5 Top UK Weekend Hiking Destinations
Guest Article | Walking | Posted 2021.09.20
My name is Tim Wiggins, I am an outdoor sports enthusiast and avid adventurer, based on the beautiful Isle of Wight. I author Life In The Saddle Lifeinthesaddle.cc – one of the world’s top adventure cycling blogs, as well as The Expedition Journals theexpeditionjournals.com – a blog all about kayaking, hiking, trail running and wild camping adventures.
Over my years I have explored destinations around the globe by bike, foot, and water sports; but in the last year I have relished the opportunity to discover amazing places closer to home and some of the best weekend hiking destinations. The UK has everything an outdoor lover could wish for, and it also has the best pubs and pub accommodation in the world…
Strapping on a pair of hiking boots and walking out onto the trails is a certain way to relax the mind, body, and soul. You do not need to travel a thousand miles to discover beautiful hiking destinations either; there are many National Parks, coastlines, and islands to explore right on our doorstep.
In this blog post, I highlight five of my top UK weekend hiking destinations. These are places that you can escape to for a long weekend; stay in a cosy country pub and explore a landscape that lets you open your mind and experience the joy and release of nature.
Lakes and Mountains – The Lake District
The Lake District is the perfect destination for a weekend hiking break. Easily accessible by train and car, it offers a landscape of awe-inspiring peaks and vast beautiful blue lakes. It takes my breath away every time I visit.
The National Park website (lakedistrict.gov.uk) is a fantastic resource for walkers; offering a plethora of routes and suggestions on places to visit and explore—it even has a page to let you know which car parks are busiest so that you can find that secluded spot away from the crowds.
On a rainy day, the Lake District is still a superb destination; I recommend the covered boat trip across Lake Windermere, visits to historic castles, or taking a ride on a steam railway.
Check out the pub accommodation pages for the best pubs with rooms in the Lake District National Park—there is sure to be a cosy place where you can enjoy a pint of locally brewed beer in the summer or huddle around the fire after a long winter walk.
Cornish Coastlines – The South West Coastal Path
If seascapes, seagulls, cream teas and picturesque fishing villages are your thing (they are definitely mine), then Cornwall and the South West Coast Path are the place to head. Stay in a historic coastal town such as Fowey or Falmouth, and you can explore this rugged and beautiful coastline—guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away.
The South West Coast Path is one of best documented long distance hiking trails in the UK (southwestcoastpath.org.uk), and the Devon and Cornwall section is particularly stunning. With train links to London and the North, you can easily make this a point-to-point hike; I did this once, starting at Looe and finishing the hike at St Austell, from where you can catch the train home.
While exploring in Cornwall and Devon, be sure to sample a famous clotted cream tea, as well as enjoy fish and chips on a harbourside. There are many quaint thatched pubs and comfortable inns with rooms along the route of the South West Coast Path, so you should have no problem getting a restful night’s sleep after a day of trekking.
For more information on pubs by the sea on the South West Coast, visit here.
Magical Islands – The Isle of Wight
Located just a few miles off the southern coast of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Wight is a hidden treasure for hiking explorers and weekend walkers. It is just a couple of hours from London by train, but you will feel like you have been transported to another time and country as you step off the ferry. I have lived here for thirty years, and I still love it.
Almost half of ‘The Island’ – as locals lovingly call it – is covered by an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), as well as being identified as a UNESCO Biosphere for its natural biodiversity and unique habitat. The untouched landscape is a magical place to explore; with cliff top walks, beaches and nature reserves; so whether you are keen on exercising your legs or spotting wildlife with your binoculars, you can find something to do.
Across the Island you will find many small independent pubs and inns that will welcome in weary walkers and serve up superb meals using local produce.
Popular with Jane Austen, Tennyson, Queen Victoria, and I – this is the perfect weekend hiking retreat.
For more information on pub accommodation in the Isle of Wight, search here.
Welsh Wonders – Snowdonia
The Snowdonia National Park on the northwest coast of Wales boasts some of the most varied and spectacular hiking landscapes in the United Kingdom. Whether you are looking for a challenging ascent up to the peak of Snowdon or you would prefer a gentle walk along the coast; this region of Wales is a paradise for the outdoor sports enthusiast.
Route ideas for all abilities can be found on Snowdonia.gov.wales – with varied and accessible paths for all kinds of adventure. The Welsh government has invested in creating a superb all weather walking route network, so you can enjoy this rugged and breath-taking destination throughout the year, even when the heavens might open.
Book yourself in for a cosy pub hotel stay to ensure you are well fuelled and rested after a day hiking in the Snowdonia mountains.
For more information on pub accommodation in Snowdonia, search here.
Lochs and Mountains – The Scottish Highlands
Last, but definitely not least… Scotland. The Scottish Highlands is a landscape of majestic mountains and mysterious lochs – Britain’s largest National Park. The Highlands stretch from Fort William in the west, up the western coast around the North Coast 500 route and then down to Inverness on the eastern coast. Within its borders it offers an incredible natural playground.
The Scottish Tourist Board (visitscotland.com) provide some fantastic ideas for walking holidays in the Highlands. I have done some incredible epic multi-day hikes in this region, such as the West Highland Way; but there are also relaxing meanders along Loch Ness or Loch Lomond. While walking anywhere in the Scottish Highlands you will be transfixed by the sheer beauty of nature here; the bountiful wildlife and the historic landmarks that pepper the landscape make it an outdoor destination of dreams.
Scotland is famed for its hospitality too, and there are some of the best pubs in the world in the Scottish Highlands. You will be sure to find a cosy hideaway where you can sip on a single malt whisky and while away the evenings after a day out in the hills.
For information on pubs with rooms in Scotland, search here.
Whether you choose the coastline of Cornwall, the lakes of the Lake District, the heather of the Scottish Highlands, or the magic of the Isle of Wight; all of these UK hiking destinations are fantastic places to explore and will offer you a wonderful outdoor adventure to revive your body and mind.
These are just a few of my favourite places to explore, but my adventures continue to take me to all corners of the UK and to many lesser-known hiking destinations. Follow me on Instagram @tim_wiggins1 to join the journey. Happy hiking!
Written by Tim Wiggins