The UK has an abundance of great places to walk and soak up the outdoors, and with the weather taking a turn for the better, now is a great time to get out and see what the country has to offer.
For those who like a challenge or simply want to go somewhere a bit different this spring and summer, the National Trust has put together a list of places to take a walk on the wild side and possibly even have the place to yourself.
Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
At the heart of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blakeney National Nature Reserve boasts wide open spaces and uninterrupted views of the wild and beautiful North Norfolk coastline. The four-mile long shingle spit of Blakeney Point protects Blakeney Harbour, the salt marshes provide a perfect habitat for a vast array of residential and migratory birds, and the area is also home to England's largest seal colony.
The woodland, rivers and rock formations of Dartmoor are wonderful places to explore on foot. You can choose a well-signposted gentle amble along the banks of some of Dartmoor’s most beautiful and ever changing rivers; the Teign, Bovey and Plym. Or perhaps a more demanding walk across the wild, open moorland from Cadover Bridge in the upper Plym area.
South Snowdonia, Wales
The awe-inspiring landscapes of South Snowdonia are wild and varied - from the ancient oak woodland at Dolmelynllyn to the volcanic rocks at Cregennan. The rugged mountain landscapes of Cadair Idris and Dolmelynllyn are home to glacial fossils, rare lichens and heathland. South Snowdonia is also home to Dinas Oleu, our first acquisition in 1895.
With its remote and romantic landscapes, Exmoor is also home to some of Britain’s largest mammals and most beautiful insects. You might encounter the wild Exmoor ponies or the large herds of red deer that roam freely in the area. The National Park covers 267 square miles of dramatic coastline, open moorland, ancient woods, valleys, clear rivers and tumbling streams. There are excellent hiking opportunities across wild landscapes and among the stone circles and ancient ruins.
The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
One of the country's most spectacular natural features, these enormous cliffs look out onto the English Channel, giving far-reaching views towards the French coast. The best way to see the cliffs is to take a walk along the coastal path towards South Foreland Lighthouse. You’ll get a great view of the cliffs and also see the chalk grassland that’s home to so many unusual plants and butterflies, such as the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly and the Pyramidal Orchid.
Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers peace and quiet, and a true sense of being at one with nature. A rare and precious habitat known as coastal lowland heath, this remote and beautiful area is home to many special species, such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.
Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd, Shropshire
This wildlife-rich heathland has stunning views across the Shropshire Hills and beyond. You don’t have to venture too far to find some solitude and if the night sky is your thing, you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye from here. There's something on offer in every season, whether you take a short stroll through Carding Mill Valley, or a more rugged route to the top of the hill.
Kinder, Edale and the Dark Peak, Derbyshire
Enjoy the misty valleys and sunlit hilltops of this rich moorland habitat – it’s the perfect isolated spot to appreciate big open skies, dramatic sunsets and far-reaching horizons. Enjoy a challenging and exhilarating walk high on the windswept Kinder plateau, one of the great upland areas of the gritstone Dark Peak. Or explore the mysterious rock formations in the area and look out for a fantastic range of wildlife.
Devil's Dyke, West Sussex
With stunning views of the South Downs, Devil’s Dyke is the longest, widest and deepest dry chalk valley in the country and home to many plants and animals unique to this remote habitat. There are dramatic views north over the Weald and south over Brighton to the sea. The artist John Constable described it as “the grandest view in the world”. Britain’s first cable car was built here in 1894 – the ride took Victorian day-trippers across the 300-metre-wide valley, and was a great attraction in its day.
Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk
Take a short boat trip to the wild and remote shingle spit, the largest in Europe. Follow trails through a stunning landscape and a history that will both delight and intrigue. Orford Ness is an example of acid shingle heath, one of the rarest habitats in Britain. The brackish lagoons of Kings Marsh have varying levels of salinity, meaning the area can support ecologically important plants and animals. This truly is a wild place.
Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down
This fragile, 6,000-year-old sand dune system became Ireland’s first nature reserve in 1967. The spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains make it excellent for walking and bird watching. The dune fields at Murlough are the best and most extensive example of dune heath in Ireland. Over 600 species of butterflies and moths have been recorded, including the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.
Divis and the Black Mountain, County Antrim
Sitting in the heart of the Belfast Hills, this mosaic of upland heath and blanket bog is a great place for a wild countryside experience. With panoramic views across the Belfast skyline, the rich, varied archaeological landscape is home to a host of wildlife, including red grouse, skylarks and peregrine falcons. From the summit of Divis Mountain, on a clear day, you can see the Scottish, Cumbrian and Welsh uplands rising from the horizon.
The National Trust is a charity and conservation organisation that works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It owns 350 heritage properties across the country, including 250,000 hectares of land, most of which are open to the public to explore. For more information about walks and trails and to donate, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk.