Fitness,  Fun

Walking – why it’s so great and where to walk in the UK

Motivating yourself to exercise can be tough, especially if you're not a natural athlete. But it's important to remember that exercise isn't always about beating records or pushing yourself to the limit.

Walking is a great form of exercise that almost anyone can participate in without the need for great athleticism.

Here in the UK, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing areas to walk in, and excellent walking routes to follow. We've written about a number of these areas and routes, and in this guide we'll outline:


Why walking is great
Walking routes in Scotland
Walking routes in England
Walking routes in Wales
Accessible walking routes


First, let's take a look at why walking is so great:

It's free, easy, and good for the environment

For most of us, walking is a simple activity which requires no specialist equipment to do. It's also free and although we'd ideally walk through lush countryside or along sandy beaches every day, even a walk along the street can reap benefits. It's also the most sustainable form of transport you can travel by, even compared to running or cycling, because such little energy is required to walk.

A little goes a long way

One of the great things about walking is that just a small amount of walking each day can reap big results. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of walking per day can increase your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your bones, and help to reduce excess body fat. You can also reduce your blood pressure, and studies have even shown that walking can help reduce anxiety and depression.

You can walk as part of a group

If you find walking on your own hard, then there are lots of walking groups around the UK that you can join so you have some company on your walks. To find walking groups local to you, check out websites such as Ramblers and the British Heart Foundation.

You can explore beautiful areas

Although you can explore areas by running, cycling, or traveling by car through them, walking through them is often a better way of exploring. The slower pace of walking allows you to take more time to admire your surroundings, making it easier to stop for photos or to simply admire a view.
Now let's take a look at some of the best places to go walking in the UK, as well as some excellent walking routes to follow.

The 15 national parks

We have an entire guide about the 15 national parks of the UK which you can read for more information, but it's worth highlighting some of our favourite national parks for walks:
  • Dartmoor - beautiful woodland walks where you can spot the rare Black Ash Slug
  • Exmoor - the highest coastline on the British mainland which is stunning to walk alongside
  • South Downs - the newest national park in the UK, through which you can follow the amazing South Downs Way
Dartmoor_National_Park_, (1)

Scottish walking routes

Scotland is home to some of the best walking routes you'll find in the whole of the UK, and most of these routes are suitable for everyone. Although some of these routes are long, you could always choose to walk part of the route rather than the whole route.

The Borders Abbeys Way

A beautiful walking route in the South of Scotland which takes you past 3 of the most incredible abbeys you'll ever see. Learn more in our guide here.

Kelso Abbay (Scottish Borders, Scotland, UK)

Loch Leven Heritage Trail

A 21km trail which takes you around Loch Leven. Learn more in our guide here.

Loch Leven heritage trail sign

The Southern Upland Way

A long route over 200 miles in length which is completed over a few days. Highlights include Sanquhar Castle. Learn more in our guide here.

Southern Upland Way sign Melrose

Fife Coastal Path

This route takes you past some incredible historical locations, including MacDuff Castle and the Wemyss Ancient Caves. Read our guide about this route here.


Mull of Galloway trail

A shorter trail (under 40 miles in length) which joins up with the Ayrshire Coastal Path. Read our guide here.


Galloway Kite trail

A must follow route if you want to catch a glimpse of Red Kites. Read our guide here.


The Skye Trail

Takes you from the North to the South of the island. Read our guide about the route here.


Scotland's Gallery Trail

Explore the best of Greater Speyside by following this route, which takes you past a number of great art galleries. Read our guide about the route here.


English walking routes

Being the largest country in the UK, you'd expect England to have plenty of excellent areas for walking, and that is definitely the case. Here are some of our favourite routes:

Marriott's Way

One of our most popular guides, the Marriott's Way is a great route that takes you through Norfolk. Read our guide here.


The Ullswater Way

A lovely route around Ullswater in the Lake District. Read our guide here.


The Vanguard Way

Explore Kent and Surrey along this very manageable route. Read our guide here.


The Cumbria Way

This route takes you from Ulverston to Carlisle, through some really interesting towns and villages. Read our guide here.

geograph-6777231-by-Adrian-Taylor (1)

Two Saints Way

This is described as a pilgrimage route between Chester and Lichfield, it's also under 100 miles in length. Read our guide here.


The Cotswolds Way

The Cotswolds is a stunning part of England and the Cotswolds Way is a long but very simple route which takes you through some amazing parts of this area. Read our guide here.


The Viking Way

The entire Viking Way route is more than 200 miles long, but it's the section which takes you through Caistor which is especially beautiful in our opinion, and it's manageable for most people. Read our guide here.


Devil's Dyke

As we note in our guide to Sussex, Devil's Dyke is an amazing natural formation which is just 5 miles to the North of Brighton and is an amazing place to go for a walk. Read our guide here.


Welsh walking routes

We'd say that although we've published fewer guides about walking in Wales, the walking routes in this country are probably our favourite in the entire UK:

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path

A stunning route which takes you right along the Welsh coastline. It's very easy to break this route up into manageable chunks for any ability. Read our guide here.


The Snowdonia Way

As the name suggests, this walking route takes you around Snowdonia, but it's mostly flat and again can be broken into smaller sections. Read our guide here.


Accessible walking routes

Because walking should be for everyone, we wanted to highlight a few interesting walking routes which are accessible to all:

Silver Sands to Burntisland

A 4 mile route along one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland which is very accessible and is perfect for all abilities. Read our guide here.


Buzzard's Nest Trail

A 1 mile route through Glentress Forest which is very beautiful and perfect terrain for anyone. Read our guide here.


Baggy Point at Croyde Bay

A coastal walk in Devon which, despite taking you along cliff edges, is very accessible and expertly maintained by the National Trust. Read our guide here.


Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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