Find Your Adventure Five breathtaking walking routes in the UK's National Parks

Five breathtaking walking routes in the UK's National Parks

Find Your Adventure

Join us as we explore five breathtaking walks on the UK's national trails with YHA (England & Wales) as part of the YHA Festival of Walking.

The United Kingdom is home to an impressive network of national parks and trails that traverse some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the country. From coastal paths to rolling hills, ancient forests and historic countryside, these trails offer a range of adventures for intrepid travellers. Join us as we explore five breathtaking walks on the UK's national trails, ensuring unforgettable experiences for those who relish time spent outdoors.

1. Peak District National Park: Stanage Edge and High Neb

Did you know that the Peak District was the UK’s first national park? Thanks to the Great Trespass of Kinder Scout on April 24th, 1932. Hundreds of men and women defied the law, hiked across miles of privately owned moorland, and won us the right to roam. It’s only fitting that we start off this list with a walk through the Peak District to explore the hard-fought and hard-won trails all throughout the national park.

This is a stunning walk leading through meadows and natural woodland to the cliffs of Stanage Edge and High Neb. Waiting for you on your ascent are unrivalled views of the Peak District and beautiful Hope Valley from Stanage Edge. The route passes several charming stone-built farmsteads, typical of this part of Derbyshire, as well as heather-speckled moorland. Parts of the route trail through several lush green meadows where wild orchids grow, allowing for a truly all-encompassing walk in the heart of the beautiful Peak District. The nearest hostel to this trail is YHA Hathersage.

2. Northumberland National Park: Hadrian's Wall, Housestead Crags and Housesteads Fort

Northumberland National Park has been voted the best national park in the UK, and it’s clear to see why it’s captured the hearts of so many of its visitors. With Hadrian’s Wall, the jaw-dropping beauty of the remote cheviot uplands, and the fact that this national park is the least-visited, this means that you can hike for miles without seeing another soul.

Experience the mighty Hadrian's Wall and soak up the rugged beauty of Northumberland National Park as you traverse this trail through time. As you walk alongside the remnants of Hadrian's Wall, you’ll encounter well-preserved forts, such as Housesteads Roman Fort, which allow you the opportunity to imbibe the history and breath-taking vistas of this iconic World Heritage Site. Sycamore Gap, with the tree made famous by the 1991 film Robin Hood, is just after Milecastle 39. You’ll have the opportunity to soak up panoramic views north and south along the full length of the wall. YHA The Sill at Hadrian’s Wall is the closest hostel to this fantastic trail.

3. Lake District National Park: Walla Crag and Cat Bells

It’s easy to see why the Lake District is one of the most popular national parks in the UK. It has everything from glistening lakes, to towering mountains, deep dark evergreen forests, and quaint stone-built villages for you to explore. It also offers walks for people of all abilities, making it the perfect family-friendly break.

This stunning trail is an elevated circuit of the vast expanse of Derwentwater. There are panoramic views of the surrounding fells and dales, including the imposing Skiddaw which sits looming over the quaint village of Keswick. Walking along the tops of Cat Bells gives you unrivalled views of the valley below, and this walk has everything to keep the avid hiker entertained. As well as a good mixture of differing terrains, there are also a few points at which you’ll need to do some light scrambling. A stay at YHA Keswick is ideal for you to rest up and recover after this tough hike.

4. South Downs National Park: Swanborough Hill and Lewes

England’s newest National Park has so much to offer its thousands of visitors. The rolling hills of Hampshire, the iconic white cliffs of East Sussex, and the thousands of acres that a rich variety of wildlife call home is just waiting to be discovered. The chalk grasslands of the South Downs boast a stunning array of wildflowers and there are a multitude of different pollinators bumbling from flower to flower, including the rare and much sought-after swallowtail butterfly.

The walk from YHA South Downs takes you on peaceful walk along the river Ouse, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside from the South Downs way. Whilst there are no stiles on this route, there are some steps, gates and paths less than one metre wide and sections of rough ground so accessibility must be taken into account for each individual’s ability to undertake this hike. There’s a historic church at Southease, spectacular views from the top of Swanborough Hill and the opportunity to visit the castle, museum, and local brewery in Lewes. YHA South Downs is the perfect place to put your feet up after a long day exploring this fantastic National Park.

5. Yorkshire Dales National Park: Malham cove and Gordale Scar

The imposing amphitheatre shaped Malham Cove has been attracting visitors for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. The vertical cliff face is around 260 feet high and is home to peregrine falcons and little owls, which you can spot swooping in and out as they snatch their meal from the meadows below. The equally impressive Gordale Scar has been carved out over centuries by glaciers, and a mighty waterfall cascading through the stone. On the way up to Gordale, you can also spot the beautiful and ever-popular Janet’s Foss. This crystalline pool is a magnet for wild swimmers and nature photographers alike.

The route from Malham Cove to Gordale Scar is also fully accessible! All the paths are at least one metre wide, there are no stiles or steps, and the only issue you may encounter is a somewhat steep footpath from the road to Malham Cove. This walk can be enjoyed by individuals of any ability, as well as families with young children who rely on using a pram. ’s plenty of sights to see along this trail and lots of pubs, cafés, and restaurants for you to refuel at after a long day of exploring the Yorkshire Dales. YHA Malham is the nearest hostel to this fantastic sight-seeing walk.

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking memorable adventures on the UK's national trails, these five breath-taking routes offer an array of unforgettable experiences. Whether you choose to explore the dramatic rock faces of Yorkshire, the historic remains of Hadrian's Wall, the timeless beauty of the Lake District, the wild wonders of the Peak District, or the lovely landscapes of the South Downs National Park, each trail promises an immersive and rewarding outdoor experience. We also have many self-guided walking route maps you can download. Pick your difficulty level from easy to more challenging, lace up your boots and get ready to embark on remarkable journeys through some of the UK's most captivating scenery.

Written by Hannah Ashworth, Digital Marketing Executive at YHA.