If heading off to a remote spot for a walk seems like a bit too much hard work on New Year’s Day, then you could try a family-friendly town or city walk.
There’s no reason to prevent anyone from indulging in a spot of walking, with countless town and city walks all over the country offering ideal places to get out and about without having to drive for miles on end.
So with that in mind, here’s a rundown of our top ten town and city walks, taking in areas from all over Great Britain.
One of the smaller cities in England, Bath lends itself perfectly to walking as it is compact and best accessed on foot. While many walks can take visitors around the historic Roman baths that the city got its name from, the ‘Skyline Walk’ is arguably the area’s most famous.
Offering unparalleled views of the cityscape, the Skyline Walk is a clearly-marked, six-mile pathway around the upland areas of Bath that offers views of the historic city, as well as limestone valleys, the Blackdown Hills, beech woodlands and tranquil lakes. Wildlife spotters are also catered for, with butterflies, skylarks and rare limestone plants all making their home around the trail.
Another feature dating back to Roman times, York’s walls run along much of the outskirts of the city, allowing visitors the chance to walk along a piece of English history. Despite many areas of the walls being renovated or repaired in order to make them safe and guarantee their longevity, certain areas date back to around 71 AD.
While there may be many more walks in and around the city, it is the walls that entice many urban walkers to the area, especially given that there is plenty to explore, with York having more intact city walls than any other city in Great Britain.
Scotland’s capital (although not its biggest city), Edinburgh draws thousands of tourists every year to its famous cobbled streets and culture-rich hotspots. Arguably the most famous of its walks is the one to Arthur’s Seat, where visitors can venture up the relatively easy slope to the hill’s summit where they can see breathtaking panoramas of the city, the Firth of Forth and its famous bridge.
Despite reaching a height of 822 feet (250.5 metres), the hill is just a mile from Edinburgh Castle and has family-friendly routes to the top, meaning it can be done in a day without too much trouble, even for the most novice hillwalkers.
Dorset’s coastline – often referred to as the Jurassic Coast owing to the numerous dinosaur fossils to be found within the limestone there – is one of the most well-loved places in Great Britain. Running from Exmouth in East Devon to Swanage in Dorset, the 95 mile (153 kilometre) coastline is England’s first wholly-natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering glimpses into some 180 million years of history.
Despite the name, fossils found around the area have dated back not just to the Jurassic era but also the Triassic and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic area. It’s not just dinosaur-lovers that are catered for though; with cragged rocks overlooking miles of English Channel also making it an ideal location for those who like their walks a little more bracing.
Typically known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon also offers many walks, with some of the most popular running along the river upon which the town was built.
Walks along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal take visitors along routes that have been travelled for generations, with views of quintessential middle England, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and numerous small-scale aqueducts and crossings, including the Shirley drawbridge.
Visitors making their way into the town can also stop by the Bard’s birthplace, as well as more recent introductions to the town such as the Gothic clock tower donated to the town by American philanthropist George W Childs in 1887.
Traditionally more associated with crawling along the great many pubs that line the seafront walk, The Mumbles still offers a great retreat for those living or visiting nearby Swansea.
Starting or ending at the Victorian pier, visitors can walk the linear routes along the Bristol Channel, taking in the area’s lighthouse, quaint town or the iconic Mumbles Mile. Despite now being thought of as a haven for drinking, ‘The Mile’ also boasts plenty of history, with a certain Dylan Thomas frequenting the area in his day; The Mermaid is thought to be his venue of choice.
Many people heading to Newcastle to get around on foot are doing so for the Great North Run, but there’s plenty more to see for those looking to take a little more time with their journey.
While Newcastle’s town walls may have been be largely demolished between 1760 and 1800, there are areas where the 13th-century development still stands, offering a route around the city to take in decidedly more modern views of the quayside, Tyne Bridge and Grey’s Monument.
8. The Ribble Valley
Famed as a walker’s paradise, Lancashire has a number of locations ideal for days out for those hoping to not venture too far from home. The Ribble Valley and its surrounding area offers some of the best selections, marrying walks of all different abilities with great scenery and history to match. Plus, any area that’s good enough to inspire J.R.R. Tolkien must be on the to-do list for many walking enthusiasts.
With many waymarked trails running along the River Ribble, as well as more hospitable town trails around the castle, Clitheroe in particular has much in the way of rural appeal, despite being 6 miles away from the M64 and only slightly further from the much-larger town of Blackburn. Likewise, nearby Stonyhurst, Longridge and Turton also offer accessible yet rural walking destinations just off main roads or railways.
Surrounded on three sides by hills and on the other by sea, Bangor may not be the most accessible of cities, but offers all manner of walks for those who make it.
Short walks to the coast and along Bangor’s Victorian pier offer beginners the chance to cut their teeth on North Wales‘s famed hills, although much longer jaunts across the Menai Bridge to Anglesey await those who want to try a flatter but longer journey.
Culture is also accounted for on walks in Bangor, with its historic university and cathedral being particular points of interest.
Lying to the south of England’s newest National Park (the South Downs), Arundel is a picture-postcard town dominated by the famed castle, which cuts a rather imposing figure against the hilly surroundings.
Arundel’s proximity to the South Downs makes it a great place for hillwalking, with some steep ascents on offer for anyone up to the challenge. One of the most popular walks in the town involves the trek up to Arundel Park, which offers views across the town and down toward the Solent.
Comprising of some 1 200 acres of open land, the area may well be nearby a popular town, but was still remote enough for it to be a favourite spot for the filming of Doctor Who® in the 1980s.
So whilst Great Britain’s town and city walks may not have the same awe-inspiring reputation as some of the more remote areas, there’s still plenty of choice for those seeking something a bit more urban, or a little closer to home.
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