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Hiking in England: The Essential Guide

Everything You Need to Know

England is a diverse playground for any outdoor adventurer, and experiencing the country on foot, is no exception.

Hiking in England ranges from the rolling green patchwork of the Yorkshire Dales to the rugged Northumberland coast and golden Cornish sands. The idyllic Cotswolds offer a slower pace while the Peak District soars above central England. England is a country where history meets innovation, and seasonal local cuisine is served amidst the hubbub of a unique cultural melting pot.

Whatever you’re looking for, savour the freedom of hiking in this beautiful land. Whether you dream of scaling some of England’s highest peaks or prefer to wander through wildflower meadows, your perfect walk awaits. After a day of exploring, return to your accommodation to enjoy the warm hospitality of this ancient country.

Read on to discover our essential guide to walking in England, from the best time to visit to recommended walks and what you can expect.

Get to Know England

Much of English culture is seen as stereotypical of the whole United Kingdom. Peel back the layers to separate fact from fiction, and you’ll find that England is a country with its own character and charm. We’ve rounded up some stats about England to help you get a feel for the UK’s largest country.

  • Highest peak: Scafell Pike, 978 m/3209 ft, the shortest of the United Kingdom’s highest peaks
  • Longest river: River Severn, 354 km/220 miles, the longest river in the UK
  • National animal: Lion. This is derived from the coat of arms of the Duchy of Aquitane. It became a symbol of British pride, and is best identified with, Eleanor of Aquitane’s son, Richard the Lionheart.
  • National flower: Tudor rose. The red rose of the royal house of Lancashire was adopted by Henry VII as the emblem of peace following the War of the Roses (1455-87).
  • Population: 56 million people
  • National sport: Cricket, although football is the most popular sport.

To find out more, read through our page all about English culture, and put on your armour as we prepare to do battle through England’s history.

When to Visit England

The English are well-known for their ability to discuss the weather, perhaps with good reason. It is not uncommon to experience glorious sunshine and a splash of rain on the same day here.

Rainfall in England can average as low as 56mm in spring and is around 870mm annually. That’s similar to Iowa, USA, which averages 864mm, and a little more than Ethiopia which averages 848mm annually. The rain keeps the country fresh and green and means there is delicious seasonal cuisine to sample all year round. Whenever you visit England, you can be sure of a great time.

Head to our blog to discover why you should visit England in April or in September, just two of the great months to visit England in. We’ve also written about the best time to hike England’s most iconic long distance trail, the Coast to Coast.

What to Expect Hiking in England

The idea of being able to walk out into nature with nothing but your own two feet holds great romanticism. The freedom to explore seemingly undiscovered oases or conquer new heights is powerful. Such things can quickly take a turn for the worse and lose their shine, so it is important to make sure you are prepared for your adventures before you head out.

Kit And Equipment

You’ve read up on the climate, you understand the difference between England and the UK, and you’re ready to pick your next trip – but now you want to make sure you know what to expect on a walking holiday in England. If you’ve never been on a multi-day hike before, it can be overwhelming to know how much, or how little, to bring. Even if you have undertaken one before, the English climate might be different to the one where you live. We’ve put together an equipment list to help you plan your kit and make sure you’re prepared for hiking in England.

Footwear

Of course, there are some key elements to be aware of when planning your kit. First and foremost, let’s talk about boots. On a long distance walk, a good pair of boots will be your best friend, providing comfort, support and waterproofing. The wrong pair of boots will be the very opposite, hampering your walking and putting a moody grey cloud over your experience. If you treat yourself to a new pair of boots before your trip, ensure you allow plenty of time to break them in and let your feet get used to your new kicks.

Waterproofs

That moody grey cloud could be very literal when hiking in England, so pack good quality waterproofs. Spending a little extra, if you can, to make sure your waterproofs are up for the challenge of an English downpour will make all the difference.

Layers

Finally, layers are essential. That thick, warm jacket might look great on the hanger, but you won’t be so fond of it out on the trail. Pack and wear multiple light layers to keep you both warm when you’re cool, and cool when it’s warm. The multiple layers trap warm air to retain heat, while a good base layer will wick away moisture to help with temperature regulation. When hiking in a more moist climate, avoid cotton for these layers. Instead, look for merino wool or quality synthetics. This is because cotton retains moisture. You will especially notice this when resting or in windy conditions, as your cotton layers will have held sweat and other moisture, quickly cooling you down right as you want to keep warm.

Responsible Hiking

The Earth is amazing. This ball of rock and water supports billions upon billions of living things, yet a climate crisis threatens all of this. It can be easy to think there is nothing we can do as individuals in the face of the damage caused by huge global companies, but there are some simple steps we can take to do our bit. This is especially true when walking, where just a few simple steps mean we become a more responsible hiker.

How To Be a More Responsible Hiker

What Type of Scenery Can I Expect Whilst Hiking in England?

Often seen as a green and pleasant land of green pastures and sun-dappled fields, England is so much more. Of course, the country offers such idyllic scenery in abundance, but there is such variety too. The northeast coastline is dramatic and rugged, while the southern beaches are golden sand. Staying south, the landscape is one of gently undulating fields. Head up the country and England’s northern national parks rise above the land like giants. When hiking in England, you can expect varied scenery that is nothing short of breathtaking, dotted with history, sheep and quaint villages.

The north of England is home to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty alongside four national parks. Millennia of geological activity moulded this landscape before humans left their mark through industry. Today, a walk through this dramatic region is one of variety and beauty.

Find Out More

The English countryside is undeniably beautiful. Yet England is also the most inhabited country in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Escape the crowds to find peace amidst England’s secret nature spots, from a bottomless pool to remnants of mining history.

Discover England

You might not think of northern England for its waterfalls, but the tumultuous geological history of this region has left its mark. From the delightful Aira Force to the tumbling stretch of Cauldron Snout, each waterfall has shaped the very land around it.

Read the Blog

The Best Walks in England

England is the largest country in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It can be quite a task to select where to walk and ensure you’re heading out on the best trails. From a few hours wandering along an English beach to more than a week hiking across the land from coast to coast, we’ve compiled a list of our top places to hike in England to start you off.

The Best Walks in England

Hiking Snacks

Long distance walking is hungry work, and finding the perfect snacks can be a balancing act. You want fuel that will give you a much-needed energy boost and satisfy your cravings up the hill. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite sweet and savoury hiking snacks to inspire you.

If you’re coming with us on a guided walking trip, your guide will be equipped with a range of delicious snacks. There’s plenty to look forward to while you undertake your adventure.

The Best Snacks to Eat While You’re Hiking

Regional Spotlights

Cornwall

Cornwall is a coastal pocket of spectacular scenery. Enjoy epic waves and soft sand between your toes as you discover colourful season towns. Visit Land’s End, Tintagel Castle and St Michael’s Mount, just a few highlights in this historic county.

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds offer some of England’s finest scenery. From quaint golden villages to beautiful features left behind by history, this is a lovely area to discover. Spanning six counties, this Area of Outstanding Beauty truly embodies quintessential England.

The Lake District

The Lake District is a region of breathtaking beauty, and it is both a national park and a UNESCO world heritage site. Ascend England’s highest mountain, enjoy stunning lake views, and experience poetic inspiration. Do all that, and you’ve only scraped the surface of this historic landscape.

Northumberland

Northumberland is the most rural and least densely populated region in England. You can certainly feel it amidst the rugged beauty of this landscape. Visit the cradle of Christianity in England, soak up panoramic views and follow in the footsteps of mighty Roman soldiers to experience stunning Northumberland.

The Peak District

The Peak District was the UK’s first national park, established in 1951. A region of two halves, to visit the Peak District is to experience the landscape of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Robin Hood. Don’t miss the heritage and history of this awe-inspiring area.

Yorkshire

Yorkshire is England’s largest county, offering the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This historic region has seen kingdoms rise and fall, and offers excellent history to uncover. Hike through outstanding scenery, including rolling patchwork fields and the ‘backbone of England’. Beautiful countryside and majestic history meet popular seaside towns along the North Sea. Yorkshire is truly a region for everyone.

 

Our Guided Walking Trips

Whether you prefer to discover England by foot or on a bike, our guided trips are a fantastic way to experience this ancient country. Our trips blend inspiring adventure with hand-picked 3 and 4 star accommodations and delicious local food. This is everything you could want on your holiday, without the hassle. Of course, no guided trip would be possible without our excellent guides. Knowledgeable and friendly, the guide(s) is there to ensure your comfort and safety while sharing stories about the landscape and culture, ensuring you don’t miss a thing. From Northumberland in the very north of England to Cornwall, the very south of the mainland UK, the guided trip of your dreams awaits.

The Coast of Cornwall Read More

If the longest national trail in the UK, the South West Coast Path, is your idea of the perfect hike, don’t miss Wilderness Walking: The Coast of Cornwall. This 7 day trip offers fresh salty air, some of the most beautiful coastline in England and a thriving food scene.

Find out more here.

Highlights of the Cotswolds Read More

The Cotswolds are often described as the embodiment of quintessential England, and with good reason. This is a charming pocket of idyll in southern England, and our 6 day walking trip ticks off all the highlights. On this guided walking holiday, discover that there is more to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty than the picturesque postcards suggest.

Find out more here.

High Points of the Lake District Read More

Nestled in the northwest corner of England, the Lake District is a gem among England’s national parks. This is a stunning and exciting place to explore, from majestic fells to the depths of its waters. Over 6 breathtaking days, your guide will lead you to some of the Lake District’s very finest summits before guiding you back to your charming, historic guesthouse.

Find out more here.

England Coast to Coast Read More

Devised by renowned fell-walker Alfred Wainwright in 1973, the Coast to Coast is an incredible long distance trail spanning the breadth of northern England. Starting at the Irish Sea in St Bees, this 13 day hike ends in Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. Passing through three national parks and showcasing the very best of England’s rugged countryside, this is a rewarding, albeit challenging, trail.

Find out more here.

Northumberland and the Lake District Read More

The border between England and Scotland runs along the northern edge of two English counties: Cumbria and Northumberland. The Lake District National Park sits within Cumbria, and Northumberland is home to the Northumberland National Park and the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Spend a week exploring the hills, playing in the valleys and walking along some of England’s most beautiful coastline.

Find out more here.

National Parks of the UK Read More

Can’t pick just one area or limit yourself to only one country? Join our experienced guide as they take you through five national parks in ten breathtaking days. Experience the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park before heading south into England for the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland and the Lake District. This is the ultimate way to enjoy hiking in the United Kingdom.

Find out more here.

Our Self Guided walking Trips

If you love leading your own adventure but want to ensure you get the best experience without hours of research, our self guided trips are right up your street. Designed by our passionate in-house experts, these holidays allow you to enjoy England at your own pace without the hassle. Route notes, luggage transfer and 24-hour assistance are just part of the service, as are the treasured memories. Treat yourself to the tranquillity of our self guided hiking in England.

Hadrian's Wall Path Read More

If the immersive history of a Roman frontier is on your trip list, look no further than Hadrian’s Wall. Begun in the 2nd century AD, take your time exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hadrian’s Wall Path, a national trail, stretches 84 miles/135 km from coast to coast across northern England. Hike inn to charming inn, spending 8 days following in the footsteps of some of history’s most famous soldiers.

Find out more here.

The Cotswold Way Read More

Arguably the prettiest national trail in the UK, the Cotswold Way runs 102 miles/164 km along the length of the Cotswolds. The trail meanders south from the lovely market town of Chipping Camden to the historic city of Bath. Enjoy 9 days of hiking through picturesque landscapes, charming villages and immersive history.

Find out more here.

Pictures of Hiking in England


Walking in England FAQ

When is the best time to visit England? Read More

There is no single best time to visit England. The weather can be very changeable whenever you travel.

On average, the driest time to visit England is April, which experiences 56.10mm of rainfall. May (57.18mm) and March (58.33mm) are also relatively dry. The most rain is in November (92.11mm).

The warmest time to visit is July, which enjoys maximum temperatures up to 21.17°C on average. The temperature in August is usually around 20.85°C at the maximum. The coldest month is January, with a high temperature of 7.21°C.

As you would expect from a country in the northern hemisphere, late spring/early summer is the warmest and most dry on average. However, England is a beautiful location no matter when you visit – but you might need to pack a slightly different kit.

Our trip grading explained... Read More

Booking a multi-day adventure can be a big undertaking – and that’s before you even set off for your walk!

You want to make sure that you are booking a trip that matches your fitness and skill levels and where you’ll be going at the perfect pace. We want you to book your ideal trip too, which is why we have a colour-coded difficulty grade on all our guided and self guided walking trips. Find out more about what this means here.

Do I need hiking boots? Read More

Absolutely! Some key things to remember about boots are that they will need to be broken in, fit correctly, and be supportive and waterproof.

Head up the page for an explanation of all things footwear and equipment.

Can I go wild camping in England? Read More

If you’re planning a multi-day hike of your own, it can be only too easy to imagine camping out under the stars. Picture yourself enjoying the peace of a clear night while keeping warm around a fire. However, it is essential to know that wild camping is generally prohibited in England due to the way land is owned here.

To keep your fantasy alive, many campsites offer remote pitches. In addition, Dartmoor National Park provides wild camping options, and it may be possible to camp on private land if you have the landowner’s permission.

We do not offer wild camping as an accommodation option on any of our guided walking trips. Instead, we handpick excellent 3 and 4 star accommodations, from B&Bs to guesthouses and small hotels.

Do I have the right to roam in England? Read More

Much like wild camping, where you walk requires some planning too. In Scotland, the Land Reform Act 2003 granted everyone access to most land in the country. In England, the land is generally privately owned – stick to access land and public footpaths unless you have landowner permission.

Can I bring my dog with me on a Wilderness trip? Read More

The possibility of bringing your dog depends on the trip you’d like to take. If you are joining a group holiday, then it’s not possible to bring your dog. Depending on the accommodation availability, we can sometimes accommodate dogs on a custom or private tour. Give us a call if you want to bring your pooch.

Is it OK that I am a Solo Traveller? Read More

Travelling on your own can be an exciting experience. Whatever your reason for travelling solo, you can expect to discover more about yourself. It also gives you greater freedom to explore, although be extra careful to ensure someone else knows your plans.

Solo travellers are more than welcome on our guided walking trips. There is no supplement for solo travellers as long as you are happy to share a room with someone of the same gender. It is impossible to know the composition of a trip group in advance. However, the majority of people that join are solo travellers, so you are unlikely to be the only one. If you have any questions about solo travel with us, give us a call to talk to one of our friendly team.

How much should I bring with me? Read More

How much you should bring with you on holiday is an age-old question. No one wants to be left short, but you can feel foolish carting around more than you end up using. The best approach is to plan, selecting outfits you can mix and match. Laying everything out beforehand also helps you see how much you’re bringing and might help you reconsider that fourth fleece! Have a look at our handy kit list to get you started.

On your trip, we’d recommend a soft duffle bag rather than a hard suitcase. This makes life easier packing up our vans. Size-wise, if you can check it on a plane with no extra fees, it will be fine! During your trip, your luggage will either be kept at your accommodation or stored in the van if you are moving on that night. This vehicle is ready to transfer your luggage between accommodations and offer a ride if you need a rest. You will need a small day sack for your lunch, water and extra layers.

Will there be snacks? Read More

Long distance walking is hungry work. Finding the perfect snacks that will give you a much-needed energy boost and satisfy your cravings up the hill can be a balancing act. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite sweet and savoury hiking snacks to inspire you.

If you’re coming with us on a guided walking trip, your guide will be equipped with a range of delicious snacks. Look forward to crisps, energy bars and, of course, chocolate while you undertake your adventure.

Can I make a Wilderness trip private? Read More

Any of our Adventure Holidays can be turned into a private departure exclusively for your group. Choose the dates that suit you and the trip that you love, then Make It Private. Find out more about our Private Group Tours.

I would love to travel with Wilderness, but none of your trips are quite what I'm looking for. Read More

Our custom trips allow you to organise your dream holiday on your terms. We love the opportunity to use our knowledge, expertise and experience to design and deliver your perfect holiday. Find out more about booking a Private Custom Holiday.

Our Hiking Tours

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