10 top walks for summer
Pefect strolls for long sunny summer days
1. The Lizard, Cornwall - Best for… Sparkling seas
For the most dazzling of summer walks, wander around the Lizard, the UK mainland’s southernmost point. In the sunshine, this craggy peninsula looks even more spectacular; its sands more golde; its seas more sparkling. Make a moderate 6-mile circular from Lizard village, crossing open countryside to reach glorious Kynance Cove. Pause at the cafe before following the dramatic clifftops anti-clockwise, past the lighthouse and around to charming Church Cove. Along the way, look for seals, dolphins and basking sharks in the waves, and choughs wheeling on the breeze.
2. Dedham Vale, Essex/Suffolk - Best for… Artistic inspiration
It was in summer 1821 that landscape artist John Constable painted his most famous work, The Hay Wain. That iconic view, of the River Stour trickling past Willy Lott’s Cottage, remains largely the same today. A leisurely 6-mile loop through Dedham Vale, in the heart of Constable Country, puts you right in the picture. Start just south of Stratford St Mary and walk along the riverbank to Flatford Mill and Willy Lott’s. Return on the southern side of the Stour, via the timber-framed buildings and tempting tea rooms of pretty Dedham village.
3. Compton Downs, Isle of Wight - Best for… Butterflies
The chalk ridge that sweeps through the middle of the Isle of Wight is a brilliant spot for butterflies. In summer you might spot Adonis and chalkhill blues, dark-green fritillaries, grizzled skippers and velvety ringlets. Climb from Compton Chine and stride across Aston and Compton Downs to Brook Down quarry. Investigate the scree slopes and gorse glades here, which are popular butterfly hangouts. Then loop back via Compton Combe, a good spot for clouded yellows. There’s a lovely beach below here too.
4. Hathersage, Derbyshire - Best for… Wildflowers
Walking around Hathersage is excellent year-round. But this moderate 6-mile loop is extra special when the wildflowers are out. The route heads north from the Peak District village via the protected Riverwayside meadows. In June and July these are flush with a collage of adder’s tongue, hay rattle, ox-eye daisy, spotted orchid and quaking grass. Continue up to the striking gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge, for unusual rock formations and huge views. Then return via the equally colourful North Lees meadows.
5. Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire - Best for… Seabirds
You won’t be alone on a summer walk at Bempton. Half a million seabirds congregate on the colossal chalk cliffs here between March and October, including gannets, guillemots and puffins. Start from the visitor centre and follow the Headland Way, which runs right around Flamborough Head. Pause at the look-outs, cross the Danes’ Dyke prehistoric earthwork and stop at the cafe. You’ll also pass Flamborough’s two lighthouses, the oldest of which dates back to 1669. You could walk out and back on this trail for any distance. But to make a 13-mile circuit, continue just beyond South Landing, where an inland path leads back to the start.
6. The Cheviot - Best for… A summer summit
Britain’s most famous mountains can get busy in summer, with good weather enticing lots of summit-baggers. So head to the Cheviots instead. These remote hills near the Scottish border are often overlooked, so you can find solitude even in peak season. For the ultimate trek, tackle The Cheviot itself, at 815m the highest of the range. This strenuous 14.5-mile hike combines it with neighbouring Hedgehope Hill (714m), with big views from both. Start from the car park near Middleton Hall, climbing up via Cold Law and descending steeply via Long and Langlee Crags.
7. Bosherston Lakes, Pembrokeshire - Best for… Dragonflies
Summer strolls don’t come much better than this 6-mile loop. It starts by weaving among Bosherston’s lily ponds, where hundreds of floating flowers bloom June and July. Dragonflies and damsonflies are in abundance too. Next, it heads to Stackpole Quay and follows the coast path to two of the country’s best beaches. First, dune-backed Barafundle, which is only accessible on foot. Second, the golden sands of Broad Haven. Both are lovely for a mid-walk dip. From here, walk straight back to Bosherston. Or, if there’s no live firing at Castlemartin Range, continue to St Govan’s Head, where a hermit’s cell is tucked into the rock.
8. Felindre, Powys - Best for… Losing the crowds
Our National Trails can be busy in summer. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon them completely. But Glyndŵr’s Way, which meanders through mid-Wales in the footsteps of 15th-century Welsh hero Owain Glyndŵr, never gets crowded. Try a 12-mile loop from the village of Felindre. Follow the National Trail up grassy Cefn Pawl, across moorland grazed by wild ponies and round Black Mountain. Leave it at Stanky Hill, veering west to Fron. Then pick it up again to skirt back to Felindre along the top of Rhuvid Bank. Expect wild, unpeopled, far-reaching views the whole way.
9. Milngavie Reservoirs, Glasgow - Best for… A family day out
For a fun summer-holiday escape from the big city, try a family-friendly 4.5-mile loop around the Milngavie Reservoirs. Built on the northern fringes of Glasgow by Victorian engineers, they provide both drinking water and recreation to residents today. Take the train to Milngavie and walk into Mugdock Country Park. There are plenty of distractions here, including castle ruins, huge trees, an adventure trail, shops and cafes. Next, join Mugdock Reservoir’s edge, and then continue around Craigmaddie Reservoir, enjoying fine views to the Kilpatrick Hills. Look out for wildlife too, including roe deer and eagles.
10. Sandwood Bay, Highlands - Best for… The best beach
It can be difficult to find a quiet seaside spot in the British summertime. However, you’re unlikely to encounter crowds at Sandwood Bay, even though it’s one of the finest beaches in the country. That’s because there’s no vehicle access so it requires a 9.5 mile out-and-back hike to reach. Start from the small John Muir Trust car park at Blairmore and follow the track northwest. It passes a sprinkle of little lochs and some boggy ground. Then the bay appears, its mile-long golden strand and rolling dunes backed by dramatic cliffs. Continue to the northeastern end and clamber up the rocks for sweeping views of the beach and the rock stack offshore.
We’ve got ideas for hundreds more wonderful walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales, long and short, easy and challenging. Search for routes on our website. Or join a guided walk with a local Ramblers group. Find your nearest Ramblers group and choose a walk that suits your pace, fitness and interests.
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