Walking is the most popular activity in all the National Parks, it's a great way to take in the views, get some fresh air in your lungs and travel to different places - even if it's only to a local pub and back!
Public footpaths and open access land are shown on all good maps, and there are many walking guides and books with routes to follow, some of which you can buy online from our shops.
Guided walks and events
A guided walk with a National Park ranger or volunteer can help you discover new areas, highlight points of interest and learn about local history and wildlife.
Watch out for wildlife
Walking on quiet footpaths can let you get close to some of the National Parks' wild residents. The Brecon Beacons have 12 walks through nature reserves, with notes on particular wildlife highlights to look and listen out for along the route. All the National Parks are managed to conserve wildlife, so take some binoculars to help you spot creatures at a distance, and a wildlife guide to help you work out what you're watching!
With miles of open countryside, spectacular views and local food to fuel you on your way, the National Parks are the perfect place for a long distance walk, and all the routes offer sections for short walks too.
The Hadrian's Wall Path is 84 miles from coast to coast, and passes across Northumberland National Park as it follows the ancient Roman wall, which is a world heritage site.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Poetry was inspired by the landscape of Exmoor, and the Coleridge Way lets you follow in his footsteps for 36 miles of your own inspiration. Or combine two National Parks, by starting in the south of Dartmoor and walking 102 miles to the north Exmoor coast on the aptly named Two Moors Way.
The Lake District inspired Alfred Wainwright to write, and sketch, walking routes across the fells. There are 214 ‘Wainwrights’, how many could you do?
Or try some 'Munro-bagging' in the Scottish National Parks. There are 18 Munros, mountains over 918m high, in the Cairngorms, and 21 in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Combining more than one a day makes for a tough walking challenge, but one rewarded by marvellous mountain-top views.
The West Highland Way is a long distance mountainous route, the 95 mile route from Glasgow along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and on through the mountains beyond to the foot of Ben Nevis to Fort William.
Whichever route you take, make sure you're prepared by following our good guide to walking.
There are three National Parks with great coastal walks. The Cleveland Way combines coast and heather moors as it curves from the east coast through the north and then west side of the North York Moors National Park.
The South West Coast Path starts by passing along 35 miles of the northern coast of Exmoor National Park, through moors, wooded valleys and along plunging cliffs.
For the ultimate seaside stroll, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail follows 186 miles of coast almost entirely within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. From rugged cliffs, to open beaches, sheltered coves, estuaries and boat-filled harbours, there are all types of coastal scenery and a wealth of wildlife including cliff nesting choughs and gannets, dolphins and seals to spot whilst you walk.
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One walk, three National Parks
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk is 192 miles over three National Parks, from the west coast of the Lake District, across the Yorkshire Dales and ends on the east coast of the North York Moors.
Or pull on your boots for the possibly the best known long distance trail in the UK, the Pennine Way National Trail. Stretching 268 miles along the Pennine hills from the Peak District in the south, through the Yorkshire Dales and ending in the Cheviots in Northumberland, this walk takes in the varied moors, dales, meadows and hills of three upland National Parks.
Walking in the National Parks
- Broads - Wherryman's way
- Brecon Beacons - walking
- Cairngorms - walking
- Dartmoor - events and guided walks
- Exmoor - walking
- Lake District - walking
- Visit Scotland - Loch Lomond and Trossachs -walking
- Loch Lomond and the Trossachs - West Highland Way
- New Forest - walking
- Northumberland - walking
- North York Moors - Cleveland Way National Trail
- Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail
- Visit Peak District - walking
- Peak District - downloadable trails and audio guides
- Snowdonia - mountain walks
- Snowdonia - leisure walks
- Yorkshire Dales - walking
Walking guides to buy online
- Exmoor - walking guides and maps (£1 - £12.99)
- Dartmoor - short walks and trail guides (50p - £10.99)
- New Forest - 5 free walking guides
- Northumberland - free leaflets
- Northumberland - books and guides (95p - £19.95)
- North York Moors - walking leaflets and guides (30p - £3.95)
- Peak District - walking guides (30p - £3.99)
- Yorkshire Dales - walking guidebooks (£8.95 - £10.99)