Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Ronald Turnbull author of ’Granite and Grit’ recently reviewed by us here and of many books on UK hillwalking as well as one on the John Muir Trail, California
Walking in UK takes many different forms so the following are not in rank order. They are in rough order of seriousness, least demanding first. NB in UK we don’t walk long distances under trees. Boring! The Appalachian Trail is just one more incomprehensible-to-us US activity.
1. Great Gable
Moderate one-day walk from Borrowdale. Just one of 214 hills (we call them mountains) in the extremely beautiful and extremely busy Lake District, northwestern England. Very small (but perfectly formed) hills, a couple of hours worth of walking, are also available here – try Cat Bells, home of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggywinkle.
2. The West Highland Way
95 miles Glasgow to Fort William through (but not over) the mountains of Scotland, including the 20-mile shoreline of Loch Lomond. An easy, well-marked, busy trail with lots of shops and hostels. Point to point baggage transport service available (as it is on all established UK trails). (In UK, a trail is called a ‘path’, and ‘trail’ means a multi-day hiking route.)
3. Snowdon Horseshoe
Moderate one-day walk from Pen y Pass, Wales, with easy scrambling (Grade 1, which is roughly USA Class 2).
4. Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, from Fort William, Scotland. Say ‘Carn More Jerrack’. A big hill day, with easy scrambling (Grade 1). Superb views of the northern crags unseen on the usual Tourist Path (which is used for the descent).
5. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk, northern England
From Robin Hood’s Bay (Yorkshire) to St Bees (Cumbria), 190 miles. Unmarked route, over several hills and along beautiful valleys. Plenty of shops and hostels. Busy and popular trail.
6. Pembrokeshire Coast Path, southwest Wales
Beautiful and not busy. Well marked trail, and can be done in day-length sections using convenient buses. Up to 180 miles.
7. Cairngorm Mountains
Two day hike from Aviemore to the Shelter Stone and back, Cairngorm Mountains, north-east Scotland. Big (by Brit standards) remote mountains with climate that can get seriously nasty. The Sheter Stone is a squalid boulder hole, most romantic, at the head of hill-ringed Loch (Lake) Avon (say Arne).
8. Wester Ross, northwest Scotland
More than two dozen splendid mountains, each reachable as a one-day hike from road or accommodation. You’d need a hire car to get from one to the next. The two very finest are Liathach (say Lee-a-gach with a Scots or German CH) and An Teallach (say An Chellach with another Scots CH at the end).
9. The Black Cuillin, Isle of Skye, Scotland
The UK’s most serious hills, with exposed rocky ridges at Grade 1 scrambling to V Diff climbing and beyond (Class 2 to 5.3) on superb rock with stunning sea views – or else low cloud, rain, and biting midges.
10. Coast to Coast across the Scottish Highlands
No single route, you devise your own. Inverie (Knoydart) is one good start point, Dunottar Castle (Stonehaven) one good finish. Around 200 miles, 14 days hiking, with a tent usually required. Unmarked paths and pathless glens (valleys), high mountain ridges. Enrol in the annual TGO Challenge for help with routes and planning.