A growing body of scientific research shows that walking in nature has incredible health benefits. Scientists are not quite sure why body and mind respond to natural settings, but we seem to have a built-in connection with nature.
From controlling anxiety and depression to reducing the risk of cancer, exercising in the great outdoors is so good for our health and wellbeing that a new treatment of “ecotherapy” is becoming more prevalent.
With this in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to tempt you into enjoying nature walks. And if you have children that are not so keen on the idea, take a look at our tips on how to make nature walks exciting for kids.
The following list, of course, is not exhaustive, and many readers may feel there are better nature walks in Britain that should be included on this list. So feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the box below.
1. The Lizard | South West Coastal Path, Cornwall
Arguably one of the most beautiful nature walks in Britain, ‘The Lizard’ is a moderately paced 11m trek circumnavigating the delightful coast of Cornwall.
The scenic walk starts and ends at Kynance Cove and passes several secluded beaches tucked just beyond the coastal path. Blanketed with fragrant heather blossom, the Lizard provides you with stunning views of the turquoise waters around Housel Bay and a stop off at the Lizard Lighthouse.
2. Causeway Coast | County Antrim, Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland was formed by molten lava melting the basalt columns that Irish legend says were built by giants. The site is one of the main highlights along the dramatic 33-mile cliff pathfrom Portstewart to Ballycastle.
En route, you can stop to admire the impressive Dunseverick Castle and Harbour, one of Ireland’s oldest archaeological sites. You will also pass the whiskey distillery at Bushmills if you need a pep-me-up.
Helvellyn | Lake District, Cumbria
The Helvellyn in the Lake District is a little over 14km in length, but the steep inclines make it one of the most difficult walking routes in the British Isles. If you want to get your legs and heart pumping, this challenging route ticks all the boxes.
Ramblers also need a tolerance for heights along this path. The steep ascents take you along narrow ledges with dizzying drop-offs on either side. But the views from the summit on Striding Edge underscore why this route is considered one of the best nature walks in Britain. Atop the mountain, you will also find memorials to two local heroes, the conservationist Robert Dixon and the painter Charles Gough.
Three Peaks | Pennine Range, Yorkshire
This 24-mile hike takes you up the three highest peaks in Yorkshire – the tallest a 1600m ascent. The best place to start is from Horton in Ribblesdale and tackle Pen y Ghent first. This is the most gentle climb and provides stunning views from Trig Point.
Follow the path to the Force Gill Aqueduct built by the Midland Railway and turn left up to the summit of Whernside. The steep downhill descent brings you to a zig-zag path before hitting the ascent to the Ingleborough plateau where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the Dales.
Seven Sister’s Path | Seaford, East Sussex
If you like coastal routes, one of the most scenic nature walks in Britain takes you along the south-east coast from Seaford to Eastbourne. The seven sisters are a series of chalk cliffs from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap and are more beautiful than the famous white cliffs of Dover.
The Seven Sisters walk starts in the South Downs National Parkin Exceat or Birling Gap if you prefer to start from Seaford. The coastal path is a moderate 13.6-mile walk meander across open chalk grassland through the river valley. Along the way, you will see the iconic hilltops and alabaster-white chalk cliffs together with a plethora of flora and fauna.
When you’re ready for a rest, there are several beaches and quiet coves you can stop for a picnic. Alternatively, the Cuckmere Inn is a midway point that is ideal for lunch or dinner.
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And give your health a welcome boost by getting out into the great outdoors on an exhilarating nature walk in Britain.