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The benefits of walking – and 3 great hikes in the UK

Written by Fiona

May 25 2019

Whether it’s walking to work, a walk to the pub or a walking holiday, there are many reasons to encourage people to enjoy this simple form of exercise. There are many benefits of walking for exercise. They include:

  • It’s free
  • Requires no specialist equipment
  • Helps to maintain body weight
  • Aids cognitive function
  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Strengthens bones and muscles
  • Eases joint pain
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts mood
  • Increase your options for socialising.

Where to walk in the UK

It’s claimed that the UK has more than 91,000 miles of public footpaths and trails. Of course, there are plenty of places where you can walk in remote places and without taking a path, too.

The right to roam maintains your right to access some land across England without having to use paths – this land is known as “open access land” or “access land”.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code allows for even greater freedoms to walk, camp and enjoy the great outdoors in Scotland.

If you are keen to walk a trail, especially a longer-distance trail, it’s a good idea to build up your fitness first. You can follow a training plan or simply start walking a short distance each week and build up the frequency and miles over a few months.

3 great walking routes in the UK

There are hundreds of trails and paths criss-crossing the UK. Here are three great routes

West Highland Way

One of the world’s most famous multi-day walking trails, the West Highland Way starts in Milngavie, just north of Glasgow and extends 96 miles to Fort William in the Highlands.

Most people will take five to seven days to complete the waymarked trail and you can choose to camp or stay in B&Bs along the way.

See 10 beginner’s tips for walking the West Highland Way.

South Downs Way

The South Downs Way meanders through 100 miles of exquisite English countryside, from the ancient cathedral city of Winchester in the west to the cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head at Eastbourne in the east.

It takes around eight days to complete. An alternative idea is to walk sections of the Way, perhaps renting accommodation in the vicinity to act as a base. Amberley House Cottage Holidays can help you to find the most suitable accommodation for your itinerary. 

Wales Coastal Path

The Welsh Coastal path runs for 870 miles and connects Chepstow in the south to Queensferry, Flintshire, in the north. There are shorter sections to tackle over different walking trips or holidays:

  • North Wales
  • Llyn Peninsula
  • Anglesey 
  • Snowdonia and the Ceredigion Coast
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Carmarthenshire and the Gower
  • South Wales and the Seven Estuary.

The sections offer a diversity of landscapes. Research which sections are best for your ability and which landscapes will satisfy. Click here to access the Wales Coast Path website.

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