There’s nothing like stretching your legs and getting your blood pumping on a brisk walk in a picturesque part of the UK - but with so many trails to choose from, how do you decide which walking route is right for you?
With more Brits than ever looking to get outdoors to exercise over the past year, taking to one of the UK’s many trails is the perfect way to stay healthy - physically and mentally - while still enjoying spending time away from the home.
Worthwhile Walking Routes pulls out the top UK trails and measures across key metrics - including intensity, accessibility, aestheticism and popularity - to name the UK’s top trails.
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic looking for an intensive route, a comfort fan looking for an accommodating trail or just looking to snap an impressive shot for Instagram, we’ve got you covered.
And if you do want to challenge yourself on the Derwent Edge from Foul Clouth route, or see the amazing views on the Mam Tor and The Great Right trail, check out our Peak District holiday cottages today.
Top walking routes
Have you ever been on a walk and something has been missing? Not challenging enough? Nowhere to park? Average views?
We’ve compiled a list of the ultimate walking routes and named those which are the most easily accessible, the most intensive, the most picturesque and the most accommodating.
And in first place, ticking all the boxes, is Scafell Pike in the Lake District! The 9.3km out-and-back route boasted the highest cumulative scores across intensity - determined by kcals burnt - rest stop frequency, Instagram popularity and hiking reviews, making it the best walking trail in the UK.
Following closely behind is Peak District route Mam Tor and The Great Ridge, a 12.9km loop trail which also scored 4.5/5 in hiking reviews. In third place, it was Malham Cove and Gordale Scar - a 12.2km trek that sees hikers burn an average of 897 kcal.
Routes featured were those named as popular by The Outdoor Guide, and were measured using online calculators, guides and Google Maps data across key metrics. Kcals burnt was calculated based on the average person (137lbs) carrying a 15lb backpack, while rest stop frequency was pulled from Google Maps.
Top fitness routes
If you’re a seasoned hiker looking to feel the burn on your next outing, our study has named the top three most intense routes for fitness fanatics.
Yorkshire has been named home to the most intense walking route in the UK, with Saltaire to Skipton, otherwise known as the Dales Highway 1, taking the top spot. Based on the average person, hikers could burn an impressive 2,211 kcal on this route, thanks to its 32.5km length and elevation of 991 metres.
Or, why not head to Ben Macdui and Cairngorm in Scotland or down to the coast to trek from Seaford to Eastbourne? Both have the potential to burn 1,446 or 1,333 calories respectively, and take around 3.5 hours to complete, based on the average walking rate (1 km per 11 mins).
Most picturesque walking routes
If you’re an avid hiker looking for your next social media-worthy snap, we looked at Instagram hashtags of the most popular walking trails to name the most picturesque routes in the UK.
Pen y Fan and Corn Du Short showcases Wales’ beautiful sweeping hillsides, earning itself a whopping 147K Instagram hashtags, while the Malverns' North Hill’s vast countryside views followed closely behind with 145K hashtags. Next up was Mam Tor and The Great Ridge, at 92.4K hashtags.
North vs South
Whether you’re North-based or prefer to try our trails down South, there’ll be a walk to suit everyone regardless of where’s closest to you in the UK. However, everyone loves a North/South divide - so, are walks in the North better or worse than those in the South?
The data reveals it’s the North that takes the top spot when it comes to intensity and popularity among hikers, with the average trail capable of burning 1,079 kcal and boasting an average rating of 4.5/5.
On the other hand, it’s the South that proves the most picturesque with each walk raking in an average of 66K Instagram hashtags - not surprising given the North’s proclivity towards dreary weather - and that also proves the most accommodating, with the average walk providing a rest stop every 3.28 km.
Rest stop frequency was calculated by looking at available cafes, restaurants, bars and coffee shops along the route via Google Maps, and dividing the final count by the duration of the walk, to get a rest-stop-per-km score.
Best Peak District routes
With the Peak District being a hub of fantastic walking routes, we wanted to find out which in the region are really the best. Across the key categories, Derwent Edge from Foul Clouth averages out as the most physically intense walk, on which walkers could burn 1,308 kcal.
Meanwhile, Mam Tor and The Great Ridge proves both most aesthetically pleasing and most accommodating, racking up an impressive 92.4K Instagram hashtags and offering a rest stop every 1.43km.
Shannon Keary, PR Manager at Peak Cottages, weighed in on the study: “Given the big increase in walking trail interest over the last year and ever fluctuating guidelines, it’s really encouraging to see how many great walking trails are available across the nation.
"There truly is a walking route for everyone - whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hiker - and it’s helpful to see them broken down by key metrics so people can easily find a trail suited to their needs.”
Regardless of where you take a trip this year, there are loads of walking routes and trails around the UK for a range of abilities and needs. But if you do want to take a ramble on one of the many Peak District trails, find somewhere to stay with Peak Cottages.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.