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8 Of The UK's Best Day Trip Walking Trails For Beginners

Hit the road, the path or the trail… just get walking.
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The NHS tells us that ’walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier’. What better place to walk briskly than in the beautiful British countryside where you can enjoy the additional benefits of fresh air and spending time in nature?

If you’ve got a spare day and a yearning to get out and explore, we’ve got some great suggestions for beginner-friendly hiking trails and hill walks. Just add a packed lunch, a bottle of water, some decent sturdy shoes and a waterproof – it is Britain after all.

Old Oxted and Tandridge circular (4 miles)
Ruth DAlessandro
Just off J6 of the M25 and 38 minutes by train from Victoria Station to Oxted (plus a 15-minute walk) is Old Oxted, nestled at the foot of the chalky North Downs, with its medieval high street, four pubs, and starting point for this charming, gently undulating ramble. On the way round, you’ll pass a mill pond, friendly horses, oak and beech woodland, spectacular views of both the North and South Downs, farmland and a golf course. Don’t miss the magnificent Tandridge Yew in St Peter’s churchyard – it’s said to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old.
Old Oxted and Tandridge circular
Sandhurst to Horseshoe Lake and Blackwater (4.5 miles)
Rob Janné via Getty Images
Sandhurst Station is less than an hour from Paddington by train and a 10-minute drive from J4 of the M3. If you love nature, there are no less than four nature reserves to explore along this pretty ‘there and back’ walk. Rare species you may be lucky enough to see include stag beetles, glow-worms, nightjars, Dartford warblers and hobbies. You’ll wander through woods, rare heathland, meadows, the remains of a Victorian country estate and along the river Blackwater before looping round picturesque Horseshoe Lake and returning.
Sandhurst to Horseshoe Lake and Blackwater
Lamberhurst, Kilndown and Scotney Castle (5 miles)
larigan - Patricia Hamilton via Getty Images
Just off the A21 if you’re driving, or London Bridge Station to Tunbridge Wells in 44 minutes, then a bus ride to Lamberhurst, this lovely circular Kentish walk gives you a real taste of the Garden of England. Starting at Lamberhurst, one of Kent’s prettiest villages, you’ll ramble through deep deciduous woodland, over rolling hills, across two rivers and stop halfway for tea at the romantic, moated ruin of Scotney Castle with its country house, parkland estate and Sussex cattle.
Lamberhurst, Kilndown and Scotney Castle
Burnham Beeches (4.5 miles)
Pete Lawrence / EyeEm via Getty Images
From J2 of the M40 by car, or from London Paddington to Slough by train then a bus to Farnham Common in around an hour, Burnham Beeches is one of Britain’s best examples of ancient woodland. It’s most beautiful in the autumn, when we recommend you ‘forest bathe’ on this energising woodland walk. You’ll tour the beech-wooded nature reserve with its grazing white cattle, maybe stop for a pint in The Blackwood Arms and then return through a magnificent towering pine and oak forest.
Burnham Beeches
Blackford and Braid Hills (2.75 miles)
David McAllister via Getty Images
Just outside Edinburgh, and best reached by bus to Comiston Road, this delightful ramble passes through the Hermitage of Braid’s nature reserve and 18th-century Hermitage House, with its ice house and doocot that’s worth a visit. The walk then becomes a steady, exhilarating climb up to the trig point on Blackford Hill, for wonderful views of Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town, Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags on a clear day.
Blackford and Braid Hills
Brecon Beacons Four Waterfalls Walk (3.8 miles)
Peter Lewis via Getty Images
You’ll need a car to get from either Swansea or Cardiff to Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons National Park in around 1.5 hours. Some of the rocky path on this exhilarating riverside walk needs a bit of clambering over. But the reward is stunning limestone scenery, with woods and meadows, an intriguing cave, and no less than four very different cascading waterfalls, one of which you can actually walk behind while on the path.
Brecon Beacons Four Waterfalls Walk
Mam Tor circular walk (3 miles)
ChrisHepburn via Getty Images
About an hour’s drive from Manchester in the Peak District National Park is one of the best ridge walks in the country. A steady 2-hour walk from Mam Nick car park follows pleasant grassy ridge trails up and down stone steps with dramatic views over the beautiful Hope and Edale valleys. When you reach the summit of Mam Tor, take a moment to appreciate its geologically-significant Carboniferous rocks – they’ve been around for 320 million years.
Mam Tor circular walk
Chalkup21: Dover to Deal (17 miles)
Ray Wise via Getty Images
The Southeast corner of Kent is celebrated for its military history and iconic white cliffs. But there is much more to see and experience in its contrasting landscape. New walking trail Chalkup21 is an easy and fascinating meander that starts in Folkestone and ends, 17 miles later, in the friendly seaside town of Deal. In between, the trail connects nine public artworks and buildings, including the Dover Esplanade, the National Trust visitor centre at Langdon Cliffs, and Jasin’s restaurant at the end of Deal Pier. Aside from the official highlights, the trail takes in picturesque villages, lush countryside and - to one side - the timeless and evocative English Channel.