Walking is the most popular activity in all the national parks, it's a great way to take in the views, get some fresh air in your lungs and travel to different places - even if it's only to a local pub and back!

Public footpaths and open access land are shown on all good maps, and there are many walking guides and books with routes to follow.

Guided walks and events

A guided walk with a national park ranger or volunteer can help you discover new areas, highlight points of interest and learn about local history and wildlife.

Search our events section for guided walks

Watch out for wildlife

Walking on quiet footpaths can let you get close to some of the national parks' wild residents. Check out our Top 15 walks list to start to get good ideas on where to go. All the national parks are managed to conserve wildlife, so take some binoculars to help you spot creatures at a distance, and a wildlife guide to help you work out what you're watching!

Walking trails

With miles of open countryside, spectacular views and local food to fuel you on your way,  the national parks are the perfect place for a long-distance walk, and all the routes offer sections for short walks, too.

The Wherryman’s Way, in the Broads, provides 35 miles of flat walking amongst the wetlands, and the 60-mile Solent Way passes gently along the south of New Forest National Park.

The Hadrian's Wall Path is 84 miles from coast to coast, and passes across Northumberland National Park as it follows the ancient Roman wall, which is a world heritage site.

Walking in the Broads National Park

Mother and son walking amongst tall reeds and flowers

Walking at Coffinstone, Dartmoor National Park

Parents and a young girl holding hands as they walk over moorland

Above Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

A group of walkers on a mountain side with a loch below

A guided walk in Northumberland National Park

A group of walkers crossing high grassy moorland

Waterfall at West Burton, Yorkshire Dales National Park

A mother and child walking along a path with a gushing waterfall behind them

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetry was inspired by the landscape of Exmoor, and the Coleridge Way lets you follow in his footsteps for 36 miles of your own inspiration. Or combine two national parks by starting in the south of Dartmoor and walking 102 miles to the north Exmoor coast on the aptly named Two Moors Way.

The Lake District inspired Alfred Wainwright to write and sketch walking routes across the fells. There are 214 'Wainwrights' , how many could you do?

Or try some 'Munro-bagging' in the Scottish national parks. There are 18 Munros, mountains over 918m high, in the Cairngorms, and 21 in  Loch Lomond & the Trossachs. Combining more than one a day makes for a tough walking challenge, but one rewarded by marvellous mountaintop views.

The West Highland Way is a long distance mountainous route, the 95-mile route from Glasgow along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and on through the mountains beyond to the foot of Ben Nevis to Fort William.

The South Downs Way is another long distance route, with 100 miles for walkers, riders and cyclists, that goes from one end of the South Downs National Park to the other. 

Whichever route you take, make sure you're prepared by following our good guide to walking.

Coastal walks

There are three national parks with great coastal walks. The Cleveland Way combines coast and heather moors as it curves from the east coast through the north and then west side of the North York Moors National Park.

The South West Coast Path starts by passing along 35 miles of the northern coast of Exmoor National Park, through moors, wooded valleys and along plunging cliffs.

For the ultimate seaside stroll, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail follows 186 miles of coast almost entirely within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. From rugged cliffs, to open beaches, sheltered coves, estuaries and boat-filled harbours, there are all types of coastal scenery and a wealth of wildlife including cliff-nesting choughs and gannets, dolphins and seals to spot whilst you walk.

One walk, three National Parks

Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk is 192 miles over three National Parks, from the west coast of the Lake District, across the Yorkshire Dales and ends on the east coast of the North York Moors.

Or pull on your boots for the possibly the best known long distance trail in the UK, the Pennine Way National Trail. Stretching 268 miles along the Pennine hills from the Peak District in the south, through the Yorkshire Dales and ending in the Cheviots in Northumberland, this walk takes in the varied moors, dales, meadows and hills of three upland National Parks.

Further information

Walking in the National Parks

Guide to good walking

  1. Always have suitable, sturdy footwear and take water and snacks with you
  2. The weather can change quickly, especially on uplands and by the coast, so always take warm layers and a waterproof
  3. In the summer long hours in the sun can burn and cause sunstroke, so wear suncream and a hat
  4. Always take a map and a compass - and know how to use them! GPS and phone signal can't always be relied on in rural areas
  5. If you're likely to be out in the late afternoon, take a torch in case it gets dark
  6. Always follow the countryside code