20 of the best summer walks in Britain

Longer days, warmer weather and a countryside brimming with wildlife, this summer explore the countryside with our pick of 20 of the best summer walks in Britain

31st May 2018
Porth Joke, Pentire in the summer

From the Hebrides to the Channel Islands, our pick of 20 of the best walks to enjoy this summer

Walk: Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park

Valley of the Rocks and Wringcliff Bay at sunset in Exmoor National Park, Lynton, England
Valley of the Rocks and Wringcliff Bay at sunset in Exmoor National Park, Lynton/Credit: Getty

Exult in towering sea cliffs where feral goats clamber skilfully between Devonian crags on our short circular walk around the Valley of Rocks in Devon. 

Distance: 3 miles 

Duration: 1.5 hours


Walk: River Stour, Suffolk

River Stour, Suffolk
Willy Lott’s House – the subject matter for Constable’s The Hay Wain ©Alamy

A short walk along the marshy banks of the River Stour, running from the Suffolk town of Dedham to Flatford Mill – once home to painter John Constable – and back again

Distance: 3 miles 

Duration: 1.5 hours


Walk: Greenlee Lough, Northumberland

Greenlee Lough is the largest natural lake in Northumberland
Greenlee Lough is the largest natural lake in Northumberland/Credit: Getty

Lying to the north of the Great Whin Sill, and easily visible from Hadrian’s Wall, Greenlee Lough is the largest natural lake in Northumberland

Distance: 3 miles 

Duration: 2.5 hours


Walk: Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire

Sutton Bank, Signpost on Cleveland Way
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire/Credit: Getty Images

This route to Sutton Bank provides walkers with one of the finest views in Yorkshire and a chance to see the national park’s varied scenery from up high on the escarpment edge. 

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

Duration: 5 hours


Walk: Coille Mhor, Balmacara, Highland

Coille Mhor, Balmacara, Highland
Loch Achaidh na h-Inich/Credit: Marcus Skubic

The zing of spring is powerful here. Pure air provides ideal conditions for an impressive range of lichens that grow en masse upon the old oaks of Coille Mhòr’s lower slopes. Higher up, birch, rowan, alder and ash thrive, and the forest is also home to mammals including badgers, pine martens and visiting otters.

Distance: 5 miles (8km)

Duration: 3 hours 


Walk: Meon Valley, Hampshire

Meon Valley, Hampshire
The Meon Valley/Credit: Thinkstock

Discover a landscape shaped by man and nature over 6,000 years on a walk that enters the heart of the South Downs National Park in Hampshire. This walk offers a perfect blend of impressive natural wonders and interesting historical sites.

Distance: 12¾ miles (20 km)

Duration: 5-6 hours


Walk: Cwm Idwal, Gwynedd

Cwm Idwal, Gwynedd
Cwm Idwal/Credit: Mike Alexander

The jagged peaks that soar over Cwm Idwal dwarf the Arctic-alpine plants that grow on the slopes around its waters. To appreciate them fully, you have to crouch down or dangle over them to see their colourful petals hunkered on ledges or in crevices  – it’s here that they thrive, feeding on minerals that leach through the rock. 

Distance: 3 miles (4.8km)

Duration: 3 hours


Walk: North Marden to East Marden, West Sussex

North Marden to East Marden, West Sussex
Bluebells cover the woodland floor in spring/Credit: Getty

This moderate walk links the villages of North Marden, East Marden and Up Marden, passing swathes of wildflowers, old churches and and wooded hillsides.

Distance: 7.5 miles (12km)

Duration: 4 hours


Walk: Seven Sisters, East Sussex

Seven sisters
the Seven Sisters viewed from Birling Gap/Credit: Alamy

At the National Trust hamlet of Birling Gap, the sea’s aroma sits strong in the air. From the top of the steps above the beach and its numerous rockpools, the views of the Seven Sisters and Seaford Head are excellent. For many, these huge chalk cliffs are even more picturesque than the famous White Cliffs of Dover up the coast.

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km)

Duration: 2 hours


Walk: Ennerdale and Haystacks, Cumbria

Hay stacks
Ennerdale valley/Credit: Getty images

Ennerdale – the Lake District’s least populated valley – is celebrating the first decade of a long-term plan to re-wild Lakeland’s westernmost dale. Management of the valley was delegated to Mother Nature back in 2006, but the Wild Ennerdale project isn’t about conserving or restoring a landscape to some long-lost idyll – it’s about getting out of the way to let nature take its course.

Distance: 14.2 miles (22.8km)

Duration: 7 hours


Walk: Abbotsbury, Dorset

St Catherine's chapel
The Jurassic Coast, Dorset/Credit: Getty images

Take a walk through the Dorset countryside to a chapel overlooking the spectacular Jurassic Coast. The Jurassic Coast spans over 90 miles of Dorset's shoreline. You’ll scarcely find a coastline with more places to stretch your legs and explore the local landscape. And at the heart of it all is the village of Abbotsbury.

Distance: 8 miles (12.8km)

Duration: 3 hours


Walk: Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides

Isle of Eigg/Credit: Alamy

Home to prehistoric inhabitants, Vikings, clashing clans and crofters, this mini Scottish isle has a dynamic history written deep into the land. Of all the Small Isles, Eigg – pronounced egg – is undoubtedly the most distinctive. The dramatic rocky remains of an old lava flow – An Sgurr – stand proud above the surrounding flatter land, like a whale breaching the ocean.

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km)

Duration: 3.5 hours


Walk: Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Lindisfarne Castle/Credit: Getty images 

In 635 AD, King Oswald of Northumbria invited St Aidan from the monastic settlement on Iona to found a monastery on Lindisfarne. Aidan’s death, 16 years later, coincided with the vocation of local shepherd boy Cuthbert, who became bishop of Lindisfarne. The island is also an mportant national nature reserve and wintering site for migrating birds, including whooper swans and brent geese. 

Distance: 4 miles (6.4km)

Duration: 2 hours


St Davids Peninsula, Pembrokeshire

St Davids
Stroll along the blissful shores of Whitesands Bay/Credit: Getty images

This superb coastal walk follows the trails of some of the Dark Age saints, for whom the St Davids Peninsula was a place of pilgrimage, and passes beside the wild waters of Ramsey Sound. The area is home to a wealth of wildlife, from dolphins and porpoise to peregrines and chough.

Distance: 9.5 miles (15km)

Duration: 5 hours


Walk: Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire

Upper Wharfedale
Upper Wharfedale/Credit: Getty images

Upper Wharfedale is a charming little valley off the beaten track where the roads are too narrow for trucks and busses to navigate. It's a bit of a bind to get to, but once you've found the dale, you'll never forget it. The limestone and peat uplands hereabouts are riven with steep-sided valleys and ghylls where water teems off the fells and tumbles over a series of waterfalls through the heart of the picturesque villages of Cray, Yockenthwaiteand Hubberholme.

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Duration: 4 hours


Walk: Glen Sligachan, Isle of Skye

Cuillin mountains
The Cuillin Range/Credit: Getty

Winding through true wilderness country, you’ll feel a real sense of progression as you ford several rivers, moving from one loch to the next, past herds of red deer and the dramatically located Camasunary Bay, before arriving at the houses of Kirkibost. Save it for a fine September day after a spell of dry weather – the midges will be fewer, the burns lower – and you will have a memory to last a lifetime.

Distance: 11 miles (17.7km)

Duration: 5 hours


Walk: Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire

Preseli Hills
View of the coast from the Presell Hills in Pembrokeshire/Credit: Getty

What better way to make the most of the summer weather than by combining some much needed exercise with a fascinating stroll through one of the country’s most captivating prehistoric landscapes: the Preseli Hills in the Pembrokeshire National Park?

Distance: 6 Miles (9.6km)

Duration: 3 hours


Walk: Sark, Channel Islands

Visit Sark, a sleepy idyll in the Channel Islands where there are no cars or street lights and people still travel by horse and cart.

This nine-mile walking route takes in the whole island,  although there are options to shorten the way or split it into two or three days of walking. Three miles in length and half that across, Sark’s small size encourages visitors to slow down. There are plenty of trails, but no official coast path, so after visiting viewing points, you will need to retrace your steps inland at times. 

Distance: 9 miles 

Duration: A leisurely 5 hours 


Walk: Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

Walk: Sandwood Bay, Sutherland  Explore glorious Sandwood Bay in Sutherland on this 12-mile hike across wild moors and through mighty dunes
Beautiful Sandalwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland

Explore glorious Sandwood Bay in Sutherland on this 12-mile hike across wild moors and through mighty dunes 

Sandwood Bay is one of Britain’s most remote and beautiful beaches. Flanked by grassy dunes and buffeted by the rolling breakers of the Atlantic, the swath of white sand is a wild and wonderful place. The only way in is on foot and the car park at Blairmore, on the narrow road between Kinlochbervie and Sheigra, is the perfect place to start.

Distance: 13 miles 

Duration: 7 hours 


Walk: East Lyn River, Devon

East Lyn River, Devon
And here, upon that stone, we rest awhile, For we can see the lovely river’s fall,” wrote British poet Arthur Shaughnessy in his poem Lynmouth/Credit: Getty

This beautiful six-mile walk begins at Lynmouth in the Exmoor National Park and follows the East Lyn River upstream to Rockford before heading back to the coast

Distance: 6 miles 

Duration: 4 hours 


Main image: Porth Joke, Pentire in the summer. Credit: Getty Images

You are currently reading: 20 of the best summer walks in Britain - 31st May
Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today!

Choose a subscription offer to suit you and benefit from generous savings on the shop price, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.

Countryfile Magazine - Current Issue