Great city walks

You don’t always need to venture out into the hills to find a great walk - some of the best walks in Britain are hidden in and around our great cities.

From historical marvels to winding backstreets and city beaches, here are seven of the best gems to discover on foot this spring.

All of these walking routes come with full printable directions, GPS downloads and maps to get you to the start point – simply register for free to access them.

And if you like these walks, there are over 2,000 more to discover – if you join the Ramblers you can access them all.

If you live in Scotland you can download our medal routes app and get hundreds of short routes free too.

Parliament hill

Parliament Hill, London

Category: Leisurely
Distance:  9.1 miles
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes

This ambitious urban route follows the course of London’s lost River Fleet, which for over 250 years has been mostly buried beneath the streets.

Full of history, this walk takes you past Samuel Pepys’ birthplace, through Hanging Sword Alley, a well-known spot for eighteenth century muggers and past the house of writer Dr Samuel Johnson. You’ll also walk down Fitzroy Road, where Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes rented a flat at number 23 in the 1960s.
 
The walk up Primrose Hill may test your legs at the late stage of this walk, but climbing to the top is well worth the effort for the amazing views of central London spread out before you.

View the full route here.

Cardiff

Cardiff Bay, South Wales

Category: Easy
Distance: 5.1 miles
Duration: 2 hours

This walk heads around Cardiff Bay, a beautiful waterfront area built up around a freshwater lake, contained by the Cardiff Bay Barrage. The impressive barrage is more than 1km long and impounds the bay.

It’s a lovely area to walk around, with lots of attractions to see and plenty of shops and bars, and of course the freshwater lake to admire.

As you walk across the barrage, you’ll have an amazing view across the Bristol Channel, stretching all the way to Somerset and towards the mountains and valleys in the north. 

View the full route here.

Glasgow

Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow

Category: Easy access
Distance: 2.4 miles
Duration: 45 minutes

This is a great walk for the whole family, with plenty to see and do along the way. Starting from Charing Cross station, you’ll stroll through the Victorian Kelvingrove Park, an oasis of green within this busy city, exploring the architecture along the way.

While you’re in the park, keep a look out for the varied wildlife. Brown trout and salmon swim in the River Kelvin and you may see grey heron, mallards and even kingfishers. Also look out for grey squirrels and red foxes, and look to the skies for chaffinches, blackbirds, redwings and blue tits.

Within Kelvingrove Park there’s a skate park and play park for the youngsters to enjoy, a great way to break up the walk.

View the full route here.

Manchester

Manchester, Lancashire

Category: Easy
Distance: 2.4 miles
Duration: 1 hour 

Mixing history and canal-side strolling on this urban walk treats you to some of the highlights of Manchester city centre.

As you walk beside the Rochdale Canal you’ll pass Oxford Street lock, the Bridgewater Basin and Tib Dock. You’ll also walk past Duke’s Lock, which marks the start of the Rochdale Canal.

As you finish your stretch along the tow path, you’ll climb some steps to the Roman fort, Mamucium, which is said to be the birthplace of modern Manchester.

Passing the Museum of Science and Industry, which occupies the site of the former Liverpool Road Station and houses many interesting exhibitions, you’ll head through the pretty, green St John’s Gardens.

View the full route here.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Category: Easy
Distance: 7 miles
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

This circular walk takes you around Aberdeen, Scotland’s third largest city, exploring both its Old Town and New Town.

There’s a lovely, long stretch along Aberdeen Beach, allowing you to soak up the fantastic views along the Aberdeenshire coastline. You’ll also enjoy walking beside the scenic River Don, one of the two rivers that bound this granite city. 

The route passes many of the city’s most loved landmarks, including St Machar’s Cathedral, the Town House, Marischal College and King’s College. Many of the buildings you see in the city centre were built using the city’s famous granite.

View the full route here.

Birmingham 

Three Parks Walk, Birmingham

Category: Easy
Distance: 5.5 miles
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

As you walk this route it is hard to imagine that you are in the extremely urban area of south Birmingham. Stepping through some of the area’s beautiful parks, you’ll immerse yourself in the greenery and wildlife, making it all too easy to believe that you’re a million miles from the city. 

First you’ll walk through Kings Heath Park and into Highbury Park, where you’ll pass the duck pond and head to the arboretum at the northern end of the park.

You’ll then meander through Cannon Hill Park, with a mixture of evergreen trees and open grassy expanses. You’ll also pass the park’s boating lake, then enjoy a stretch along the River Rea, before heading back into Kings Heath Park.

View the full route here.

Durham

Durham River Banks and Maiden Castle

Category: Moderate
Distance: 3.3 miles
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes

Durham is a small, beautiful city, well known for its cathedral and 11th century caste. This walk takes you on a tour of some of the city’s highlights, giving you the chance to get up close to the Norman cathedral, which sits within the hairpin bend of the River Wear, and Maiden Castle.

The real highlight of the walk is getting up close to the cathedral, an awe-inspiring building that sits on a promontory, the city huddled at its feet.  Set aside some time to look around the cathedral and learn about its historic significance.

For a fee, you can climb to the top of its tower, where there’s an amazing view of the city, the river and all the way to the angel of the north.

View the full route here.