The UK is filled with spectacular landscapes, from vast national parks to picture-perfect coastal settings. As spring approaches, dust off your walking boots and celebrate the beginning of brighter, warmer days by embarking on one of the finest walking trails in the country. Here are the best walks in the UK for spring…
Brownsea Island, Dorset
“Going to Brownsea is just like setting off on holiday,” says Phil Dyke, the National Trust’s coast and marine adviser, “You have to get there on a boat, it’s a proper journey. It feels like another world.” Found in middle of Poole Harbour in Dorset, Brownsea Island is a true gem. A five-mile walk route takes you round the island, with plenty of wildlife to see along the way including red squirrels, dragonflies, deer and lizards all in residence. Explore a variety of landscapes and habitats including freshwater lakes, a sheltered lagoon, beaches, an abandoned village, grasslands and seashores.
Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park
Located within Devon’s Exmoor National Park, the Valley of Rocks is a glorious sight – particularly when the weather’s on your side. Found at the mouths of the wooded gorges of the East and West Lyn rivers, it’s reached by an easy walk from the village of Lynmouth along the coast road. Once here, you can climb to the cliff tops for unparalleled views of the seascape.
Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Explore the rolling woodlands of the National Trust’s Blickling Estate, a Jacobean mansion with magnificent gardens in Norfolk. The route takes you across a mixture of gentle slopes, woods, and open fields, and you’ll visit a number of historic points along the way including a pyramid mausoleum and an 18th century tower built for watching steeplechases once held in the park.
South Foreland Lighthouse Walk
A landmark of the White Cliffs of Dover, the Victorian lighthouse was built to warn mariners of shifting sands. The views from the top are quite something, and – good news – it’s only a one-mile walk there from the town. Start at St Margaret’s Bay before following a section of the South West Coast Path up to South Foreland. You’ll pass the beautiful Pines Garden along the way, which has a waterfall and adjoining lake, grass labyrinth and organic kitchen garden, so it’s well worth stopping there for a quick explore.
Seven Sisters, South Downs
With its chalk sea cliffs, meandering rivers and sheltered valleys, the eastern South Downs have some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery. Head to the Seven Sisters Country Park to see for yourself: there are a variety of routes for walkers, from short strolls to tougher 9-milers. If you’re up for the latter, head south along the River Cuckmere until you reach the mouth, where you can stop for a quick dip at the shingle beach. Next, head steeply eastwards along the clifftop to reach Birling Gap – it’s really important to steer clear of the eroding cliff edge here. From Birling Gap, there are plenty of westward trails to get you back to where you started.
The wall built to protect the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall stretches 84 miles from Tyneside to Cumbria. If 84 miles is a little further than you had in mind, feat not: there are many shorter walks, with undulating tracks weaving through picture-perfect countryside. Feel like a challenge? Getting to the top of Steel Rigg requires a bit of effort, but the views from the top are worth the climb.