National Parks in the UK, 10 in England, 2 in Scotland and 3 in Wales. These represent protected areas in the UK because of their beautiful countryside, amazing wildlife and cultural heritage. The also contain much of the Open Access Land where we have the right to roam across the countryside on or off paths. Clearly, with these spaces being so special its important that we treat these areas with respect to ensure they are protected from damage and they remain places that people can enjoy for centuries to come.
One of the only drawbacks to walking in the UK is our changeable weather, and when the weather changes in the mountains, it can get quite unpleasant. However, modern waterproof clothing is very good and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And without all that weather, the hills wouldn’t be nearly as green and pleasant.
Where to go
What can I say, there are so many good places to go walking in the UK and any one of our National Parks is a great place to start. I have a personal soft spot for Derbyshire in the Peak District having spent so many years walking in the hills around Edale. The walk from Edale station carpark up past the Nag Head and then up Grinds Brook on to Kinder is a firm favourite. The path is easy to find and well-made and the view from Kinder Scout is of England’s green and pleasant land.
If you want higher and pointier mountains, then you need to go to north Wales or the Lake District. North Wales contains the Snowdonia National Park and many more mountains than just its namesake. My favourites include Tryfan, Cadair Isris, Crib Goch and Glyder Fach. However your choice of mountain and route up and down must also take in to account the weather and ones ability to tackle it. The mountains in Wales are not to be taken lightly, as I found out when I was airlifted off in 2018!
The Lake District
The Lake District is one of the most visited areas of the UK and for good reason, it is breath taking. It has big beautiful rounded mountains like Blencathra, spiky mountains like Cat Bells and Great Gable and famous ones like Scafell Pike. It has picturesque lakes, paddle steamers, Beatrix Potter and Helvellyn voted England’s favourite mountain. If you want to go walking in the Lakes, my suggestion would be to base yourself from Keswick, buy a couple of good maps and enjoy the views from the tops.
If you haven’t walked in the hills and mountains in the UK before and have reservations about how to read a map, please get in touch. We have a group of qualified Mountain Leaders that we work with and would be happy to put you in contact.
Places to stay
In Derbyshire there are too many good camping spots to list but Lane Side Caravan Park is as good as any place to start for those wanting their first adventure in the hills. The facilities are excellent, it’s within striking distance of some lovely walks and it’s close to the village of Hope where you will find a couple of nice pubs.
If you are planning to stay in the Lake District there are lots of loca farms that advertise camping that can be found from a google search. If you looking for an overnight stop over, The White Horse in Scales are happy for campervans to park overnight, as long as you spend a few pounds in the bar. However, if you want a more formal campsite, the campsite in Keswick has wonderful views and is walking distance from town, however the staff are a bit officious, so don’t expect an overly warm welcome!