Sunset over a cobbled walking path at Mam Tor in Derbyshire
Sunset over a cobbled walking path at Mam Tor in Derbyshire

3 UK walking trails to test your long-distance endurance

If you're looking for long-distance hiking trails that you can really get your teeth (or walking boots) into, here's our pick of some of the best.

Cross the Pennines from the Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District

The Dales Way is a long-distance footpath that covers about 128 km from the old bridge in Ilkley, Bradford all the way to Bowness-on-Windermere. This infamous path runs right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is a fantastic way to explore its rugged beauty. Soft rolling hills, lush green valleys, secret waterfalls, Roman roads, historic churches, a ruined abbey, and some lovely old-fashioned pubs all await you.

You can choose to do a short route but to really test your mettle, start from Ilkley and walk the full length of the Dales Way as it follows the course of the River Wharfe across Wharfedale, thought by many to be the most picturesque of the Yorkshire Dales.

You follow scenic riverside paths between the delightful, cobbled villages of Burnsall, Buckden, Grassington and Kettlewell. Continuing via Hubberholme, you gradually gain height as you make your way upstream to reach the Pennine watershed at Cam Fell (520m). The trail then descends through Dentdale to the old market town of Sedbergh, between the slopes of the Howgill Fells and finally across sheep pastures to Bowness on the shore of the famous Lake Windermere.

The full trail takes about seven days to complete, but some parts of the route can be accessed by bus or train, so day hikes are also possible.

Take in spectacular views from the shivering mountain

Known for its striking valley views, Mam Tor is a 517m hill near Castleton in the High Peak area of Derbyshire. Mam Tor translates as the ‘Mother Hill’, a name that came from a number of landslides on its eastern face that created lots of mini hills. The land’s propensity to move also gave the Tor it’s second name, the shivering mountain.

Hikes to Mam Tor are magical all year round, putting you on the threshold between the Dark Peak and the White Peak. With gorgeous Edale on one side, the charming Hope Valley on the other, the huge bulk of Kinder Scout to the north and the limestone splendour of the Winnats Pass to the south.

There are a number of different walking routes of various lengths that take you to the top. But to set yourself a true challenge, try the Edale Skyline trail. It’s a challenging 32km walk that not only takes in Mam Tor but all the other hills around the Edale in the Hope Valley as well. It can be done in around 10 hours, depending on your walking speed.

Trek your way through the garden of England

You can really get away from it all on this long-distance path through the ‘garden of England’. The ridge-top North Downs Way is a whopping 246km of spectacular vistas, picturesque villages and luscious green countryside. Chalk peeps from the soil beneath your feet and magnificent panoramic views form a backdrop.

The route runs from Farnham to the White Cliffs of Dover, past Guildford, Dorking, Otford and Rochester. It passes through not one but two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Surrey Hills, the Kent Downs, and along part of the famous Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury. There’s a lot of rewards on this route!

It’s fairly level terrain but does goes up and down the scarp slope of the North Downs so there are a few hilly challenges in places. However, the views make it well worth the effort.

Hopefully you now have some fresh ideas for holiday locations with access to fabulous hiking trails. We really are spoilt for choice here in the UK.

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