10 of the best hiking trails in the UK, according to women

We are probably entering the best time of year for hiking. There is a fleeting window from mid-August to early September when the sun lights up the countryside, the leaves are turning golden and the heat isn’t as harsh as it was earlier in the season. It’s the perfect time to lace up and get out, using precious pockets of annual leave and weekends to explore some of our best UK-grown natural wonders, rather than spending hours stuck in a queue waiting at Heathrow.

We asked members of the Merrell Hiking Club for their favorite hikes across the UK, and they’ve imagined trails across the country. No matter where you live, you’re never far from an incredible view or a lonely trail, as the club’s 10 Best Hikes prove.

Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar, Yorkshire

Anse Malham
Head to the Dales to experience what Malham has to offer.

A village nestled in the Yorkshire Dales on the Pennine Way, Mallam is famous for its spectacular geology and picturesque views. Gordale Scar is an amazing waterfall/gorge which was produced as a result of melting glaciers around three million years ago, while Malham is also famous for its excellent local food and drink (including Yorkshire Chorizo ).

Try the challenging circular walk to Malham Tarn (a large freshwater lake), passing Malham Tarn House and dramatic limestone valleys. Look for waterfalls, lakes, ravines and creeks.

Distance: 7.6 miles (12.2 km)

Estimated walking time: 3 hours 32 mins

Difficulty: hard

Find it Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar Route on AllTrails

Snowdon via Crib Goch, Wales

Another tough hike, this is one of the longer routes on the list and definitely one to do before the end of September to avoid potentially dangerous conditions.

You will have to tackle some level 1 climbing/climbing, but in the opinion of Merrell Hiking Club (MHC) member Holly, the hard work is “well worth the incredible views and the feeling of accomplishment once you have reached the top”. Take it slow, drink in the view, and keep looking up as you climb.

Distance: 6.2 miles (10.1 km)

Estimated walking time: 5 hours 14 mins

Difficulty: hard

Find it Crib Goch walking on AllTrails

The Quiraing Circuit, Scotland

“The pictures you see online don’t do this place justice,” says hiker Mary. This is stunning. But she also warns that this is not a route to be underestimated in bad weather, so recommends checking the forecast before heading to Grealin on the Isle of Skye.

According to legend, Le Quiraing was a meeting place for fairies and dragons; fossils suggest that dinosaurs lived here too. Leave early to beat the crowds and make the most of the awe-inspiring scenery.

Distance: 6.2 miles (6.3 km)

Estimated walking time: 2 hours 28 minutes

Difficulty: moderate

To find the Quiraing circuit on AllTrails

Buckland Monachorum and River Walkham Circular

Photo taken at Buckland Monachorum, UK
Buckland Monachorum offers beautiful scenery on and off the trail.

Emma suggests people wear super comfortable shoes for this walk. “It’s a beautiful hike with lots of different terrain,” she explains. Located in Dartmoor National Park, this loop offers a range of scenery to interest even the most flighty walker.

Circle the route counter-clockwise to avoid a steep climb at the end (which can be tough on tired legs), or turn it into a pub crawl by doing Drakes Manor at Buckland Monachorum your point of departure and arrival. Emma recommends ending with a swim in the River Dart.

Distance: 6 miles (9.7 km)

Estimated walking time: 2 hours 42 mins

Difficulty: moderate

Find it Buckland Monachorum and River Walkham Circular on AllTrails

Circular from Helvellyn via Striding Edge, Lake District

If you are an experienced hiker or already in good shape, this is a great hike to try.
If you are an experienced hiker or already in good shape, this is a great hike to try.

According to walking enthusiast Lianne, it is “one of the Lake District’s most beloved hills, with stunning views over Ullswater and Thirlmere”. She warns it’s a climb across the ridge and up to the top, where you’re rewarded with “a real sense of accomplishment.”

Because the ascent involves some good rock climbing on an exposed, rocky ridge, AllTrails says this is not a route for beginner hikers. Save it for next year if you’re new to the sport – it’s a great route to practice on, so your fitness, balance and quad strength are at a good level before you try to get started .

Distance: 8.3 miles (13.5 km)

Estimated walking time: 5 hours 20 minutes

Difficulty: hard

Find it Helvellyn Circular via Striding Edge on AllTrails

The Cleveland Way, Yorkshire

Robin Hood Berry
Robin Hood’s Bay is the ultimate British seaside destination.

“One of our favorite routes is the coastal walk from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay along the Cleveland Way,” says MHC member Catherine. “It offers great coastal views and ends in the small fishing town of Robin Hood’s Bay, where you are usually greeted by hikers who have hiked coast to coast from St Bees.”

Once you get to the bay (once a notorious spot for smugglers), head to the local chippy for the UK’s freshest fish dinner or the Bay Inn for a pint with a view. The beach itself is full of rock pools and fossils waiting to be discovered.

Distance: 7.8 miles (12.6 km)

Estimated walking time: 3 hours 27 mins

Difficulty: easy

Find it Route from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay on AllTrails

Circular of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse, Peak District

chrome hill
The hill is known as The Dragon’s Back and the area dates back hundreds of years.

Offering a good mix of flat walks, thrilling runs and rocky descents, this route has it all. Head one way for a climb and the other if you prefer to spend the majority of your time descending. Just make sure your knees and shoes can handle it.

The route begins at Longnor, a village named in the Domesday Book – and dating back to the Middle Ages. You will then take on paved roads, country lanes and green grassy hills. At the top of Chrome Hill you will see Dragon’s Back – in reference to the spiny limestone reef mound.

Distance: 9.5 miles (15.3 km)

Estimated walking time: 5 hours 06 minutes

Difficulty: hard

Find it Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Circular on AllTrails

From Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, Dorset

Durdle Door Hike
Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most iconic places.

As soon as the mercury exceeds 20°C, the newspapers begin to publish photos of Durdle Door and the hordes of tourists descending on the Jurassic Coast. Get there in late summer, though, and you’ll beat the raging crowds.

It is probably Dorset’s most photographed and iconic landmark, thanks to its interesting geological structure and azure waters. It is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, offering stunning coastal views for miles.

Distance: 7.02 miles (11.3 km)

Estimated walking time: 3 hours 51 mins

Difficulty: moderate

Find it Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door Trail on AllTrails.

Kinder Scout via Jacob’s Ladder, Peak District

Beautiful sunny day in the Derbyshire hills.  Area popular with hikers.  The Pennine Way seen in the valley below.
Jacob’s Ladder is at its peak in the fall.

You don’t have a free weekend until mid-September? Stick this one on your list. The scenery is especially lovely in the fall, says MHC member Helen, when the foliage displays an array of beautiful colors.

“Once you follow the path for a few miles – before you start climbing Jacob’s Ladder – you will come to a river that is perfect for swimming on a hot day.” What better way to refresh a salty, sweaty forehead than a quick bath?

Distance: 8.01 miles (12.9 km)

Estimated walking time: 4 hours 12 mins

Difficulty: moderate

Find it Jacob’s Ladder and Kinder Scout Circular onAll Trails.

Lizard Point, Cornwall

Cornwall’s incredible natural offerings are relatively well known, but this coastal loop might just be one of the county’s best offerings. Dotted with wildflowers, the path offers scenic views of creeks, rocks and turquoise sea, as well as rare seals.

Distance: 3.1 miles (5 km)

Estimated walking time: 1 hour 19 minutes

Difficulty: easy

Find it Lizard Point Loop on AllTrails.

Images: Getty/Instagram/Merrell/Yorkshire_Blonde_Adventures