A magical walk in Yorkshire taking in Malham Cove and Gordale Scar has been rated the best in the UK, as Which? reveals the nation’s favourite 51 routes.
The Lake District proved the most popular region for high quality walks, claiming six spots in the table. The Peak District, Cornwall and Northumberland each boast three of the best walks, while Dorset, Snowdonia, London, Surrey and the North York Moors have two each.
Malham Cove and Gordale Scar achieved a superb 89 per cent walk score in the Which? survey of more than 1,800 people. Visitors were impressed by the cove’s amphitheatre-shaped cliffs which lead up to a limestone pavement, where a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed. Its second striking geological feature, Gordale Scar, is a narrow ravine enclosed by sheer walls 100 metres high. The 7.5-mile walk scored the full five stars for scenery and places of interest. It was rated four out of five for difficulty – where one is easy and five is suitable for experienced walkers only – meaning it is a route for more regular ramblers.
The joint second best walks were both in Cornwall and scored 88 per cent. The tiny Botallack Mine Walk scored five stars for peace and quiet, and scenery; at one-mile long it is the joint shortest walk among the top 51 alongside Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire. The more challenging seven-mile Lizard Peninsula Circuit around the most southerly tip of mainland Britain gained five stars for places of interest, scenery and wildlife, with rare red-billed chough birds as well as basking sharks and seals calling it their home. In the Which? survey results, only two other routes – Solva to St Davids and Blakeney Point – equalled this mark for wildlife.
Rhossili Headland retained its record as the best walk in Wales with an overall score of 86 per cent. The undemanding 3.5-mile trail in the Gower received top marks for scenery and five other four-star scores in the Which? survey, making it an excellent all-rounder. Walkers pass a former Iron Age fort and can see the remains of a shipwreck poking out of the sparkling sea at low tide.
Anstruther to Crail on the Fife Coastal Path was rated Scotland’s best route with an 83 per cent walk score. The easily navigable four-mile route knits together a string of fishing villages whose stone houses have provided a subject for numerous painters. At 13 miles, Scotland’s second best route, Loch Katrine in the Trossachs National Park, was the longest walk featured, which can all easily be completed in a day. Walkers can keep an eye out for silver birch, oak and rowan woodland as they pass through waterfalls on this gentle lakeside stroll.
The only walks rated five out of five by Which? for difficulty – Helvellyn, Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis and Snowden’s Llanberis Path – involve climbs of at least 950m. For the very best of the most challenging routes, head to Helvellyn in the Lake District, which finished fourth overall in the survey with a score of 87 per cent. This 9.5-mile hike with stunning views from the Striding Edge Ridge scored five stars for scenery, but with limited visitor facilities, hikers need to make sure they come prepared.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said:
“The UK has an amazing variety of walks and with its magical connection, the most popular route in our survey was a worthy winner.
“From breathtaking rolling hills and lake loops to historic hikes, clifftop paths and the shingle beaches below, there is a route for every taste and ability.”