Walking is cool, whether it’s a fast pace to the office, a historic trail in the city, a country hike, a ramble or some serious trekking. It’s the most accessible exercise of all.
The Government hopes to get more of us walking with the announcement of £250 million increased funding to improve the infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
If your idea of holiday heaven is having endless hiking choices on your doorstep, here are three exceptionally beautiful UK locations that offer the perfect natural terrain.
The Lake District, Cumbria
The Lake District has 244 fells in 880 square miles, making it nirvana for walkers of all standards.
Hardcore hikers tackle the 3,209ft of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, while those after a more gentle climb might try Loughrigg, a 2.6-mile round trip of just over 1,000ft and fabulous views of Grasmere and the Coniston Fells.
Londoners looking for a convenient holiday home in the Lakes concentrate on Kendal and Windermere, both close for the M6, but be prepared to pay a significant premium for properties overlooking the lakes or within the heavily protected Lake District National Park — in charming Ambleside, for example, on the shores of Windermere.
A period farmhouse and barn in Haverthwaite with four bedrooms and pretty gardens, 30 minutes from Junction 36 of the M6 and 15 minutes from Ulverston is £595,000 with Savills.
The agent has a selection of lock and leave homes within the Lake District National Park from £170,000.
“Dartmoor National Park is the place to head for walking in Devon,” says Miles Kevin of Chartsedge estate agents.
“It’s a wild, open landscape with many tors to climb and beautiful old villages and pubs to visit. From the highest point you can see right down to the sea on the south coast of Devon.”
Chartsedge has a four-bedroom bungalow in lovely gardens in Haytor Vale, a short drive from Bovey Tracey, for £525,000. The house has views to the sea and across the moors.
In the lovely market town of Chagford on Dartmoor’s northeastern edge, a charming one-bedroom period stone cottage is £275,000, or a handsome four-bedroom modern barn conversion is £900k, both with Knight Frank.
Hill-walking is a national pastime in Scotland where the natural landscapes are unbeatable. The Scottish Highlands, the extreme north and northwest of the mainland offer hidden trails, majestic mountains, lochs and complete out-of-touch wilderness.
Strutt & Parker’s range of homes include a five-bedroom converted chapel, six miles from Inverness, for offers over £550,000. A two-bedroom terrace cottage, part of a former Georgian coach house 10 miles from Inverness is £217,000.
If an urban landscape is more appealing, Edinburgh is a fabulous city to explore on foot. Walk the Royal Mile, climb up to Arthur’s Seat through Holyrood Park and explore the medieval streets below Edinburgh Castle.
The popular Georgian New Town has flats with high ceilings and period detail. A three-bedroom second-floor flat in Northumberland Street is on for offers over £725,000, or a five-bedroom flat in Lonsdale Terrace, well-placed for walks in The
Meadows or Holyrood Park, is £650,000, both with Knight Frank.
South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is the UK’s longest footpath, 630 miles from Minehead in North Somerset to Poole including the entire Cornish coast.
Gaynor Jehu, a physiotherapist from Exeter, has walked most of it and is extra-fond of the routes close to her second home in St Ives.
“I love the walk from St Ives to Zennor, five or six miles of rugged coastal walking with wonderful views and a lovely pub at the end, The Tinners,” says Gaynor.
“It’s the perfect New Year’s Day walk to blow the cobwebs away. We walk home across the fields.”
Gaynor bought her St Ives fisherman’s cottage in 2000 and fully refurbished it into a light, modern home with a small garden and two much-valued parking spaces, all steps from one of St Ives’ beaches.
The cottage sleeps four in two bedrooms and rents from £500 to £1,500 a week for around 40 weeks every year with only November, January and February quiet months. This year it is fully booked until the end of November.
“As well as being on the coastal path with exceptional walking, what I love about St Ives is meandering around the little art galleries, exploring the beaches and coves, the fantastic food and of course the light,” says Gaynor.
“In this year of staycations it has been crowded at times but get on to the coastal path and you are soon blissfully alone.”