We all know that getting outdoors and hiking has great benefits for us, but sometimes things can get in the way. At Simply Hike we obviously have a bias, but we think that hiking and exploring with your loved ones is one of the best things you can do and can be so simple and yet so rewarding! In addition, with so many great locations right here in the UK there is somewhere amazing to discover which is accessible and enjoyable for all the family.
So, whether you are bored of walking along the same dog paths or making a conscious effort to get out more in the new year with the kids, we have the definitive guide to some of the UK’s most family-friendly hikes. All of them help showcase the very best of Britain’s diverse landscape and offer a number of hiking paths which range in difficulty so there will be something to match your family’s ability, no matter how young the kids, or how old the parents!
Peak District, England
Britain’s first official national park seems like a good place to start as it sits geographically right in the heart of the UK. This gorgeous national park covers over five hundred square miles and whilst proving a big hit with tourists all over the world still has plenty of space to explore and carve out your own routes. The name is deceptive as the topography is home to all manner of features including lakes, gorges, rolling hills and wild moorlands but no peaks. With such a varied landscape there are plenty of marked walkways to explore from gentle riverside ambles to tougher wild hill climbs.
For an easy-going ramble, we would suggest the Padley Gorge walk which comprises of a 2.3mile (1.5 hours) route through enchanting woodlands and the River Derwent. If you are after something a little more challenging, then the Chrome Hill route will tick your boxes. This 6.2mile (4 hours) trek follows the Dragon’s Back range and includes several short climbs which will require a bit more exertion.
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Heading west and into southern wales lie the Brecon Beacons. This stunning setting may be used for training some of the most elite forces in the UK military, but it also offers some great hikes for those who might not have the fitness of a SAS soldier. With four main regions, The Brecon Beacons, Forest Fawr, Fan Frycheiniog and the Black Mountains to discover this heavenly area will have you wanting to keep coming back for more.
If you are out for a light walk, then the 2.5mile (2 hours) trail through Waterfall Country is a great way to see much of the Brecon Beacons most picturesque scenery. Alternatively, if you are feeling full of energy, the Llanthony Priory walk is a great option. The 5mile (3 hours) circular walk takes you through the scenic Hatterall Ridge and the ruins of the 12th-century Augustine abbey.
Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
Twice the size of the Lake District and featuring four of the five highest summits in the UK the Cairngorms are a mecca for hill-walking and the national park was enjoyed by nearly two million tourists last year. This vast area hosts a plethora of activities and attractions including several ski centres and Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s private residence.
One of the easier walks is the 1.2mile (1 hour) route through the Falls of Bruar. This short hike packs a lot in and you will be met with views of waterfalls and giant pine forests. When in Scotland a Loch walk is a must and the 3mile (2 hours) route around Loch Morlich can be enjoyed by everyone. This picture-perfect hike circles the Loch and take you between beaches and the Queen’s Forest, with snow-capped peaks in the background.
The New Forest, England
Heading a lot further south lies The New Forest. Although only fairly recently designated a National Park the area’s appreciation goes back much further to 1079 when William the Conquerer frequented it for hunting trips. Nowadays the boundless heathland and trees are home to some of Britain’s most adored creatures including wild ponies, deer, snakes and a number of rare woodland birds.
There are so many paths and trails to explore, but for a gentle introduction to The New Forest the 3mile (1.5 hours) walk skirting Denny Wood is a fantastic place to start. In autumn there is a chance to listen out for herds of red and fallow stags as they start their annual rut. For a longer challenge, the sixty-mile stretch of the coastal Solent Way is ripe for adventure and the Lymington to Beaulieu 9.7mile (5 hours) route offers quiet paths and great sea views.
Lake District, England
Immortalised by romantic poets and postcard panoramas The Lake District has become the UK’s most visited rural destination. Over fifteen million explore the area each year and the landscape’s popularity is well justified. You will find footpaths and walking trails everywhere and with over 912 square miles to discover it is possible to carve out your own unique routes. Alongside the staggeringly beautiful vistas, there are historic ruins and museums to visit and classic country pubs to visit.
The walk to the summit of Latterbarrow just set away from the village of Hawkshead, gives you a hike which offers maximum reward for minimal efforts. This 3.1mile (2 hours) ramble gives you outstanding views over the Lake District. For something a little more challenging the 3.5mile (2.5 hours) walk through the Cat Bells will tick a lot of boxes. The location between Keswick and Derwent Water is perfect, and the panoramic views highlight the National Park’s mirror-like lakes, iconic peaks and lush green valleys.
These may be some of the very best spots in the UK for hiking and are all great places to explore with all the family and we encourage you to get out and make the most of 2020. In the words of Stendhal, ‘There is nothing so beautiful, loveable and moving as the English countryside.’