Mountain walks in national parks for an adventure

Walking, Nature, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Kate W on 14th July 2021

Mountain walks in National Parks for a holiday adventure

Iconic well-trodden trails, heart-pumping scrambles and unforgettable views stretching as far as the eye can see; there are a multitude of mountain walks across the UK waiting to be tackled. We’ve done our research and picked out a selection of the most scenic, rugged, breathtaking mountain routes that England, Scotland and Wales have to offer so you can step foot among the clouds.

While there is no true difference between a hill and a mountain, many geologists classify a mountain as a landform that rises over 1,000 feet, so that’s how we’ve picked which impressive summits made our list.

We have been sure to include some easier UK mountain walks on our list too, although you’ll notice the lowest difficulty rating is ‘easy/moderate’ as they all include steep gradients and uneven terrain to contend with. You’ll be walking up a mountain after all!

Always plan ahead: Climbing a mountain is no easy feat. Do your research and ensure you bring important safety equipment including a map, compass, whistle, food and water with you as you take on the UK’s highest summits.

Where will you begin?

Take a look through our UK mountain walks and take your pick. Skip to region:

Already thinking about your next adventure? Escape on a mountain walking holiday in the UK today.

UK cottages


The Cairngorms National Park

Morrone Ascent, Braemar

Morrone Ascent near Braemar

Let’s begin with one of the most impressive mountain ranges in Scotland: The Cairngorms mountains. We should mention that mountains are known as Munros in Scotland – Scotland’s landscape is so abundant with mountains that ‘Munro bagging’ is considered a sport! Thought to be an easy Cairngorms walk, the Morrone Ascent leads you up a steady route that slowly reveals sweeping views of the plateau and forest. Although the route is rigorous, it is a beautiful and easy Munro to bag.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Downie's Cottage, Braemar | sleeps 2 and 2 dogs


Ben Macdui and Cairngorm Hike

Ben Macdui and Cairngorm Hike

Begin this Ben Macdui Hike with a trek through the remote tundra of the exposed Cairngorm plateau, best known as a centre for winter sports, before ascending Scotland’s second-highest Munro. Located right in the midst of the Cairngorm mountains, with weather that can change in a heartbeat, you’ll need excellent navigation skills if you take on this mighty mountain.

Distance: 11 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging  

Stay nearby: Dell Of The Wood, Aviemore | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

Guide to Scotland's mountains


Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

Ben Lomond Walk

Ben Lomond Walk

The Ben Lomond Walk is one of the most popular Munros to bag and it’s not hard to see why. It is an easy mountain walk with a steady, well-worn path, and ends with summit views of the length of magical Loch Lomond and its islands. Take your camera along to snap a photograph of this phenomenal view from the peak of one of Scotland’s favourite mountains.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Scott Cottage - Loch Katrine, Loch Katrine | sleeps 5 and 1 dog

This region is so jam-packed with rugged, rocky mountains, from the famed heights of Ben Nevis to the beloved slopes of Cairn Gorm, that we’ve dedicated a whole blog to the exploration of Scotland’s many Munros.

Loch Lomond walks


Northumberland National Park

Hethas Hike

Hethas Hike

Set within the Cheviot Hills, Hethas Hike gives walkers the chance to delve into Northumberland’s great heritage with a visit to two Iron Age hillforts during the journey up Great Hetha. It’s a short, easy route for anyone looking for outstanding views without the adrenaline-pumping climbs that often accompany them.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Mindrum Gamekeeper's Cottage, Mindrum | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs


The Cheviot Walk

The Cheviot Walk

One of the best things about heading to Northumberland National Park for a walking excursion is that the remote landscape is just the place for peace and quiet as you explore. The Cheviot Walk is a much longer, far more strenuous route full of history and intrigue, and you’re unlikely to see many other people during your journey. You will, however, pass by aircraft wreckage, the epic summit cairn and other fantastic landscape features.

Distance: 9.3 miles

Difficulty: Challenging   

Stay nearby: Northumbria Heights, Wooler | sleeps 4 and 1 dog

Northumberland walks


The Lake District

Helvellyn

Helvellyn

Nothing compares to the sparkling bodies of water that the Lake District is known for and the scenic route up Helvellyn from Thirlmere is a popular choice. In fact, it’s one of the most popular walks in the UK, and the Helvellyn Gill Path is the shortest route to the top at 4.5 miles there and back. For a longer walk, follow the circular trail and, for a real challenge with spectacular sights and tough terrain, follow the Striding Edge trail.

Distance: 4.5 miles (up and down) or 9 miles (circular)

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: The Ullswater Retreat, Ullswater | sleeps 2 and 2 dogs


Cat Bells

Cat Bells

The Cat Bells Walk boasts further fantastic Lakeland views, this time of Keswick, Borrowdale and Derwentwater laid out below. There are scrambles on the way up, but nothing too complicated to manage. On the way back, the scenery remains delightful with old mine workings to pass by and a lakeshore woodland. It’s a gem in the Lake District mountains and an unmissable trail to add to your mountain-walking itinerary.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Gallery Cloisters, Keswick | sleeps 6 and 2 dogs

Lake District walks


The Yorkshire Dales

Whernside from Ribblehead Viaduct

Whernside from Ribblehead Viaduct

The highest of the Yorkshire Dales’ iconic three peaks, Whernside is an adventure for ramblers getting to grips with this region’s beautiful landscape. This Whernside Walk from the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct offers classic Yorkshire landscapes all around and a relatively well-worn path, but with steep sections throughout. It follows part of the Settle to Carlisle Railway Line before taking you up the steep Knoutberry Hill to a panorama admiring the Pendle Hill, Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland fells, and the Howgills.

Distance: 8.4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging

Stay nearby: Elbeck Barn, Kettlewell | sleeps 4


Ingleborough

Ingleborough

Lace up your hiking boots and prepare yourself well for the Ingleborough Circular. The second highest of the Yorkshire three peaks, yet the most challenging climb, Ingleborough provides similar panoramic views to nearby Whernside, but we might argue an even better sense of accomplishment, after trekking the rugged terrain and steep slopes to reach the summit. Head to the local pub, the Hill Inn afterwards for a well-deserved meal and pint.

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: Underbargh Cottage, Settle | sleeps 2

Yorkshire Dales walks


The North York Moors

Urra Moor

Urra Moor

There’s no better place to admire the area’s tranquil heathland than from the top of the highest summit in the North York Moors National Park. Strike out on this scenic Wainstones Circular Walk across the moor taking in purple heather during the autumn and lush meadow in the spring and summer. The Wainstones are a curious craggy sandstone formation where legend has it a Viking king was defeated by the Angles, and it is an atmospheric feature on your hike.

Distance: 8.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Stay nearby: The Old Tin School, Low Mill | sleeps 2 and 2 dogs

North York Moors walks


The Peak District

Mam Tor

Mam Tor

Soak up the beauty of views stretching from Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors as you climb this National Trust Mam Tor Circular Walk in the Peak District mountains. As it is a relatively short Peak District walk, Mam Tor is a top choice for children and it is manageable within a couple of hours – just right for a heart-pumping morning adventure with the family.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: The Coach House At Blackbrook House, Chapel-en-le-Frith | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

Peak District walks


Snowdonia National Park

Mount Snowdon: Llanberis Path

Mount Snowdon: Llanberis Path

This iconic summit in the Snowdonia mountains is so popular that there are six routes to the top – take your pick! Llanberis Path is the longest with the gentlest incline of the six, and you can take in views of Cwm Brwynog, Llanberis and even the Menai Straits towards Anglesey. It mainly follows the Snowdon Railway Track, passing stations on the way to the peak, so you can hop aboard the train if your feet start to tire or ride the train down after you’ve reached the top.

Distance: 9 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Llenfa, Blaenau Ffestiniog | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs


Pony Path/Tŷ Nant, Cader Idris

Pony Path/Tŷ Nant, Cader Idris

Of course, Snowdon isn’t the only North Wales mountain in this national park and you shouldn’t dismiss any of the others too quickly. Cader Idris is a tough mountain in Wales for keen walkers with equally rewarding views of the craggy Snowdonia landscape. Add this summit to your bucket list of mountains in Wales for a chance to walk a lesser-known, unspoilt trail through Wales’ most famous wilderness.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: Bwthyn Enfys, Machynlleth | sleeps 4 and 3 dogs

Snowdonia walks


The Brecon Beacons National Park

Pen y Fan

Pen y Fan

Despite being the highest mountain in South Wales and the Brecon Beacons mountains, Pen y Fan is also considered one of the easiest mountain walks in the UK – so if you’re a beginner to mountain walking, this may be the perfect one for you. Follow this Pen y Fan and Corn Du circular walk for two peaks during one scenic ramble, great to climb with a few friends or as a family if you’ve got a couple of budding young walkers hoping to trek their first mountain.

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Carpenters Cottage – Libanus, Libanus | sleeps 2 and 1 dog

Brecon Beacons walks


Pembrokeshire National Park

Foel Eryr Walk

Foel Eryr Walk

The shortest mountain walk on our list, this Foel Eryr Walk is no more than a steep scamper to a summit that boasts views of the coast all around. This mountain in Wales packs a punch with a whole lot to offer in a small area – there are Bronze Age cairns on the hillside, kestrels and buzzards can often be spotted gliding overhead and it’s the highest peak in the Preseli Mountains. It's a wonderful choice for a Pembrokeshire walk with a great panorama when you reach the top. 

Distance: 2.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Stay nearby: Coastal Escape Cottage, Newport | sleeps 4 and 2 dog

Pembrokeshire walks


Exmoor National Park

Dunkery Hill

Dunkery Hill

Glimpse the Bristol Channel from the Dunkery and Horner Wood Circular Walk in the wild and enchanting Exmoor National Park. Set within the Dunkery and Horner Wood Nature Reserve, this walking trail is fairly steady and steep with rocky, muddy sections when descending into the wooded valley. You’ll pass by heather and moorland, a tree thought to be the oldest on Exmoor, and woodland sculptures too. Extend your walk to this 5-mile Dunkery Beacon Walk in order to reach the summit of this Exmoor high point.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Exmoor Farm Cottages - Swallows Nest, Wheddon Cross | sleeps 2 and 1 dog


Dartmoor National Park

High Willhays Tor

High Willhays Tor

Spot Dartmoor ponies grazing on the hillside and marvel at sweeping moorland views as you set out to reach Dartmoor and the South West’s highest peak on this High Willhays and Yes Tor Route. The route begins near the banks of Meldon Reservoir (look out for its marvellous dam) and beyond that are Okement Valley views - this stunning setting makes it one of the best Dartmoor walks in our opinion. A mounded cairn greets you at the summit before you descend and continue on to the second-highest peak in Dartmoor - Yes Tor - which is just 2 metres lower than High Willhays.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Stay nearby: Tor Lodge, Okehampton | sleeps 4 and 1 dog

Dartmoor walks


Hound Tor

Hound Tor

Possibly the easiest mountain climb on our list, and one that’s shrouded in legend, Hound Tor is the ultimate choice for beginner mountaineers who want a taste of mountain walking in the UK. You’ll begin with a short, steep stint up a hill to the spectacular Haytor Rocks, a craggy granite tor from which you can see the coastline. Continue on past Holwell Tor, through the remains of a deserted medieval village, and then up a final steep ascent up to Hound Tor. According to legend, Hound Tor is actually a dog that was turned to stone by a vengeful witch and this tale is said to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Stay nearby: Halshanger Barn, Ashburton | sleeps 4 and 1 dog


Mountain retreats

Get away to one of these magical national parks for an unforgettable mountain walking adventure. Pack sturdy shoes, plenty of food and drink, and pick out the perfect base to return to after enthralling days out in the UK wilderness. We have five-star lodges, holiday lets with unbeatable views, and hot tub cottages so you know you’ll have a place to relax and celebrate after conquering one of these mountain trails.

UK cottages



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.