The UK’s most popular walking routes

January 14, 2020

Come rain or shine, the British love the great outdoors. From a summer’s day stroll to a traditional boxing day walk, there’s always a good excuse to get away from the bustling city and take in some country air. According to Walking for Health, a good walk can uplift your mental wellbeing, improving self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. Pair this with the physical benefits brought on by fresh air and exercise, and you should need no more encouragement to embrace the outdoors!

According to the Telegraph, walking is the UK’s favourite exercise, or at least the one that they are most likely to engage in. It’s not surprising — walking is free and allows you to discover new, breath-taking landscapes. Thanks to data collated by the Ordnance Survey, based on routes created by OS map users over the last few years, we have now discovered the most popular walking routes throughout the UK. We already knew that Britons love a good stroll, but now we know exactly where! So, if you’re looking for inspiration and want to embrace the great outdoors, read on to discover the most beloved UK walking routes, with suitable options for all difficulty levels.

The data collected, which took into account 300,000 public walking routes across Britain, revealed that Snowdon in Wales was the busiest 1km2 square on the OS map, with users recording 2,370 routes at the summit. The square which had the most starting off points was Edale, and the one where the most users completed their walks was Fairholmes in the Peak District.

Although it seems that people have a taste for the more challenging hikes, such as Snowdon and Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England, located in the Lake District National Park), the data also revealed some more moderate strolls.

Despite most of the routes being grouped in and around the national parks (as could be expected), city routes also got some recognition. Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham all featured highly in the results, showing that OS users were making time for healthy walks even in built-up areas. This is good news for anyone that wants to throw on some flat boots and go on a shorter stroll — you don’t have to scale the highest mountains in the country to sample the great outdoors!

As well as cities and the mountainous inlands, Britain’s coastlines proved to be popular, with coastal walks in the South West being particularly well-trodden.

Presenting an interesting mix of difficulty levels and landscapes, here are the 20 overall most popular 1km2 areas on the OS map for 2019. Each location has proved to be a particular favourite of walkers. OS used information collected by their online map users, with people recording their walks either on the OS website or map. As a result of the collected information, we can see which areas are favoured for both intense hikes and casual strolls. Each of these popular areas includes a few different walking routes, depending on how much you want to exert yourself! But they should all give you inspiration for a countryside getaway.

The UKs top twenty walking areas with suggested routes:

Edale, the Peak District

Edale, a quaint village in the Peak District, is a walker’s paradise. Many people use Edale as a starting off point to walk the Pennine way (a 268-mile trek that takes most hikers up to 19 days) If you’re looking for a more relaxed walk however, you could try the Edale Low Level Circular Walk which will take you on a picturesque, steady route.

Edale (Hollins Cross), the Peak District

Edale makes a comeback as the seventh most popular walking area. The walk from Edale to Hollins Cross takes you off in a different direction to the Edale walks that we looked at previously. This is an easy walk along a public footpath, suitable for seasoned hikers and newbies alike! The path takes you up to the Hollins Cross memorial, from which you get a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape.

Scafell Pike, the Lake District

Scafell Pike is a complex mountain to hike, but the landscape will take your breath away. The simplest route to take up the summit is via Brown Tongue from Wasdale, but if you’re feeling more ambitious and want to see the best the mountain has to offer, try the Corridor Route.

Crookstone Hill, the Peak District

 Crookstone Hill, or Crookstone Knoll, is close to the Hope Cross walk. A steady, grassy landscape with a beautiful panorama, this hill can be reached easily from the car park at Hope, making it accessible to all.

Allen Crags, the Lake District

Allen Crags, in the beautiful Lake District, is part of a nine-mile scenic walk that takes in the glorious Great Gable mountain. The walk starts from Seathwaite and then winds up the summit of Allen Crags. You’ll be rewarded by some glorious countryside.

Mount Snowdon, Wales

This mountain is not for the faint hearted, but the glorious views make it worth your while! There are various routes up to choose from, ranging from Crib Goch, a challenging scramble, to Llanberis Path, which provides a steady gradient and a relatively straight forward route.

Great End, the Lake District

The Lake District strikes again with a mountain sometimes overlooked by those headed for Scafell Peak. Great End is a dramatic mountain, with a sheer edge — striking to behold. The route up this mountain is fairly challenging due to the unavoidable large boulders on the way to the peak. 

Helvellyn, the Lake District

Helvellyn is a beautiful mountain surrounded by the Lake District’s signature bright blue lakes. The peak is 50 metres or 3117 feet high and should take three to four hours to ascend. All the routes to the summit are fairly challenging and require a high level of fitness.

Fairholmes, Hope Valley

If you’re looking for a gentle walk in Yorkshire, then Fairholmes is a great place to start. Beginning at the Fairholmes visitor centre, this stroll is well signposted and moderate. Taking you through farmland and a peaceful valley, this walk is truly idyllic.

Hope Cross, the Peak District

The walk that leads you to the landmark of Hope Cross will take your through fields, over stiles, and through woodlands. This walk is moderate and can be accessed very easily from Sheffield city centre as you can jump on a train straight to the starting point (Hope train station). It is an easy and accessible route for anyone to enjoy.

If you’re a thrill seeker, you’ve most likely already started planning your scramble up Hollins Cross, Scafell Pike, and Mount Snowdon. But if you are looking for a slightly more relaxing reason to leave the house and get some fresh air, then there are plenty of more moderate options included in this list.

Now that you’ve got all the information, there are no more excuses to stop you getting out there! There are plenty of incredible routes right on your doorstep — you’ll be amazed at the scenery Britain has to offer and you’ll see some positive impacts on your mental and physical health.