Into The Woods: The UK’s Best Nature Trails

Away from the bright lights of London, the UK has a whole lot to offer. While the country’s growing cities and cultural scenes are all worth looking into, things get a great deal more interesting when you go off grid and take things back a gear or two. Britain’s natural side is quite unlike any other place you might have seen, dotted with rolling green hills and dense forests. Across the stretch of the country, a number of nature trails are waiting to be uncovered, resting as hidden gems amongst the flora and fauna. These wild walks will get you up close and personal with the Britain of older times, giving you a glimpse into the country’s rather ancient history.

Getting on your walking boots and gathering your equipment before you head out is a must; while the UK might not have the height or depth of other countries, it can get very wild in places, and it’s always best to be prepared. While you might like to start at any of the nation’s four corners, heading north is generally a good idea, putting you right in the heart of the wild country. The Yorkshire Dales are one of the shining lights of the north, with stretches of miles to see. Taking on the Grassington Trail is great if you’re an intermediate walker, giving you a wide range of different sights. In total, the park walk stretches eleven miles, taking in heathery landscapes, fantastical valleys, and spidery rivers and streams. Take your binoculars with you for the road; you’re going to want to take a look at the wildlife on the way.

Still in the north of the UK is the Lingmoor Fell Trail, which takes in some of the most spectacular views of the Lake District. While the trek is somewhat hilly, it is just enough to get your blood pumping and your body heated — something that you might well appreciate in this neck of the woods. Starting in Elterwater Village will put you in step to see some stunning views across the Lakes, giving you a whole new perspective on the place. The trail is an old quarry path, so a little rough under foot. Take along the right kind of equipment and you’ll be guaranteed a pleasant walk.

Wales is one of the wildest parts of the country and taking a look into its rolling countryside is a must if you’re in the area. The Brecon Beacons are perhaps the jewel in the area’s crown, showing off all of the green Welsh landscape for miles around. The Lyn y Fan Fach Walk is a good place to start, taking in a stretch of six and a half miles. As well as tipping onto the edge of the hills, the trek circles an ancient glacial lake and takes in views of the Swansea Bay. On a really clear day, you can see as far as the Pembrokeshire coast and the nearby Brecon Beacons, a sight that really cannot be missed.

Further southeast, things might be a little flatter, but they’re equally begging to be seen. If you’re looking for a little respite from the hustle and bustle of London, try taking the walk from Richmond to Hampton Court in nearby Surrey. Taking in 8 miles of rural countryside and river, the walk is incredibly pretty, giving you an idea of how London might have been centuries ago. Ending at the famed Hampton Court, the walk gives you a chance to stroll around the stretch of landscaped garden, imagining yourself as a royal as you do so.

It is Scotland, however, which might have the most spectacular walks of all. Rugged and wild, the Scottish landscape is truly one of a kind, hurtling you back a few hundred years each time you visit. The Glen Finglas Trail is a great one to try if you want to get the lay of the land. A humble four miles, the walk will give you a sense of the surrounding countryside without going overboard, giving you a chance to be leisurely about your day. Taking in fresh forests, icy lochs, and sloping hills, the walk shows off all the best that Scotland has to offer, and might just make you fall in love with the place.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.