The Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire has an almost indecent number of the most wonderful walks, and we particularly like the two-mile stretch from the fishing village of Porthgain, heading south to the Blue Lagoon and Abereiddy beach.
Starting from Porthgain harbour, you follow the coastal path and will soon be taking in staggering clifftop views.
This dramatic, wild coastline is formed of high cliffs that overlook the rocks of Cerrig Gwylan, which lie out to sea at the northern extremity of Traeth Llyfn beach (be wary of high tides here).
You can drop down to the beach itself, or continue towards the Blue Lagoon and the beach at Abereiddy. The Blue Lagoon is a former quarry, which has become a popular swimming and high-diving spot.
Pack your wetsuit and your courage – or simply enjoy watching others dive from the rocks into the inky blue.
Old Man of Coniston, Lake District
A choice for connoisseurs, the Old Man of Coniston, in the Furness Fells, is one of the Lake District’s most iconic walks and a magnet for hikers. You’ll need to have a good level of fitness to tackle this challenge, because this is a proper hike, rising to an elevation of some 800m – but what views on the way!
There are several routes, although most people choose to hike from Walna Scar to the Old Man via Goats Water or Low Water. Low Water is shorter, at some five miles for the round trip, but steeper, while Goats Water is longer at 6.5 miles.
The small mountain lakes or tarns are the perfect foil for the achingly beautiful fells. The zigzag to the top is exquisite and once at the peak, there is a roomy plateau where you can stop to take in the view.
Pooh Sticks Bridge, Ashdown Forest
What child or adult for that matter, hasn’t enjoyed a game of Pooh Sticks? For the uninitiated, the rules are simple – you simply throw your sticks into the water from one side of a bridge, then run across to the other side and was to see which stick passes through first.
Immortalised in AA Milne’s stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, the inspiration for Pooh Sticks Bridge is Hartfield, in the Ashdown Forest.
The pretty village of Hartfield, home to the author, is in East Sussex, a few miles southeast of East grinstead, and a quick search on Google will direct you to the Pooh Car Park.
From there, it’s a 15-minute walk to the bridge. This does get busy with Pooh fans eager to play, but everyone has a turn.
The forest itself, the original for the Hundred Acre Wood, is very beautiful and a fine walk for all the family.
Stay: St Ives Farm Campsite
Sennen Cove, Cornwall
The South West Coast Path, which runs from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Poole Harbour in Dorset abounds with fabulous walking routes.
Although Land’s End is a bit of a tourist trap, approaching across the cliffs from Sennen Cove is simply breathtaking. The crisp light reminds you of St Ives and the water is the richest blue. This is a gentle walk, good for all the family, but hold on to small children near the clifftops!
Sennen is a beautiful cove with a lovely pub, an RNLI lifeboat station and a sandy beach. Occasionally, you might spot basking sharks and dolphins from the cliffs, and the rich green of the hillside contrasts beautifully with the wild Atlantic.
Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
Reached by a walk of around six miles, the peak at Slieve Donard is the highest in Northern Ireland, at 850m, and makes an achievable and rewarding introduction to the beautiful Mourne Mountains before you consider taking on some of the more challenging hikes.
You start at Donard car park and follow the path along the Glen River and the lush pine and oak forest – you cross bridges at various points, and you’ll see a number of waterfalls. There’s a clear trail as you get further up the mountain. It takes around 2.5 hours to reach the peak, so this route is not really for the fainthearted, but the inevitable beautiful views and sense of achievement make all of that hard work very worthwhile.
As with all significant walks of this type, appropriate local advice should be sought before you depart, and do be sure to dress suitably for all weathers.
Stay: Tollymore Forest Park
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales
A particular favourite of ours, we have featured glorious Malham Cove previously, but it’s worth highlighting again, because this quite spectacular eroded limestone pavement, which sits atop a dramatic amphitheatre-shaped cliff, is surely one of the wonders of nature.
The limestone pavement was selected by TV presenter as one of the UK’s best walks, and featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and The Trip, starring Steve Coogan. It’s easy to see why this area attracts celebrity endorsements – in a region of many breathtaking walks, Malham is a star attraction.
There are numerous trails, but the 7.5-mile circular route taking in Malham and Gordale Scar, with its waterfall, is popular, and gives you the chance to see two notable geological features.
Stay: Wood Nook
Fairy Pools Walk, Skye
A hopelessly romantic name for a hopelessly romantic setting, the Fairy Pools are a series of exquisite azure pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins, which pepper this part of Allt a’ Choire Ghreadaidh, in Glen Brittle.
They are a hugely popular attraction. So much so, you’ll have to arrive early at the Fairy Pools car park to secure a spot.
It takes 20 minutes to walk to the first waterfall and the start of the Fairy Pools – here you’ll find the highest fall and the deepest of the pools. Many visitors stop to enjoy wild swimming here, but pack your wetsuit – this is Scotland! Further on, you can explore more pools; one has a natural arch that you can swim through.
Kinder Scout, Peak District
The highest point of the Peak District in Derbyshire, Kinder Scout is very popular with ramblers, who glory in this wonderful moorland plateau, some 2000ft above sea level.
The Kinder Scout and Edale Walk is a favourite circular route (so worth starting early), approximately eight miles long. It begins at Edale and takes four to five hours to complete. This trail passes the Kinder Downfall waterfall, on the River Kinder, and Jacob’s Ladder, a series of steep, zigzag steps by the River Noe.
Rolling moorland and phenomenal views are what most characterise this walk, and on a clear day, it is said you cans ee the peaks of Snowdonia – but binoculars are likely to be required!
Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms National Park
Fishing, climbing, skiing, wild camping, canyoning – whatever your preferred outdoor activity might be, those looking for adventure will find it in spades at the Cairngorms National Park.
Walkers are particularly spoiled for choice here, as nature trails, wonderful views and impressive peaks abound.
For an introduction to the area, try the circular walk around Loch an Eilein, which at 4.5 miles is a gentle stroll and great for all the family, who can enjoy the views, the wildlife and glimpses of the remains of a 14th-century castle built on a natural island in the middle of the loch.
Birdwatchers will find there are many great viewing opportunities, and should keep an eye out for redstarts, spotted flycatchers and common sandpipers.
Stay: Dalraddy Holiday Park
Roman Way, Cotswolds
Running the entire length of the beautiful Cotswolds, the Cotswold Way National Trail stretches 102 miles as it winds south from Chipping Campden through pretty villages, such as Snowshill and Painswick, before ending at Bath Abbey.
There are lots of easy sections to choose from, ranging between four and 10 miles long, many of which are outlined in details at www.nationaltrail.co.uk.
Alternatively, you could go the whole hog and challenge yourself to a marathon (or should that be marathon times four?), covering the full 102 miles!
If not, the Birdlip to Painswick stretch is a good start, at some 8.5 miles, taking in Cooper’s Hill, site of the famous annual cheese-rolling event, and the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort at Painswick Beacon.