The best walks in Britain

Around St Anthony Head, south Cornwall
Take the cheerful little ferry from St Mawes to Place Quay
(it runs April 1-November 4), visit the church on the beach and then follow the path around the promontory (6 miles)
Why it’s uplifting Seeing boats bobbing on the majestic Fal Estuary and swimming at Porthbeor beach, only accessible on foot
Need to know
The National Trust-run
St Anthony Head boasts a Second World War observation post, bird hide, lighthouse and exemplary loos
Tea Seasonal tea garden at St Anthony Head

Lundy Bay to Port Isaac, north Cornwall

Start at the National Trust car park and follow the rugged coastal path nearly all the way, for about 5½ miles
Why it’s uplifting Wildflowers, gorse,
willow warblers (below), vertiginous cliff-top stretches and views to Lundy Island
Need to know Lundy Hole, a chasm in the cliff, is a collapsed sea cave; lundi is Norse for puffin
Pub The Golden Lion (01208 880336; or The Slipway Hotel (01208 880264;, both set on the
harbour front at Port Isaac

Around Lynmouth, Devon
Follow the River Lyn upstream from Lyn-mouth to Watersmeet, go uphill to Countisbury church and back along a wild coastal path, following the acorn signs (5 miles)
Why it’s uplifting The tumbling river, the strangely twisted trees and the emerging onto a dramatic coast
Need to know Gainsborough (far right), who spent his honeymoon at Lynmouth, said it was ‘the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast’
Pub The Blue Ball, Countisbury (01598 741263; www.exmoorsand, or a cream tea at Watersmeet (01598 753348)

Crowcombe to Holford, Quantock Hills, Somerset
Start on top of the hill at Crowcombe Park Gate, head north through bracken and heather and drop down one of the wooded combes, where you should see red deer, to Holford (about 6 miles round trip)
Why it’s uplifting The infinite variety
of sea and vale, forest and heather, green and purple skylines-Exmoor to the west, Wales to the north-is almost overwhelming, so allow standing and staring time. Wordsworth did: ‘On springy heath, along the hill-top edge/Wander in gladness and wind down, perchance,/To that still roaring dell’
Need to know Wordsworth and Coleridge walked from Holford to Crowcombe and back, a strenuous uphill pull
Pub The Plough, Holford (01278 741232) or The Carew Arms, Crowcombe (01984 618631;

‘Military Meadows’, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
Summertime, grassland walk from Heytesbury to the atmospheric abandoned village of Imber and back (8-10 miles, depending on route)
Why it’s uplifting The public is only allowed on the plain at certain times, when the army isn’t using it (01980 674763;, which gives it a frisson of daring. The pastoral beauty contrasts with the ugliness of war-burnt-out hulks of tanks used for target practice
Need to know The village of Imber was evacuated in 1943 so American troops could use it; despite attempts to reclaim it, it remains in Ministry of Defence hands. It’s spooky, even on a summer’s day
Pub The Angel, Heytesbury (01985 840330;

Coln St Aldwyns to Bibury, Gloucestershire
An almost flat or downhill stroll along a chalkstream valley (2 miles)
Why it’s uplifting A Constable esque landscape, more mellow than exhilarating, of grazing sheep and water meadows
Need to know Buy day tickets locally for trout-fishing (below) on the River Coln or visit
Pub Bibury Court has a hotel bar at which walkers are welcome (01285 740337;

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Aldworth to West Ilsley, Berkshire
A five-mile stretch of the Ridgeway
Why it’s uplifting Skylarks, cowslips, racehorses galloping (first thing), big-sky sunsets and a sense of height and of ancientness, although cyclists tend to dispel this idyll
Need to know The Ridgeway (Ivinghoe Beacon, Buckinghamshire, to Overton Hill, Wiltshire) is part of a pre-historic track from Dorset to The Wash
Pub The Bell, Aldworth (01635 578272) for sandwiches or The Harrow, West Illsley, for a little more (01635 281260;

Dinas Island, Newport, Pembrokeshire
Circular walk around Dinas Head, starting at Cwm-yr-Eglwys (3 miles)
Why it’s uplifting Dramatic, rugged views, seabirds nesting, and the possibility of seeing porpoises off Needle Rock
Need to know The ‘island’ is really a promontory that became semi-detached from the mainland during an Ice Age
Pub The ancient Old Sailor’s Inn, Pwllgwaelod Beach (01348 811491)

Cader Idris, Dolgellau, Gwynedd
From Tal-y-llyn lake, walk up by Min-ffordd Path, past Llyn Cau, where you can decide if you really want to press on to the top (2,927ft). A bracing walk and steepish in parts (5½ miles there and back)
Why it’s uplifting The mystical (and often misty, alas) atmosphere – Snowdonia’s lakes have a special deep, silent quality
Need to know Don’t stop for a nap-legend has it that, if you spend the night on Cader Idris, you will awaken either as a madman or a poet
Picnic By glorious Llyn Cau

Moel Famau, Ruthin, Clwyd Hills
Circular walk to the top of Moel Famau, on Offa’s Dyke Path, from Loggerheads Country Park to Jubilee Tower (built for George III in 1810) on the peak and back (8 miles)
Why it’s uplifting The peak of Moel Famau (‘Mother Mountain’) is 1,818ft high and the views to Liverpool Bay are endless
Need to know Moel Famau has one of Wales’s rare black-grouse populations (left)-if you go early, and quietly, enough in spring, you might see the lek
Eating Teashop at Loggerheads or picnic

Holkham Beach, north Norfolk
Park in Lady Anne’s Drive off the A149, walk down to the beach and take off as far as you want in either direction. You could turn right to Wells-next-the-Sea, returning through the pines (about 4 miles)
Why it’s uplifting The ultimate, wind-in-your hair, winter beach, voted Best British Beach in 2011. The horizon is vast enough for both the solitary and the gregarious
Need to know There’s a naturist area
Pub The Victoria Hotel (01328 711008; or hunker down in the dunes with a picnic and watch the birds

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Park in the castle car park and walk down to the beach. Head north and swing back towards the village inland. The castle is always in sight, so you can choose your distance-the round trip to Budle Bay is about four miles
Why it’s inspiring The castle (below)-and its proud position-is an irresistible landmark in every light
Need to know Lighthouse-keeper’s daughter Grace Darling, heroine of the SS Forfar-shire shipwreck in 1838, is buried here
Tea Copper Kettle Tearooms (01668 214315;

Haweswater/Mardale Head, Cumbria
Drive up the valley road from Bampton until you reach the end of the Haweswater, a manmade lake-although it doesn’t look like one-built to supply Manchester. Walk up to Blea Water, and then keep climbing, up to Kidsty Pike and the Roman Road-if you’re lucky, you’ll see a golden eagle
Why it’s uplifting The further you go,
the better it gets, so much so that you have to make a conscious effort to turn around
Need to know In dry years, eerie traces of the drowned village of Mardale emerge from the receding waters
Picnic Anywhere that looks onto the water

Inverie to Kinlochhourn via Barrisdale, West Highlands
This is more ambitious, but can be done in two parts: from Inverie in Knoydart on an old drovers’ route, over the pass of Mam Barrisdale and into Barrisdale Bay (10 miles); then along the southern shore of Loch Hourn to Kinlochhourn (7 miles)
Why it’s uplifting Unsurpassed mountain scenery-this is the wilderness of the Rough Bounds, with its red deer, Munros galore and glorious views onto Barrisdale Bay and Loch Hourn, once silver with herring
Need to know Regular ferries run from Mallaig to Inverie (the inhabited Knoydart Peninsula has roads, but no road access)
Eating and sleeping The Old Forge, Inverie (01687 462267;, Barisdale
(01599 522302; or Kinlochhourn Farm and Tearoom (01432 761016;

Elgol to Sligachan, Isle of Skye
The fifth stage of the Skye Trail runs past Loch Scavaig, Camasunary Bay and sublime Loch Coruisk to the welcome refuge of the hotel at Glen Sligachan (11 miles)
Why it’s uplifting For views of the mighty Cuillin and out to the Small Isles of Canna, Eigg and Rum and for remote Loch Coruisk, ringed by jagged peaks, the inspiration of Turner, Scott and all Romantic-minded tourists since them
Need to know Parts are difficult, including the famous ‘bad step’ above Loch Coruisk, but the final stretch is flat
Refuge Sligachan Hotel (01478 650204;; a remote fishing lodge at Camasunarie for rent (01471 866333; a small cave near the loch if it rains

Chanctonbury Ring to Devil’s Dyke, Sussex
A 4-5-mile stretch of the South Downs Way
Why it’s uplifting You pass hardly more than a handful of walkers and cyclists each hour, despite the proximity to Worthing and Brighton. Great views of Lancing Chapel and the ruins of Bramber Castle as you head east over Annington Hill. Constable described those from the top of the ‘dry valley’ of Devil’s Dyke as ‘the grandest view in the world’
Need to know The beech-crowned ‘Ring’ and the ‘Dyke’ are Iron Age hill forts. The best and biggest-Cissbury Ring-is a three-mile detour and a significant butterfly site
Pub The Shepherd and Dog, Fulking (01273 857382;

Walks enjoyed by Kate Green, Rupert Godsal, Flora Howard, Dominic Walters and Mary Miers. Distances are approximate