8 of The Best Climbing Routes & Hiking Trails in the UK

The UK might be small, but it's a mecca for climbers and hikers from around the world. There are countless world-class sites to explore, from winding coastal pathways with dramatic cliff top views to the rugged terrain and soaring peaks of Scotland, England, and Wales. 
In this article, I’ll give you a rundown of some of the very best climbing and hiking destinations that the British Isles have to offer. I've made sure to include routes and terrains for every level, from beginner to expert, as well as a variety of climbing disciplines. 
This is by no means a definitive list; after all, there's an endless array of breathtaking locations to explore, but if you're looking for a UK-based outdoor adventure, these are a great place to start. 

The UK's Best Climbing Destinations

Harrison’s Rocks, East Sussex

These striking and unique sandstone rock features make up part of East Sussex's super-popular South East crag. Surrounded by stunning woodland, this crag is the largest of its kind in Britain. 
Harrison's Rocks attract all sorts of climbers, from beginners to world-class pros. There are routes suitable for children and families taking their very first climbing lessons, as well as intricate and challenging intermediate and expert level routes.  
It's worth noting that lead and trad climbing are off-limits here due to the soft nature of the sandstone. But when it comes to top roping, Harrison's Rocks is home to some of the finest routes in England. 

Almscliff Crag, Yorkshire

Yorkshire has numerous fantastic climbing opportunities and hiking trails, but when it comes to bouldering, Almscliff Crag is at the top of the list. 
The crag, sitting proudly on a hill in the Wharfedale Valley, is just outside the village of North Rigton. Not only is it a popular spot for bouldering; there are also more than 540 trad climbing routes too. Many of these routes have inventive and intimidating names such as Knee Biter, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Wall of Horrors, and Black Wall Eliminate. 
While beginners can enjoy the lower level bouldering, the terrain here is generally more suited to intermediate level climbers who've already found their footing, so to speak. 

Stanage Edge, Peak District, Derbyshire

The Peak District offers some of the very best climbing and hiking trails in the UK, but the soaring 500-meter cliffs of Stanage Edge are arguably the most impressive of them all. 
There are over 1000 different climbing routes to explore here, as well as superb bouldering opportunities. Some of the most popular routes include Burbage Rocks, Froggatt Edge, Curbar Edge, Birchen Edge, and Baslow Edge. 
With so many routes, there's something suitable for every level and ability. Beginners can learn the basics on the smaller 25-meter cliff face and practice lower-level bouldering, while more advanced climbers can put their skills to the test on the extensive selection of higher, challenging routes. 

Hodge Close Quarry, The Lake District, Cumbria

Nestled between the quaint Cumbrian village of Coniston and the Great Langdale Valley, Hodge Close Quarry is something of a hidden gem in the Lake District. This deep blue lagoon is flanked on all sides by a sheer slate rock face, with more than 80 sport and trad routes to explore. 
There's something to suit every skill level here. Rookies can explore the numerous well-bolted beginner-level routes, and advanced climbers can traverse dramatic overhangs and extreme slabs. Just like elsewhere in the UK, many of the routes here have inventive names, such as First Night Nerves, Stage Fright, Malice in Wonderland, Wicked Willie, and Great Expectations. 
And as a rare bonus, the quarry is now home to world-class deep water solo climbs, which you can find to the right of the "Oiling the Lawnmower” route. 

The UK’s Best Hiking Destinations

The South West Coastal Path, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, and Dorset

The 630-mile South West Coastal Path consistently ranks at the top of the list of UK hiking destinations. Running from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset, this epic trail has some of the best coastal views in the country, rivaling those found throughout Southern Europe along the Mediterranean coast.
The whole trail offers great walking opportunities for both beginner and advanced level hikers, but the Cornish stretch is arguably the most famous. Cornwall is the undisputed home to England’s most stunning and secluded white-sand beaches. The area is packed full of natural beauty, and it's not uncommon to spot dolphins frolicking in the turquoise sea. Here, the twisting trail runs alongside hidden coves that aren't accessible by car, so it's possible to find a beach all to yourself for a refreshing mid-hike dip in the sea. 

Hadrian's Wall Path, Northumbria and Cumbria

Stretching from Chollerford in Northumberland to Birdoswald Fort in Cumbria, Hadrian's Wall path marks the ancient Roman border between England and Scotland. Today, this almost 2000-year-old relic is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the 84-mile path that runs alongside it is one of the UK's most famous hiking trails. 
The entire route is flanked by beautiful scenery and wildlife, and it's a fabulous hiking destination for history lovers, too. The trail passes by numerous ancient settlements, castles, forts, and historical museums, plus there's no shortage of great country pubs to stop, rest and admire the view.  

Scafell Pike, Cumbria

Scafell Pike is England's highest mountain, and while it doesn't quite reach the soaring heights of the European Alps, this 978-metre peak is a challenging trail on every UK hiker’s bucket list. 
There are various trails up to the summit, but the classic route begins at Wasdale Head. The return trip to and from this point will take a relatively fit hiker around six to seven hours to complete. 
On a clear day, the summit offers stunning views over the Lake District National Park, but be warned; this mountain is difficult to navigate in bad weather. In heavy rain, the steep inclines and reduced visibility can be incredibly dangerous. Make sure to check the forecast before you ascend, and always come equipped with a map and the right gear.  

Snowdon Trail, Wales

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. At 1085 metres, it's slightly higher than England's Scafell Pike, but it's pretty comparable in terms of difficulty. There are a total of seven different trails which lead up to the summit, with some more challenging than others. 
Unlike Scafell, Snowdon isn't off-limits to non-hikers; The Snowdon Mountain Railway takes visitors from Llanberis up to the top and back down again. Plus, there's also a summit cafe where hikers can take a well-deserved rest. 
But don't let these tourist-friendly services lull you into a false sense of security; this mountain can be brutal in harsh weather conditions, and the local mountain rescue are called in in all four seasons to assist stranded hikers. As with Scafell, always check the weather forecast before you begin, and make sure you're well equipped. 

Explore The Best of Britain

It's impossible to list all of the fantastic hiking and climbing locations in the UK, but these eight destinations are a great place to start. If you're looking for an adventure, check out our selection of world-class UK-based guides who will show you the very best of the great outdoors.