The most breathtaking mountain hikes in the UK, from Mam Tor to Ben Nevis

The best mountain hikes in the UK, from the Scottish Highlands to the Peak District

Helen Ochyra
Monday 11 May 2020 11:01 BST
Ben Nevis is the UK's highest mountain at 1,345m tall
Ben Nevis is the UK's highest mountain at 1,345m tall

On Sunday 10 May prime minister Boris Johnson eased some lockdown restrictions in an address to the nation - this included removing the once-per-day limit on exercise and saying people could now drive to other destinations.

So why not make the most of the new freedom and plan a scenic walk?

The UK may not be the world’s loftiest country, but our peaks reward those who climb them with some cracking views. Get high with our pick of the UK’s best mountain walks.

Mam Tor, Peak District, England

Length: 8 miles

Mam Tor hill near Castleton and Edale in the Peak District National Park 

Start and finish in Castleton for a crash course in Peak District geology, walking from red-brown gritstone to pale shale and limestone along the Great Ridge. Lose Hill kicks off the ridge walk, which reaches as far as Mam Tor (at 517m/1696ft) and provides views over Edale and Hope Valley, before you descend through Cave Dale for fine views of Peveril Castle.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England

Length: 4 miles

As well as the incredible views, one of the oldest skeletons was found in Cheddar Gorge

Britain’s answer to the Grand Canyon, spectacular Cheddar Gorge is three miles (4.8km) long and 400ft (122m) deep. A loop walk from the National Trust information centre gets you up onto its cliffs for a view out to the Somerset levels and Bridgwater Bay as well as down into the gorge itself.

Fleetwith Pike, Lake District, England

Length: 5.5 miles

Fleetwith Pike overlooking Buttermere (iStock)

An imposing peak that broods above Buttermere, Fleetwith Pike rises from the water’s edge to a summit that provides a glorious view along a string of lakes to the sea. Loop on from here across the crags to Innominate Tarn, where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes are scattered, and Hay Stacks before scrambling down through Scarth Gap for views back to the Pike on your return to the water’s edge.

Snowdon Ranger, Wales

Length: 8 miles

The winding pathways of the Snowdon Ranger passes mountains and lakes

Of the official routes up Wales’ highest mountain, the Snowdon Ranger is one of the quieter, and is thought to be the oldest. The path is excellent and easy to follow, mostly meandering upwards, though with a couple of steeper sections, including the final ascent up steps to reach the 1,085m (3559ft) summit. You’ll enjoy wonderful mountain views all the way – and can opt for the Snowdon Mountain Railway to descend.

Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland

Length: 5.8 miles

The Mourne Mountain range includes the highest mountain in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s highest peak can be climbed from sea level, at Newcastle beach – so you’ll feel you’ve really earned the views from its 850-metre summit, across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man and Great Britain beyond. It’s a well-defined route up, following the stone-built Mourne Wall.

Mynydd Ddu, Brecon Beacons, Wales

Length: 7.5 miles

The River Usk, which runs through the Black Mountain Area

The wildest and most westerly of the Brecon Beacons’ uplands, Mynydd Ddu, or Black Mountain, is a corker – its escarpments of striated sandstone reaching up to a wedge-shaped summit which towers above the moorland and is frequently snow-capped in winter. Loop west to east along the ridge path from the summit of Bannau Sir Gaer to Fan Brycheiniog and you’ll see the two glacial lakes of Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr – and probably a red kite or two.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Length: 2.75 miles

The grassy slopes of Arthur's Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh, UK

At Edinburgh’s heart is a volcano, and an easy climb to 251m (823ft), at the summit of Arthur’s Seat. The path up is easy enough, though you may need to scramble to reach the summit. The view is out across Edinburgh, extending along the Forth to the Forth Railway Bridge, and in tourist season there’s often even a bagpiper up here.

Schiehallion, Perthshire, Scotland

Length: 6.25 miles

See miles and miles of rural Perthshire from the peaks of Schiehallion

Schiehallion is one of Scotland’s best-known and most-loved munros (mountains over 3,000ft, or 914m). It’s an easier climb than most, with a well-made path much of the way and cairns to guide you through the boulder field. The summit affords glorious views, across Rannoch Moor to Glencoe.

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Ben Nevis, near Fort William, Scotland

Length: 10.5 miles

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in UK

Though not to be taken lightly, the climb up Britain’s highest peak is strenuous but straightforward. You’ll need hillwalking experience and the right gear, but the mountain path is decent and on a clear day easy to follow. At the summit (1345m, 4413ft) you’ll be able to see a vast swathe of the Highlands, and peer down over the sheer cliffs of the north face.

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