Scotlands West Highlands
Mountains are the main attraction in Scotlands rugged West Highlands lots of them, and big uns. From the countrys highest peak, Ben Nevis, to the hills around Tyndrum and Crianlrich including the spectacular Ben Lui this is the place to go for some serious, boot-wearing climbs.
Plan your trip to include a stop at Corrour Station, the UKs most remote outpost; try Beinn na Lap or a two-day hike to Ben Alder. The boggy emptiness of Rannoch Moor is also well worth a visit. For longer trips, the West Highland Way is a classic walk through an ever changing landscape as you journey 95 miles from Milngavie (Glasgow) to Fort William.
The West Highland Railway takes you right to the heart of the hills including several places where cars cannot reach. Trains drop you near the starting point for many of the mountains between Glasgow and Mallaig on the coast.
If you fancy a few days deep in the countryside, head for the Cairngorms in the east of Scotland. This vast expanse, a mixture of deep glacial valleys cutting through a huge alpine plateau, is perfect for longer walking trips, with a night spent in a bothy old shepherds cottages and farm buildings now used by walkers. As the sun sets and the deer start bawling, you will feel and indeed be miles from anywhere.
A 3 day, 52k route starting at Kingnussie station and finishing at Aviemore takes you through some of the finest Cairngorms scenery including Glen Feshie and the Lairig Ghru. For something a bit shorter, head to Beinn a Bhuird near Braemar.
The railway line to Inverness stops at Aviemore, a haven for outdoor pursuits and the perfect base from which to explore the region. Catch a bus to Braemar to explore the southern part of the mountain range.
This is the most popular place for walkers in the UK, and justifiably so. The fells are stunning, but the valleys and villages more than match them for a great days walking. The regions popularity means the hills can get crowded, but choose something away from the honeypots and you will get the hills to yourself.
Ambleside is a great place to base yourself; routes from this bustling town include the Fairfield Horsehoe, and classic walks from nearby Grasmere, such as Helm Crag.
Further north, Keswick is the place to head the Newlands Round, and Blencathra are both great days out. If you want to escape the crowds, the train along the West Coast takes you to many hidden corners try Black Combe in the southwestern fells.
Trains take you to Windermere and Kendal in the south, and up to Penrith for accessing the northern fells. Regular buses run throughout the National Park as well.
This beautiful region, made famous by the books of James Herriot, has enough variety to keep you busy for weeks. Each dale has its own character, from busy, tourist-friendly Wendsleydale to the tranquil farming hamlets that nestle high up Raydale or Arkengarthdale. But wherever you decide to head, you will find a warm welcome and some wonderful scenery.
No trip to Yorkshire is complete without a trip to Malham Cove and Gordale Scar, two natural wonders carved out of the limestone landscape. If you need to stretch your legs a little more fully, go west to the Three Peaks of Whernside, Pen-y-ghent, and Ingleborough.
The peaks of northwest Wales have some serious credentials; this is where Edmund Hillary and his team trained for their successful ascent of Everest. Snowdon, Wales highest mountain, is the biggest attraction, but the Carneddau and Glyders nearby also have some brilliant walks.
A trip up Snowdon is certainly one to tick off; get to know this popular mountain properly by hiking right across it. Hiking across the sweeping ridges of the Carneddau is perhaps an even finer day out. And theres plenty here besides mountains; try a valley walk around Beddgelert to see the gentler side of this glorious corner of the UK.
Trains will take you as far as Betws-y-coed on the eastern side of the National Park; from there, use the Snowdon Sherpa to get to those big hills beyond.
The Peak District, in the heart of England, is where walking in the UK really began. The mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932 led to movements that mean much of the UK is now freely available for wandering. And its still an unbeatable walking destination today, whether you want to walk through scenic dales or splash about in peat bogs.
Experience the inspiring scenery of Kinder Scout for yourself, with a day out from Edale. Another popular route is Dove Dale, a scenic stroll along Englands finest river valley.
With many towns and villages throughout the Peak District, there are regular buses to most places. The train line between Manchester and Sheffield provides easy access to the heart of the park, with Edale a good location to walk from.
When to go walking in the UK?
Britains weather is notoriously unpredictable. It can be glorious sunshine in December, and torrential rain in July. This makes planning a walking holiday something of a gamble; the best approach is to pack a good waterproof, hope for the best and have a plan B in case things turn really ugly.
As a general guide, spring (March to early May) and autumn (September and early October) are the best times. The countryside is at its most colourful in spring, as the wild flowers come out, the trees start sprouting leaves, and the fields and skies come alive with wildlife. Early autumn often gets better weather than the summer, and with the school holidays ending in August you are more likely to get some peace and quiet in the hills. And Scotland can be unbearable in summer with plagues of midges, the famous biting beasties, ruining many a tent-side evening. Much of the scenery is at its finest with a coat of snow, but in winter the mountain regions change from walking trips to serious mountaineering expeditions ropes, crampons and lots of warm clothing. Very enjoyable, but you need to be properly prepared.
With thanks to Car Free Walks who provided this guide to the highlights of walking in the UK. Visit their site for full route details and maps of all walks mentioned here, and to find more great routes. www.carfreewalks.org
Trains and buses (use Transport Direct) reach (almost) all corners, including many popular walking areas, so visitors can help to keep this beautiful land green and pleasant.