Getting out into the fresh air and countryside is great for mind, body and soul. Whether it's with friends, family or by yourself, experiencing the beauty of nature is a wonderful thing to keep you happy and healthy.
Britain has so many diverse and picturesque landscapes to explore, too. Whether it’s trekking up mountains or ambling through wildflower meadows, traversing wild moors or relaxing by riversides, exploring ancient forests or sauntering through pretty dales, there is plenty of variety to be savoured.
That’s why we have joined forces with charity Mind and in collaboration with Ellis Brigham to promote the benefits of time and experiences in the outdoors on mental health, something that has increased in importance during 2020. The new initiative, Hike From Home, aims to inspire everyone to explore new, local walks from their doorstep as a means to enjoy time outdoors during the pandemic as well as supporting mental health and wellbeing. To help facilitate people to Hike From Home, Merrell has partnered with komoot to get people outside for their mental health throughout October. Participants are invited to tag Merrell and #HikeFromHome in their activity title on Komoot to take part.
In this Collection, we bring you 14 awesome hikes into spectacular countryside that are close to Britain's most-populated cities. All of the hikes are rated as either easy or intermediate and take you some truly amazing places. You can expect breathtaking views, abundant wildlife, prehistoric sites, untold beauty and endless good times on these routes. So, what are you waiting for?
You need the ideal shoe for your next hiking trip? Check out the Merrell MQM 2.0 – available at Ellis Brigham: ellis-brigham.com/merrell
Boasting beautiful scenery, breathtaking views and abundant wildlife, Box Hill is a perfect location for a countryside escape from London.
This easygoing hike is a great introduction to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), too. With 3.7 miles (6 km) of distance and 775 feet (236 m) of climbing, you can power around this route in under two hours. Or why not take your time and make a day of it?
From the car park, you begin with a fun-filled skip over stepping stones across the River Mole. It is then a challenging but rewarding climb to the top of Box Hill where incredible views across the lush Surrey landscape await.
A short step later, you reach a quirky flint folly known as Broadwood’s Tower, where more fine views await. Next you dip into Juniper Bottom, known charmingly as 'Happy Valley', along a wide and relaxing bridle path and rise for more breathtaking views. You finish with a gradual descent through lush woodland and meadows to the car park.
Box Hill is a 60 to 90-minute drive from Central London, depending on traffic. If you plan to arrive by public transport, Box Hill and Westhumble Train Station is a ten-minute walk from the start of the loop.
This hike is a Peak District classic. A star attraction of the national park, Mam Tor affords wonderful walking and spectacular views that stretch for miles.
Mam Tor means ‘Mother Hill’. It was named because the frequent landslides on its eastern face have created many mini-hills beneath it. These landslides, which are caused by unstable lower layers of shale, also give the hill its alternative name of 'Shivering Mountain'.
With 5.4 miles (8.7 km) of distance and 975 feet (297 m) of climbing, this will test your mettle but is suitable for all ages and abilities, so long as you have average fitness levels.
From Castleton village, you head through farmland beside Odin Stitch stream before ascending along a twisted and crumbling road — destroyed by the movement of Mam Tor — to Blue John Cavern.
You then make the final push to the summit of Mam Tor. Placing you on the threshold between the Dark Peak and the White Peak, views extend over Edale, the Hope Valley, the huge bulk of Kinder Scout and the limestone splendour of the Winnats Pass. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Manchester.
You descend to Hollins Cross and then loop back through farmland to Odin Stitch and onto where you started.
Castleton is less than one hour’s drive from Manchester and 40 minutes from Sheffield. The village has good public transport links from both cities, too, typically via nearby Hope Train Station and the 272 bus service.
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Caer Caradoc is one of the most iconic summits in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
While it might not be the tallest hill, it certainly has the most character. With distinctive volcanic rock crags and topped with an Iron Age fort, you will find it an interesting peak to climb.
Part of a range known as the Stretton Hills, Caer Caradoc sits alongside the Church Stretton Fault, a dividing line between two tectonic plates. When the western plate sank beneath the eastern plate millions of years ago, the land was forced upwards and the range was created.
Whilst this hike is an intermediate 6.6 miles (10.6 km), there is a challenging 1,550 feet (472 m) of elevation gain and some tough terrain to contend with. However, if you have average fitness and ability, this is a great test that rewards richly.
From the layby on the B4371, it is a gentle ascent past Gaerstones Farm until you are afforded a spectacular first glimpse of Caer Caradoc.
The route up Caer Caradoc chosen here is the steepest and you will need a good level of fitness and hiking ability to attempt it. The effort is worth it, though. At the top, you are treated to breathtaking panoramas over Long Mynd, The Lawley and Church Stretton that stretch for miles. There is also a fine example of an Iron Age fort to explore.
After descending into delightful Shropshire farmland, you rise once again to return via the Cardington Hills and Willstone Hill.
Following a steep push to the summit of the Hope Bowlder, the hard work is all done. From here, you can enjoy the panorama for the last few miles and take in splendid views over Caer Caradoc.
Church Stretton is an hour’s drive from Birmingham, one hour from Hereford, and 30 minutes from Shrewsbury. The market town has a train station, too, making it easy to arrive by public transport.
Wild moors, poetry, iconic rocks, spellbinding views and a mystical Bronze Age stone circle combine on this enchanting hike of Ilkley Moor.
With 5.9 miles (9.5 km) of distance and 825 feet (251 m) of uphill, this hike will get the heart pumping and the endorphins flowing. It is suitable for all abilities.
From Ilkely, you rise gradually east along the Dales Way Link footpath to one of the most iconic spots on Ilkley Moor, the Cow and Calf Rocks, where great views and the opportunity for a childlike scramble await.
You ascend northwest gradually, deeper into the moor, and will notice the landscape taking on an increasingly upland character. The next Highlight you reach is the Twelve Apostles, a beautiful stone circle in an atmospheric setting which dates to the Bronze Age.
After soaking up the prehistory, you head west across rugged moorland to the Rombalds Moor trig point, where you get breathtaking views up Wharfedale to Great Whernside and over the vast urban conurbations of Leeds and Bradford.
A short step later, you pass a poem about puddles beautifully carved into rock and continue east until you reach a small car park. Here, you begin a long and gradual descent though stunning moorland back to the start.
Ilkley is a 30-minute drive from Bradford and 45 minutes from Leeds. If you wish to arrive by public transport, there is a train station in the town with direct links to both cities.
This wonderful circuit explores Ben A’an, the Southern Highland’s quintessential ‘mountain-in-miniature’.
The great thing about this route is that it affords big mountain vibes yet is suitable for all abilities, something that can be hard to find in the Highlands. Whilst there is a fair amount of climbing — 1,100 feet (335 m) — the distance is an easygoing 4.2 miles (6.8 km) and the views alone make it worthwhile.
A well-maintained footpath leads to the summit of Ben A’an. Whilst the final ascent is a little trickier, it is generally fairly easygoing.
When you reach the peak, you will see why Ben A’an is so loved. It might not be the tallest summit, but the spellbinding view over Loch Katrine to the Arrochar Alps makes you feel on top of the world.
From Ben A’an, it is an adventurous descent to the shores of Loch Katrine. Be aware, it is steep in places and can get a little boggy on this stretch. If you are not a confident hiker and conditions are wet, it might be advisable to return via the route you ascended.
To finish, you follow the stunning shoreline of Loch Katrine and then hike through woodland to the shores of Loch Achray, admiring the immense beauty of the landscape every step of the way. It is then a short step back to the car.
Ben A’an is an hour from Glasgow, an hour from Stirling and 90 minutes from Edinburgh.
Abundant wildlife, exceptional beauty and ancient history collide on this splendid South Downs hike.
With 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of distance and 950 feet (290 m) of elevation gain, this is a pretty challenging hike. However, with spellbinding scenery throughout and lots of interest, the miles simply fly by.
From the car park, you join the South Downs Way over Salt Hill. You then take the footpath to the right, just before the cluster of trees, onto Small Down, which affords superb views over the sleepy village of East Meon, the upper Meon Valley and across Butser Hill in the east.
After a short road section, you rejoin the South Downs Way to Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve. The chalk grassland that forms this nature reserve is home to many different species of birds, butterflies and wildflowers.
From the nature reserve, it is a short step to the summit. Set amid one of the most beautiful landscapes of the South Downs, Old Winchester Hill Iron Age hillfort is a wonderful place to explore and affords incredible views over the surrounding countryside.
From Old Winchester Hill, you follow the Monarch’s Way until the road, which you hike along to return to the start.
This starting point for this hike is a 45 minute drive away from Southampton and 30 minutes from Portsmouth. The nearest train station is 3 miles (4.8 km) away in Clanfield.
This hike explores the beautiful mixed woodlands of Delamere Forest, a place where wildlife thrives and wonderful history survives.
Delamere, which means ‘forest of the lakes’, is Cheshire's largest woodland. However, the forest you see today is merely a remnant of the vast forests of Mara and Mondrem, which covered more than 60 square miles (160 km2). They were established in the 11th century as hunting forests for the Norman Earls of Chester.
With no hills of note, this 6.3-mile (10.1-km) loop is leisurely. As there are plenty of trails winding through these woods, it is easy to extend or shorten the hike, too.
From the car park, you begin with a short section along the road before heading into the forest and hiking around Blakemere Moss, a lake that is rich in biodiversity and perfect for birdwatching.
A short step later, you pass through Black Lake, a tranquil nature reserve that is home to many species of dragonfly and damselfly, as well as some unusual mosses, and continue through the woods to Hatchmere Lake, which is next to the car park.
Delamere Forest is a 40-minute drive from Liverpool, half an hour from Warrington and 20 minutes from Chester. Delamere train station is a 15-minute walk away from the start point.
You explore one of the most scenic parts of Hadrian's Wall on this hike and visit some treasured spots.
Hadrian’s Wall was one of Roman Empire's greatest feats of engineering. Built between AD 122 and 128 on the orders of the emperor Hadrian, the wall stretched 73 miles (117 km) across the width of northern Britain.
With 7.2 miles (11.6 km) of distance and 500 feet (152 m) of elevation gain, this is a fairly challenging route but rewards richly with great views and spectacular history.
From the car park, you follow signs for ‘Hadrian's Wall’ and soon pass Steel Rigg, a dramatic cliff face that shows how the Romans used nature in their defences.
You hike east along the wall past Milecastle 39 and moments later arrive at one of its most iconic attractions, Sycamore Gap, also known as ‘Robin Hood’s Tree’.
The spot was made famous after being featured in the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. The tree’s position within the dip is extremely stunning and makes for an excellent photo opportunity.
Next, continue east until you reach Housesteads, the most complete Roman fort in Britain. Set high on a dramatic escarpment, there are great panoramic views here and the opportunity to explore ancient barracks, a hospital — even some Roman toilets.
When you reach Milecastle 36, make a sharp left onto the public footpath. With Broomlee Lough and Greenlee Lough to your right, follow this path for around 3 miles (5 km) until you reach the road. Go left and you will see Steel Rigg Car Park.
The start of this hike is less than an hour’s drive from Newcastle-upon-Tyne and 40 minutes from Carlisle. Haltwhistle Train Station is 5 miles (8 km) away and is linked via the AD122 bus service.
This hike explores Dovedale, a beauty spot that is known for limestone ravines, ancient ash woodland, abundant wildlife, awesome caves and river stepping stones.
The prehistoric rocks of Dovedale gorge were formed more than 350 million years ago by the accumulation of dead sea creatures. The fossils you will find today come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Look out for fossilised brachiopods, which look like clams, or crinoids, which are known as ‘Derbyshire screws’ for their long and twisty arms.
With 6.4 miles (10.3 km) of distance and 850 feet (259 m) of uphill — including a steep climb through Dovedale Wood — this is a fairy challenging hike. However, it can be made really easy if you stay in the dale.
From the car park, you hike on the road through Ilam and then rise over Thorpe Cloud before dropping into Dovedale and crossing the quirky stepping stones. You then hike alongside the river, admiring spellbinding scenery and lots of wildlife.
When you reach the mighty Reynards Cave, retrace your steps briefly, cross the river and make a steep ascent through Dovedale Wood, a picturesque woodland where wildlife thrives. It is then level walking above the dale where marvellous views await before a steady descent to the start.
If the mood is right, why not take a picnic and spend the day exploring and relaxing? There is plenty to keep all ages enthralled.
Dovedale is a one-hour drive from Nottingham, 40 minutes from Derby, and 40 minutes from Stoke-on-Trent.
You explore a wild and beautiful part of the Peak District on this hike, which affords wonderful panoramic views, classic upland walking and even some wartime history.
Whilst the footpaths are well-defined on this route, the landscape is rugged and the weather conditions can be harsh. With 8 miles (12.9 km) of distance and 1,100 feet (335 m) of elevation gain, this is a testing hike. However, anyone with average fitness and ability will be fine.
From the car park, you immediately walk below the mighty Derwent Dam, which was built in 1902. Interestingly, Derwent Reservoir and nearby Ladybower were used by pilots to practise for the ‘Dam Busters’ raids in WWII.
After climbing steps by the right-hand tower, you hike around the reservoir. It is then a long climb to Lost Lad, which begins as a very steep ascent. When you reach the ghostly tor, spectacular views await.
A short step later, you reach Back Tor. As it is the highest point on Derwent Edge, you are afforded utterly breathtaking views over the Peak District. There are some interesting rock formations to explore here, too.
Next, you descend steadily through rugged moorland over Dovestone Tor and White Tor before reaching another distinctive rock formation, Wheel Stones, which is said to resemble a coach and horses.
At the next intersection of paths, head right and drop back to the reservoir. A short section on the road takes you back to the car park.
Derwent Reservoir is less than 30-minute’s drive from Sheffield, one hour from Manchester, and roughly one hour from Leeds. There are good public transport links from Sheffield, too.
This hike explores rolling Somerset countryside interlaced with winding rivers, sleepy villages, viewpoints, viaducts and enchanting prehistory.
With 10.9 miles (17.5 km) of distance this is a fairly long hike. However, with 600 feet (183 m) of elevation gain there is not much climbing. Plus, there is ample opportunity to loop back early if you fancy, which reduces the distance and climbing significantly.
From roadside parking in upper Pensford, you hike into the pretty village, cross the road and are instantly wowed by the impressive Pensford Viaduct. Built in 1874, the 95-foot (29-m) high bridge is Grade II-listed.
You join the Two Rivers Way trail, hike underneath the viaduct and follow the River Chew to the Stanton Drew Stone Circles. Composed of three separate circles, it is the third largest complex of standing stones in England and was built about 4,500 years ago.
After enjoying the stones up close, continue along the Two Rivers Way until you reach the outskirts of Chew Magna village. Here, you join the road for a short time before ascending Knowle Hill, where a gorgeous panoramic view of the Chew Valley awaits.
From here, you wind east through rolling meadows and farmland. The Carpenters, in Stanton Wick village, is a great place for a pit-stop a few miles from the finish, too.
To end the hike, you make a lovely loop of Lords Wood, a pretty woodland with some tranquil ponds at its heart and plenty of trails to explore. You can observe a great deal of wildlife within the woodland, including roe deer, badger, grey squirrel, and fallow deer, and many bird species.
Pensford is a 20-minute drive from Bristol and 30 minutes from Bath. There are good public transport links between Bristol and Pensford, too.
You conquer one of the highest mountains in Northern Ireland on this hike and experience some jaw-dropping views.
With 6.8 miles (10.9 km) of distance and a challenging 1,825 feet (556 m) of climbing, this route will test your mettle. However, if you have average fitness and ability, this route is definitely manageable and makes for a great half day hike.
From the car park, you join the Mourne Wall Challenge trail and instantly begin climbing Slieve Binnian. The climb initially starts on the road and, once you get onto the footpath by the wall, the climb becomes harder and steeper all the way to the top. When you reach the summit, breathtaking views await.
You continue north past the granite tower of Black Castles and hike over North Tor, where you are afforded more great views. Next, you descend to the saddle between Binnian and Slieve Lamagan and begin a steady descent back to the car park.
This hike is a just over one hour’s drive from Belfast and 45 minutes from Newry.
This hike explores Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods, a former industrial landscape that has been wonderfully-reclaimed by nature.
With 8.1 miles (13 km) of distance and 375 feet (114 m) of elevation gain, this intermediate hike is perfect to fill a morning or an afternoon.
From the car park, you start by hiking around Thornton Reservoir, a picturesque stretch of water that is home to much wildlife. You then meander through farmland and young woodland to Stanton under Bardon village. Here, you find the Old Thatched Inn, a traditional pub that is perfect for a mid-hike pit-stop.
Next, you hike through expansive farmland to Bagworth village and then cut through Bagworth Heath Woods, a former colliery site that has been transformed into woodland, grassland, heathland, and ponds. It is then a short step over farmland back to the starting point.
Thornton Reservoir is a 20-minute drive from Leicester, 20 minutes from Loughborough and 40 minutes from Tamworth. There are good public transport links from Leicester via the 26 bus.
This easy-going loop is packed full of interest. With so much wildlife, picturesque scenery and heritage to experience, it feels like this hike should take an entire day — not a leisurely few hours.
At barely 3 feet (1 m) above sea level, Horsey is at the mercy of the ocean and has paid the price for this in the past with devastating floods. As you explore the landscape around the quaint village, though, you will find the unchanging wildness utterly breathtaking.
With 4.4 miles (7.1 km) of distance and a mere 25 feet (7.6 m) of elevation gain, this is an easy hike that can comfortably be walked in under two hours. If you head here between June and August, though, when the seals have their pups, you might find yourself staying much longer.
This route starts from Horsey Mere. Regarded as one of the most beautiful broads in the national park, it offers a habitat of international importance for many species of bird and insect.
Right next to the lake is Horsey Drainage Mill, the most famous feature of the village. Dating from the 19th century, the mill was built to pump water from the surrounding farmland.
From the mere, follow the county lane north into the village, past All Saints Church and continue to the coast. If you want to extend the route, follow the path around the northern shores of the mere and up to Brograve Drainage Mill, where you take the footpath east and rejoin the route shown here. This will add roughly 45 minutes.
When you arrive at Horsey Gap, you join the Norfolk Coast Path and follow it to Horsey Beach Seal Viewing. Between November and February, hundreds of grey seals breed here every year. If you are here during this period, this is an unmissable opportunity.
Horsey is a 40-minute drive from Norwich and 25 minutes from Great Yarmouth.
This lovely loop gives you the opportunity to step into the scene of an iconic John Constable painting.
Perfect for all ages and abilities, this leisurely loop is 4.1 miles (6.6 km) long with 50 feet (15 m) of elevation gain.
From the car park, hike into Dedham, where you find the Grade I-listed Church of St Mary, and then continue through pretty countryside to Dedham Vale. Here, you join the St Edmund Way trail and follow the course of the River Stour north.
A short time later, you quite literally step into a Constable painting. Willy Lott’s Cottage — now Grade I-listed and in the care of the National Trust — was the subject of many Constable paintings, most notably ‘Hay Wain’. As you stand in the spot where the painter got his muse, the beauty is staggering.
To finish, simply follow the River Stour west to the car park. The Boathouse riverside restaurant is a lovely spot to relax after your hike, too.
Dedham is a 90-minute drive from Central London and there are good rail links from the capital. It is a 40 minute drive from Chelmsford, 20 minutes from Colchester and 20 minutes from Ipswich.